Abortion rights activists from all over Ireland, gathered round at Clarion Hotel Conference Room in Cork city today, to demand a repeal to the 8th amendment (the 8th amendment to the Irish constitution outlaws abortion in this country) and voice their frustrations over the growing rate of violence against women (a phenomenon that is also known as Femicide).
Polish, South Korean and Latin American Women Against Violence in Cork
Ms. Inga Wojcik of Poland was the first speaker of the panel, she started her speech by remembering the abortion rights movement in Poland which inspired women in other parts of the world such as South Korea, Ireland and Latin America. She said that the massive Polish Anti Abortion Protest was mostly organized by Facebook groups , she described protesting such foreign notion to some people in Poland that some of them were wondering how does one even protest?
She said that although media portrayed the Polish protest as a massive victory but in her view nothing much has changed since. However she praised recent victories for women in places such as Turkey , in which a new bill which would allow rapists to marry their victims was repealed.
Ms. Melissa Lopez was the second speaker of the panel, who gave shocking statistics of women killed in Latin American Countries. She said that even though laws do exist that are seemingly in favor of women, but 98 percent of crimes against women remains unpunished.
According to Ms. Lopez women of Latin American countries are constantly harassed in the streets , and even the current president of Mexico (where Ms. Lopez is originally from) makes sexist comments on TV. She gave examples of some empowering protests such as a protest that was organized for a 15 year old girl who was beaten up and killed by her boyfriend in Mexico. In the end she expressed her content of the recent rise in feminist movements by stating :” Women in Latin America , are finally starting to speak up.”
The third speaker of the panel was Ms. Hyewon Choe from South Korea , whose speech was also accompanied by slides and a video of the black protest in South Korea on 29th of October.
She described South Korean society as a misogynistic one and criticized objectification of women by South Korean media . She went as far as saying that South Korean media even objectifies little girls. She also blames such culture for the rise in the rates of women who undergo plastic surgery in South Korea, something that according to Ms. Choe has dubbed Seoul the Capital of plastic surgery.
She said the abortion rights protest of 29th of October in South Korea was hugely influenced by Polish Protest, she said that she was devastated to find out that she had left her own country to live in a better place such as Ireland, only to find out that abortion laws are even more restrict in her new country. At the end she spoke of hope and tangible progresses.
The final speaker of the panel was Ms. Fiona Ryan, from Ireland Socialist party who describes herself as a “Socialist Feminist” . She started her speech by quoting David Quinn who is a key figure of the IONA institution in Ireland (Conservative Catholic Group), who had said :” If the 8th amendment to the Irish Constitution would be repealed, the next step would be the rise of Socialists.” Something that Ms. Ryan described as a heartwarming truth. She said that the two major political parties in Ireland are not doing enough for pushing the abortion rights agenda, even those such as TD Kate O’Connell of Fine Gael Party who seems to be pro-abortion does not support this cause in practice. Even members of the Sinn Fein Party who are pro-choice are saying that they only support abortion when it comes to pregnancies that might endange mother’s life. However she also spoke of slow progresses and hoped for a referendum on the Issue in 2018 (the year that Pope Francis is going to visit Ireland).
A Brief History of Abortion Rights in Ireland
Ireland is a country which follows United Kingdom policies on most issues but when it comes to abortion, Irish people have to go their British neighbor to abort their unwanted children. Years ago a teenager who threatened to kill herself if she wouldn’t get an abortion, made the judges to rule for an abortion in a decision known as the “Legislation X”, (the girl miscarried anyway). However, it did not happen in the case of Savita Halappanavar a 31-year-old woman whose life could’ve been saved if she would’ve been allowed an abortion.
Activists in Ireland are pressing the government to repeal the 8th amendment, for many years, hopefully after the legalization of gay marriage, the time will come for this taboo to break as well.