- Nada Menzelji
- BBC News Arabic
For seven years, Hanan has been riding the train on her way to work and she can have fun watching from the window as the train passes the same stations every day in and out, but before she reaches a certain station, she always does will surely turn the face to the other side. It’s the station you never want to see.
Hanan, is a nickname to preserve the privacy of a Moroccan woman, who for years lives in the Belgian capital, Brussels and is also a mother of two children. The last sentence is why she can not even look at that station.If it were not for her landing there one day in May 2014, Hanan would have three children today.
“It’s the closest station to the family planning center where I had my second pregnancy,” Hanan told BBC News Arabic.
Hanan has not forgotten that experience to this day, and its consequences are still present in one way or another in her life.
She was married at the time and no one had the right to hold her accountable for her pregnancy and she was not forced to have an abortion and theoretically made her own decision and the abortion is legal until the 12th week of pregnancy. in Belgium, and the age of her fetus was 8 months when she had an abortion.
“I did not tell my husband”
But Hanan had other problems, she says: “I had no choice. I was not at all happy with my husband. He treated her badly. After three years of marriage I realized that life with this man was never what I imagined, but rather it was like a trap. ”
“But getting back to my family in Morocco was very difficult and I did not want to go back with my failure and I was thinking of getting my papers (Belgian citizenship) at least, before I left my husband. It came out of the trap, and the pregnancy of the second was more Immersion in it. “
The pregnancy was not planned, but “it was a mistake, our relationship was very bad and the sex almost stopped, which made me stop taking the contraceptive pill and he did not take any precautions”.
“And when I found out I was pregnant a second time and told my husband, his treatment got worse.”
She explains: “He became very angry and told me that he did not want children and he also said harsh and bad words to me. Then sometimes he agreed to keep the child and sometimes he refused. This made me very sad and added to my confusion.”
She says: “I knew that if I was holding the baby he would tell me that he did not love her and if I told him that I would terminate the pregnancy, he would make an accusation that he himself does not believe and would say that I had an abortion because the child is not his son, he knows I have values from which I can not deviate, so he was deliberately suspecting that it would hurt me. ”
At the time, Hanan was the mother of a seven-month-old baby and gave birth by caesarean section when she was about 28 years old.
In the end she decided to terminate the pregnancy without notifying her husband of her decision.
Hanan contacted the Family Planning Center and she went to the meeting herself and there they gave her a pill to stop the growth of the fetus to take her home.
At home she was faced with her last chance to make a decision. “The question was should I take it or not? The decision was very difficult and painful. I hesitated a lot, but in the end I swallowed it and later returned to the clinics to get the abortion pill. I stayed there for six hours under supervision. ” To make sure everything is in order. “
Between the right to control the body and the criminalization of abortion
“I was in a foreign country, where my body is mine and I can control it,” Hanan says. “If I were in Morocco, I would not be able to do it.”
The situation in Morocco is similar to the situation in most Arab countries, which prohibit abortion if the pregnancy does not pose a threat to the health of the mother. Which can leave psychological consequences on the woman when she feels she has no right to control her body and decide whether or not to continue the pregnancy.
Dr. Linda Al-Nfouri, a psychological and behavioral therapist and former teacher at the University of Damascus, says: to feel a complex of guilt for their body, so what is the issue when it comes to the decision to have an abortion or continue the pregnancy! ”.
Dr. Linda adds: “Just as considering abortion as a crime punishable by law has a significant psychological impact on women, in addition to feeling mainly grief, sadness, anger, guilt and worry about her subsequent pregnancy, she also feels that what is doing so is inhuman in the eyes of society and also illegal and can expose it to punishment, which increases the state of tension, anxiety and guilt that can continue with it throughout life in some cases.
“If only nothing had happened”
Hanan called her husband on the phone and told him that she had lost the fetus because the pregnancy had dropped by itself, so he was polite to her, but when she got home, “he treated me as if it had not happened “Nothing, he did. Do not hug me and do not try to comfort me with a kiss or even a word.”
Psychotherapist Sahba Al-Sayed says: “It is important to distinguish between the support that a mother needs from her partner and the support that is required from the environment. Support from a partner is a necessary condition for the abortion experience to pass peacefully. should not be achieved if the partner refuses abortion, does not cooperate or understands, and therefore the psychological consequences become more severe for women. ”
Hanan says, “He did not allow me to give the topic all its emotional dimensions. I do not know if this was negative or positive, but I did not spend my time in sadness, grief or regret. I had to hide my feelings. “I acted naturally and it caused me emotional depression. I could not let my feelings be expressed, I could not even cry.”
