Who’s afraid of pithair?

Life

It didn’t start out as a statement. It just kinda happened. I haven’t been out of the house for three months while recovering from back surgery. I feel like I should hang my head in shame as I admit that shaving my armpits was absolutely not high on my list of priorities. In fact, it has not happened at all.

This week I started physiotherapy. Taking off my coat I realised with a shot of adrenalin that this would be the first time in my whole life that anyone would see my fullgrown underarm hair. Heck, it was the first time I had even seen it! The hour that followed was an ­emotional rollercoaster. I went from feeling bold and daring, to embarrassed and ashamed.

I considered explaining that I had been stuck in bed for months, but making excuses would reinforce the perception that body hair is wrong. I tried to avoid lifting my arms and then scolded myself for being so hateful towards my own body. They say ‘Fake it till you make it’ and that is exactly what I am going to do. I am going to ignore the ugly voices in my head. After all, I’m sure Mister Physio Guy has more pit-hair than I do and I bet he doesn’t feel bad about that. During my second appointment, the following thought floated into my mind and landed somewhere between my heart and my smile. Maybe Mister Physio considers it unfortunate that women feel pressured into changing their bodies? Imagine, maybe he thinks I’m strong for standing up to body image expectations and just being. Could it be possible that it is not as terrifying as I first imagined? Could it be possible that he respects me for fighting against the current beauty standards? Not that I’m actively fighting, I’m just no longer taking part.

I don’t know what Mister Physio thinks and I don’t really need to. Maybe he didn’t think my armpits were worth a second thought. Perhaps you agree.

There are certainly more important women’s issues that deserve our attention. The gender wage gap, female genital modification, domestic violence and reproductive rights, to name but a few. Even so, I’m enjoying the exercise in my mind. I want to shave only when I decide to. I want to call out those negative preconceptions, those internalised insults. Why is it so difficult? Why am I wearing long-sleeved t-shirts everyday? How can we find peace in ourselves if we believe we cannot go out in public without undergoing certain ‘beauty’ rituals? Where do we learn this sense of shame in our youth?

My son is three years old and the topic of underarm hair had never come up before now. He was trying to hide his arm inside my sleeve when he discovered my armpit hair. His reaction, with a short thought pause between each sentence:
‘Hey, that tickles!’
‘Girls who have that are my friends.’
‘Only papas have that.’
‘If girls have that, they are papas.’
‘Do girls have that too?’
‘Can I pull it?” ’

I hope he continues to find underarm hair cute and funny for a long, long time. I hope I can learn from his unconditional body acceptance.

I hope you will join me in challenging the negative ideas around female body hair. Maybe this summer we can celebrate, sleeveless, furry and fabulous together. Being aware of the subtle forces at play in our society, and in our own minds, is important in the fight for bigger issues.

As I once read on an Amanda Palmer t-shirt: ‘All that time I save in hair removal, I devote to revolution.’ (Jane Fraser).

If my pit-hair hurts your eyes: #sorrynotsorry I’m just trying to change the world, that’s all.

Epilogue

My article was finished. Then I talked about it. With men and women. Many seemed to realise, for the first time, the strange and extreme contrast in opinions about female and male body hair. A scale that swings from utter disgust to complete acceptance. A man suggested that by publicly admitting I didn’t shave, I was bringing shame to my family. Even so, I was glad that this article gave me a reason to bring up the topic and challenge people to think about it. Yet when I had to pose for a photograph for this article, I was shocked how embarrassed I was. I felt so unbearably uncomfortable that halfway through the photoshoot, I shaved my armpits. Think about what that means. I made a choice about my body that does not harm anyone, but the social pressure was so strong that I didn’t dare to be photographed. I feel like I have failed, like I should have fought harder, but I take comfort in the words of – again – Amanda Palmer. Commenting on shaving, she says: ‘I came to the same conclusion over years of experimenting, basically: DO WHAT YOU WANT, CHANGE YOUR MIND SPONTANEOUSLY, SHAVE ARTFULLY, AND TAKE NO SHIT.’

Photos: NANA RAMAEL

Nana is freelance fotograaf, poëet, communicatieconsultant en mama, met een bijzonder talent voor multitasken en cassandravoorspellingen. Geluk vindt ze in kleine dingen, zoals daar zijn: de geur van koffie, theater, Mozartkugeln, blauwschakeringen, retrotegeltjes en een Goed Gesprek.

MUA: ESTER EYCKERMAN

Ester schildert graag, op gezichten. Daarnaast geeft ze les, zou ze een schoenenmuseum kunnen openen, houdt ze van cinema, drinkt ze geen koffie en droomt ze minstens één keer per maand dat velociraptors de wereld overnemen

Article first published in Charlie magazine April 2016

Intergenerationele vrouwen, een fototentoonstelling van Juan Martin Monte Casablanca

Life

English translation below.

Juan Martin Monte Casablanca groeide op in Argentinië, waar hij al snel in aanraking kwam met fotografie en genderpolitiek. Samen met beeldhouwer Marc Janssens stelt hij zijn eerste expositie in België voor in DeRUIMTE te Turnhout.

Reeds als kind gebruikte Monte Casablanca fotografie als persoonlijk emotioneel en intellectueel expressiekanaal. Door te werken met een analoge camera kan hij bewust interageren met zijn omgeving en op die manier zijn verhaal vertellen.
Monte Casablanca’s huidige expositie bestaat grotendeels uit portretten die hij de voorbije 15 jaar in Nicaragua nam. Nochtans figureert ook architectuur de laatste jaren prominent in zijn werk. Deze evolutie wijt hij zelf aan zijn verhuis van Latijns-Amerika naar België, waardoor de nadruk op het geografische en ruimtelijke groter werd.

Desalniettemin raken de gezichtsuitdrukkingen van de Nicaraguaanse koffieplukker, de lokale vissers of een jonge bokser harder en directer dan het kille, Belgische landschap met zijn oude architectuur. De taalbarrière en onbekende sociale gewoonten duwden Monte Casablanca verder in de studie van architectuur dan die van de plaatselijke bevolking. Zijn collectie is dan ook  een eerlijke weerspiegeling van overweldiging, vervreemding en verwondering ten opzichte van een radicaal nieuwe omgeving.

