Now Daily Investigation
For Belinda, getting an illegal abortion cost more than money.
The Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) student was forced to have sex with the Chitungwiza doctor who performed the grisly act and dated him for a while before he unceremoniously dumped her recently.
“I had no choice but to submit to the doctor’s sexual demands. He demanded $4 000 for the abortion but I did not have it and my boyfriend could not provide it because he is just a student,” said Belinda, an orphan living with relatives in Harare.
Abortions are generally illegal in Zimbabwe. Terminating a pregnancy is only permitted in cases where the woman has been raped or is HIV positive, in which case a professional doctor must endorse the act. The ban has led to the emergence of illegal abortion merchants who prey on desperate pregnant women.
The cost of an abortion varies dramatically, depending on who is performing it as a Now Daily investigation found. Elderly women who use herbal concoctions to remove a foetus are still doing roaring business, charging as little as $2. Chinese pills sold over the counter in some pharmacies cost $15 but would need a professional nurse to insert them inside the woman’s genitals for an additional $20 or $30. Selling the pills is not criminalized by the authorities, who seem to turn a blind eye on the racket.
However, professional women and students like Belinda say they prefer to deal directly with medical doctors in case there are complications.
Well off married men who happen to make young school girls or college students pregnant are likely to fall into the hands of a growing number of abortion doctors preying on high-profile individuals whom they charge hefty fees both for services rendered and for their silence.
The enterprising doctors are also on the lookout for rich married women who are made pregnant through adulterous affairs with men who are not their husbands. Well-to-do women whose spouses are in the diaspora are their favourite class of abortion clients as the operation can be carried out with the husband not knowing. The doctors make an unlimited amount of money through regular mandatory ‘check-ups’.
Albert, an accounts executive at a leading logistics firm found out the hard way when his 18 year-old girlfriend Nozipo fell pregnant recently. He gave her the $300 which doctors generally charge for abortions in Harare.
“The doctor asked me if the man who made me pregnant was married and if he was employed. When I told the doctor that my boyfriend was a married accountant, he demanded to see him. He said he would not commit the abortion without talking to my man because he wanted to know if he would cover any incidental expenses, in case there were complications,” Nozipo said.
When Nozipo dragged Albert to the clinic, the doctor suddenly demanded $3 000. He was polite and gave Albert generous payment terms, but also hinted strongly that abortions were illegal and he was taking a risk that could end his career and land him in prison if the matter was found out, especially by the girl’s relatives, who could report him to the police. Albert was left in no doubt that he was being blackmailed because he had been captured by security cameras entering the clinic with the girl. He had no choice but to pay.
But dealing with a professional doctor is no guarantee of safety. A public prosecutor in the Midlands died after her romp with a married councillor resulted in pregnancy. She went to a reputable doctor who performed the abortion but could not prevent the woman from dying in the process. There are allegations that the doctor let the woman die after the councillor backtracked on pledges to pay thousands of dollars if the operation was successful. Another version is that the councillor hired the doctor to kill the woman under the guise of performing an abortion, to avert public scandal.
When Liz fell pregnant, there was no doubt what action she would take. Married to a Zimbabwean working in the United Kingdom, it would have been obvious that she had committed adultery in his absence. That could have ruined her life of luxury.
“The doctor made sure I told him everything about myself and my family. My sister, who accompanied me was careless and told the doctor that I was married to a man living in the UK. I wanted to keep that part a secret because as soon as the doctor knew, he started making more demands for money,” Liz said.
Liz said she was shocked after the same doctor made sexual advances on her teenage sister and started having an affair with her.
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Now Daily Investigation