While women die - How a global anti-abortion movement worsens the dramatic abortion situation in Nigeria

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According to the WHO, Nigeria accounts for almost twenty percent of global maternal deaths, one reason being: unsafe abortions.

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While women die - How a global anti-abortion movement worsens the dramatic abortion situation in Nigeria

May 2019 the Nigerian police raided a clinic in Nigeria’s biggest city Lagos, harassed the medical staff and took private documents of clients. The reproach: the clinic offers illegal abortions. It was the result of a campaign of a Spanish organization called CitizenGo. They had mobilised against the organisation behind the clinic: Marie Stopes, a british NGO that offers support for women’s right to self-determination all over the world, giving post-abortion care and providing the small range of legal abortions.

Nigeria is the African country with the largest population, growing faster every year: The UN estimates: in 2050 it will surpass the population of the United States of America. For pregnant women it is one of the most deadliest places on earth. A lot of women with unwanted pregnancies end up having unsafe abortions. And the international fight is manifesting in Lagos: As the global anti-abortion-movement managed to even cause raids in clinics, they make a big win.

In the last years the number of Nigerian women arriving as refugees in Europe has increased heavily. Many of them had suffered rape and carried unwanted pregnancies before fleeing Nigeria. While organisations like Marie Stopes try to enable women to take their own choices on their bodies and inform about family planning and contraception, christian organisations like CitizenGo lobby for stricter laws on women’s bodies.

This project gives account of the situation of maternal mortality in Nigeria, where tens of thousands of women die every year due unsafe abortions. In the context of the armed conflict around Boko Haram a lot of women were raped. Still, the state keeps its strict laws: Only if the life of a woman is in danger, doctors are allowed to carry out an abortion. According to research organisations that forces more than 700.000 Nigerian women into illegal abortion-clinics annually. Especially women with low income end up in life-threatening abortion procedures.

The situation is getting worse: Trump reintroduced the Global Gag Rule in 2017 which cuts USAID’s funding for any organisation or hospital which performs or informs about abortion. Marie Stopes is one of the organisations that declined to sign the Global Gag Rule. A move that caused critical budget cuts. The case of Marie Stopes is just one example of the fight about women's bodies in Nigeria. The project investigates how international organization like CitizenGo - that also organize campaigns in Germany - are trying to influence politics in West Africa and how local activists and organisations are holding against it.

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