Toch ontbreekt het intermenselijke accent allerminst. De vrouwen en meisjes in Monte Casablanca’s fotos provoceren en inviteren de kijker tot inkeer en conversatie. Hier vertrekt hij vanuit een sterk persoonlijk geloof dat de vrouw nog te vaak als schoonheidsobject wordt geportretteerd, eerder dan chronisch slachtoffer van diepgewortelde ellende en ongelijkwaardigheid. Gemediatiseerde afbeeldingen van vrouwen zetten aan tot kopen en zelden tot nadenken. Monte Casablanca daarentegen portretteert vrouwen als echte mensen en toont de diepgang van hun bestaan. Zijn modellen zijn gevarieerd: oud, jong, wild, passief, sterk en fragiel.

In één foto staart een jonge Belgische ballerina, verloren in gedachten, in de verte. Ze ziet er uit als een professionele danseres, maar haar gedachten dwalen elders. Is ze ongelukkig of gewoon afgeleid? Verkeert ze in pijn of wacht ze eenvoudigweg tot de les of recital begint? Monte Casablanca houdt deze vragen open. Een kind vertelde me dat deze ballerina er uit ziet alsof ze gepest werd. Ik zie net sterkte en zelfreflectie in haar blik. Elke kijker vindt een ander verhaal.

In een volledig andere foto kijkt een vrouwelijke bokser je aan in een defensieve pose, met de handschoenen voor het gezicht. Waarom staat ze klaar om vechten? Is ze boos of bang? Je wil haar verhaal kennen wanneer je diep in haar ogen kijkt. We zien enkel de manier waarop ze in de camera tuurt, en kunnen alleen speculeren over haar context en levensverhaal.

Kortom, Monte Casablanca prikkelt je interesse, legt een stukje van een moment vast en laat je delen van het verhaal verzinnen.

Een interessant weetje over deze expositie is de techniek die gebruikt werd bij het printen van de foto’s. Monte Casablanca ontwikkelde de foto’s met zeefdruktechnieken en experimenteerde met printmachines van deRUIMTE. Een team van vrijwilligers van over de hele wereld, die 3 of 4 verschillende talen spraken, hebben gedurende enkele maanden verschillende methodes gebruikt en getest. Het eindresultaat is prachtig en rijkelijk gedetailleerd. Vanop een afstand ervaar je het onderwerp in zijn totaliteit, terwijl van dichterbij pas opvalt hoe de foto bestaat uit kleine cirkels. Het is verfrissend om foto’s zo rauw en authentiek te kunnen ervaren in tijden van Photoshop Airbrush & LaserJet druktechnieken.

De tentoonstelling loopt tot 30 december in de studio van deRUIMTE, Otterstraat 23, 2300 Turnhout. Voor openingsuren, zie website.

Generational women, a photography exhibition by Juan Martin Monte Casablanca

Juan Martin Monte Casablanca grew up in Argentina immersed in photography and feminism. DeRUIMTE gallery in Turnhout plays host to his first exhibition in Belgium, alongside works by sculptor Marc Janssens.

For Monte, photography is a language he learned as a child, one he uses to express emotion. His analog cameras allow him to tell a story and to consciously engage with his surroundings. This body of work consists largely of portraits from his 15 years in Nicaragua, although architecture has featured in recent years. This switch is an expression of his transition between Latin America and Belgium, his interpretation of this journey. The facial geography of the Nicaraguan coffee picker, fisherman, young boxer, giving way to the physical landscape of Belgian’s cold, hard, old architecture. The language barrier and alien social customs made it easier for Monte to find himself in architecture than people. Rather than a depiction of his surroundings, these buildings are a statement of overwhelmedness at his situation.

The women and girls in Monte’s photographs challenge you to a conversation. He feels that women are too often portrayed as a thing of beauty or a victim of misery. Images of women, used commercially, either to ask for help or sell something. Monte portrays women as real people, showing the depth of their existence. His subjects are varied, old, young, wild, passive, strong and fragile.

In one piece, a young Belgian ballerina, lost in thought, stares into the distance. She has the role of a performer, but her mind is elsewhere. Is she unhappy or just distracted? Did something bad happen or is she waiting for the class to begin? Monte leaves these questions open. A child told me this ballerina looked like she had been bullied. I see strength and self-reflection in her gaze. The heart of each photograph changes, depending on the viewer.

In stark contrast, a boxer stares you down from a defensive stance, gloves up. What is she ready to fight for? Is she scared or furious? Looking deep into her eyes, you want to know her story. But all we have is the way she engages the camera, and we are left to think about how she engages with people around her. Monte prickles your interest, capturing a glimpse of one moment and letting you imagine the story.

A fascinating aspect of this exhibition is the technique used to print the photographs. Monte developed this using serigraphy and experimenting with printing machines in deRUIMTE art space. Working with a team of volunteers from around the world, communicating in 3 or 4 different languages, they researched and tested various methods over a few months. The final prints are stunning in their complexity. From a distance you experience the subject of the photograph, take a closer look and you see the image is made up of tiny circles. It is refreshing to experience prints so raw and physical, in this age of Photoshop polish and LaserJet prints.

The exhibition runs until the 30th of December at deRUIMTE gallery and studio, Otterstraat 23, 2300 Turnhout. For opening hours, check their website.

Whatever the result is, this referendum has changed Ireland forever

Life

Friday May 25th, the people of Ireland will take to the polls to decide if the 8ththth Amendment should be removed from the constitution. This amendment states: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.” In a previous article I outlined the ways in which the 8thth amendment currently affects pregnant people in Ireland.

Currently a pregnant cow can receive better healthcare in Ireland than a woman seeking abortion. Irish farmers know that not all pregnancies go according to plan. If a cow becomes pregnant when they are too young, or if complications occur, farmers prioritise the life of the cow and will terminate the pregnancy. If the cow becomes ill, they will receive the best veterinary treatment, regardless whether they are pregnant or not. In fact, if farmers would allow cows to continue to suffer with inviable pregnancies, it would be considered animal abuse. Farmers have been raising their voices in support of a Yes vote in recent weeks.

On Facebook a mother shared the story of her 19 year old son, who told her the boys in his class were all voting No because “the women are getting out of control”. This is in line with online polls showing young men planning to vote No as a reaction to the Me Too movement and feminism. Similarly, tone policing of the Yes campaigners leads to statements like “I was going to vote Yes, but not if they keep shoving it down my neck.”. It is incomprehensible to me that anyone would choose how to vote based on anything other than the question at hand.

