Abortion in Europe: Fully Acquired Right or Tireless Fight ?
ENoMW’s Statement for the International Safe Abortion Day
Brussels, 28 September 2020
“Never forget that a crisis will suffice for women’s rights to be threatened. These rights are never granted. You need to remain careful for your entire life”
With the COVID-19 crisis, this quote from French feminist Simone de Beauvoir proved itself to be once again a tough reminder of an ugly truth. In the face of this unprecedented health emergency, European countries have adopted extraordinary measures such as extensive lockdowns, restricting freedoms and human rights in the process. First victims? Women, everywhere, enduring violence; from being trapped with abusers (many European countries have seen a rise of about 30% in emergency calls reporting male violence in the home) to not being able to enjoy their rights, such as the one to access safe and legal abortion.
In Italy, Government inaction has left women and girls facing avoidable obstacles to accessing this right, putting their health and lives at risk according to Human Rights Watch. This failure to ensure women’s sexual and reproductive health care is not surprising; it only highlights many European countries’ outdated restrictions and the harm they cause to women and girls.
This is the story of Adelina, an Abanian woman trafficked into prostitution in Italy as a child. Since then she has been an advocate and activist for women and girls in prostitution, in the hope that she can prevent others from experiencing the hell she went through.
“Unfortunately, it all started with my kidnapping in Albania. I was about 17 years old and I was just walking near my house when a car came close to me and they grabbed me and took me to a bunker. There, the group started to rape and beat me. I had never had sex before. This is when my hell began. This is what a person who is raped and doomed to a life in prostitution lives: hell.
Before that I was a normal girl from a normal family; poor, but normal. I went to school, I went to the swimming pool – I was even part of a swimming team because I was such a good, fast swimmer.”
As anyone who has lived in Italy will know, accessing services can be extremely complicated and tiring, and navigating the bureaucracy involved can be challenging. For migrant women this challenge is amplified by a linguistic and cultural barrier and, unfortunately, an even greater barrier of fear among those whose migration status is uncertain. Perhaps most important among these services is the healthcare system. Access to healthcare is a basic right and public healthcare is guaranteed for every person in Italy, but fear and misinformation frequently prevent women, and as a consequence their families, from exercising this right.
This is why, this October, we began a pilot project in collaboration with YWCA-UCDG Torino and Medici Senza Frontiere (MSF) Italy to inform and guide migrant women in access to healthcare. During three sessions, lead by Valentina Reale from MSF Torino, with a group of women from Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo we explored the different ways migrants, regardless of their status, can access healthcare, in particular reproductive and maternal healthcare services.
The ddl 840/2018, better known as Salvini’s decree on immigration and security, has become law after approval by the Chamber of Deputies. One of the biggest changes and challenges that has come out of this decree is the removal of humanitarian protection, a lower level of asylum status provided for by Italian rather than international law – given to 25 percent of Italy’s asylum seekers last year, according to the AFP. It will also make it harder to obtain Italian citizenship and provides for the revocation of ‘acquired’ citizenship, as well as changing the rules around hosting asylum seekers in reception centres.
As an organisation that works with socially and economically disadvantaged people, female victims of violence, and also provides accommodation – at the ‘third level’, i.e. for people who have already lived in Italy for some time and whose long-term integration we support -, we feel compelled to investigate and fully understand the implications of this legislation. As such, we held a public meeting on 30th November, in collaboration with the social enterprise Xenia who have been hosting asylum seekers for two years and with whom we share our work space. We were joined by Barbara Cattelan and Enrica Origlia, lawyers with ASGI (an association that studies migration legislation), who sought to analyse and interpret how the new laws will work in practice, and Monica Cerutti, the representative for Equal Opportunities in Piemonte.
So, what has changed for asylum seekers?
For anyone submitting an application now, the chances of receiving protection are greatly reduced. There is no direct long-term replacement for humanitarian protection, but some much more limited forms of protection have been introduced.
Do you know the Casale del Rio?
Don’t you know what we are talking about?
Ok. This is our biggest project to date, which we would like to carry out as soon as possible, with the support from you all.
We wish to turn this 17th Century country house to a home for women, where places come alive thanks to their creativity.
We already talked to you all about it, a farm house in Villamiroglio, immersed in the very heart of Monferrato (Piedmont), the home of Barbera wine and white truffle.
Here you can find more information about our ambitious project.
Your support is necessary and important, but we are proud to show you the small but significant steps taken one year on for the home renovation.
Brick by brick the idea of the house is taking shape.
How it is now
How it was
We are very confident that the future will bring us a big opportunity.
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