Book Review: “Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!”

Book Review: “Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!”

“Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!” is a collection of powerful essays, interspersed with beautiful illustrations, that tell the stories of female human rights defenders from Egypt, Kuwait, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey, Somalia and Sudan. 

The book has been jointly published by two charities: Fighting Words and Front Line Defenders. Fighting Words works to foster imagination and develop the creative writing skills of children and young people, and Front Line Defenders is dedicated to protecting human rights defenders who are at risk due to the nature of their work.

Behind each story is a meeting of two women. Every piece was created when an inspiring advocate for the rights of others shared her story with an acclaimed writer, who then put it to paper. As a collection, these stories have striking commonalities, yet they are all delightfully unique in their telling.

The core message of the book is not a commendation of the extraordinary work being done by these women (although this is much deserved!). Instead this collaboration celebrates their ordinariness. We are given an insight into some of the most difficult places to be human in the world, and are introduced to women doing just that. 

These women still go for coffee, they still scroll through Instagram, they make jokes, they are as human as you and I, even in the face of absolute inhumanity. One woman describes her life as a human rights defender as “annoying” and “tiring”, as one might describe a tedious office job. For them, rising up to combat injustice is simply an element of their everyday life.

“Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!” is an intimate account of news stories to which we have become immune – too often unable to pierce through the overwhelming din of the media, and too far away to seem real. This book allows us to understand a world we have never been to, through the lens of human commonalities.

You will find yourself confronted with questions. Where was I, while these stories unfolded? Would I have the same courage, if my normal life was upturned by conflict? And what is “normal” life anyway? 

“Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!” is an arresting series of portraits, which gives an insight into the lives of extraordinarily ordinary women. It captures the immutability of our human nature, in even the most hostile of environments. One story offers this wisdom: When you love life, fear of death cannot stop you from taking action to protect it. Living life to the fullest is the greatest retaliation against oppression. 

This book exalts just that. 

You can purchase a copy of “Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!” at https://www.fightingwords.ie/yes-we-still-drink-coffee.

 

Photo by Fighting Words on Twitter

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

Book Review: “Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!”

“Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!” is a collection of powerful essays, interspersed with beautiful illustrations, that tell the stories of female human rights defenders from Egypt, Kuwait, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey, Somalia and Sudan. Behind each story is a meeting of two women. Here is our review.

What is Ecofeminism?

Ecofeminism is a movement that unites two issues close to our hearts at STAND: women’s rights and the environment. It is perhaps one of the most useful ways we can look at a wide range of social issues we face today. However, the term may be unfamiliar to many.

Endometriosis Explained

Endometriosis affects one in every 10 women in Ireland. Carrying a huge personal and social cost. Despite this, awareness of endometriosis is sorely lacking. This STAND article aims to spread awareness of this chronic condition.

Short shorts film festival 2019 in Dublin – What to remember

Earlier this month, the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) screened some of the best short films produced all over Europe, as part of the Short Shorts film festival. Screenings were hosted by language schools and embassies across Dublin.

Samantha Power’s Book Review: The Ideal Woman for the Job

Samantha Power arrived at her home city of Dublin and was greeted in Trinity College Dublin’s Regent’s House to rapturous applause. Although she’s best known for her government career in diplomacy, it is her staunch moral compass and dedication to humanitarian issues which have underpinned her career, and do so again in her memoir.

New Focus on Gender in Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly

Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly is shifting its focus to gender equality. Over the next six months, it will examine issues like the gender pay gap, sexual assault and how to increase women’s participation in business and politics.

What is Ecofeminism?

What is Ecofeminism?

Ecofeminism is a movement that unites two issues close to our hearts at STAND: women’s rights and the environment. It is perhaps one of the most useful ways we can look at a wide range of social issues we face today. 

However, the term may be unfamiliar to many. In essence, ecofeminism is the idea that the oppression of women and the exploitation of our planet’s natural resources are inextricably linked. The movement originated in the 1970s alongside the rise of second-wave feminism and environmental activism. Today, people are increasingly waking up to the fact that different forms of oppression are all linked to one another and ecofeminism is a great example of this intersectional way of thinking. 

