Jackline Mwende with her parents
Merck, an international developer, manufacturer and distributor of pharmaceutical products, has announced a support scheme for a stigma victim of infertility in Kenya who had her hands chopped off by her husband for failing to bear children.
Through the organisation’s ‘Merck More Than A Mother’ initiative which aims to define interventions to reduce the stigma and social suffering of infertile women, empower them and raise awareness about male infertility, the pharmaceutical company would support Jackline Mwende, the recent victim of infertility stigma, throughout the rest of her life.
‘Merck More Than A Mother’ initiative will provide Mwende with a monthly income of $250, then will establish a business for her in which she will be able to generate a sustainable monthly income of not less than $250.
At the same time, Merck will provide her with prosthetic hands in addition to the needed physical and physiological rehabilitation to enable her to support herself and stand on her own two feet despite the challenge of her brutal disability that was caused by the stigma of infertility – even though her husband was the one who was found with the infertility problem.
In a release to announce the support, Hon Joyce Lay, Member of Parliament and the Ambassador for ‘Merck More Than A Mother’ in Kenya, said, “It is so shocking that someone would go to such an extent to batter his own wife and leave her nearly dead. Infertility should never be a reason to separate, hurt or kill your partner. There are so many options out there available to manage infertility.”
“Mwende didn’t deserve what she went through and especially that her husband is the one who was found with the infertility problem and not her. Society, government and all stakeholders need to continue to join hands with Merck in their campaign to encourage the acceptance people live with infertility because the stigma associated with infertility puts pressure on them to a point where they do crazy and criminal things. We need to know that it’s a shared responsibility, not just for the couple but for the society too,” Joyce Lay added.
“No sane person should torture a woman for failing to produce children. Men should not think that their failure to be a biological father is due to women’s infertility.
Why torture a fellow human being and inflict such permanent bodily harm for a fault that could be yours? No amount of justice in the courts of law will bring back Mwende’s arms. Justice will only prevail if Mwende’s case marks a turning point in society that appreciates one fact- “that women are women irrespective of their ability to bear children. They need to be respected,” Hon Sarah Opendi, Uganda Minister of State of Health and Uganda Ambassador of ‘Merck More Than A Mother’, emphasized.
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri