In Burkina Faso, preventing a pregnancy can mean defying your husband
Aged 25, Héléne has four children, although she would rather have had three. Here she tells us of the many barriers she faces in trying to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
I had my first child at the age of 15 and my last one six months ago [in January 2015]. I heard about contraception when I had my third child. From then on, I wanted to use it.
But my husband didn’t agree, so I couldn’t. Anyway, I didn’t have the money. How was I going to get the money?
Two years ago, I had a miscarriage and the people at the clinic persuaded my husband that we needed to use contraception for a while. He gave me the money for an injection. However, he would not give me the money to renew it. He told me to stop using contraception and so I got pregnant with my youngest child.
Husband controls the money
Before the baby was born, I went to the clinic to take up its offer of free contraception but I arrived too late – the week in which it was available for free had finished.
I asked my husband to give me some money. He got angry. It’s difficult to raise the subject with him. He is automatically against it. When the husband speaks, we have to keep quiet and put up with everything. Even in normal times, when I ask for money to go shopping, he starts arguing. Imagine asking him for money to pay for contraception! He has already hit me several times when I asked for money for these things.
Without money, there was nothing I could do and the last child, which I did not want, was born.
When the husband speaks, we have to keep quiet and put up with everything.
Using contraception secretly
My husband told me that he would be against contraception even if it was free, and that he would leave me if he found out that I had used it. Too bad! I decided to do it secretly.
During free contraception week [this year], I went to get an implant. They hid the plaster under the long sleeve of my dress. But my friends were nearby. I am afraid that they will discover that I am secretly using contraception.
I have not yet spoken with my friends about it, because you never know, my husband could find out that I use contraception secretly. If one of my friends tells their husband, he could then tell my husband. That would ruin everything.
Héléne shouldn’t have to live in fear, just because she’s trying to take control of her own health and body. Sign our petition, telling Burkina Faso’s President to stand with women like Héléne by making contraception openly available to all.