There are many fascinating women who have pioneered this movement and continue to do so. The mother of the movement is French feminist Francoise d’Eaubonne who coined the term ‘ecofeminism’ in her 1974 book Le féminisme ou la mort (Feminism or Death) in which she encourages women to take climate action. 

Another vocal ecofeminist is Anika Rahman, a lawyer and human rights activist who views her fight for reproductive rights and her environmental advocacy as being part of the same thread. She is currently Chief Board Relations Officer at the Natural Resources Defense Council, co-founded the Center for Reproductive Rights and was President as CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women. 

Today, Vandana Shiva is possibly the ecofeminist who has gained most notoriety. She was featured in 2015 documentary ‘The True Cost’ which delves into the devastating effects of fast fashion, both on women and the environment. She has also co-authored a book titled Ecofeminism with feminist scholar Maria Mies, which is a fascinating look into the relationships between capitalism, the oppression of women and the ecological degradation. 

There are two main schools of thought regarding ecofeminism: radical feminism and cultural or spiritual ecofeminism. Radical ecofeminism asserts that oppression is perpetuated by patriarchal structures which must be deconstructed if an egalitarian society is to be achieved. It believes that the patriarchy see both women and nature as “wild,” and therefore wishes to have control over them. This is a bit like the feminist idea of “gender as a construct”, which holds that connotations of gender are completely made up ideas used to subjugate women. 

Cultural or spiritual ecofeminism, on the other hand, embraces the idea that women are connected to nature. It asserts that power can be derived from aspects of womanhood such as child-bearing and menstruation which (according to them) make women closer to nature. This view is often criticised by radical ecofeminists who say that this is a trivial comparison and only serves to oppress women further.

However, more important than ecofeminist theory are the concrete issues it aims to tackle. In spite of conflicting views within the movement, there are core ideas that all ecofeminists share, the most important being the belief that women suffer most from the depletion of the planet’s natural resources. 

For example in many Third World countries, such as Ethiopia and Bangladesh, it is women who are in charge of managing natural resources in the home including collecting drinking water and firewood. When natural disasters such as drought (in the case of Ethiopia) or floods (in the case of Bangladesh) occur, women have to work harder to find these resources. This often means that girls will leave school to help their mothers. In some cases, they may completely take over responsibility for the home so their mothers can go out to work and compensate for the impacts of crop destruction on their income. This is just one of the many ways in which women suffer from environmental degradation.

Regardless of your school of feminism, the reality is that women are suffering as a result of the depletion of our planet’s natural resources. It is high time that the systems which harm both women and our planet be interrogated and – eventually – deconstructed entirely.

 

Photo by Cintia Barenho on Flickr

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

Book Review: “Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!”

“Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!” is a collection of powerful essays, interspersed with beautiful illustrations, that tell the stories of female human rights defenders from Egypt, Kuwait, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey, Somalia and Sudan. Behind each story is a meeting of two women. Here is our review.

What is Ecofeminism?

Ecofeminism is a movement that unites two issues close to our hearts at STAND: women’s rights and the environment. It is perhaps one of the most useful ways we can look at a wide range of social issues we face today. However, the term may be unfamiliar to many.

Endometriosis Explained

Endometriosis affects one in every 10 women in Ireland. Carrying a huge personal and social cost. Despite this, awareness of endometriosis is sorely lacking. This STAND article aims to spread awareness of this chronic condition.

New Focus on Gender in Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly

Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly is shifting its focus to gender equality. Over the next six months, it will examine issues like the gender pay gap, sexual assault and how to increase women’s participation in business and politics.

Witches – a History of Misogyny

On this All-Hallows Eve, witches will be painting the town black. But while witches continue to fascinate as feminist symbols, the history of the witch is also bound up with a history of misogyny that still persists today.

Abortion and gay marriage: change is coming in Northern Ireland

Yesterday, a plenary session was held in Stormont, Northern Ireland’s Assembly. The Assembly, which has not sat in over a thousand days, was brought back together to try and vote about the decriminalisation of abortion and the legalisation of same sex marriage.

Endometriosis Explained

Endometriosis Explained

Endometriosis affects one in every 10 women in Ireland. Carrying a huge personal and social cost, it can cause debilitating pain, extremely heavy periods and sometimes infertility. Despite this, awareness of endometriosis is sorely lacking. This STAND article aims to spread awareness of this chronic condition. 

 

What is endometriosis?

