The police raid of Marie Stopes clinic in Lagos proves that women’s rights are under attack

We are currently witnessing a wave of attack on women’s rights and bodily autonomy, instigated by the abortions bans that has been sweeping through America, and thus generating a conversation on how patriarchy continues to disenfranchise women. In Nigeria, and quite recently, there were sprawling protests sparked from the Abuja police raid targeted at women in nightclubs, who were also dehumanised and raped by the policemen. Using intimidation and fear, the police have exploited women found walking at night. On top of this, we are still keenly aware that women who are victims of rape or domestic abuse can’t report to the police because nothing would be done.

And that was the case when the women’s healthcare hospital Marie Stopes was invaded in Lagos, on Tuesday. Twitter user @Imoteda posted several disturbing tweets on the incident, and one can only imagine the horror the patients would have gone through, thinking they were in a safe place.




Apparently, the police were acting on the reductive belief that Marie Stopes runs ”abortion activities.” Under Nigeria’s abortion law, terminating a pregnancy carries a heavy sentence of 14 years imprisonment, unless the pregnancy is a threat to the woman’s life. While we can admit that the police were emboldened by the law to carry out the raid, Nigeria’s abortion legislation urgently needs to be reviewed and amended such that it recognises women’s bodily autonomy.

In a country with dilapidated healthcare infrastructure and a dearth of women’s-only spaces, Marie Stopes has been providing women with accessible healthcare services, contraception, breast and cervical cancer screenings, etc. Marie Stopes has trained staff who offer counselling and treatment, especially to those who cannot afford the services of private hospitals. So, what is the government trying to say with this raid? That women aren’t safe anywhere?

That said, and one day, the government would have to swallow the cold, hard truth that abortion is healthcare, and legislating laws informed by hypocritical religious morality to police women’s bodies is wicked and cruel. The Marie Stopes raid precipitated the #EndWarOnNigerianWomen hashtag on Twitter yesterday, drawing attention to not only this singular attack, but the continued oppression of women by the patriarchy in Nigeria. And, in summary, this tweet:

 

 

 

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