Story

On the Ground in Western Kenya

01-naughton.jpg

Consolatta Wafula, at the age of 16, was raped by a local politician and forced to get an unsafe abortion. Here, she poses for a portrait outside her home in western Kenya. Image by Jake Naughton. Kenya, 2015.

02-naughton.jpg

As a result of the trauma, she developed a mysterious, itchy rash that covers her whole body. Image by Jake Naughton. Kenya, 2015.

03-naughton.jpg

The hills surrounding Lake Victoria in western Kenya. Image by Jake Naughton. Kenya, 2015.

04-naughton.jpg

Robert, her father, has stood by Consolatta throughout her ordeal. As a result of the lack of safe abortions and the costs the family incurred from Consolatta's unsafe one, Robert went from owning a small business and ten cattle to working as a farm hand on someone else's property. Image by Jake Naughton. Kenya, 2015.

05-naughton.jpg

Girls at a primary school in western Kenya take a break early one morning. In this part of the country, advocates say rape is common even for girls as young as 13, and a lack of access to safe abortions can lead them to pursue unsafe alternatives. Image by Jake Naughton. Kenya, 2015.

06-naughton.jpg

A young girl is seen through the branches of a euphorbia plant. Some local abortion providers and traditional birth attendants use these as folk methods for abortions. Image by Jake Naughton. Kenya, 2015.

07-naughton.jpg

A man holds a euphorbia branch. Women are instructed to insert them into their vagina and leave them there for two weeks. Doctors explained having seen perforated uteruses and serious infections as a result. Image by Jake Naughton. Kenya, 2015.

08-naughton.jpg

Consolatta at home with her family. Image by Jake Naughton. Kenya, 2015.

09-naughton.jpg

A motorcycle drives down the road in front of Consolata's home. All of the roads in the area are dirt, and come the rainy season large swaths of the surrounding areas become unreachable. Image by Jake Naughton. Kenya, 2015.

10-naughton.jpg

A young girl holds a baby in the maternity ward of the Bumula Health Center, a local health clinic serving around 45,000 people. Staff here provide clandestine abortions to women in need. Image by Jake Naughton. Kenya, 2015.

11-naughton.jpg

A physician's consultation room. Image by Jake Naughton. Kenya, 2015.

12-naughton.jpg

Mothers are attended to by nurses in training at the Bungoma Referral Hospital, a large hospital which receives cases too serious for smaller, less-equipped local clinics. As with Bumula, staff here provide clandestine abortions to women in need, as well as care for women who received unsafe abortions. Image by Jake Naughton. Kenya, 2015.

13-naughton.jpg

A poster encouraging women to learn about family planning options in the Bumula Health Center. Image by Jake Naughton. Kenya, 2015.

14-naughton.jpg

A doctor at the Bumula Health Center who clandestinely provides abortions to women in need, despite the fact that it is illegal to do so. Image by Jake Naughton. Kenya, 2015.

15-naughton.jpg

Susan Wanyama, a nursing officer at the Bokoli Hospital in western Kenya poses for a portrait. She offers clandestine abortions to women in need. Image by Jake Naughton. Kenya, 2015.

16-naughton.jpg

Ruth Owino, an administrator at the Bungoma Referral Hospital, poses for a portrait. She says despite the law, if a girl or woman comes to her asking for an abortion, she will not turn them away. Better to have a safe procedure than risk injury or death at the hands of an untrained abortion provider. She estimates that during peak months as many as 5 women a day are admitted with injuries from unsafe abortions. Image by Jake Naughton. Kenya, 2015.

18-naughton.jpg

Women sit outside the Bumula Health Center and wait for their turn at maternity services. Image by Jake Naughton. Kenya, 2015.

17-naughton.jpg

A reproductive health clinic worker in the Kibera slum of Nairobi. Though she denied that she provides abortions, a number of community members identified her as a well-known provider of clandestine abortions. Many like this woman provide abortions to women in need who fear the stigma of seeking out a more legitimate provider. Locals call untrained abortion providers 50/50s because there is only a 50 percent chance the woman will survive. Image by Jake Naughton. Kenya, 2015.

In rural western Kenya, access to safe abortions is next to impossible, despite the new constitution guaranteeing free and legal abortions to women who meet certain criteria.

As a result, women are left to seek out untrained abortion providers, or beg a skilled clinician to provide one and risk losing their job. Consolatta Waula was one such woman. Raped by a local politician at 16, she was forced to get an unsafe abortion, and as a result, she developed sepsis and nearly died.

Health providers don’t want to leave young women like Consolatta at risk, but they report being harassed by police and community members and are afraid of losing their jobs. Meanwhile, women like Consolatta remain at grave risk.