It is a chronic condition where tissue, similar to the tissue that grows inside the uterus, grows outside of it. The disease causes inflammation and severe pain in the pelvic area, ovaries, bowel and bladder. While being one of the most common diseases diagnosed, it is still very poorly diagnosed. In Ireland, it takes an average of nine years to get a diagnosis for endometriosis. This long-term condition commonly affects menstruating women, particularly those in their 30s or 40s, but it has also been found in trans males, premenarchal and postmenopausal females. 

 

What are the symptoms? 

Symptoms of endometriosis include pain in the abdomen, heavy menstrual bleeding, difficulty surrounding fertility, irritable bowel syndrome, rectal bleeding, and pain during and after sex. The most common symptom is severe pain before and during menstrual periods. Symptoms may become worse at certain times in the menstrual cycle, particularly at ovulation, as hormone levels vary. The inflammatory reaction that occurs can result in adhesions which develop when scar tissue attaches separate structures in the body or organs together. Some symptoms of endometriosis are cyclical, meaning they only occur each month during menstruation. These symptoms include weight gain, heavy menstrual bleeding, pain, insomnia, nausea and migraines. The amount of diseased tissue you have does not directly correlate to the severity of your symptoms. Some women will have very severe symptoms while others won’t show any external signs of the condition. 

 

What causes endometriosis?

There is no known cause for endometriosis; however, there are a few factors that increase your chances of having it. It is likely that you will have the condition if a member of your family has it (particularly your mother or sister) and women with low immune systems are more vulnerable to endometriosis.

 

How can it be treated?

This disease is incurable; however, it’s possible to lessen pain and symptoms. Endometriosis can only be fully diagnosed by a laparoscopy, which doctors are hesitant to do as it is an invasive, surgical procedure. Transvaginal ultrasound can be used to diagnose ovarian endometriosis. An MRI can also help doctors understand the extent of the disease; however, only a laparoscopy can give a definite diagnosis. Recurrence of diseased tissue after surgery is 50 percent over five years. 

 

Why is it hard to get diagnosed? 

Due to the vast range of symptoms, it is difficult to diagnose endometriosis based on those factors alone. Endometriosis and its symptoms are similar to those of other conditions. Long delays in diagnosis are also due to normalisation of symptoms, in particular severe pain during the menstrual cycle, as well as the use of contraceptive pills which suppress the symptoms of the condition. 

 

Endometriosis and fertility

While endometriosis is one of the leading causes of infertility, approximately 70 percent of women with the disease can conceive without treatment. There are also two large population-based databases that suggest that endometriosis is linked to miscarriage. The two databases are from Sweden and Scotland and show that women with endometriosis are 20% more likely to miscarry compared to women that did not. 

 

Endometriosis and your mental health

Endometriosis has a huge impact on women’s quality of life, suffering from severe pain, undergoing numerous surgeries and often having difficulty with fertility. It can be taxing for women’s mental health to live with endometriosis, especially with the delay in diagnosis and invasive procedures to get a full and correct diagnosis. There are a variety of support groups, such as Endometriosis Association of Ireland, to aid women in living with endometriosis. 

 

To find out more about Endometriosis visit: https://www.endometriosis.ie/about-endometriosis/

 

Photo by ALDE Group on Flickr

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

Book Review: “Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!”

“Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!” is a collection of powerful essays, interspersed with beautiful illustrations, that tell the stories of female human rights defenders from Egypt, Kuwait, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey, Somalia and Sudan. Behind each story is a meeting of two women. Here is our review.

What is Ecofeminism?

Ecofeminism is a movement that unites two issues close to our hearts at STAND: women’s rights and the environment. It is perhaps one of the most useful ways we can look at a wide range of social issues we face today. However, the term may be unfamiliar to many.

Endometriosis Explained

Endometriosis affects one in every 10 women in Ireland. Carrying a huge personal and social cost. Despite this, awareness of endometriosis is sorely lacking. This STAND article aims to spread awareness of this chronic condition.

New Focus on Gender in Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly

Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly is shifting its focus to gender equality. Over the next six months, it will examine issues like the gender pay gap, sexual assault and how to increase women’s participation in business and politics.