Speaking of the tone of the debate, the No side have come out with statements that are mind-blowing. At the launch of the Save the Eight campaign a woman explained to an audience of about 400 people that the act of giving birth “heals the effect of rape”. They campaign against what they call “social abortion”, seemingly framing abortion as something to be entered into lightly on a Saturday night. They suggest that in 15 years time our school classrooms will be empty. The No side imply that if the 8thth amendment is passed, people will be forced to have abortions and no more babies will be born in Ireland.

They make debate impossible by refusing to answer questions put to them in television interviews. They are repeatedly asked to answer questions such as “Do you agree that a 14 year old pregnant rape victim should have to travel to access the health care she needs?” They change the subject, repeating seemingly rehearsed phases about innocent healthy babies being murdered.

Pics via Twitter

On the other side, there has been great beauty in this campaign. The love and solidarity between campaigners for Yes has been inspirational. Individuals have abandoned their everyday lives to canvass door to door, to raise funds, to hang posters. Online groups of women have been supporting each other and holding each other together during this campaign spanning years. I have rarely come across a situation where random strangers take such good care of each other.

Another wonderful action is that of the group Radical Queers Resist (RQR), covering graphic images of unborn foetuses displayed by the Irish Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (ICBR). The ICBR targets maternity hospitals, LGBTQ+ venues and main shopping streets, causing major distress to children and people accessing pregnancy care. As soon as Twitter users let RQR know that the ICBR have set up banners in a particular location, they launch a call to mobilise volunteers to the location to cover the banners with rainbow flags and sheets. It is illegal to display distressing, offensive images under Section 7 of the 94 Public Order Act. However it has proven very difficult to get police support with complaints of such displays. In a bizarre move, the ICBR has released a video titled “The cover up” highlighting the work of RQR. Intended to show that they are being silenced, the video instead serves as a heartening display of people power.

It is interesting to look at how unborn babies are handled by the church and state in Ireland. The church will not baptise a miscarriage or stillborn baby. They are denied a funeral and may not be buried in church graveyards. If a pregnancy ends in miscarriage in the first 6 months it is not possible to register the birth with the state. If a baby is stillborn after passing the 24th week of pregnancy (or weighs more than 500g) you can apply to the state for a Stillborn Certificate. However it is not possible to obtain a birth certificate.

Most people agree it is inhumane to force a teenage rape victim to travel abroad to access a termination. Most people know in their heart that it is torturous to force a person to continue a pregnancy knowing their baby will not survive the birth. A ‘No’ vote denies these people compassionate healthcare in their home country. This is our chance to right the wrong that was done when the 8th was written into the constitution 35 years ago.

A ‘No’ vote will not stop Irish abortions taking place, it means that they will continue to take place abroad. A ‘No’ vote means that Ireland continues to condemn vulnerable citizens to travel abroad to access healthcare under a veil of shame and secrecy.

Today and every day in Ireland, nine to twelve pregnant people travel abroad to access abortion services. Additionally, three to five women use illegal pills for a termination in their home, without medical support and putting themselves in potential danger.

I believe Ireland is better than that. I believe in the compassion of the Irish people. I believe we have grown away from the fear and shame historically imposed by the church. I believe in trusting women. Unborn babies to not need to be protected by the constitution, the best protection for an unborn baby is their mother.

A protest against No voters in Dublin. The protesters wore the costumes of The Handmaid’s Tale, the famous dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood that was adapted into a television series. Pic by Sandra Fay

This referendum is about more than access to abortion. The result on Saturday will send a strong message. It is a statement of how we see women, how we value their lives and how we respect and trust them. Whatever the result is on Saturday, this referendum has changed Ireland forever. Women have shaken off the shame and silence and we will never go back. Recently a No campaigner referred to the young women on the Yes side as “obstreperous”. I had to look it up, it means “loud and difficult to control”. Well yes, yes we are.

——————————————-

If Ireland votes Yes to repeal the 8thth amendment and remove it from the constitution on Friday, it will be replaced by legislation based on the following proposal:

Allowance for abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy:

  • A medical practitioner should confirm that the pregnancy has not exceeded 12 weeks.
  • The length of the pregnancy is calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period. The foetus has a gestation of 10 weeks at 12 weeks pregnancy.
  • A ‘cooling off period’ of 72 hours must elapse between the confirmation of the pregnancy and the termination being carried out.
  • After this time has passed, the medical practitioner should make any arrangements necessary to terminate the pregnancy.

Following the certification of two medical professionals (one obstetrician and one appropriate medical practitioner), it will be lawful to carry out a termination up to the moment the foetus has reached viability in the following cases:

  • If there is a risk to the life of, or of serious harm to the health of, the pregnant woman and it is appropriate to carry out the termination of pregnancy in order to avert that risk.

Following the certification of two medical professionals (one obstetrician and one appropriate medical practitioner), it will be lawful to carry out a termination throughout the entire pregnancy in the following cases:

  • If there is a condition affecting the foetus that is likely to lead to the death of the foetus either before birth or shortly after birth.
  • If there is an immediate risk to the life of, or of serious harm to the health of, the pregnant woman, and it is immediately necessary to carry out the termination of pregnancy in order to avert that risk.
  • There is no proposed allowance for abortion based on the disability of the foetus.

 

This article was previously published in Charlie magazine

It seems that Ireland hates women

Life

This morning a friend sent me a photo of a Belgian newspaper article and I cried. I have been involved in the Irish women’s rights struggle for years, but seeing it covered in a Belgian newspaper, in the language of my adopted country, hit me in a way I didn’t expect. This is for everyone who thinks Ireland is a happy modern European country, full of Guinness and coloured green.

Source: De Standaard, Belgian newspaper 29th of March 2018

May 25th 2018 will be the long awaited date for a referendum around the 8th amendment to the Irish constitution. Ireland is one of the only countries that has medical restrictions written into the constitution. This means that it can not be removed by the government, but only via a referendum. The question we are being asked is, should this amendment be removed from the constitution?

“The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

Worldwide, only Ireland and the Philippines have provisions which equate the right to life of the unborn with that of the mother.

Today Ireland has one of the most restrictive laws in the whole world in relation to abortion. Abortion was illegal in Ireland in all cases until 1992. That year the Supreme Court declared that, under the 8th amendment, abortion was legal in the case of threat to the life of the mother. However, abortion remained a criminal offence and the legal implications were so unclear that doctors were unlikely to carry out such a procedure.

