Last week, the media ran a story about women and abortions. The article cited a research by Marie Stopes that indicated that about a quarter of the women procuring abortions in Kenya are either married, living with someone or cohabiting. The research also found out that half of the pregnancies among married women are either mistimes or unwanted. Some people expressed shock about these facts since for them abortions are preserve of single ladies.
Yes we know abortion is illegal in Kenya and we know many churches promise fire and brimstone for any woman choosing this path. Yet we also know that for the right fee some medical practitioners will break the law and do the needful. I spoke to a number of women who informed me that contrary to popular belief, married women have been procuring abortions for the longest time - they think the numbers are actually higher than those cited in the report. They gave me good reasons for this.
The married women said most of them never really had the “how many babies are we going to have conversation” at the start of their marriage. They say men use the line “I want us to have babies” or infamous “I want you to have a baby for me” as part of the seduction ritual but never really get to the nuts and bolt of how many babies they actually want and what should be the gap.
Things get complicated because in many instances marriages in Kenya started off with mistimed pregnancies.
Desert their homes
It is only when marriage and family life really kick in that couples realise that having many babies is not as romantic as it sounds. There are instances when men have been known to desert their homes and lose their minds just because their spouses have had an ‘oops’ or unwanted pregnancy. It seems that women are learning from the folly of their ways and choosing to prevent such hostilities by getting rid of the pregnancy.
Despite years of religious teaching about the supposed evils of abortion, many married women view their actions as a way of maintaining sanity and peace in their households.
One wonders then why women in the 21st century and have access to all manner of contraception are choosing to have unwanted pregnancies. What I found disturbing is the ridiculous folklore and myths that surround contraception. Despite all the science available today, women still cling to myths that tell them that they will become ‘cold’ and that they will no longer meet the pleasure threshold for their husbands.
It is so funny that women who we know are born with the genes of secret keeping and devious manipulation, claim that they will not take contraception(even secretly) lest their hubbies “mysteriously” find out. This despite the fact that it is women who ultimately pay the price for having children-from the pregnancy to child rearing. Since most married Kenyan men demand that all sexual adventures in the marital bed are done with as much freedom as possible, it is only natural that married women will find themselves in the unwanted pregnancy trap. For reasons that I am yet to understand, and based on this research it seems that married women consider abortion to be a lesser evil than taking contraception.
Some married women also told me that abortions become necessary once they have sized up their spouse and he has fallen short of their expectations. You see, after a few years of marriage and children, many women are able to tell if the father of the seduction days bears any similarity to the father of reality days.
The women can determine whether the man is a provider and head of his family. Marriage has a way of removing the rose coloured glasses of romance and letting women see their husbands for the deadbeat fathers they are.
The married women confessed that deadbeat fathers are often good lovers and are entitled to their conjugal rights, which means that unwanted pregnancies are bound to happen. In those instances, these women were very clear that they were doing humanity a favour by preventing human suffering. After all, why willingly bring an innocent child to suffer being raised a deadbeat dad. Once again, I wondered why not go the contraception route once again they told me that they did not want to compromise their hubby’s sexual experience.
There were married women who told me that sometimes abortions are necessary to ‘cover their tracks.” These women said that they have become liberated enough to close the happiness gaps in their marriages through outsourcing. These women have lovers, mpango wa kandos, who meet their pleasure needs. They informed me that the happiness gap fillers come in various shapes sometimes from the domestic staff, to office colleagues, to even family friends.
Some women have been known to cross class and racial boundaries as they seek sexual bliss. Such dalliances are bound to inevitably lead to unwanted pregnancies which if allowed to go full term could wreck families. These women see abortions like a necessary evil to do away with the mistake and maintain the image of the perfect family. Once again I asked about why not go the contraception route, once again they told me they did not want to compromise their partner’s sexual experience.
These women seem to be seasoned ‘aborters’ – they have their preferred methods, clinics and doctors. They told me abortion must be top secret because the price for any ‘leakage’ is too high. They also told me a married woman who choose to abort do it in the early days of the pregnancy. They were not willing to debate the morality issue and they seemed convinced that popping a pill or sheathing their partner is not an option. All I could say was “to each her own.”
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