Witches – a History of Misogyny

On this All-Hallows Eve, witches will be painting the town black. But while witches continue to fascinate as feminist symbols, the history of the witch is also bound up with a history of misogyny that still persists today.

Abortion and gay marriage: change is coming in Northern Ireland

Yesterday, a plenary session was held in Stormont, Northern Ireland’s Assembly. The Assembly, which has not sat in over a thousand days, was brought back together to try and vote about the decriminalisation of abortion and the legalisation of same sex marriage.

New Focus on Gender in Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly

New Focus on Gender in Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly

Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly is shifting its focus to gender equality. Over the next six months, it will examine issues like the gender pay gap, sexual assault and how to increase women’s participation in business and politics. The issue of childcare is also expected to face serious scrutiny. 

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) has said it’s crucial that specific outcomes on care are reached, and hopes for a commitment to hold a referendum on removing the contentious ‘women in the home’ provision from Ireland’s constitution. Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI, has also stated that the housing and homeless crisis and the “epidemic of violence against women” are “critical barriers to gender equality”, and that the “voices and experiences of women” must be central to discussions. 

Focus Ireland has recently blogged about the shocking numbers of women who are homeless in Ireland, and latest statistics from the European Commission clearly show that, while “Irish women have more rights than their mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers”, gender equality is yet to be achieved in many areas including employment, career advancement, politics, and gender-based violence. 

Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly consists of a chairperson (Dr. Catherine Day will chair this assembly) and 99 citizens who are randomly selected to represent the Irish electorate in terms of gender, age and regional spread. Over a series of weekends, its members hear and deliberate expert evidence which is presented to them. At the end, they vote on proposed recommendations to be made to the State. 

In recent years, citizens’ assemblies have considered the issue of the Eighth Amendment and Marriage Equality with great success, as both sets of recommendations ultimately led to landmark legal breakthroughs in this country. Issues such as climate change and voting reform have also been deliberated, albeit with varying levels of success (though the recommendations on climate change did play a crucial role in shaping Ireland’s Climate Action Plan). 

There are divergent views regarding the efficacy of the citizens’ assembly model. News organisation Politico recently wrote that citizens’ assemblies are a “complex and limited democratic tool that can be used well – or badly”. 

One glaring issue relates to the actual implementation of their recommendations. While there has been notable success regarding certain issues (abortion and marriage equality in particular), many recommendations of Ireland’s citizens’ assembly have not progressed very far – and this is something which clearly needs addressing. 

Other issues include the hidden participation costs, including time costs, for members, something which also feeds into the ‘representativeness’ of the sample (for instance people with weekend work or care obligations are unlikely to be able to participate). One particularly interesting critique which has been levelled at the citizens’ assembly is that the model allows the Irish government to outsource responsibility for issues it should really be dealing with itself – and allows TDs to distance themselves from issues with might potentially alienate their voters. 

On the other hand, commentators like George Monbiot have recognised that these kind of democratic platforms provide citizens with a meaningful voice outside of the polling station and encourage greater public ownership of the political process. The citizens’ assembly process also arguably provides a useful feedback mechanism which can encourage progressives within Ireland’s government to take action and create meaningful change. 

STAND will be closely following all developments regarding the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality over the next few months. Stay tuned!

 

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

Book Review: “Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!”

“Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!” is a collection of powerful essays, interspersed with beautiful illustrations, that tell the stories of female human rights defenders from Egypt, Kuwait, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey, Somalia and Sudan. Behind each story is a meeting of two women. Here is our review.

What is Ecofeminism?

Ecofeminism is a movement that unites two issues close to our hearts at STAND: women’s rights and the environment. It is perhaps one of the most useful ways we can look at a wide range of social issues we face today. However, the term may be unfamiliar to many.

Endometriosis Explained

Endometriosis affects one in every 10 women in Ireland. Carrying a huge personal and social cost. Despite this, awareness of endometriosis is sorely lacking. This STAND article aims to spread awareness of this chronic condition.

New Focus on Gender in Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly

Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly is shifting its focus to gender equality. Over the next six months, it will examine issues like the gender pay gap, sexual assault and how to increase women’s participation in business and politics.

Witches – a History of Misogyny

On this All-Hallows Eve, witches will be painting the town black. But while witches continue to fascinate as feminist symbols, the history of the witch is also bound up with a history of misogyny that still persists today.

