By MILLICENT MWOLOLO
More boys than girls are aborted, abandoned or even killed immediately after birth, a study by Maendeleo ya Wanaume organisation titled “Women Speak Out” reports.
The study, which sought to identify the reasons women in Kenya abort, was carried out between November last year and March this year in Central and Nairobi provinces, and involved 20,000 respondents between the ages of 22 and 42 years, both single and married.
The results provided some interesting insights. “We discovered that many women have abortions for fear of giving birth to boys.
In fact, from the findings, this is the main reason almost 60 per cent of all abortions carried out in Kenya,” says Ndiritu Njoka, chairman of Maendeleo ya Wanaume.
Remarkably, 30 per cent of the married women interviewed said their reason for aborting male foetuses was that they were not ready to engage in inheritance wrangles with their son(s).
“Speaking on condition of anonymity, some of these women revealed that they would have an ultrasound scan done to determine the sex of the baby.
"If it was a girl, they would carry the pregnancy to term, but if it was a boy, they would tell their husbands that there was something terribly wrong with the foetus and conspire with a medic to perform an abortion but make it look like a miscarriage,” Njoka says with concern.
In addition, many married women who already had two daughters were unwilling to have a third child for the fear that it might be a boy.
Meanwhile, the single women’s main fear of bearing boys was prompted by the fear that reduced their chances of getting married.
“It’s much easier for me to find a partner if I have a daughter, but if I have a son, my chances of ever getting married are slim because these days most men are reluctant to marry a woman with a son, who might claim a share of their property,” the report quotes one 28-year-old single woman from Nairobi as saying.
Some women said they were reluctant to have sons since they had no property to bequeath them.
But the decision to abort was not always the woman’s. Some single women who had married lovers said they had procured abortions due to pressure from the man.
“Some women revealed that their married lovers were reluctant to let them have boys, fearing that this ‘outsider’ might one day claim a share of his inheritance,” Njoka explains.
As a result, many boys born out of wedlock were abandoned with their maternal grandparents.
“This saw them suffer parental neglect, poor parenting and at times abuse at the hands of extended family members, making some run away to the streets in search of identity and acceptance,” notes the report.