Untold Abortion Stories from Nigeria (2/4)

Criminalizing abortion is a form of discrimination against women. Abortion is still illegal In Nigeria,but it hasn't stopped thousands of women from getting it. These women endanger their lives by seeking unsafe means to terminate pregnancy. In this series of stories, Hannah, writer, journalist and story ambassador for CotW talks to women who despite the dangers have decided to get an abortion.
Nigeria, Western Africa

Story by H.T. Jagiri. Edited by Veronica Burgstaller
Published on August 18, 2022. Reading time: 5 minutes

This story is also available in ng



Criminalizing abortion is a form of discrimination against women. Abortion is still illegal In Nigeria, but it hasn't stopped thousands of women from getting it. These women endanger their lives by seeking unsafe means to terminate pregnancy. As someone who is passionate about women’s rights and gender equality, I wanted to explore the impact  of the criminalization of abortion in Nigeria. So I sought out women who have risked their lives to terminate their pregnancies. This is the story of Amina* a 13-year-old girl who was raped by a family friend and made to undergo a very traumatic event. As I watched her speak, she was shivering and clasping her fingers tightly together. One would think the air was chilly, but I knew better. 

"I went to a friend's place one evening, and he offered me palm wine [1] while we played a game of ludo.[2] I got really tired and slept for a while. When I woke up, it was late in the evening, and I rushed home. When I stood up to leave, I felt a sharp pain around my vagina and thigh region, but I concluded that it was "Ibotan" (a thigh sore). I was mistaken.

I got home, but I couldn’t recall anything from what happened at my friend’s place. A few months later I found out I was pregnant. I was confused, because to the best of my knowledge I had never had sex. I was only 13. While being questioned by my family, I started to recall a few things. I went and confronted my friend, and he confessed that he had raped me. I told my parents, and we all went to meet his family. He denied everything. His father called me a slut and told my family I opened my legs for anyone who drove a car. I was heartbroken. I begged him to tell the truth, but he looked away from me. My family and I left the house filled with shame. My parents hated me for bringing shame to the family. No one believed me. So they decided I won't keep the child. My mum took me to a doctor, and he said It was too late for an abortion. Refusing to raise another man's child, she took me to another doctor who agreed to do it.

The "hospital" was the apartment of a young doctor, who used one of the rooms in his three-bedroom apartment as an abortion clinic. The walls of the room were painted white, and suspicious stains were on some corners of the wall. A large thick cloth was used to cover the window leaving the room in darkness. To unsuspecting outsiders, it is just a normal room. A poorly dimmed lamp can be seen on what looks like a makeshift table, and the shape of a hospital bed can be seen.


I wasn't even given the luxury to scream because no one must know what was going on, so I bit my lips till they bled and held on to the rim of the bed.

He told me to lie and spread my legs wide open. I couldn't make out what he inserted in me, but I felt metal touch my skin. I felt excruciating pain as he scraped and sucked. I wasn't even given the luxury to scream because no one must know what was going on, so I bit my lips till they bled and held on to the rim of the bed. After he was done, he gave me a sachet of paracetamol and sent me home.”

She stopped and let out the tears she had been holding since she began talking. I took a break of one hour, to give her time to settle down and also to calm myself down after listening to her words. There was one last question I needed to ask her. If she regretted getting an abortion. 

"As traumatic as it was, it would have been much worse if I had a child for him. I really can't fathom how my life would be now if I had the child."


[1] Palm wine is an alcoholic drink made from the sap of palm trees

[2] Ludo is a strategy board game

*Names marked with asterisks have been changed to protect the identity of those who spoke to Correspondents of the World on condition of anonymity

Read Part 3 - The Doctor's View of this story series on Untold Abortion Stories from Nigeria here

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H.T. Jagiri

H.T. Jagiri

Aside from being a content writer, H.T. Jagiri is a journalist and creative writer who believes every story is worth telling. Her creative works can be found in Kalahari review, Brittle paper, Olongo Africa and elsewhere. In her words, "We all have a singular purpose on earth, mine is to tell stories."

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