Abortion and gay marriage: change is coming in Northern Ireland

Yesterday, a plenary session was held in Stormont, Northern Ireland’s Assembly. The Assembly, which has not sat in over a thousand days, was brought back together to try and vote about the decriminalisation of abortion and the legalisation of same sex marriage.

Witches – a History of Misogyny

Witches – a History of Misogyny

On this All-Hallows Eve, witches will be painting the town black. People will be watching witchy movies, decorating their houses and gardens with witches to delight trick or treaters, and dressing up in some of the most reliable Halloween costumes: the spooky or sexy witch.  

The recent success of TV shows like The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (watch it for its shameless celebration of feminism and focus on gender!), American Horror Story’s Coven, books like Stacey Hall’s The Familiars, and literary characters like Hermione Granger, have brought witches – good and bad – back into the mainstream with a veritable bang! 

But while witches continue to fascinate as feminist symbols, the history of the witch is also bound up with a history of misogyny that still persists today. The Guardian recently published an excellent article entitled From Circe to Clinton: why powerful women are labelled as witches. In it, the author, Madeline Miller, writes how witches were feared because they transgress norms of female power and female sexuality. She details the types of women who were typically labelled as witches: older women and widows, foreign women (fears of witches are often grounded in racism), as well as women with political power like Joan of Arc and Anne Boleyn. This “othering” process conveniently served to root out women from society who were different and were seen as threats for various reasons. Fast forward to 2016 and the depictions of Hilary Clinton as a witch during the U.S. election campaign illustrate that the term “witch” is still a powerful label used in an attempt to subjugate women who are seen as usurping the status quo. 

Silvia Federici’s seminal book Caliban and the Witch considers how capitalism as an economic system helped to transform ordinary women into witches. Federici discusses how the transition to capitalism helped divide people along gender lines and how anger over the system was channelled into forms of misogyny that would set the stage for the witch trials in Europe. She writes that the witch hunts were a major political initiative – as well as a religious one – to control women’s bodies as “a means of production and reproduction”. Whether or not you agree with Federici’s theories about capitalism, there is no doubt the witch hunts represented a form of state and church-sanctioned gendercide or feminicide whereby tens of thousands of women were literally hunted down and killed. 

And while it might seem that witch trials and witch hunts are ancient history, this is unfortunately not the case. In the last decade, UN officials have reported a global rise in the number of women killed as witches. In India, older women are targeted as scapegoats or as an excuse to seize their lands and goods. In Saudi Arabia, witch-hunting is fairly institutionalised and women have been convicted of practising witchcraft by the courts. In Ghana, women suspected of witchcraft have been exiled to “witch camps”, as captured in Rungano Nyoni’s excellent film, I Am Not a Witch. In the US, a survey found that 21% of people believed in witches of the “evil” variety. 

So, while donning your pointy hat and stripy stockings this Halloween, it is important to take a moment to consider the misogyny that still permeates women’s lives – both in the form of severe human rights abuses but also in the casual everyday sexism whereby “witch” is still wielded as a pejorative term to suppress women’s agency by men who feel threatened by their power. 

 

Happy Halloween Witches!

 

Photo on Max Pixel

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

Book Review: “Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!”

“Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!” is a collection of powerful essays, interspersed with beautiful illustrations, that tell the stories of female human rights defenders from Egypt, Kuwait, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey, Somalia and Sudan. Behind each story is a meeting of two women. Here is our review.

What is Ecofeminism?

Ecofeminism is a movement that unites two issues close to our hearts at STAND: women’s rights and the environment. It is perhaps one of the most useful ways we can look at a wide range of social issues we face today. However, the term may be unfamiliar to many.

Endometriosis Explained

Endometriosis affects one in every 10 women in Ireland. Carrying a huge personal and social cost. Despite this, awareness of endometriosis is sorely lacking. This STAND article aims to spread awareness of this chronic condition.

New Focus on Gender in Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly

Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly is shifting its focus to gender equality. Over the next six months, it will examine issues like the gender pay gap, sexual assault and how to increase women’s participation in business and politics.

Abortion and gay marriage: change is coming in Northern Ireland

Abortion and gay marriage: change is coming in Northern Ireland

On Monday, a plenary session was held in Stormont, Northern Ireland’s Assembly. The Assembly, which has not sat in over a thousand days, was brought back together to try and vote about the decriminalisation of abortion and the legalisation of same sex marriage. 

