Woman forced to endure repeated pregnancy and denied contraception

Aysha (3 of 4).jpg

“My name is Aysha* I am 40 years old and live in Halhul with my husband and family. I have been married since I was seventeen and have six children.

I am very fertile and have been pregnant many times. After my first two children and a miscarriage, I went to the PFPPA clinic to get family planning methods but despite using the IUD and pills, I got pregnant with my fourth and fifth children. I got very tired of this situation.

I then went back to PFPPA and they helped me. Since I suffered, I was pleased that other women gained knowledge and I opened my home to be used by them for education. Fatima, the social worker came, along with a doctor, and they gave lessons on sexual and reproductive health in my house because I could benefit from that, as well as the other women.

However, despite having another IUD fitted I got pregnant again and had a sixth child. I had a lot of fatigue and many children. When I finished the last pregnancy, I said, “That’s enough!” I wanted to find a method that could close the matter with an operation and relieve me as my body was exhausted.

However when I tried to get a sterilization at the public hospital they told me I was too young and I became pregnant once more and I was very weak. I started crying as I didn’t want to be pregnant and I told them I wanted to end it in any possible way.

When the doctor removed the IUD this ended the pregnancy and I said to myself “thank God, there is no pregnancy so it is finished and I can relax” and I had another IUD inserted.

However, I got pregnant one more time. I have suffered a lot in my life. I went again to the PFPPA clinic and they told me that the IUD was not in its place. I cried, saying “I didn’t want this pregnancy!”

Because of the health risks of this pregnancy, I was referred to a doctor who was able to help me with information about pills that ended the pregnancy. I was then referred to the government hospital to get a sterilization operation.

It took an entire year to get a date for the operation but when it came to the day, the anaesthetist refused to treat me and told me to go home because I was too young and he wanted a fatwa from religious authorities despite this not being required.

I went back to PFPPA and they put in another IUD and we used condoms but me and my husband got tired and decided to be apart from each other. I am very nervous about pregnancy. After six children, there must be someone that can help us in the hospital!

All the suffering is on us, on women. You know in this society men don’t get vasectomies, they are afraid that this operation will affect them.

When it comes to abortion in Palestine I think the law should change as there are many women suffering like I do. They are not all like me… they get pregnant and bear it. I hope it will change. It must be easier to access within the law. How long have I suffered from that. These services should be affordable for women.”

Following this interview, PFPPA were able to get Aysha another appointment with the hospital for a sterilization to ensure that she received it this time, as the anaesthetist was not allowed to cancel the operation in that manner.

*not her real name