'Allow raped women to abort'

HARARE - The Women’s Parliamentary Caucus has called on government to allow women who would have been raped to abort unwanted pregnancies as espoused in the new Constitution.

Female legislators said this during a workshop to discuss family laws and their realignment with the new Constitution in Harare on Friday.

Delegates expressed concern over Section 48(3) which deals with the right to life.

“We are facing challenges as many women are failing to terminate unwanted pregnancies for example if one is raped.

“She has to make a police report, and then go to a doctor before being referred to a magistrate who will give her a certificate that she takes to hospital for termination of the pregnancy. This is a long process as the pregnancy will be growing,” said Keresencia Chabuka, senator for Manicaland.

“It is one of the matters that has to be addressed when we are realigning all the family laws,” she added.

The view was supported by all female legislators who agreed that women needed access to hospitals to terminate unwanted pregnancies without difficulty as is provided for in the Constitution.

Harare Metropolitan senator Rorina Muchiwa, however, said close cooperation with the police would be needed to ensure that the law would not be abused by some unscrupulous people.

MDC legislator Lucia Matibenga, also voiced concern that some women prisoners were being denied sanitary ware and access to good health facilities like toilets while serving their terms.

Chiedza Simbo, the director of Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association said the women legislators had to debate laws wholesomely to ensure that realignment of family law was done urgently to benefit women.

Speaking at the same workshop, president of the Senate, Edna Madzongwe zeroed in on the issue of gender equality and fair representation in key state institutions such as Parliament and Cabinet.

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