ON THE GROUND

Abortion an 'obstacle race' for women in Democratic Republic of Congo

Women's rights activists are campaigning to change DR Congo's laws prohibiting abortion.
Women's rights activists are campaigning to change DR Congo's laws prohibiting abortion. © FRANCE 24

Every day an estimated 400 women have unsafe abortions in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. FRANCE 24 spoke to members of the NGO Afia Mama, which provides psychological, medical and legal support to women seeking an abortion.

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Though the DRC has signed and ratified the Maputo protocol, which allows women to terminate a pregnancy in the case of rape or if it threatens their health, the Congolese penal code continues to prohibit abortions.

"The fact that the law is inconsistent means that the state is not investing in the required infrastructure. There are no trained doctors and there is no information," says Afia Mama's director, Anny Modi. "So it really is an obstacle race for women who want to terminate their pregnancy."

To facilitate access to reproductive rights, several MPs are now calling for an overhaul of Congolese legislation.

"Our goal is to raise awareness, because there are many people who don't understand the point in legalising abortion," says lawmaker Solange Masumbuko Nyenyezi. "If we don't change the law we'll pay the price, whether it is through additional deaths or through the cost of looking after these unwanted children."

Click on the player above to watch the report by Clément Bonnerot and Juliette Dubois.

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