A recent research conducted by a team from the University of Kelaniya has revealed that a staggering 658 abortions were being performed in the country daily.
The research was carried out using most recent data from the health sector and related demographic and health surveys done by the Department of Census and Statistics.
Senior Lecturer at the Department of Sociology of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Kelaniya, Prof. K. Karunathilake said that 240,170 abortions were being carried out annually in the country illegally.
Data for the initial qualitative research carried out was collected in 2011 from the Southern Province, Uva Province and Eastern Province.
“The majority (just above 50%) of those who are sexually active in the country do not use contraceptives and contraception methods due to lack of knowledge and issues such as social stigma,” he mentioned, He further said they used other inaccurate techniques in terms of providing protection from unwanted pregnancies such as planning sexual activity round the menstruation cycle and also engaging in coitus interruptus. “Only 50% of those married use proper contraception,” he noted. “There is a clear increasing trend to be seen with regard to abortions,” he added.
There are certain socio-economic-cultural-religious barriers against utilizing remedial measures to control abortion and these must be overcome, he remarked, adding that bureaucrats were reluctant to talk about the matter while politicians had poor knowledge concerning abortion and sexual and reproductive health.
Sociologists, medical experts, psychologists, clinicians, anthropologists and economists should come forward to create a discourse, discussion and open dialogue about abortion to obtain the support of the public including from religious figures and other responsible parties by enlightening them about the complexities of the issue, prior to taking up the matter at decision making platforms, he observed.
Should we legalize commercial sex in order to minimize sex related crimes and sexually transmitted diseases, he queried.
Teen pregnancies are nationally at 6.5%, he said. “There must be legal provisions to allow for certain abortions and these cases must be thoroughly monitored. The women’s rights aspect must be looked at,” he said.
He further pointed out that no proper knowledge is imparted to the students through the school curriculum.
“Advocacy, counselling and awareness are the actions suggested to improve the knowledge and attitudes. Remedies should not be imposed in an ad-hoc manner. Are they viable and feasible? The results that emerge from the discourse can be utilized in deciding such,” Prof. Karunathilake added.