The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 brought some clarity, however, criteria to qualify for abortion are very restrictive. The 2013 change came about partly in response to the avoidable death of Savita Halappanavar caused by the restrictive abortion laws. Mrs Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant in October 2012 when she was admitted to hospital suffering a miscarriage. In the last seven days of her life she repeatedly requested an abortion for her dying baby. She was told “this is a Catholic country” and her request was denied based on the fact that the foetus still had a heartbeat. By the time her miscarriage came to a natural end four days later and the foetus was removed it was too late to save the mothers life.

It is important to realise that the 8th amendment does not prevent abortion. Every day 13 Irish women travel to the UK to access abortion services. That is over 5000 women per year who leave their support network and home to undergo a medical procedure that their country denies them. In such a time-sensitive situation, those women face weeks of delay while saving to afford the trip. They book their procedure using fake UK addresses for fear of prosecution once back home. They travel home, bleeding and alone, on planes and ferries, 13 every day. Women who develop complications are often too afraid to go to the hospital, with serious consequences. Many order abortion pills on the internet. Often these pills are confiscated by customs, leaving pregnant people desperately considering more drastic solutions. This helpful guide to abortion while living in Ireland, gives you an idea of what is involved. The 8th amendment does not prevent abortion, it only prevents safe abortion.

In September 1983 the 8th amendment was approved by referendum. This means that anyone under the age of 52 today did not vote on this issue. The anti-choice campaign would like you to believe that this referendum is about selfish women choosing to murder babies. They frame it as abortions for everyone, even suggested that if abortion would be legal, that no more babies would be born in Ireland. They stand on the main street of every town, outside schools and hospitals, with posters showing disturbing images of third trimester babies torn apart. Under the Public order act it is illegal to display such images. They do not represent the reality of abortion, but that does not stop them.

They recently ran a campaign featuring a man who claimed to be a Registered nurse and psychiatric nurse. He claimed he had witnessed unethical abortion practices in UK hospital theatres, including seeing “beakers of babies” left on shelves for days following abortions. Thanks to the hard work of @NursepollyRgn (an actual nurse), we now know the truth. Nurse Polly carried out an investigation that proved that his nursing certificate and ID were falsified. This man fled to the UK in the 1990s to avoid criminal charges. He was never a nurse and was not present in hospital theatres. He worked in a hospital as a porter for 8 months in 2000 and his employment then ceased. This gives you a glimpse of how the anti-choice campaign is being run. They use lies to try distract you from the truth.

Save the 8th campaign said that it stood by the adverts despite discovering that Noel Pattern was not honest in his testimony. Source: http://www.broadsheet.ie

The demographics of the anti-choice movement; men, old women and religious fanatics. This is not the demographic affected by this law. They march with rosary beads, statues of Virgin Mother Mary and placards shouting about murder. The Catholic church has been detrimental for women and children in Ireland. From the paedophile priests to the torture of unmarried mothers, the babies sold to medical trails, starved to death or dumped in septic pits. The Catholic church seems to not love women* and not love children.

Stills from video taken at the anti-choice ‘Rally for life’ 10 March 2018 Dublin.

This is the same movement that campaigned against the use of contraception. Birth control was not readily available in Ireland until 1992. In 1978 contraception was available for “family planning or for adequate medical reasons” and only on doctor’s prescription. This means, up until 26 years ago, if you were married, you had to ask your doctor for a prescription for a condom. If you were not married, you would not get the prescription. Prior to 1978, it was forbidden to sell or advertise contraception in Ireland. This group also campaigned against divorce, which remained illegal in Ireland until 1996.

The anti-choice movement uses the slogan ‘Love both’ but do not seem concerned with children once they are born. Of the almost 10,000 people homeless across Ireland, 3,755 of them are children. Almost 500 of those children became homeless in February 2018. If they cared about children, they would be out on the street protesting that. The anti-choice people seem to not love women and not love children.

So, what does the 8th amendment mean?

The 8th amendment of the Irish constitution does not only affect pregnant people seeking abortion. It has tendrils in the medical care of every woman in Ireland. Here are a few of many examples:

      • Pregnant people who become ill cannot receive any treatment that may harm the foetus. There are no exceptions to this rule. If you are pregnant and you get cancer, there is no option to save your life if it puts the foetus at risk.
      • If you are undergoing treatment for cancer, you must take a pregnancy test before each session. If you have a positive pregnancy test, your treatment is immediately stopped.
      • During pregnancy and labour, a doctor can perform any procedure they deem necessary without your knowledge or permission. (Including sweep, episiotomy, caesarean section, …)
      • As a young teenager I went for x-rays due to back problems. Before every x-ray, they would ask me when I had my last period. I never understood why and it stuck with me because I found it humiliating. I now know why they asked. If I would say that I was due my period in the next week, they would reschedule the x-ray. At that point in my cycle, there was a possibility that I could be pregnant without knowing (and without ever having had sex). So at that point, a theoretical, non-existent foetus had the power to delay my medical treatment.
      • If a foetus has a fatal abnormality and is incompatible with life, you are forced to carry the pregnancy to term. In a situation where there is no chance the baby will survive the birth, you have no legal choice but to carry the pregnancy to term. This is highly traumatic, knowing each day could be the day your baby dies in your womb. Knowing that if there is even a hint of a heartbeat, doctors have their hands tied and could watch you die too.
      • Being forced to continue a pregnancy with a dying foetus puts you at risk of developing sepsis, which is life threatening. This is what killed Savita Halappanavar in 2013.
      • Women who are raped and obtain medical abortion pills on the internet can face a longer prison sentence than the rapist.
      • If a doctor informs a pregnant person about methods of accessing abortion, they face a prison sentence of 14 years. This includes ordering safe termination medication online or information about traveling to England for the procedure.
      • Safe abortion pills are regularly seized by customs coming into Ireland, 6000 over the last ten years. This leaves pregnant people in a desperate position, often forced to consider more dangerous methods of ending their pregnancy.
      • If someone dies while pregnant, their body can be kept ‘alive’ on machines so that the foetus can survive, even against the wishes of the family. This happened in 2014 when a woman who was 15 weeks pregnant was kept on life support for 24 days after she was declared brain-dead because her unborn baby still had a heartbeat. Her life-support was turned off after a court case granted the family’s wish that she be allowed to die.
      • If a person in need of an abortion goes on hunger strike, they can be force-fed and kept in hospital by court order until a caesarean section can be carried out. In 2014 a woman in her late teens was forced to undergo a Caesarean Section at between 24 and 26 weeks gestation. The pregnancy was the result of a rape. In reaction to being refused an abortion, the woman was actively suicidal and stopped eating and drinking. She was drip-fed under court order until the Caesarean Section could take place.
      • People seeking abortion can be held against their wishes in a psychiatric ward. In 2016 a 14 year old girl was subjected to this.

