A fine Monday morning.
Article Type: Reprint
Subject: Pregnancy (Social aspects)
Husband and wife
Author: Frank, Liz
Pub Date: 08/01/2008
Publication: Name: Sister Namibia Publisher: Sister Namibia Audience: Academic; General Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences; Women's issues/gender studies Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 Sister Namibia ISSN: 1026-9126
Issue: Date: August, 2008 Source Volume: 20 Source Issue: 3
Topic: Event Code: 290 Public affairs
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Namibia Geographic Code: 6NAMI Namibia
Accession Number: 188293344
Full Text: It was on a fine Monday morning that Mr. Kotze suddenly felt sick. In a flash he remembered his last four pregnancies, and that his period was two weeks overdue. No, not again, he raged, while his heart sank and his knees turned to jelly. How will I tell my wife?

He covered up his condition as long as he could, but she caught him vomiting up his breakfast in the bathroom a few weeks later. What, she screamed, not another child! Couldn't you have been more careful this time? Every time I get a pay rise you have another child, is that the logic? Are you jealous of my work? She slammed the door and after another productive day at the office she comforted herself in the arms of her spunky young lover.

Mr. Kotze's anguish grew as the weeks passed by and his bulging belly began to show more than the outstanding effects of Windhoek Lager. He started beating the children and lost all interest in his housework. He suffered the regular battering from his wife in silence because he was afraid she would leave him and pay no maintenance. how could he possibly raise the five children alone?

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Just before it was too late Mr. Kotze decided to have an abortion. But how? Since the law did not recognise rape in marriage he could hardly claim he had been raped by his wife. Although that was what it often felt like to him. After swallowing a litre of StaySoft and pushing needles into himself he finally found a backyard solution.

Open your legs and shut your mouth, ordered the veiled figure as volcanoes of pain erupted inside him. He had hardly staggered back onto the street when he was arrested and dragged off to court. Illegal abortion, the judge pronounced, and gave him the maximum sentence of N$ 5000 and 5 years in prison.

His wife moved in with her spunky young lover, warning him to be more careful than her husband because she didn't want any more children. That could have been the end of the story.

Except that on a fine Monday morning the judge suddenly felt sick. In a flash he remembered all he had heard about pregnancy, and counted the days back to his last period. Oh no, not me, he cried, as his heart sank and his knees turned to jelly. I wanted to become a judge in the high court before starting a family. That's the end of my career. Why didn't someone change the law on abortion?

This short story was first published by Sister Namibia in 1993.

RELATED ARTICLE: Liberalise the law on abortion!

Unlike in the above story, the new Rape Act (2000) does criminalise rape in marriage. However, there has been no progress regarding the liberalisation of the law on abortion, while women continue to die through unsafe methods, such as drinking various mixtures of chemical cleaning agents, insecticides and battery acid, inserting objects into the uterus or throwing heavy objects onto their abdomens.

Perhaps if more of our brothers could learn to empathise with women facing unwanted pregnancies, the 1999 amendments to the restrictive Abortion and Sterilisation Act of 1975 could be dusted off and re-tabled in parliament by the Minister of Health and Social Services. This would also bring us closer to achieving the Millennium Development Goal of reducing the high rate of maternal mortality in Namibia.

A short story by Liz Frank
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