Father Opts for Contraceptives over Forced Sterilisation for a Disabled Daughter
This reporting was supported by the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women Journalists
Eighteen years ago, workers at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Roma, Lesotho, delivered the news to Seabata Kanono and his late wife that their daughter, Nnini, had a mental impairment.
In 2022, Nnini became pregnant with her first child. Kanono says he felt pressured to have his daughter undergo permanent birth control.
Instead, he reached out to the nurses at St. Joseph’s Hospital with a request to have Nnini receive an implant.
Today, Kanono has empowered his two teenage daughters with the use of contraceptives, allowing them to prevent early and unintended pregnancies and make informed decisions about when to start their own families.
The United Nations Population Fund reported that 94 out of every 1,000 Lesotho girls aged 15 to 19 gave birth to their first child between 2003 and 2018.
‘Masenono Letsie, the Gender Officer of the Lesotho National Federation of Organisations of the Disabled, notes that some families resort to sterilising their disabled children because they perceive mental disability as a curse. Letsie also points out that this is sometimes done to prevent pregnancies resulting from sexual assault, such as what happened to Kanono’s daughter.