What can you do to help?

If you have a vote in this referendum, I urge you to use it. The question is not if you personally approve of abortion, the question is if you believe that women should have the right to choose. If you are anti-abortion, repealing the 8th will have no impact on you, you will never have to get an abortion. I have heard a lot of men saying that they wish to leave it up to women, and so will not be voting. I can assure you that the anti-choice campaigners will not afford us the same courtesy. Voting Yes to repeal the 8th amendment is the only way to give women a choice. As I have been living outside Ireland for longer than 18 months, I have lost my right to vote (I am however auctioning a painting with entire sale price going to Together For Yes – who are coordinating the actions of several pro choice organisations). Please don’t stay at home on the day.

If you are undecided, I suggest going to the fb page ‘In Her Shoes – Women Of The Eighth’ and reading the statements of women who have been affected by the 8th amendment. If you are planning to vote Yes, talk to your friends and family, ensure they have enough information to make an informed decision. Get vocal online, this requires a lot of emotional labour, and you will cry, but you are not alone.

I believe that women should have the right to choose. I hope that right will finally become a reality in Ireland, too. So, does Ireland hate women? On the 25th of May we will have the answer.

Featured photo: via Istock Dublin, Ireland – March 8, 2014: Young mother with her daughter holding together poster regarding abortion rights during International Women’s Day Protest Dublin organised by ROSA organisation.
*In this article I use the word ‘woman’ as default. However we should be aware that several non-binary people and trans men are equally affected by this legislation.
This article was previously published in Charlie magazine

The strength of Irish women.

Life

I am auctioning this painting to raise funds for #repealthe8th. 100% of the final sale price will be donated to Together for Yes. It is comprised of three canvases, with a total size of 100x90cm. Place your bid by commenting under this FB post or via email to seriouslyhilary@gmail.com.
Closing date for bids: 31st of March 20h Brussels time (19h Irish time)
The painting can be delivered within Belgium or Ireland.
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The story of how I found my Dalilla

Life, Painting

Bless me, friends, for I have sinned. It’s been seven years since my last painting. 🙂

Seven years ago I made a painting inspired by a strong and artistic young woman. The painting turned out to be the best I had ever made. It felt the closest I had ever gotten to my truth. Lena was perfect. The problem is, I suffer from perfectionism. Lena was so perfect that I was terrified to start a new painting. What if it wasn’t as good as her? I never knew exactly where my paintings came from, they just came. What if Lena was a fluke? If I made a new painting, and it wasn’t as good, that would be proof that I actually couldn’t paint, just got lucky sometimes. And so I stopped. It wasn’t a decision that happened one day, I just slid further and further away from it each day. Going through a few years of depression pushed the paint brush further from my hand. And losing my paintings pushed me further into the darkness.


Lena, 2011

Last summer, for the first time in years, I saw a painting in my mind. She was beautiful, and I knew how to paint her. In June I drew her lines on my canvas, and 9 months later I welcomed my new baby. Baby Dalilla painting, who shares her birthday with the woman who inspired her.

For those of you living in Ireland or under a rock, allow me to introduce Dalilla Hermans.

Dalilla’s smile holds amazing power, luckily for us, she smiles constantly. Even having this painting in my room for the last 9 months has given me strength.
Almost everyone I know is thinking about writing a book, last year Dalilla published what she describes as “her first book”. At Charlie Magazine she has a platform to publish her skillfully composed articles. She is invited to speak at schools, conferences, tv debate panels and to give her opinion in newspapers. She was the most Googled person in Belgium in 2017, not to forget that she got to the final of a tv quiz show called “The smartest person in the world”. She is relationship goals. Dalilla and Willem are parenting goals. Their three beautiful babies, offspring goals.

Her life could be considered perfect.

Oh, but Dalilla has black skin. Before she shares her creativity, people already think that she is angry, unintelligent, unreasonable, overly emotional, that she’s wild and that she snores. For some, her skin colour is reason for abuse and hate. They crawl behind their computer and write that the world would be a better place if her and her kids were dead. I will not give them too much airspace. I just ask you to realise, if you admire Dalilla’s strength, her voice, her joyful presence, you can multiply your admiration by 100 because she deserves it.

Dalilla is an inspiration to me. After seven years missing a piece of my heart, Dalilla was the person who unlocked it again. This time I’m not letting go. I am learning to reject doubt, fear and any other poisonous liars. I am learning to know myself. I am learning to see, feel, and hold on to the beauty and love in every person I meet. I’m learning to recognise and appreciate my passions and to give them space, to give myself space.

It feels good to be back.
May I present to you; my Dalilla…

Thank you Dalilla.


Earring study for this painting

“This happens every day. To women that you know. To women you love”

Life

After the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the conversation about the continued sexual harassment, objectification and degradation of women has been ongoing. Actress Alyssa Milano asked women who’ve had similar experiences to reply to her on Twitter with “me too” to show people the magnitude of the problem. Thousands of stories emerged. Here our Irish writer Hilary shares hers.

Inspired by the hundreds of women sharing their stories of sexual intimidation or abuse with the hashtag #MeToo I feel that this is the right time to share one of my stories. I say ONE of my stories, because it is not the only one and it is not the worst one. Maybe one day I will be able to share the worst one. But until then…

I arrived half an hour early on my first day of work. Sitting on the kerb outside the German supermarket chain, I sketched my shoelaces in my notebook to pass the time. I was twenty years old and this weekend job would fund my college social life.

