Botswana's Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Botlogile Tshireletso on Tuesday called for the legalization of abortion in the southern African state.
In a telephone interview with Xinhua, Tshireletso revealed that many female citizens in this diamond rich nation are forced to conduct illegal backyard abortions as the operation is forbidden by the law.
"There are daily police reports of illegal abortions," said Tshireletso. She added that it is the high time the government of Botswana should emulate African countries like South Africa and Cape Verde where abortion is legal.
She said legalizing abortion will end the "real tragedy" of backstreet terminations of pregnancy in Botswana.
"Backstreet abortion is a taboo subject but a real tragedy," said the minister, adding that many women in Botswana are resorting to the operation due to high levels of poverty and lack of support from their partners.
According to available statistics from the police, 450 incidents of illegal abortions were registered in 2012, while in 2013 until October, a total of 530 cases were reported.
"These things are worrisome. They are the works of backyard abortions. I therefore call on government to make abortion legal so that desperate pregnant women can have access to safer, legal and decent operations," she said.
Botswana is a country beset with problems related to health, infant and maternal mortality, and uncontrolled extramarital sexual activity, and as such is a special target of international population control groups.
Although average life expectancy in the country is rising, it still lags far behind developed countries. The 2012 statistics show life lengths of 56.93 years for men, and 54.51 years for women -- an improvement on the 48 years recorded for women between 1995 and 2000.
All observers agree that the most significant factor in the statistics is the rate of HIV/AIDS infection. It is believed to be the world's second highest in Botswana, with 24.8 percent of the adult population being infected.
A report by the US State Department estimated in 2009 that there were 93,000 orphans due to HIV/AIDS in Botswana.
A couple of years ago, Tshireletso also supported a call from the former president of Botswana, Festus Gontebanye Mogae to legalize prostitution, that she called "sex work," saying that sex workers "is not only those we call 'ladies of the night.'"
"I have male friends who tell me where they buy. So let's decriminalize sex work to protect these people who get cheated because they do not have anywhere to go for help."