By Fredrick Nzwili
NAIROBI, Kenya (OSV News) — An international Catholic pro-life organization is warning that the West’s fight against gender-based violence in Africa has a hidden agenda of promoting abortion.
The warning from U.S.-based Human Life International follows a French government announcement that it will provide $7.5 million to women’s civil society organizations in Africa to improve their response to the violence in 10 countries.
According to Human Life International, the plan includes cooperation with the African affiliate of abortion giant Planned Parenthood Federation and other self-declared “women’s empowerment groups.” These groups will roll out programs in Kenya, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Niger and other countries.
“Abortion and ancillary ‘services’ are hidden in various ways from the blatant to the subtle,” George Wirnkar, Human Life International’s regional director for Francophone Africa, told OSV News on March 13.
“Western countries may be as open as to telling the beneficiaries what services they must include in their offer to patients or may subtly include this in the material help they provide,” he said.
He explained that the countries have been providing funding to experienced and trusted nongovernmental organizations to roll out their agenda by targeting groups indirectly.
“These organizations try to win hearts and minds through financial incentives for attending their training seminars and sometimes better pay when they work for programs that deploy their agenda in the country,” he said.
Human Life International officials are concerned that Feminist Opportunities Now — the project unveiled to diplomats, including the French ambassador to Kenya and other international representatives, Feb. 7 in Nairobi — is one such program. It will be funded by the French Development Agency.
The launch occurred amid reports from the Guttmacher Institute, a research center relied on by the abortion industry and advocacy groups, that there are more than 8 million abortions in Africa each year. Over 51% of the aborted babies — over 4 million — are female.
In December, a British NGO — MSI Reproductive Choices — was blasted by Catholic activists in Africa for promoting abortion and contraception, amid accusations that it supplied contraceptives to school girls in Kenya without their consent. Formerly known as Marie Stopes International, the NGO provides contraception and abortion services in 37 countries. Recently, Kenya, Niger and Zambia have taken action against the group for providing illegal abortion.
Emil Hagamu, a Human Life International regional director in Africa, said the “so-called civilized West has sent millions of dollars to Africa to pay for abortions and contraceptives, something that African women did not ask for.” Eighty-five percent of African nations have abortion regulations and restrictions, he stressed in a news release March 8.
“Gender-based violence is a tragedy, but the idea that making abortions more available helps women is ludicrous and duplicitous,” he said. “Through abortion, birth control and sterilization, Africa’s population has long been intentionally targeted for decimation. This is the gender-based violence that must be stopped.”
According to Hagamu, instead of chastity, young women in Africa were being taught about contraception, with out-of-wedlock pregnancies being considered a disgrace and the women often forced to abort.
“Any program that truly seeks to stop gender-based violence will seek to provide healthy, life-affirming support for women, rather than serving up death to their children,” he said.
The organization educates people in Africa to welcome and support every human life from conception to natural death. It is supporting pregnancy resource centers, providing medical and material help, and offering spiritual support for pregnant women and their children.
“Each preborn child in a woman’s womb is a blessing to families in Africa,” Hagamu explained. “When a child is killed by abortion, the entire family suffers and therefore, abortion leaves behind grieving communities in Africa.”
Wirnkar said the organization’s major activities were advocacy and raising awareness. For example, to tackle male domination in the communities, working with women and men, young people and community leaders, Human Life International is advocating for true love, while showing how this was affected by gender-based violence in the family.
“Most African societies are patriarchal. The man is expected to do all the hard work, provide for his family and defend them from all attacks. … Some men tend to overreach this patriarchal role to dominate and abuse women as seen in gender-based violence,” he said.
According to the official, while it may be difficult to wipe out abortion completely, the organization was going beyond fighting it to teach the value and sanctity of life and provide alternatives. It was addressing unwanted pregnancies through chastity programs and those on human sexuality.
“We can make a bold (statement) that, thanks to our work, thousands of women and girls have spared their children,” he said, while explaining that addressing both gender-based violence and abortion either jointly or separately has to be a multidimensional effort.
“Local or community leaders have to create awareness, the school system has to openly discuss and encourage it, religious organizations have to work against it, and families ought to be strengthened,” he said.
Frederick Nzwili writes for OSV News from Nairobi, Kenya.