Can Abortion Be Justified?

Last night I dined with a friend. He’s the coordinator of one big international humanitarian NGO. We worked in a very different field, but somehow it is still connected.

Over wine, we got talking about the kinds of things we see in our places of work. On why expatriates like us are discouraged from being in insecure locations such as inside the settlement to spend the night, let alone live every day.

I said I would not do it. I am done with my cowboy days but I am sure young humanitarian actors will push their luck and try the adventure. But is it an adventure to live with the refugees if you represent oppression and reason for them being displaced? Maybe not, but that’s a story for another time.

On a more serious tone, our conversation gravitated on the subject of abortion. Since both of us work in the health sector, these are subjects we know are sensitive, and talked on hushed voices, and never blurted out in daylight, but we know it happens, and justified.

You see, without blaming anyone or any agency, we know that rape happens in the settlement or camps. People are in an insecure location and vulnerable situation, and many are just vultures taking advantage of the case, and the people they think are below them.

Imagine my surprise to hear that not only women are vulnerable in such a situation. In one week, he said they got report of men being raped but women out numbered them. Reports of defilement is available at police stations, but whether or not perpetrators are apprehended is hard to tell.

So, what he told me why they do it – abortion to victims of rape, made me think twice about why I am doing what I am doing here in Uganda. I even have to agree to disagree with him based on my faith.

That’s why abortion is hush-hush is because it’s the last resort. He said the best is still to have more robust policies on the protection of women and men against sexual exploitation and abuse, and stronger enforcement from the authorities. But when that system fails, there should be a support network that will catch these women victimized by their vulnerability, in a place where they thought they are protected but are not.

Being a victim is a hard pill to swallow. The psychological trauma it brings to the victim makes it hard for them to think straight. The fear of being discovered, labeled, and eventually ostracised in a community where you’re supposed to get your strength from to go on each day is tremendous.

What happens when the rape resulted in pregnancy?

That’s when another cycle of psychological trauma happens. Being pregnant from a rape always remind that person of what happened, of how she was not able to avoid it. Blame herself for bringing it to herself. The fight internally gets intense, making it hard for her to fight back, and often, the psychological trauma wins over the rational way of thinking, which can lead to many difficult decisions, including abortion and the worst suicide.

The mental health support system is as complicated as it can get. Not everybody understands what they are talking about, and when in such a complicated situation, often, the victims are left to fend for themselves. Making it hard for women to feel they had someone on their side. My friend told me that even he doesn’t like that program they have on abortion, but after seeing women getting into such a situation, he knew it has to be done. But he also told me that its the last resort when all support fails, and if they don’t do it, women will also find a crude way to get rid of the pregnancy that will also put their life further at risk.

So for us not to get there, as a humanitarian actor, we have a lot of responsibility for the people we serve.

First, when we design policy on protection and prevention of sexual violence and abuse, don’t let it on paper and pretend that action will magically materialize. No, it never does, that is why we should put weight on it and enforce it. We are making sure something or someone answers for the atrocities received in the hands of perpetrators.

Second, empower the support groups. Avoid the victim-blaming that often happens when rape is discovered. Nobody wants to be accosted and violated. Notably, no one should take advantage of a vulnerable situation to exert power over women and men.

Third, regardless of faith practices, we have to find solutions that best serve the many. I am not endorsing abortion. Like my friend, I am against it and will never advise it on anyone, but if all else fails, make sure that the solution identified will serve best the person and allowed to believe that s/he is not a victim but rather a survivor.

Fourth, as a person, we are our brothers and sisters keeper. We look out for each other and support each other by making sure that we all are equitable. God never wants harm to come our way, He wants us to live in harmony, but the world is crazy now. We become selfish and self-centered to the point of destruction.

The life where I live now is never easy. We make do of what we have, take advantage of the simple pleasures where it is merited. My friends here and I take our jobs seriously, that’s why our after-dinner subject was something that resonated in my head long after the wine wears off.

The road we travel to reach our workplace

Battle Marks … Scars Define How We Lived Our Lives

“Give credit where credit is due”

The words my doctor, let’s call him Dr. G, told me praising my perfectly healed surgical wounds. According to him because he took my crazy stitches out early, the wound healed according to how he wants it. Since he didn’t do my surgery, it was done in another place by another doctor; he had no control how my wounds were closed. That was the best he could do so I don’t end up with ugly scars.

Just so you know …

The one I showed you in the Happy Scar post is found on the inner side of my ankle. I had pins and wires inside used to attach my bones, and I have a smiling scar to remind me of that. The other one is on the outer side of my leg; it’s as straight as it could be. My therapist even said it looks like a vein only it is outside. I had a metal plate inside to attach them securely and take up some of the load when I started putting weight on my leg. I plan to have it tattooed with leaves and sunflower to match my smiley one.

I arrived home one week after I had my surgery in Tunisia. The doctors there did a wonderful job of fixing my bones and closing my wound with very tight stitches according to Dr. G.