The chain was new to Ireland and the efficient German methods were refreshing. We packed the shelves during opening hours, humanising the process. Customers, tripping over boxes and pallet trucks, were not used to this minimal level of customer service. We didn’t have cleaning staff or warehouse workers, we did it all ourselves. There were no pretty displays, no recognisable brands, no loyalty cards, no marketing campaigns. Customers had to wait in long queues to pay and then bring their shopping to a designated packing area to arrange in their shopping bags. In return they got very very cheap food. It felt good as a lowly supermarket worker to explain these rules and not have to bow down to the demands of the sometimes arrogant clientele.

Under the guidance of regional manager Mark, I quickly learned the ropes. I took pride in knowing the till codes for the vegetables off the top of my head. The first code he taught me was bananas = 8788, I have no idea why I still know that! It gave me a particular satisfaction to rearrange the produce in their cardboard boxes, to fill some and discard others.

I became good friends with the small group of hard workers keeping our German ship afloat. We often went for drinks together after work. One such Friday I had a day off and regional manager Mark offered to pick me up at home so I could join them for drinks after work. I accepted without a second of doubt, I lived in the middle of nowhere and a taxi would cost me €50. Mark picked me up and in the half hour drive into town we chatted about the other stores he was opening and the staff he was training there. Arriving in town, he asked if I wanted to go straight to the bar or if he could first show me something nice in the area. He said that it was still early and that the others were probably still closing up the store anyway. I wanted to go straight there and had no interest in seeing anything else, but I wanted to be polite. I didn’t want anyone to miss doing what they wanted just because of me.

So we drove to a deserted nature area. Flat grass plains as far as the eye could see. He parked the car and invited me to go for a walk with him. He told me that this place gave him a feeling of peace and that he wanted to share that beauty with me. So we walked, but not very far. He put his hands on my shoulders and tried to kiss me. I told him I wasn’t interested and that I thought it would be best if we went to meet the others in the bar. A wave of relief washed over me as he apologised and turned back towards the car. It was in that moment that I realised that I could have really been in danger. There was no one around for miles, no one to hear me scream. I felt lucky that he had taken ‘no’ for an answer.

Back in the car, Mark locked the doors but did not turn on the engine. The icons on the dashboard glowed blue, I had never seen that before. Must have been an expensive car. He said that if I wasn’t going to do anything with him, that I should at least watch. He unzipped his trousers and started to masturbate. I refused to watch, I looked out the window. He said it was unfair that he had driven all the way out there and that I should touch it. I ignored his request and kept staring out the window. I was paralysed. I couldn’t speak. I just sat there. I thought he was ridiculous and pathetic but knew I was in too much of a vulnerable position to say anything. I knew I needed to be as timid and passive as possible and not do or say anything to anger him. Eventually he drove back into town and we joined the others. I didn’t mention what had happened to anyone and at the end of the night I paid for a taxi home.

Life went on as if nothing had happened. I felt like nothing did happen. He didn’t touch me, or force me to touch him, he didn’t rape me or kill me. I was lucky. I considered him a sad loser. I made sure the girls I worked with never went driving with him. I told them that I had heard stories about him, that he was a dangerous pervert. But apart from that I was silent. I was silent. I didn’t realise the seriousness of the situation until many years later.

I didn’t want to be the victim. I didn’t want people to see me as the weak, complaining woman. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to believe it didn’t bother me. I decided he didn’t deserve any space in my head. I convinced myself that it was nothing. Shortly afterwards he moved to a different store and I only saw him once or twice after that.

When I tell this story to women, they hang their head. They tell me they are sorry that I had to experience this. The sadness in their eyes acknowledging the secret club to which we all belong.

When I tell this story to men, they ask me questions. ‘Why didn’t you report him?’ ‘Why didn’t you tell your parents?’ ‘Why didn’t you tell him you wanted to go straight to the bar?’ ‘Why did you keep working there?’ Their questions unintentionally imply that I had the responsibility to avoid the situation.

Years later I heard that he had been fired. Girls in four or five other stores had reported him for sexually abusing them. You might think that this would have come as a relief, that I would have felt happy to know he faced the consequences of his actions. But all I felt was guilt. Guilt for what those girls had gone through. Guilt knowing that if I had said something I could have saved them. It will not have been difficult for him to get another job, in another supermarket, with other girls. This means that he is still out there, driving in his car, working with young girls, being a sexual predator. You might even know him. You might go for drinks with him on Fridays. You might have friendly chats with him about football, films or music. You can’t imagine that anyone you know could be a rapist. You would know right?

Wrong.

Unless you are the victim, you will not know.

You need to listen to women. You need to create a safe place for women to talk. You need to believe them if they do talk. If they do not want to talk, let them be silent, but make sure they know that you will listen if needed. Make sure the women in your life know that you are an ally. Educate yourself. Look up statistics. Understand that you exist in a different reality. Recognise your privilege and use it to support women.

My story is not at all uncommon. This happens every day. To women that you know. To women you love. To women you see every day. I consider myself lucky. Lucky I was not raped. Lucky I am not dead. I am only realising now how wrong it is to consider yourself lucky after such an experience. How wrong it is that women are taught to be polite and abiding above all else.

I am learning to reject the everyday sexism that lays the foundation for a much greater evil to thrive.

I am learning.

I hope that you are willing to learn too.

Together we can get out of this pit.

 

Here you can find an excellent text about being an ally to women (everyone should read this at least twice).

Foto: Istock
Article first published on Charlie magazine

Irish man goes on “hunger strike” against women’s rights

Life

Let me tell you story of 28 year old man called Tim. Tim supports the 8th amendment which was voted into Irish Constitution by referendum in 1983. The amendment states: ‘The states acknowledges the right to life the unborn and, with due regard the equal right to life of mother, guarantees in laws to respect, and as far as practicable, by laws to defend and vindicate that right.’ No one of childbearing age ever voted on amendment, has such drastic influence on lives. Two years ago wrote overview of abortion in Ireland.

