Press Release by Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A. (Speaking of Ireland Making England the Legal Destination for Abortion),13th April 2017
Not Designed for Comfort’: IMELDA Discusses the ‘Tampon Tax’
On Sunday 9th April 2017, the pro-choice direct-action feminist performance group, Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A., responded to the British government’s bequeathing of £250,000 of the so-called ‘tampon tax’ funds to anti-choice charity ‘Life.’ Staging an intervention by the sanitary product shelf in a Hackney Tesco store, the group demonstrated their outrage that money from the tampon tax was given to the biased anti-choice charity ‘Life’, which is ‘against abortion’ and perpetuates misinformation by wrongly linking abortion with breast cancer. In this action, Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A. parody sanitary brand adverts to highlight the irony that taxes from these brands, which often market themselves on enabling women to be uninhibited by their reproductive biology, are being used to restrict reproductive autonomy.
On the 13th of August more than 500,000 women and supporters took to the streets in Peru, unified under the chant “#NiUnaMenos” (Not One Less). Weeks before the march, Cindy Contreras was sexually assaulted, beaten and dragged by her hair by her partner Adriano Pozo in a hotel in Ayacucho. Despite being presented with footage of the assault recorded by the hotel’s CCTV camera, the judges dismissed the claim that this was a clear femicide attempt. On the 15th of August Ronny Garcia, a well-known singer who avoided a kidnapping conviction after abusing his ex-partner Lady Guillen, publically stated on national TV how he was only a “victim of love”.
Like a spark lighting a fire, this triggered thousands of people to share experiences and testimonies of misogyny on social media, initiating a wider feminist movement that has continued to grow. In Peru, 10 women have been murdered every month since 2009 and 79% of these murders are committed by their partners or ex-partners. This year, according to the Registry of Family and Sexual Violence (SAU), 7 in 10 women have reported having suffered some type of sexist violence. A total of 2069, have reported suffering gender violence in the past 8 months.
The 13th of August was not only a day to challenge patriarchal norms in society through personal accounts, but to denounce the State as the root of patriarchal violence and juridical injustice.
Every day across the world, women are arrested, harassed, and prosecuted for having abortions. Whatever your position on the pro-choice/pro-life debate, we need to raise awareness of how aggressive and inhumane the punishments on women can be, when they reach the point where they feel that abortion is their only option.
In most of the ‘developed’ world, abortion is legalised, which means that though there are often social and financial barriers which remain set against women, they should still be able to receive a medically controlled abortion that is safe, and responsible post-abortion care, without fear of imprisonment or persecution. However, in the majority of the world, abortion is almost totally illegal. Exceptions are made in some countries in the case of rape, or if the life of the mother is at risk, however in parts of Latin America there is a total ban in all circumstances. This leads to tragic consequences for women, such as the case below.
…A 28-year-old woman in the city of Santa Cruz became pregnant as the result of rape. She attempted to self-induce an abortion and ended up in the hospital with severe complications. While in the hospital, she was reported to the police authorities by her doctor, was apprehended and handcuffed on charges of illegal abortion. She spent her 10-day hospital stay under police custody and was then transferred to a prison where she subsequently spent eight months in preventive detention (IPAS, 2015).
This map shows the status of abortion laws worldwide. (Source: WHO, 2008)
This year I am working with Festival of Choice and we want to invite you to contribute as you have an awesome chance to show off your creativity during the Festival of Choice!
Please note that we have limited space, plus we are not able to use any nails or blue tack for the exhibition, so the artwork should be light enough to be hanged up with velcro tape. So if you think your work’s can handle that, do get in touch!
Women’s reproductive rights, specifically the right to have an abortion, are a highly contentioustopic in the whole of Latin America. Despite various legislative advances in recognising women’s rights, aimed at redressing inequalities born from gender discrimination (which vary from country to country), when it comes to a woman’s right to decide as an individual with agency over her own body the legislation of most of Latin America closes the legal and safe access to choice and persecutes those who dare to try to take back control of their own bodies and lives. Even as the outbreaks of the zika virus continue across the continent, most countries highly restrict the access to abortion or even have a total ban on it. El Salvador is one of them.
The draconian abortion law of El Salvador, which bans abortion under any circumstance in 1998, has earned the country a dubious reputation for ruthless criminalisation of women who interrupt their pregnancies and a complete disregard for the value of a woman’s life. Local and international women’s rights groups have worked hand in hand to change this situation, and in the last few years have managed to bring the Salvadoran authorities under international scrutiny, as some of the most dramatic cases have gathered international consternation and support for the cause, whilst opening up the public debate at a national level.