The new documentary Not Yet Rain explores how difficult it is for Ethiopian women to obtain safe abortions, even though the country has one of Africa's most progressive abortion laws.
The 23-minute film by Lisa Russell, which is available for viewing online, follows two young women who are seeking safe abortions after being assaulted. The film was produced by Ipas, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to preventing deaths and disabilities from unsafe abortions. According to the organization, 67,000 women die every year from unsafe abortions across the world, and more than half of the deaths occur in Africa.
In 2004 the Ethiopian Parliament approved a new law legalizing abortion for minors, women who have been raped, and cases in which the mother's life is in danger. However, due to a lack of supplies and education, legal abortions are still extremely hard to come by. In Ethiopia unsafe abortions, including ingesting herbs and placing objects in the uterus, are still the second leading cause of death for women of child-bearing age.
Tigist, who is now 20, was raped while working in a tea room by a man whose marriage proposal she refused. When her employer found out, she was kicked out of her home and lost her job. In the clip above, she seeks treatment at a local health center, but is told the facility can only perform the abortion in the first trimester, and she is three months and 15 days pregnant.
Eventually, she gets an abortion at a regional hospital. In an interview posted on Shakesville, filmmaker Lisa Russell said, "Tigist life will has changed remarkably after having the procedure. She can go on to get a job, get an education, and pursue her goals."
Saba Kidanemariam, who works at Ipas Ethiopia says in the documentary that she doesn't feel that if a young woman gets pregnant she should be blamed because society has failed her. "Maybe the information she needs she is not getting, services she might need, she is not getting," says Kidanemariam. "Society is responsible for this. It should have been her right to get services, to get information, and to live as a person is entitled."