In addition to denying access to abortion, the 8th amendment of the Irish constitution also means the following:

  • Pregnant people who become ill cannot receive any treatment that may harm the foetus. There are no exceptions to this rule. If you are pregnant and you get cancer, there is no option to save your life if it puts the foetus at risk.
  • During pregnancy and labour, your doctor can perform any procedure they deem necessary without your knowledge or permission. (Including episiotomy, caesarian section, …)
  • If a foetus has a fatal abnormality and is incompatible with life, you are forced to carry the pregnancy to term. In a situation where there is no chance the baby will survive the birth, in Ireland you have no choice but to spend nine months of people rubbing your belly and congratulating you.
  • Women who are raped and obtain medical abortion pills on the internet can face a longer prison sentence than the rapist.
  • If you inform a pregnant person about methods of accessing abortion, you face a prison sentence of 14 years. This includes ordering safe termination medication online or information about travelling to England for the procedure.
  • If someone dies while pregnant, their body can be kept ‘alive’ on machines so that the foetus can survive, even if it is against the wishes of the family.
  • If a person in need of an abortion goes on hunger strike, they can be force-fed and kept in hospital by court order until a caesarean section can be carried out.
  • People seeking abortion can be held against their wishes in a psychiatric ward. I wrote about the case of a 14 year old girl who was subjected to this

Tim believes that pregnant people should not have autonomy over their bodies. On the topic of contraception, Tim states he “would advise people not to go down that route”. In a case of a father who wished to turn off life support machines keeping his dead, pregnant wife ‘alive’, Tim stated that “That’s a father who’s stepping away from his duty to protect his own child“. Tim spends his free time standing in public places with posters showing dead foetuses. Tim helps out at a crisis pregnancy agency. This agency communicates that abortion causes breast cancer and can increase a woman’s chances of losing her reproductive organs. They say that contraception was dangerous and women could “die” from having sex.

People have told me not to give Tim the attention he so badly desires, but I believe it is important to highlight this to the world. We need to call out his lies and hope that we are heard by people in need of an abortion. We are the media. We have the power to instigate change. Last week, backlash on twitter caused a hotel to cancel an anti-choice event they were hosting. The topic of the event, the links between abortion and cancer. Spoiler: there are none.

So Tim has decided to go on a hunger strike. Using his advocacy over his body to choose to do a hunger strike is painfully ironic considering he is campaigning to deny pregnant people advocacy over their bodies. Tim is demanding that the government watch a video of an abortion before they make any decisions about the 8th amendment. There has been no official response, but some politicians have stated that they have no problem to watch such a video.

This action may seem like a man standing up for his convictions, until you discover the details of his so-called hunger strike. He has stated that he will not refuse food to point of death. This is issue that has cost many lives, but Tim values his life above all. His ‘hunger strike’ begins at 10h each day. He is drinking water throughout the day. Every evening at 19h he goes to stay at a friends house because; “I don’t think it’s worth picking up the cold and flus that you can out in the open air“. Many people have lost their lives due to the 8th amendment, but Tim doesn’t think is worth catching cold for. Ireland has painful history of hunger strikes. Tim’s glorified diet is an insult to actual hunger strikers who died not so long ago on our little island. It is insult to people travelling to England to access abortion services. They are required to fast from night before the procedure. The ‘hunger strike’ is preforming as equivalent to what 12 people per day their journey to access abortion in England.

You can hear Tim explaining his ideas in several radio interviews in this twitter thread.

There is a good side to every story. Inspired by Tim’s ‘diet’ hundreds of Irish people have donated the price of their lunch to the Abortion Rights Campaign Free-Safe-Legal. They have received more than 3000 euro in a couple of days.

On Saturday the people of Ireland will take to the streets for the 6th annual March For Choice in Dublin.

This Thursday there is a solidarity march taking place in Brussels.

Remember, we are the media, we have the power. Speak with your feet. Show the world that you believe in basic human rights the women of Ireland.

Photo: Dublin March for Choice, Istock
First published on Charlie Magazine

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Frida love

Life

Dearest Frida,

Your art touches me in ways that I never imagined possible. It claws at my heart. I feel it ache in my bones. But I am writing to you now about your words. These words:

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”

I know it is old-fashioned to take a pen to paper and write a letter, but I feel this is the most appropriate manifestation of my feelings for you. Social anxiety prevents me from picking up the phone and giving you a call. A message on Facebook has insufficient weight to convey the words I need you to read. So here is my letter to you. A love letter.

I too am strange. I too yearn to believe there are more people out there like us. Being strange is a talent. I knew this long before I met you but I never understood the power that it held. Standing out from the crowd is a strength. Being different gives you a certain kind of freedom. You and I are not alone, you can find wonderful strange people everywhere, just watch for the sparkle in their eye.

You accept and take pride in the natural state of your body. Highlighting your luxurious facial hair challenges notions of feminine beauty. Telling the world are cannot force you into box, cannot label you, cannot tell you how to exist, is powerful statement. You laugh at the fable that women should be pretty, delicate and silent. You wear whatever clothes you want, suits and ties, dresses and ribbons. You exist as a human, giving little weight to existing ideas of gender. Imagine what the world would look like if everyone would live like that?

I dream of being near you. I imagine staying up all night with endless bottles of wine in La Casa Azul. Even though the air is warm on my face we bury ourselves in the colourful heavy woven blankets your sofa. We talk for hours about matters of the heart and soul. We cry for your three babies who never were born. We rage about Diego and his arrogance. When he betrayed you with your sister you cut off your long hair to punish him. He loved your long hair. Even though he held your heart, you reminded him that you were not unconditionally his. I admire your loudness, your passion, your fire.

You tell me of the comfort you found in other lovers. Not real love, but warmth. These men and women could see your heart and that spark in your eyes. They put their hands around your spark and made it grow like a candle flame. It didn’t repair your shattered, crushed heart but it made you feel less alone. I wish I could be one of those people. I would do anything to take your face in my hands and make you forget your pain. To look into your eyes and make you feel less alone. To trace the pattern of your scars with my fingers. To kiss the length of your broken back and make you feel cherished. Because hearts don’t know gender, they only know love. And you deserve love Frida, my chest aches with the weight of the heartbreak you have had to endure.

Because Frida my love, I too am strange, and spending time with you soothes my tired soul. You are strong and ferocious despite your broken body, tattered heart and unrelenting pain.  You motivate me to listen to the fighting spirit inside me. You build me up and I wanted you to know that. Thank you.

The truth is, dearest Frida, you will never open this envelope. You will never feel the weight of the page in your hand. Today, on the 6th of July, we celebrate the day you were born. Next week we mourn your death, 47 short years later. This letter is more than 60 years too late but I believe in the energy of love. I believe in some way you feel it.

