Stigma Drives Darfur Women to Risky Abortions
Aid workers say girls and young women raped by militiamen during a rebellion in Darfur face a stark choice between the stigma of pregnancy outside marriage and a risky abortion.
But on Tuesday the Sudanese government accused international aid agencies of playing up the issue of rape in the Darfur region.
Women suffer knowing they are carrying the child of their attackers and the social stigma of being pregnant and unmarried in Sudan's conservative society.
"Some of the girls who were raped were brought ... with ruptures in their wombs after abortions. Little girls scared out of their minds not knowing which was worse - a village midwife's knife or carrying a Janjaweed's baby," a Sudanese aid worker in Darfur said.
One 15-year-old who had been raped said she had an abortion to escape harassment after her pregnancy become apparent.
"When you start to show, the police harass you and say you went with men. So three of us spoke to the midwife," she said.
"I was lucky. I was ill for a few days, then I was better (after the abortion). But my friends were taken to the big hospital in al-Fasher. They are still there," she said.
Under Sudanese law, unmarried women are subject to prosecution if they fall pregnant and aid agencies say they are concerned the victims are being punished for a crime committed by their attackers.
"These women are put in a terrible situation as far as their own culture is concerned ... the police arrest them for so-called illegal pregnancy," said Paul Foreman, a senior official in Khartoum with aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres.
And all the while we cut off aid to world organizations that so much as mention abortion.