In Lesotho, women say they're finding their abortions on Facebook

Updated 1046 GMT (1846 HKT) March 8, 2018

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Editor's Note: CNN is committed to covering gender inequality wherever it occurs in the world. This story is part of As Equals, a year-long series.
Maseru, Lesotho — Mpho opened a new chat on WhatsApp, entered an unfamiliar number, and typed a question she never thought she would have to ask.
  • Mpho When can I get the pills?
  • I'm 7 weeks pregnant.
  • Doctor Tomorrow
  • 1000LSL including womb cleaning.
  • Okay.
  • Does it hurt?
  • No. 9am tomorrow, come by then.
Mpho, who asked that CNN not use her real name, didn't know who she was talking to. She found the phone number on a Facebook post while searching for "abortion pills, Lesotho" online. The person reading her messages claimed to be a doctor.
In Lesotho, a remote country home to just 2.2 million people and surrounded by South Africa, abortion is strictly illegal, apart from in life-threatening cases.
Women who have abortions in Lesotho face being outcast from their communities, or arrested.
As a result, many are driven to the anonymity of the Internet. Mpho, 27, found contact details on Facebook for several men claiming to be doctors, all hawking abortion pills.
A quick search on Facebook yields dozens of different pages and events advertising abortions, many featuring stock images of white women popping tablets, or holding their pregnant bellies. Their posts offer "safe" abortion pills. All sell the same hope to young women in Lesoth