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Dialogues about abortion

This research documentary from North-Ethiopia, shows how the existence of competing discourses on abortion gives people the possibility to navigate in a culturally and religiously informed terrain, says social anthropologist and filmmaker Thera Mjaaland.

Film still
Photo: Tekleweyni Berhe


Even though abortion is still classified as illegal in the Ethiopian Criminal Code, it is nevertheless allowed in the following four cases: 1) Incest or rape, 2) If continuation of the pregnancy is dangerous for the woman's or the fetus’ health, 3) If the fetus has a deformity, and 4) If the woman has a physical or psychological problem (including if she is under the age of 18).

The following 11 dialogues took place in villages and rural towns of north-western Tigray after screenings of the four-part edutainment drama, CHOICES & CONSEQUENCES, where "Solyana" fell unwanted pregnant.

Parents and close relatives of the youth actors, teachers, health workers and religious leaders took part in these dialogues. The youth who had got basic film training in the project, were also part of the film team for this research documentary.

This project was part of the Norwegian Research Council-funded and University of Bergen-based research project: “Competing discourses impacting on girls’ and women’s rights: Fertility control and safe abortion in Ethiopia, Zambia and Tanzania” (SAFEZT, 2016-2018).

"Dialogues about abortion" can be seen here.

A documentary has also been made about the youth-participants in the project. It can be seen here.