Illegal abortions risk lives

EASY AS 1, 2, 3: Street pole charlatans use any surface to advertise "pain free and safe" abortions. PHOTO: Kudzai Mazvarirwofa

EASY AS 1, 2, 3: Street pole charlatans use any surface to advertise “pain free and safe” abortions. PHOTO: Kudzai Mazvarirwofa

“HOW FAR are you?” he asked.
“Six months.”
“Then it’s fine. I’ll take care of you.”
“Is it painful?”
After a six-week investigation, Wits Vuvuzela had this telephone exchange with a man who offers illegal abortions, even when pregnancies have advanced beyond the legal cut-off. He refused to give his name and place of work but offered to meet at Park Station.
“Backstreet” abortions have been a cause of medical concern. Yet even now, street pole charlatans provide dangerous abortions, which could cause women to lose their lives or their ability to have children. These services are widely advertised in the Johannesburg CBD, at stations, on stop signs and buildings.
The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act protects a woman’s right to choose and allows women to access safe abortion services at legitimate clinics and hospitals. Abortion is offered free at any government hospital or clinic. Legally, any woman, whatever her age, can have an abortion if she is still in the first trimester (12 weeks).
It is only legal to have an abortion after this if her physical or mental health is at stake, the baby will have severe mental or physical abnormalities or if she is pregnant because of incest or rape. However, this can only be done before the pregnancy has reached 20 weeks (five months). After this cut-off, it is illegal to perform or have an abortion.
An ex-UJ student, who asked not to be named for fear of legal and social repercussions, suffered damage to her cervix and uterine wall after undergoing a backstreet abortion way past the legal 20-week gestation period.
Enrolled as a Media Studies major, the woman was forced to take a “time-out” from school due to the physical and mental after-effects she suffered.
“I was scared and on a bursary and I could not afford to disappoint my family.” She had delayed the termination, thinking she would keep the baby, while her boyfriend was around. Once he disappeared, her pregnancy had advanced beyond the legal limit.
“I saw a flyer at Park Station and I secretly took the number. They promised a safe and cheap abortion so my mind was made.”

The stairs reeked of urine and rotting garbage. Lighting was scarce on the winding staircase and loud music blared from apartments on different floors.
She wouldn’t go into much detail about the procedure itself. “It was just at a building in town. I went to the room of it and there was a bed and some weird looking silver tools.”

She was given an array of pills “for pain”. The “midwife” used a tool which she described as “very cold and hard” and then she felt a sharp pain. Feeling a “warm fluid”, she assumed the worst was over – until it became apparent this fluid was blood, which wouldn’t stop.
She bled heavily for seven days, suffering intense abdominal pain, until an aunt forced her to go to a clinic.
Another young woman is said to have committed suicide as a result of the mental trauma she suffered after an illegal abortion. A friend, who asked not to be named since out of sensitivity for her friend’s family, said the woman was never the same after her abortion.

She bled heavily for seven days, suffering intense abdominal pain, until an aunt forced her to go to a clinic.
“She would not talk about it. She just started behaving differently. She became very reckless. She told me that it was a bad experience and that she would always regret it.”
Having received a tip-off, Wits Vuvuzela visited a building where unlicensed abortions are said to take place, three blocks from Park Station, adjacent to a taxi rank.
The stairs reeked of urine and rotting garbage.

Lighting was scarce on the winding staircase and loud music blared from apartments on different floors.

When our reporter knocked, a woman appeared behind a steel security door and asked if she had an appointment. The reporter pretended to be lost and left.
From the room, a metallic smell mingled with something that smelt like hard liquor.
According to Marie Stopes South Africa (MSSA), an organisation which specialises in sexual and reproductive healthcare, the drug sometimes used for medical abortions, Cytotech, is easily acquired. If administered incorrectly, it could cause hemorrhaging and rupturing of the uterus, said Andrea Thompson, head of clientele at Marie Stopes Organisation.
“Women should be wary of anyone offering medical abortion pills without providing a consultation and an exam to determine their gestation (stage of the pregnancy).”
If administered wrongly, the pill could have severe consequences, including death, she said.
Even though it is legal to have an abortion, no questions asked, Wits and UJ students told Wits Vuvuzela they avoided the health sector because of the judgement they faced there.
Wits Vuvuzela went to Hillbrow Clinic to posing as a woman in need of an abortion. The security guard at the entrance asked every patient their destination.

This forced her to disclose this in front of 25 people. She was treated unsympathetically by a nurse, whose face registered disapproval until the journalist said she had reconsidered and would not go through with the abortion.

 

 

‘A Shaka Zulu type n*gga’

“WHEN it comes down to it, I prefer a manly-man – a beast.”

MANLY-MAN: The women interviewed said they wanted a man who could "handle" them.  PHOTO: Kudzai Mazvarirwofa

MANLY-MAN: The women interviewed said they wanted a man who could “handle” them. PHOTO: Kudzai Mazvarirwofa

This was one of the views Wits Vuvuzela received when we asked young women from different backgrounds about their ideal man.
It appears the metrosexual man is experiencing a mid-life crisis. The popularity of the “metros”, as they are fondly known, seems to be dwindling as young women who rooted for them after their debut in the early 2000’s have started losing interest.

“I stopped dating them [metros] because it’s all about them and how they look. It’s never about me. They got more in love with their looks, like I never existed.

According to the Urban Dictionary, the metrosexual man is defined as a “heterosexual urban man who enjoys shopping, fashion, and similar interests traditionally associated with women or homosexual men”.
Nomonde Tyenjele, a student from Stellenbosch University, prefers her man to be the epitome of masculinity because she does not have a taste for the “tendencies” that metros exhibit.
“I prefer a man’s man because he doesn’t have gay tendencies that will make your friends and family question [his sexuality].”

 

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REED ‘EM AND WEEP: The women said they wanted a “beast”. PHOTO: Kudzai Mazvarirwofa

Rosine Nzengu, a young woman studying in the DRC, said her previous experience of relationships with metros was not ideal, citing their “self-love” and lack of “respect” as the reason.
“I stopped dating them [metros] because it’s all about them and how they look. It’s never about me. They got more in love with their looks, like I never existed.”
Nzengu also said she preferred the simplicity that “manly-men” exhibited.

 

The main reason for these women’s dislike of the metro is the fact that they break with traditional relationship roles. The women approached said they liked to feel feminine, which meant being with a masculine man, who was supposed to “frame” them.
“Feminism, to me, is territorial. I don’t like sharing [the spotlight]. The minute he asks for my hairdresser’s number, we have a problem,” Nzengu said.
One Wits student asked not to be named because she is dating a metro, can’t see herself settling down with him, or any other metro. “They are fun, but I don’t see myself taking him home … I guess when it comes down to it, I just don’t take him seriously.”
In the replies Wits Vuvuzela received, women linked their “ideal man” to traditional societal roles. They wanted a man who would take care of the family and be the breadwinner. They referred to idolised men in their own backgrounds – like fathers, uncles or pastors – as models for their ideal love interest.
Wits Vuvuzela received more boisterous remarks from a focus group conducted with women from University of Johannesburg (UJ), Wits and surrounding tertiary institutions. UJ student Tafadzwa Samu said she preferred “a beast”, a man who “can take charge” and said she did not get that from metros.
She wanted a partner who would “take charge, like your Shaka Zulu-type nigga. The Kunta Kinte. A man who can handle my strong personality”.
She added that metros were “men, but not man enough for me”.
Not all women are against metros, though. North West University student Trish Chikura said: “I’m actually into metros … I guess it’s in how they take care of themselves.”
It appears that the reason some women go for metros is the same reason that damns them in the eyes of others