A 14-year-old girl (name withheld) is seeking justice in the High Court of Malawi regarding her right to terminate a pregnancy, CSJNEWS has learnt.
The minor’s lawyers who sued several defendants, including the Minister of Health, wants the court to offer legal clarity regarding her rights to terminate a pregnancy resulting from sexual violence in line with Sections 19(1) and 19(2) of the Gender Equality Act.
A number of human rights organisations including the Nyale Institute of Reproductive Health, the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Afya na Haki, the Young Women Consortium (YWC), and the Centre for Reproductive Rights (CRR) are in support of her prayer to the court.
Nyale Institute Executive Director Godfrey Kangaude expressed the organisation’s support during a media conference held in Lilongwe at the weekend.
According to Dr. Kangaude, his organization and others have decided to support the girl, as her pregnancy is putting her life in danger.
“We stand by this girl because her case holds immense public importance concerning the ability of pregnant minors and survivors of sexual violence to access safe and legal abortion services as per our laws.
“The law permits termination of a pregnancy when a woman’s life is in danger. It is our strong belief, supported by evidence, that when a girl or woman becomes pregnant due to sexual violence, her life is indeed in danger. In such cases, girls and women have a legal right to access safe abortion services if they choose to do so,” said Kangaude.
He explained that existing laws and clinical guidelines lack clarity on how minors and survivors of sexual violence can access safe and legal abortion services.
“We believe a court determination would provide much-needed clarity on the legal obligations of healthcare professionals when dealing with situations involving sexually violated girls seeking safe and legal abortions,” he said.
According to Kangaude, the case serves as an important milestone in implementing the Gender Equality Act to ensure that survivors of sexual violence are protected and supported by the law.