Beatrice’s story: a chance of a better future

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Beatrice Manda (not her real name) shares her journey to access safe abortion services in the Eastern Province of Zambia, after being impregnated by her uncle. 

My name is Beatrice Manda. I am 19 years old and I am a secondary school student in Chipata City of Eastern Province 

Last year, I left Petauke district where I lived and went to stay with my auntie, my mother’s sister, in Chipata. One day, my auntie went to church with her three older daughters for overnight prayers, and I remained at home alone with her youngest daughter, aged 6. My uncle had gone out drinking and came back at midnight, very drunk.  I opened the door for him and went back to sleep. He started calling me but I did not answer because I knew he was drunk. He kept calling and then came straight to my bedroom. He switched on the lights and continued shouting. Then he started touching me…and he had sex with me that night. 

I stayed awake until morning but, when my auntie returned from overnight prayers, I didn’t dare to tell her what had happened. A couple of months after, I decided to do a pregnancy test because I noticed I had missed my periods. I tested and the results came out positive. 

I told my uncle that he had got me pregnant, and he said I should look for someone to sleep with and accuse him of the pregnancy. I refused to do that, and we argued. That’s how he and his wife chased me out of their home.  

When I left their home, I went to a farm and then to the compound where I am currently staying. I called him once to remind him about the pregnancy, but he insisted that I should find someone else to blame for the pregnancy. Since then, he hasn’t picked up my calls.  

Searching for help  

I did not know what to do next. I didn’t know that hospitals provide safe abortion services at the time so all I could think about was to commit suicide - because the person who got me pregnant is my uncle, an old man. If my mother found out, I don’t know what she could have done. 

Thankfully, I spoke to my close friend from school and told her what had happened. She was the one who informed me about safe abortion services and advised me to go to the hospital. 

I come from a disadvantaged background. My mother is suffering, and I am the only one in the family who is likely to complete high school. So, I am the only one who, if I finish school, can help the family.  You cannot hide a pregnancy, so at some point people would start to ask who made me pregnant. I was certainly not going to accuse anyone else of being responsible for the pregnancy, but telling my family that my uncle was responsible was going to bring about a lot of confusion and problems. 

For all these reasons, I decided to terminate the pregnancy and started looking for safe abortion services. I first went to a health post but they referred me to a urban clinic, where they told me they didn’t have medical abortion drugs. From there I went to a General Hospital. I did a scan, but the nurses that attended me said they couldn’t help. That’s when my friend advised me to go to a local village, to a venue for the Ngoni traditional ceremony, to find representatives from the Ministry of Health who could assist me. I went there and found the ZAGO Provincial Comprehensive Abortion Care coordinator, who was willing to help. I was assisted to go to another hospital where I finally received safe abortion care. I was seen by the doctor and I was given an abortion pill to take orally.  I was told to come return after two days and was then admitted into hospital for further treatment.  

I would encourage others that find themselves in a similar situation as mine to confide in someone they trust, or just to go straight to the hospital for safe abortion care services. Don’t use unsafe traditional methods, people die by using them. And don’t take long to go to the hospital to seek help if you are pregnant because if you delay, you will end up having complications. 

To the girls who are kept by relatives as I was, I would tell them to remain strong and seek help to overcome any problems they might be going through. If you are attending school, just work hard so that once you complete your studies, you can move out and focus on your future. 

Beatrice Manda was helped as a result of community sensitisations done by the Zambia Association of Gynaecologists & Obstetricians (ZAGO) as part of the FIGO Self-Management of Abortion project in Zambia. FIGO remains fully committed to working with partners and colleagues to improve access to safe abortion care across the world. Find out more about our Advocating for Safe Abortion Project