Family planning is rejected by religious leaders as well as nationalists who wanted a bigger populationPregnant, desperate, and poor, Pakistani mother Zameena faced a stark choice: risk her life by having a secret abortion, or risk her life bearing her husband a sixth child.
In the end, she opted for the former, one of more than two million women a year to do so in a country where religious leaders are critical of family planning measures and there is a lack of sex education and access to contraception.Almost half of all pregnancies in Pakistan – around 4.2 million each year – are unplanned and around 54 per cent of those end in termination, according to a report by US research firm Guttmacher Institute.“Three years ago, when my daughter was born, the doctor told me that I should stop having babies because it would be bad for my health,” said Zameena, using an assumed name, from her home in the northwest city of Peshawar. “But whenever I say that to my husband, he tells me to trust God,” the 35-year-old added. “My husband is a religious man … he wants to have a line of sons.”
Decades ago, a family planning campaign with the slogan do bache hi ache or “two children is good” was rejected by religious leaders as well as nationalists who wanted a bigger population to rival the 1.2 billion people in neighbouring India.