 

What happened and why now?

Since January 2017, Northern Ireland lives without an Executive and an Assembly. So, eventually, Westminster had to pass a bill to keep these institutions running. On the 24th of July 2019, the Northern Ireland Act was granted. This bill extends the period for forming a new Northern Ireland Executive and states 13th of January 2020 as the new deadline for negotiation (which is pretty soon in negotiating time).

But this is not the only interesting thing about that bill. Labour MPs Conor Mc Ginn and Stella Creasy submitted two smart amendments to the vote: if by midnight the 21st of October 2019, no executive power was up running in Northern Ireland, then abortion would be decriminalised and same sex marriage would be legalised. The amendment passed easily in Westminster with 383 votes in favour and 73 against. 

As the due date was getting closer, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) had a desperate attempt to stop this modernisation of Northern Ireland. It gathered more than 30 signatures of Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA – Northern Ireland parliamentarians), the minimum required for a petition of concern. Therefore, the DUP was allowed to express its concerns before the assembly, called back for the occasion. 

The Social Democratic and Labour parties came but walked out during the session to protest. Several parties, such as Sinn Féin, Alliance, Green Party and People Before Profit, didn’t attend the session, acknowledging the “political stunt” of the DUP and the TUV (Traditionalist Unionist Voice). “They knew it was a political stunt that was going to fail and have no effect. But they did it anyway. In my view, they didn’t do themselves any favours and they didn’t do these institutions and the efforts to reestablish them any favours”, says Sinn Féin’s MLA for East Derry, Caoimhe Archibald (see full interview below).

Eventually, abortion and same-sex marriage rights were not even discussed in what was a really short session. Less than one hour was all the time needed for the (DUP) Speaker to deny the vote and debate on the concerns expressed through the petition. In fact, it would be controversial if he’d decide whether to hold a vote or not in the Assembly. A new Speaker has to be elected on cross-community basis for a long time now, and only this new Speaker would be entitled to make such a decision to hold a vote or not. 

 

What legal regime during the transition period and afterwards? 

So here we are, after 21st of October 2019. Northern Ireland didn’t get an Executive on Monday. No bill was able to be passed in the Assembly. Section 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, criminalizing abortion, have been repealed and new abortion regulation should be implemented in the North by the 31st of March 2020. 

From now on, no criminal charges can be brought against any women getting an abortion, nor against anyone delivering an abortion. All the current investigations and cases made against women seeking an abortion in the past and not closed yet, will be dropped.

Between now and the end of March, women can’t hope to get an abortion on Northern Irish soil unless they meet the criteria of “fatal or serious fetal anomality” and are not pregnant for more than 28 weeks. So, for a little longer, women will have to travel to Britain. However, they can call the Central Booking in England and their travel and accommodation expenses will be funded, regardless of the individual’s income. One carer’s expenses can also be covered, so that women don’t have to go through the abortion process on their own oversea. 

From April, two sites in Northern Ireland will be open to abortion. The North should be one of the first jurisdiction to organize buffer zones around the abortion sites, prosecuting anyone trying to protest in the area. Also, medical staff should get proper training on abortion cares. 

The British Government has until the 13th of January 2020 to legalise gay marriage. As a 28-day notice is needed before a wedding can take place, the first gay marriage in Northern Ireland should be celebrated around Valentine’s Day, in February 2020. 

 

What was the legal regime so far?

So far, in Northern Ireland, women could only get an abortion if there was a “risk of real and serious adverse effect on their physical or mental health, which is either long term or permanent”. This regime of exception went against the Abortion Act 1967 that makes abortion legal on several grounds up to 28 weeks in Britain. More than 1,000 Northern Irish women travel to Britain every year to get an abortion. 

Same sex marriage was neither performed nor even recognized in Northern Ireland. Civil Partnership was granted to gay couple in 2005, and presented as an adequate alternative. 

 

 

Photo and video by Shannon Takahashi 

 

Watch down below the full interview of Sinn Féin’s MLA for East Derry, Caoimhe Archibald and a vox-pop made on Queen’s University’s campus (Belfast) on Monday Morning.