I had extra wounds too, but they didn’t need stitching and again not necessary according to Dr. G. Those extra wounds were from the drain tubes they attached and kept for several days after the surgery, that’s why I had the dimples in my smiley scar.

So after I was seen by Dr. G, in the emergency room two days after I arrived from my 24-hour journey, he declared he would take out my stitches in one week or two the most to promote faster healing and for me to end up with nice looking scars.

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Dr. G taking my stitches out

Two weeks later, I am out of it, and with little TLC, the wound finally closed, the last dead skin fell off, and I am left with shiny new scars — my new battle marks!

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I am not new to accidents while away for work. I guess it’s part of the deal when you accept to live alone and do everything yourself. But most of my accidents were injuries from the kitchen — nothing traumatic and obviously not life-threatening. Like when one time I was baking and the hot baking dish landed on my thigh, and I developed an unsightly and very painful second-degree burn. Or when I accidentally cut off the top part of my nail because I was pretending, I can do what professional chefs do when cutting onions. I thought I lost part of my finger when I saw the blood. Good thing the nail grew back.

Whatever happen scar doesn’t just appear. All wounds heal if we take care of it and it can leave a beautiful mark. But if we don’t, it will fester until it gets out of control, it will leave an ugly mark.

Whatever mark was left, it is there because something significant happened, a mark giving us a choice to not do it again or to continue to be strong. It is there as a reminder that we are vulnerable, that anything can happen and we will have something to show for it.

Like in life.

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Happy Scar

Must be wondering what happened to me since my last post Am I Lucky at 7?.

Well, my doctor gave me more thumbs up.👍👍👍👍👍👌 It means my bones have completely healed and I graduated from partial weight to full weight bearing when standing, walking and even climbing stairs. It was a natural high, I was elated until I crawled back under the rock and stopped doing exercises at home.

While my physical healing is improving every day, my emotions are like a roller coaster. Most of the time I stay at the base than up there looking at the blue skies and happily shouting coming down.

I am still trying to figure out why I am having delayed psychological reaction to my accident … maybe it’s not even delayed, it is just manifesting now. I have no answers yet.

When I do I will let you in my discoveries … watch out!

For the meantime, I am taking advantage of the high and blogging and taking a cue from my smiley scar.

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At least my scar is always smiling

I went to bed happy.

The last thing I did was publish my last post and turned off the lights. I guess I was tired because most nights I don’t sleep before the witching hour of 3 am the following day so sleeping before midnight was a real treat! But whatever time I went to la la land I always wake up the same time, before the rooster even which tells me I must be getting old 😄. Who cares anyway? Definitely not me!

Anyway, fully awake now I checked my phone and saw the little WordPress, WhatsApp and Facebook icon giving notice that people actually read my post. Well the WhatsApp message was something else but I am pleased with who I saw, and read and I liked them. Especially in Facebook because these are people that I personally know and knows me back.

The first three women who liked my FB post are the three women that I admire myself.

We encountered life and work together and actually a fourth even reached out to me privately when I posted my poem Falling In The Cracks. She offered to listen but all I could reply was “Thanks Amel” because I know even without telling she knows what I am feeling.

Then I saw this quote fitting tribute to the friends I made over the years.

It is not really the number of friend you have that matters its the quality and the bonds you made together.

It doesn’t matter how often you see or talk to each other its the feeling that you know they are there no matter what.

There is always that invisible tie that binds friends together and its truly great to know that the binds are made of gold thread that is priceless like that of families.

Shout out to my friends 🔊 You know who you are!

Lets to friendship! Even virtually

Am I Lucky at 7?

I’m at my ortho doctor’s clinic waiting for him to arrive for my first appointment and maybe my last during this month – the fourth month since my accident.

I came home after I was released by my attending orthopaedic doctor from La Marsa private hospital. I stayed a week after my surgery. And anticipating my need for full time care my organisation, and I decided to evacuate me back here. One week after being hospitalised I was cleared to travel with so much precaution, and class except I cannot enjoy the perks of a business class traveller when you’re nursing a cast leg and in blood thinners especially if your airline has good wine selections 🍾🍷🍹

So arriving after travelling 10,000 kilometres for 24 hours the reality of being disabled was sinking in. The local representatives of my insurance were in my case and scheduled me at the end of the week for a consult. The paranoid in me felt that I need to see the doctor immediately. Complaining of pain and thinking that my toes were turning blue. So instead of Saturday, I went to the emergency room three days prior only to be told my blood circulation was healthy and my pain was nothing to be worried about. My doctor just looked at my leg inspected the sutures and gush at how meticulously it was done and prescribed iron supplement and removed the blood thinner drugs. Then I was sent home. Uneventful 😄.

From then to now I wonder what will be the news … I am feeling lucky at my 7th visit to my doctor … that is if he arrives.

I am patiently waiting ⏳