This is letter to all the strange women of the world.
“I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that true here, and just as strange as you.”

tu niña,
hilary

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How Ireland treats a pregnant 14-year-old in 2016

Life

As an Irish native living in Belgium, Charlie editor Hilary is concerned with Ireland’s current affairs. This week a report surfaced, revealing another example of how Irish girls and women suffer because of Ireland’s strict abortion laws.

I had hoped that I wouldn’t have to write another article like this.

I had hoped that I wouldn’t have to tell you again how badly my home country treats women and girls.

And yet here I am, a year after I first wrote about the history of abortion rights in Ireland, forced to write again. I am so ashamed.

A report has been released, outlining yet another girl, failed and abused by Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws. It reads like something from the dark ages but it dates from 2016.

Abortion was illegal in Ireland in all cases until 2013. Current legislation only allows for abortion in cases where there is a risk of loss of the mother’s life. However, criteria to qualify for abortion under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 are very restrictive. Every day 13 Irish women travel to the UK for an abortion. That is over 5000 women per year who leave their support network and home to undergo a medical procedure that their country denies them.

Today we learned of a pregnant 14-year-old girl and her mother who took steps to terminate the girl’s pregnancy. The young girl was depressed and suicidal. Under the terms of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, the risk of loss of life from suicide is an accepted reason to legally obtain an abortion. However, the procedure for this is strict. Three physicians need to agree to the need for a termination. An obstetrician, a psychiatrist with experience treating women during or after pregnancy, and another psychiatrist. Following the consent of the woman, one of these three should consult her doctor. The termination can only take place in an “appropriate institution”, which translates to a short list of hospitals. What are the benefits for psychiatry locum? Physicians in this specialty are also subject to a high rate of burnout, with long shifts, high patient volume, and working nights and weekends all contributing to their stressors.

Taking into consideration that the girl is 14, whatever the circumstances of the conception, this is a case of statutory rape. A child is not capable of giving consent to sexual acts.
So, let me tell you how Ireland treats a raped pregnant child in 2016.

Following an evaluation by one psychiatrist the girl and her mother were told that they were being transferred to Dublin for the abortion to be carried out. Considering that the procedure is not permitted in all hospitals, they probably did not consider this unusual. However, they had been lied to. The psychiatrist had actually concluded that the child had a “mental health disorder” and that she needed treatment for her suicidal thoughts. They decided that an abortion was “not the solution” for the girl’s problems. This girl and her mother were not on their way to receive the healthcare they needed and had a right to at least get assistance from a sutherland family medical practice center. Instead the girl was transferred and detained in a mental health unit.


Dublin March for Choice, September 2012. Young woman holds hand made poster in act of support other women about their decisions regarding abortion. Via Istock

This decision was made by one psychiatrist and goes against the current law in Ireland which states: “Medical personnel with conscience objections to abortion will not be required to participate in terminations, but must transfer care of a patient in such cases. Where a termination is requested but refused, a woman may appeal to the Health Service Executive (HSE). The HSE will establish a panel of at least 10 physicians, from whom a committee of two or three will review any application within three days.”

The human rights of women in Ireland are severely limited by the laws surrounding the termination of a pregnancy. This case shows that even when the law allows access, termination can be denied by one doctor based on their personal convictions.

The district court appointed a “guardian ad litem” (GAL) to the girl. This is a person the court appoints to investigate what solutions would be in the “best interests of a child.” They also appointed a GAL to the foetus. In Ireland, a foetus has equal ‘right to life’ as the mother does. In August 2016, a judge ruled that the “unborn” have significant rights and legal position at common law, by statute, and under the Constitution, going well beyond the right to life alone.

Upon arriving at the mental health unit and discovering that she would not receive a termination this girl became “agitated and extremely upset.” She voiced very strong views as to why she wanted an abortion and communicated that she did not wish to be detained. Another psychiatrist was appointed by the GAL to assess the young girl. Their report stated that she was dealing with her depression well and there was no immediate danger of suicide. Her treating adolescent psychiatrist stated that “while the young girl remained agitated and angry, she did not suffer from an acute mental health disorder.”

The GAL for the pregnant girl applied for her to be discharged from the institution where she was detained. The court agreed, on the basis that the child no longer had a mental health disorder. Several days after her detention, she was released.

It is not known what happened after that.

Did she get the termination she legally has a right to on Irish soil? Did her mother put her on a flight to England, risking 14 years’ imprisonment, to attend one of the abortion clinics that provide healthcare to Irish women daily? Or did she endure a forced pregnancy and forced birth against her wishes?

The Magdalene Laundries in Ireland, where young women were subjected to heavy manual work and suffered abuse by the nuns. An estimated 30,000 women were confined in these institutions in Ireland. Via Wiki CommonsThe mental institutions of Ireland have a lurid history of locking up ‘crazy’ women due to pregnancy/sexuality/abortion/miscarriage. Women spent their entire lives in those ‘prisons’, considered unfit for society. The ‘solution’ for women who were different, opinionated or loud was to lock them up and throw away the key. I thought those days were behind us. I thought that we were past the days of the Magdalene Laundries, I thought our shock and horror reading about the Tuam Babies would translate into respect and love for women and babies.

It seems I was wrong.

Keep in mind, this is happening in a country where there are not enough psychiatric beds for the people who really need them. Suicidal people are begging for help in the emergency department of hospitals and are sent home because there is no space for them in the mental health units. If you want to access abortion, you need to prove you are suicidal to be allowed the procedure. If you are suicidal, the only way to get a bed in a mental health unit is to say you want an abortion.

The UN Human Rights Committee has called on Ireland twice to reform its restrictive abortion legislation. The latest ruling stated that Ireland “should amend its law on voluntary termination of pregnancy, including if necessary its constitution, to ensure compliance with the covenant, including effective, timely and accessible procedures for pregnancy termination in Ireland.”

Amnesty International published this list of Six outrageous facts about abortion in Ireland.

I am not going to lecture you about your daughters, sisters and wives. At this point it is about common decency. It is about human rights. Stand up. Speak up.

https://twitter.com/TaraFlynn/status/874044753553367040

You can read Irish women’s abortion stories on this site. Frighteningly the stories from 40 years ago differ little from those of today.

Follow #repealthe8th on Twitter to get involved in the revolution, and amplify the voices of those suffering under this barbaric law.

I’m tired of signing petitions to ask my motherland to give women basic human rights, but here you go: Locking women up because they want an abortion is barbaric: Sign here.

This article was first published on Charlie magazine.