Sunday, November 09, 2008

Misery heaped upon tragedy

The AP wire reported this summer that doctors in Spain were preparing to offer low-cost in-vitro treatments to women in certain African countries (not necessarily Zimbabwe, as I mistakenly wrote in my last post). The procedure, which costs thousands in the U.S., will be offered for a mere $200.

Why? Because infertile women run the risk of being accused of witchcraft.

As if the heartache of infertility isn’t enough, these women fear for their lives—because as I’ve been blogging about for a while now, being called a witch can get you killed in Africa (lynched, set on fire with gasoline, lynched: these are just a few that spring to mind from news reports in the last few years.)

The article reports that one in three women in Africa suffers from infertility. These high rates are due to “complications from unsafe deliveries, abortions or infections.”

"The cost of being infertile in Africa is much greater than in the West," said Oluwole Akande, an emeritus professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Akande acknowledged the price of the procedure would still be available only to Africa's upper and middle classes.

He said that in many parts of Africa women who are unable to have children become social outcasts, are labelled as witches, and in extreme cases, are even driven to suicide.

Anyone who has ever endured infertility knows how it bewilders you, makes you feel your body is betraying you, and puts that germ of fear in your heart that you will never have a child. To add the jimmies on the crap sundae, so to speak, and realize your neighbors think you wield dark magic … well, that just would make me go into a room and close the door. For a long time.

The full story can be found here.

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