Poor women are delivered a message in this country, that rather than deliver their baby, their baby would be “better off” having never been born at all. A message we can see at work here.
Among poor women, the abortion rate increased 17.5 percent, rising from 44.4 to 52.2 per 1,000 women […]
… when confronted with an unintended pregnancy, poor women who might have felt equipped to support a child, or another child, when not in the midst of a recession may have decided that they were unable to do so during a time of economic turmoil.
The message that if you don’t have a house with a white picket fence, then you might not be able to support your baby the way we, the nation, deem fit, is sinister enough. But now in South Africa, poor immigrant women, rather than getting the help they need, are actually facing a battle for custody because they had their children and aren’t able to meet the states criteria for “good parenting”.
Simon Zwane, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Development, confirms that women must have jobs and housing before they can recover their babies, to prove they are capable of caring for them.
“We have taken babies into places of safety until parents can prove they can look after their babies, they have fixed places of abode and they have partners or they have found employment and they will not be on the streets with babies,” he says.
Konjiwa, 26, spends her days remembering. Her 2-year-old son, Joe, is growing up fast without her in an institution far from the squalid building where she lives. She too carried her child across the Limpopo River.
“I can’t survive without my baby,” she croaks miserably. “I miss him more than anything.”
Zwane says some women use their babies to beg. But Konjiwa and Chibura say they cannot feed their children without begging, let along afford child care while they seek money.
As many as 2 million Zimbabweans have flooded into South Africa in recent years looking for work after fleeing their country’s economic collapse and political violence. They find they are not especially welcome, particularly in townships where xenophobic violence in 2008 saw machete-wielding mobs storm through, beating up Zimbabweans and other migrants, burning some to death.