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16,000 yearly abortions in Tunisia, the majority after rape

Image of doctors performing surgery [Official Navy Page/Flickr]

On average 16,000 abortions are performed per year in Tunisia, according to a recent study by the National Office for Family and Population (ONFP), the majority of which occur after women are raped.

The remainder of the cases are unwanted or unplanned pregnancies.

The overwhelming majority of cases are married Tunisian women (80 per cent) whilst 20 per cent of cases are single women.

Four-thousand of the total 16,000 were performed illegally, some without even a doctor being present.

Read more: Tunisian president calls for full gender equality

Unwanted pregnancies occur in the North African country due to the lack of sex education, mainly for unmarried women, according to Amel Bouchlaka, a researcher at the health centre of reproduction:

“Forty-two per cent of single mothers did not know that there was a contraceptive method, 41 per cent of them thought they could not get pregnant, others said that they did not use contraception due to embarrassment and fear for their reputation.”

Abortion was legalised in the country in 1973 and is a procedure mainly done in public or private medical institutions. Previously women were forced to adopt unorthodox methods such as inserting objects into their bodies and purposefully injuring themselves to miscarry.

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