Take clothes hangers away, and give us information and rights!
goes beyond the wave of regulations and appropriateness upon abortion and creates its own wave of women by themselves.
- Movie Review : -
Activist of Network for Global Activism
The rights to health for women are closely related to the social environment and the rights to sexuality in ones society. The lower the women’s status is in a society, the more they are treated only as sexual objects or tools for reproduction, and there is a lower concern or support for the rights to health for women. So, for the rights to health for women to be guaranteed, it is not enough to consider if they could buy medicine, or if they could get medical treatment at hospitals. For the rights to health, the social and economical conditions for women to insist their own rights of sexuality and integrity should be guaranteed. Most importantly, it should be easy for women to approach proper medical information. In this context, the movement shown in pushes the binary structure of the dispute between the right to choice of women and the embryo’s right to life, regarding to the legalization of abortion, to a new dimension, giving new challenges and inspiration to the issue of woman’s rights to sexuality and health.
Scene from Private Violence, screened at the 8th Film Festival for Womens Rights
Law cannot stop abortion. It only shifts the risk and responsibility onto women.
Vessel started with the courage of Rebecca as she has put into action an idea of using Netherlands vessel where abortion is legal, and have made possible to support women of all nations. While she was working in Greenpeace, she has seen women who have bled excessively or gone into shock from performing self-abortion in their countries, where the abortion is illegal. Also, she was asked for help from women in diverse countries, who have demanded support through Vessel.
Scene from Private Violence, screened at the 8th Film Festival for Womens Rights
“Hi. I am now 7 weeks pregnant. I was raped. I have not gone to the police because I am ashamed and afraid that my family will disown me. I am so desperate, I thought of hitting my stomach until I miscarried." “It feels like Ive been living in hell for 5 weeks. There are people here who give abortions but they are not safe, and I’m scared I will die from the surgery” “I am desperate to have an abortion. But I cannot afford the black market price and my husband is in charge of all the income.” “I have 2 children already and I do not have any financial support to raise another child." "If anyone finds out that I’m pregnant and not married, they will lash me to death. I just want to kill myself."
According to this movie, a woman dies every 10 minutes, and the number of women who dies reaches to 47,000 because of these kinds of situations. But the actual number would go beyond, because in the countries where abortion is illegal, the number of people who died from the surgery cannot be summed up precisely.
Lots of women around the world die from drinking poisonous drugs or using clothes hangers or sharp sticks for self-abortion. That’s why the image of a hanger is used as a symbol of the movements of legalizing abortion. In many countries, women cant decide who to have a sex with, who to marry with or even what clothes to wear. Also, they dont have the opportunity to obtain information on practicing contraception, and men do not have information on using the condoms properly. It is the woman who always faces the reality and takes the responsibility alone. Even in countries where the rights of women are respected legally or systematically, the possibility of sexual abuse is everywhere. Some women are pregnant unwillingly because of the unequal relationship with men exist. The sexual rights of women confront various cultural and economical conditions. Also, the sexual rights of women are largely affected by the facts of whether or not she has a disability, her marital status, and even her age. The practice of abortion is largely affected by these conditions, too. There are women who do not have the choice of contraception or abortion because of their family’s demands. Some women cant give birth to a child due to health problems, or if the conditions do not allow them to. The most important fact to notice is that there is no contraception that can perfectly prevent pregnancy. In this situation, can we say that the womens right to abortion is practiced only for their own sake? Is it acceptable that women take all the risks and responsibilities while all the pressure, control, and unequal relationships are not discussed? The punishment of women who abort is the easiest way to avoid such responsibilities from these kinds of problems. Laws cannot stop abortions. It only shifts the risks on women. Vessel tries to provide actual support to women. They float around the world on a ship, and educate women about the drugs that can be used for abortion at early stages of pregnancy. They distribute information on the health and safety, the usage of the medication, and the side effects from drugs for abortions. Also, they formed a structured hotline and online counseling system that women can contact at times of emergency. Not only do these exist, but also they made a branch network and an education program that the women who already received support can give direct help to other women in their local regions. On their website, they not only give information about the drugs, but it also informs people whether it is possible to buy the drugs in their country. It provides information about safe sex, the legal situation of abortion in their country, information on online selling of false drugs, etc. The campaign programs and the materials about the safe dosage of the drugs are provided in various languages and simple drawings, so that it can be downloaded from the website.
A society, which believes in women’s independent power, should take away clothes hangers and bring us information and rights!
The activities of Women on Waves’ go beyond the legal/institutional border, which belonged to the government and the professionals. By considering every different social and medical situation, which each woman is placed in, Women on Waves’ places information into women’s hands throughout the world. With this information, women who had to take risks by themselves in an isolated situation are now able to perform abortions in safe conditions, and they can be an expert in their decision-making upon their life and body. In both countries where contraceptives and abortions are blocked and also in countries where legal conditions about abortion are arranged, women who need pills or adequate medical provisions are facing a lot of constraints such as expensive surgery fees and complicated procedures. Therefore, considering this situation that they are still facing lots of restrictions, the activities of Women on Waves’ have an important meaning. Of course the best situation would be where women do not need to depend on professionals and are able to take responsibility of their own bodies and lives by themselves with enough sources, information, social and sexual rights. And it would be ideal if women could get medical aid without any social and economic restrictions. But still, the wall is too high. Pregnancy and giving birth are directly related to a woman’s life and health. Besides, pregnancy and giving birth are also important prerequisites to be responsible for and to raise newly born lives that will continue to live in this society. For a long time in history, women have been making the decision and have taken responsibilities of their body and lives. However, many countries only paid attention in controlling women instead of sharing this heavy responsibility together. Many countries do not believe decisions and responsibilities of women and therefore they do not guarantee rights for women. Rebecca, the founder of Women on waves’ says,
“I have two children and I know how much it takes to be a good parent, and if somebody is not able to do that, or does not want to, they will be put in miserable condition. My fundamental philosophy is the reduction of these sufferings, and I think the right to safe abortion reduces sufferings for the women, family and society.”
“If you empower women themselves to do medical abortions, it will undermine legal constraints the anti-abortion people are putting in place. But it also means you have to trust individual woman. Women will make it happen. Women will be able to take control over the situation.”