By George Onah
Port Harcourtâ€”No fewer than 34,000 women die annually in Nigeria as a result of unsafe abortion, following which out of every woman that dies, 20 others are maimed for life due to ruptured uterus and other complications arising from the abortion.
Also, every six minutes, a woman dies needlessly as a result of unsafe illegal abortion, obstructed labour or haemorrhage.
A breakdown showed that over 76,000 induced abortion took place yearly in the country, 25 illegal abortions out of every 1000 pregnant women, out of which 60 per cent are unsafe.
Disclosing the figures at a seminar by the Network of the Bar, Bench and Police, in conjunction with the Federation of International Women Lawyers, FIDA, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Tuesday, Mrs Hauwa Shekarau, said â€œwhen a woman dies, the mortality of the under-fives rises very sharply.â€
Speaking on the theme, Reproductive health and righting a collective responsibility, Shekarau, who is Head, Policy Unit, Ipas Nigeria, said the death of a nursing mother may lead to the death of the child of under five years.
Shekarau saidÂ women and girls, particularly in the rural areas, use all forms of items to procure crude abortion, including cassava plant, leaf and stem as well as alligator pepper, native chalk, native alum, which they ground to paste and insert in their private part to terminate unwanted pregnancy.
She said some even use Bahamas grass, explaining that there were laws against unlawful abortion, including penal and criminal codes, which stipulate 7 to 14 years jail terms.
According to her,Â some of the laws against illegal abortion are obsolete.
In his keynote address, Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Samson Parker, said some of the abortions were direct consequences of rape cases, stating that â€œDoctors without Borders,â€ (medecins sans frontiers) had reported 200 rape cases in Port Harcourt to his office.
Parker said the 200 cases were recorded last year alone, adding that some of the rapes were even incestuous.
He explained that some of the victims accused their fathers, brothers and other close relations of raping them.