In my campus, there are a few tacit rules that students live by. We call it the Code. Rules that are made to guide their lives in the grand scheme of relations with people of the opposite sex: always carry a condom in your wallet when going out, ladies should arm themselves with the morning after pills; do not pick up prostitutes, or any girl with a yellow weave. This Code will secure your chances of living past forty, where life supposedly begins. However, the Code finds its way out of the window, and is ruthlessly disregarded.
It all begins with a night out, most of the time; and we all know that alcohol, cheap talk and poor judgment are first cousins in the grandiose family tree of debauchery. What follows next is that the girl finds her drunken self between a mattress and a hard place. A month later, a period goes missing. The next thing a guy knows is his girlfriend sitting him down and beginning with the dreaded line; “Baby, we need to talk.”
This is when reality checks in, followed closely by regret. That is the time the two lovebirds realize that they are 20, unemployed with a kid on the way. The shame that they will go through. The fact that we live in a society that scorns young parents doesn’t make it easier. What will they tell their parents? We treat pregnancy tests like STDs such that when the result is positive, then it is a negative.
The only solution is to get rid of it.
So far, Moi University is exalted with the dubious honour of rampant cases of abortion. Instances of multiple abortions by the same student are no longer worthy of the spotlight. Winnie, a student there, procured her first abortion in first year. She was fearful of her father who is an ex-military jarhead. Her boyfriend jilted her, and she was left with no choice. Earlier this year, she found out that she was heavy with child, and “flushed” it again.
“If you are a girl in Moi University and you haven’t procured an abortion, then you deserve a .drink,” says Patience, a student of law in Annexe Campus. She went ahead to explicate to this writer in detail about how Medicine students help their desperate friends who are caught up in the net of unwanted pregnancies. “These students hook you up with a nurse from Moi Referral who then takes you to see a Doctor who relieves you of your heavy burden.” She says that in some cases, the students are known to pinch abortion pills from the hospital and sell them for Ksh.2,000.
“This is relatively pocket-friendly than a visit to the Doctor who asks for Ksh.5,000.”
The price is not standard though; it ranges depending on the pills and the age of the foetus. There are pills that are ingested, and some that are inserted vaginally.
“If you are a girl in Moi University and you haven’t procured an abortion, then you deserve a .drink,” – Patience, Moi University
These services come as a relief to the many students in the university. Abortion is cheap there. All you need to do is to know someone in the faculty of medicine and your troubles are sorted. Furthermore, when dealing with a student, one can be availed with flexible modes of payments e.g. cash or instalments that are paid periodically over time.
The situation at Moi University is made worse than it seems. There are whispers about chamas that are founded specifically for such emergencies. These chamas provide a financial cushion to their members. They loan out money to those who get pregnant, who then pay back with little interest. Gravidity has now evolved into a booming business with a simulation of insurance cover.
Strathmore University is renowned for its piety and disciplined students; but when it comes to cases of unwanted pregnancies, it too raises its reverent head. Nyabuto, a fresh graduate from its School of Business lifts the veil by way of example. A few mistakes ago, after realizing that her runaway boyfriend had put her in the family way during her second year, she immediately made up her mind to terminate the pregnancy. A friend introduced her to a woman at Afya Centre, who in turn forwarded her to a Doctor who operates a ramshackle health centre in the heart of Kiambu. She parted with a whooping Ksh. 8,000 but the trauma still haunts her dreams to date.
In the University of Nairobi, it’s just the same script with different casts.
Earlier this year, the UoN School of Law (my campus) reopened gates after a brief hiatus only to find a foetus decomposing in one of the ladies’ loos. The gore, but sad, image of a baby whose life had been cut short by its mother suddenly found its way into the social media tabloids- and as expected- caused irate ripples throughout the campus. Most of the people who were pissed off by the image being circulated online were the ladies, and after three days of so, the guy who posted it online was finally cajoled to pull it down, albeit with reservations.
Joy, a third year student of medicine at the institution says that abortion is taught in the final year of the medical discipline. This is necessary for those who are interested to take up gynaecology as a career. However, there are no incidences of the students trying out such procedures on fellow students. But that does not mean that they take the Hippocratic Oath any more seriously than their counterparts from Eldoret. She says that there is a dealer who owns a chemist in town who has mastered the art of abortion. He summons all those girls who are tired and heavy laden and gives them rest. He issues the abortion pill, Misoprostol.
Misoprostol (otherwise known as Cytotec, Arthrotec or Oxaprost) has become a darling for girls in this University. Winnie, a fellow comrade in the school, says that there is a guy going by the street name and fashion of Kevo, who owns a chemist at Anniversary Towers (just opposite UoN Main Campus) who is always willing to make it readily available for only Ksh.3,000.
Cytotec, works for pregnancies that have not lasted a day past 12 weeks. This medication was not originally intended for the massacre of unborn children. It is meant to cure peptic ulcers, but when taken in high dosages, it induces labour and causes the contraction of the uterus walls resulting to the murder of the foetus. This is the same pill used in Moi University.
Abortion might be cheap today, but its consequences are expensive. The side effects of ingesting Misoprostol are sometimes not what the girls bargained for. They end up losing more than they budgeted for.
First of all, the pill does not offer a 100% guarantee of losing the baby. In some cases it backfires, and after nine months, the couple is ‘cursed’ with a bundle of unwelcome joy. But not all of them get so lucky. For others, it leads to immeasurable pain, incessant diarrhoea, development of fibroids, infertility or uncontrollable haemorrhage resulting to severe anaemia, or in the worst case scenario, death. For this last reason, where symptoms such as excessive bleeding and excruciating pain persist, a patient is advised to report to the nearest hospital and say that they have miscarried. The doctors will not suspect a thing.
But that’s just with the medical repercussions. If nabbed, a person convicted for participating in abortion faces up to life imprisonment. This is pursuant to Article 26 of the constitution which holds out that life begins at conception.
There are several other examples of students in different colleges across the nation engaging in this bane that continually insult the very principles this country was founded on. The problem is that this trend is bound to continue, and so will the statistics of young girls putting their lives on the line in some backstreet clinic. The varsities’ administrations do not seem to care about the welfare of the students they teach. Awareness has been abandoned in the domain of matatu bumper stickers and a few concerned NGOs.
Well, this is the ugly truth about place of abortion in our campuses today. It has been denied the attention it rightfully deserves. We students go through a rigorous system in which they we are taught how to talk speak and feel, but all these things do not teach us anything about the first rule of nature which is self-preservation. Students need to be taught that abstinence is not just a biblical philosophy. That having a love is more important than having a lover. That even when accidents happen, taking up responsibility is the first step at making things right. That being a young parent may be difficult, complicated and literally full of crap. It may be double the trouble, and at times money is a maybe.
The beauty of birth may leave its own scars, but nothing comes close to having a baby.
PS: the names of persons herein used are fictitious for security purposes…you understand, right?