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Written byGulshan Stodel

“Women’s freedom is the sign of social freedom.” ~ Rosa Luxemburg

The sickly white lights wash away any colour left on my face while standing, waiting in the gas station bathroom. The smell of urine is hard to ignore. Washing my hands at the basin, I avoid looking at it as best as I can. I keep my eyes on the mirror in front of me, not allowing them to drift to the countertop corner where it sits. Staring into the mirror seems just as hard, I’m looking at myself with so much fear. When waiting for the result of something so life-changing, determined by your own body, yet there’s nothing you yourself can do to change it. And when the decision to bring in a new life is no longer your own it becomes the furthest thing from humane, that’s when I know society has warped my freedom as a female beyond repair. The timer on my phone goes, and I’m quick to stop it. Hesitantly, my eyes fall to it on the countertop, “Fuck.”

Now, let’s unpack the scene I’ve just set for us. We are introduced to the situation many womb-baring people are already and very likely will be familiar with.

Finding out you’re pregnant. The one crucial detail that I didn’t add to this story was the circumstance leading to this person having to take a pregnancy test and it reading positive. “Why?” You may ask. Simply, because it does not matter. Had the person been in a beautiful, long, and happy relationship with their partner. Or had they just been involved in a one-night stand. Or, as it is a very real and shockingly frequent circumstance, had they been raped. Any and all of these examples are realities. And every single time, they should have the freedom and right to deal with it in the safest, healthiest option that they choose. Let’s take a look at the reaction. “Fuck.” We all know too well how versatile this word is, with its multiple meanings and uses. But what was the meaning and aim of our woman’s use of the word? No, it wasn’t to portray their dismay of being pregnant. Nor was it to belittle the incredibly painful journey of infertility many people struggle with. It was to highlight the circumstance that many of the female gender, that are living in countries where merely having a choice of what happens after you become pregnant is not even a reality.

Ignorance seems to be the running theme when it comes to female rights.

Take the United States of America for example where the Supreme Court on July 24th, in a 6 – 3 majority vote overturned the Roe v. Wade landmark decision of 1973 which protected the liberty of a pregnant woman to choose to have an abortion, stripping them of the freedom to choose. Imagine you fell pregnant. And whether you wanted to or not, by law, you had to keep it. This is beyond unsustainable because if the argument behind this is “Pro-life”, fundamentally more pregnant people and fetuses will die due to the now added health risks regardless. Because if someone falls pregnant and decides they don’t want to be, for any reason – as all reasons are valid, nothing is going to stop them from wanting to terminate said pregnancy. And if the person is financially able to take themselves to a place where they can safely have an abortion they will. This is an option only the smallest percentage have. What about the rest? They are forced to try other unsafe, unreliable, and often detrimental options. Thus, creating more of the same issue that drives the decision behind not allowing abortions. Bizarre.

In a country like South Africa, named by Interpol as the ‘Rape Capital of the World.” Where someone (majority female) is either raped or sexually assaulted every 25 seconds. We can only imagine how banning abortion is plainly not an option for our government. As if it were illegal, the consequences of femicide in South Africa would become more than the great emotional, psychological and physical trauma for females that it already is. Then becoming a national governmental issue of having to provide for the absolute masses of unwanted pregnancies and then an inevitable rise in the population, creating more demand which we – as a third world country with a crippled economy just couldn’t meet. Even without abortion being illegal in our country the plague of poverty and lack of resources stands to create an equal threat to the health and safety of people in need of or choosing to have abortions. 

“We must empower women and expand their choices. We must respect and value the diversity of women. We must recognize that some women face additional barriers to equality because of their race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.” ~ Sheila Finestone

We can be surprised that our country isn’t already equipped with free abortion clinics in an attempt from our government to mend the “issues” it will soon create for them. But where are the attempted solutions for the non-hypothetical problems it creates for our female population? There are organistations like POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse), Rape Crisis, Masimanyane Women’s Rights International, and SBCWC (Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children), to name a few in our country that tirelessly work to support the fight against femicide and gender-based violence in South Africa.

The painfully real problems that arise from continually robbing females of their freedom just don’t seem to be going away. The current example is the recent overturning of the Roe V. Wade constitutional decision allowing American states to ban abortions. There will, unfortunately, be more examples in the future, this we know because of the ironically accurate saying, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” And ignorance seems to be the running theme when it comes to female rights. It’s truly a sad moment in our history as a human race, having come so far in so many aspects only to disappoint and continually fall short on the right to freedom, safety, and equality for all females.


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“The search for humane freedom can never be complete without freedom for women.” ~ Betty Ford