“I was trying to convince myself that my decision was bold and I always tried to get it out of my mind, but when I go to a gynecologist and he asks me how many times I got pregnant, I say it ‘s three. and I feel a lump. ”
Hanan tells me that her bad and unstable relationship with her husband made her even think about terminating her first pregnancy, especially since he said he did not want children.
But the gynecologist who went to her refused, saying: “She told me sorry, I do not have an abortion and told me about the family planning center. But she insisted that the fetus be checked with ultrasound and when I saw the fetus’s heart. Beating, I felt a tremendous emotion and I changed my mind. ”
She adds, “There is another reason, which is that I have an aunt who got pregnant by her fiancé before the wedding, in 1984 and had to have an abortion and could not get pregnant again. ”
“And then I also thought I was free, financially independent and could hold the fetus, even if the father would not want it.”
Almost two years later, nothing had changed in Hanan’s relationship with her husband, but she got pregnant again and it happened by accident.
But this time, she never thought about an abortion. She says that “I kept the child, because I was suffering from remorse and I felt like a careless mother and it is unreasonable to always hold and abort my children.”
Psychotherapist Sahba Al-Sayed says: “The mother often feels guilt and remorse for the decision to perform an abortion, even if she is sure it was correct, necessary and that her reasons are strong and logical. This feeling is related “with the idea of abandoning a child and her feeling that she contributed to ending his chance in life and presence. She may feel that she has made a mistake or that she has committed a crime against her child.”
And she adds, “This can lead to negative feelings about herself, such as considering herself a cruel mother, or not worthy of the blessing of motherhood, because she was not competent to take responsibility for the pregnancy and may suffer “Psychological problems. disorders such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, and can sometimes reach a state as severe as psychosis, this is due to the amount of psychological support the mother receives after the abortion.”
Sahba emphasizes that “the challenges that a woman who has experienced abortion must face are more severe in conservative Arab societies, which reject the idea of abortion for religious or customary reasons.”
In a study on the long-term effects of depression after abortion, published in 2016 and conducted by Dr. Martha Chapping, a psychiatrist from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, says Chapping says that during her clinical treatment experience, she worked with women over the age of eighty, “and they were suffering.” from turmoil and depression, and attribute the reason to the experience of abortion they underwent many years ago. “
Recently, Hanan noticed that her youngest son was psychologically damaged by the parents’ divorce, so she took him to a therapist who specializes in so-called “systemic systemic therapy”, which depends on understanding the psychological and health problem of individual based on relationships with others and views the individual as part of a larger unit or system, such as family or community.
She says: “The therapist told me that there is an abortion in the family, I was surprised and I did not tell her that she was right”.
“He told me that the child’s problem was that he was not in the right place in the family, he took the place of the second child instead of being in his normal position as the third child.”
The necessity of sadness
Hanan tells us that despite her refusal to acknowledge her abortion experience with the therapist, he seemed confident in the accuracy of its conclusion and added: “He told me that any sadness or failure in life should take a period of enough mourning, and that I must give myself the space and time to grieve after each loss, otherwise these insatiable feelings will become like knots, the feelings must be consecutive and take their range, otherwise ‘will to remain in the same stage and not to progress’.
Hanan says the therapist’s explanation for her son’s condition, though it seemed somewhat logical, did not fully convince her, and she asks herself: “How many women have had an abortion, whether voluntary or voluntary, so it can not be imagined. everyone has children whose condition is similar to mine !! ”.
Risks of denial
Psychotherapist Sahba Al-Sayed warns of the consequences of trying to deny a woman the difficulty of experiencing abortion and says it can lead to behaviors that result from reactions such as “avoiding sex, or avoiding social relationships that involve mothers or children. ”
She adds: “A woman may use addiction, or other destructive unconscious behaviors, or try to plunge into various actions to not allow herself to think about what has happened, and thus drain her physical energy and psychological, to see that after years she still suffers from memories of the experience, as if the past is following her. ”
She advises the woman to turn to psychological treatment when she feels she has not been able to overcome the experience and says that “this is the best decision a woman can make before and after deciding to have an abortion, as she has a psychological need. pre-preparation and post-experience psychological support ”.
She adds that “psychological treatment helps women to restore their normal routine in a shorter time”, noting the importance of “introducing positive activities into her day, such as sports, hobbies and positive social relationships”. .