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In The News: Township trauma: the terrible cost of drinking during pregnancy (The Guardian)

The FASD Prevention Conversation Project

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Mentors helped Veronic Blom stop using alcohol and crystal meth when she was pregnant with her youngest son. Photograph: Kate Hodal for the Guardian

In a dusty township in South Africa’s sun-drenched wine country, Charay Afrika says only one thing helped numb her through a turbulent relationship and two pregnancies: alcohol.

She drank all day, every day, throughout her full-term pregnancies – unaware of the effect alcohol could have on her children.

Afrika was still at school when she met her first boyfriend, a man who would go on to beat her and rob her at gunpoint multiple times before she finally escaped him. “He’d beat me and lock me in the house with no food and then disappear for days,” Afrika, 28, says quietly. “I once had to drug him with sleeping pills so that I could call the neighbours and beg for help to sneak out. But he…

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