Open Secret: The Toll of Unsafe Abortion in Tanzania

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This research documents the experiences of Tanzanian women and girls with unsafe abortion, including the role of the restrictive legal and policy framework in driving the high levels of unsafe abortion and limiting access to post-abortion care. It further highlights the government’s failure to ensure access to the necessary reproductive health information and services that are crucial in preventing unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, including among vulnerable groups such as adolescents and victims of sexual violence. The research is based on interviews and focus group discussions conducted in Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, and Arusha with women and girls, government officials, law enforcement bodies, and nongovernmental organizations.

The report calls upon the government of Tanzania to respect, protect and fulfill the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls through effective implementation of policy and programmatic measures aimed at addressing the toll of unsafe abortions. This includes removing criminal sanctions for abortion services and ensuring the legal framework is in line with the Maputo protocol; implementing a comprehensive guideline to health care providers; and ensuring that health care facilities are well equipped to provide abortion services. The report further calls on the government of Tanzania to disseminate scientifically accurate and comprehensive information on safe abortion services and address the stigma perpetrated against those who procure safe abortion services.