Venezuelan women demand decriminalization of abortion during the “green wave” march



Guayaquil, Ecuador, September 29, 2021 ( – Venezuelan feminist movements marched in Caracas to demand the decriminalization of abortion.

Tuesday’s mobilization was organized by the “Ruta Verde” platform, which brings together women’s rights organizations, collectives and activists from across the country. Carrying “Legal abortion now” banners, the demonstrators marched from Morelos Square in Bellas Artes to the National Assembly (AN), where they presented a document containing three demands.

The spokespersons of the movements were has received by members of the NA Social Development and Family Committees, who agreed to establish an agenda focused on women’s reproductive and sexual rights. A follow-up meeting was scheduled for October 13.

“What we are asking for is the decriminalization of abortion, which is punished in all its forms, with the sole exception of the life of a woman in danger, but without taking into account the overall health of women, cases of rape, incest or the inviability of the fetus, ”Daniela Inojosa of the feminist collective Tinta Violeta told Venezuelanalysis.

The “Ruta Verde” platform paraded in front of the National Assembly in Caracas on Tuesday. (@Rutaverdevzla)

In the document delivered to the AN, feminist groups demand the deletion of articles 430, 431, 433 and 434 of the country’s penal code. The law provides for prison sentences of six months to two years for women who have had an abortion, while doctors or laypeople who perform or facilitate the procedure face one to three years.

A recent high-profile case was the arrest of women’s rights activist Vannesa Rosales in October 2020 for allegedly providing a 13-year-old rape victim with Cytotec abortion pills. The 31-year-old teacher faced up to 25 years in prison after a local judge added “an association to commit a crime” to the charges. In July, the charges were dropped and she was released from house arrest following a widespread lobbying campaign.

Speaking to Venezuelanalysis, Venezuelan feminist lawyer Yelena Carpio argued that “Rosales’ case proves that the legal code is a real threat to anyone who dares to help a woman end an unwanted pregnancy and even save her life. life”.

Venezuela’s penal code on the subject was drawn up in 1915 and is one of the oldest on the continent. Although partially reformed in 2005, the four articles which penalize abortion remain unchanged. Activists stress that the text contradicts the 1999 Constitution, which guarantees women’s sexual and reproductive rights and establishes that couples have the right to decide how many children they wish to conceive. Magna Carta, however, does not explicitly recognize abortion.

“Our country has one of the most punitive legal codes regarding abortion in the region. It is unconstitutional and it violates basic human rights under international law,” said Laura Cano, also of Tinta Violeta, interviewed. by Venezuelanalysis.

The young activist and journalist stressed that “Venezuela’s legal framework on abortion is deeply conservative and patriarchal”, recalling that prison sentences can be reduced if a judge decides that the termination of pregnancy was carried out to “save honor ”of the wife’s husband or other person. male parent.

“It’s a lie that criminalization saves lives or that women have fewer abortions. On the contrary, it increases stigma, guilt and unsafe procedures, ”Cano added.

In addition, the document presented by feminist organizations proposes a public debate on abortion “based on human rights, ethics and scientific evidence, free from moral and religious prejudices”. The text urges that a bill which “guarantees the right of women to a safe abortion” be placed on the agenda of the National Assembly 2021-2022.

Although there are no official statistics, women’s rights movements believe that unsafe abortions are the third leading cause of maternal death in the country. In addition, the current economic crisis in Venezuela has worsened the situation of low-income women, leaving them without access to contraceptive methods due to their scarcity and high cost.

Faldas-R, a militant feminist organization that operates a secure abortion hotline, published an report Tuesday revealed that 619 women, the majority between 25 and 26, had contacted them in 2020. They also recorded a slight increase in the number of adolescents seeking help.

While the organization’s data is not representative of the country’s population, it does provide some insight into the problem. The survey also found that 42 percent of women were workers and 24 percent were students. In addition, 29 percent used a contraceptive method and 69 percent did not use it (two percent were sexually abused). At least 50 percent already had children.

Faldas-R added that 86% of women who contacted them said they were in favor of legalizing abortion.

Despite more than 30 years of popular struggles, the debate over safe, free and legal abortion in Venezuela has remained stagnant. The most recent efforts date back to 2018, when Faldas-R asked the Supreme Court (TSJ) to overturn the anti-abortion penal code articles. In the same year, a number of women’s rights groups urged the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) to amend article 76 of the Constitution and to legalize the voluntary termination of pregnancy, but the body was dissolved in 2020 before drafting a new constitutional project.

However, recent advances in the region have spurred Venezuela’s struggle. In early September, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that the criminalization of abortion was unconstitutional. This decision follows the historic legalization of abortion in Argentina at the end of 2020.

Venezuela’s “Ruta Verde” campaign was created in August to intensify advocacy for women’s sexual and reproductive rights, access to contraceptive methods and adequate sex education in schools.

The Ruta Verde march took place on the occasion of the International Safe Abortion Day, celebrated every September 28 to demand women’s rights. (Twitter: @rutaverdevzla / @gruponosotrxs)



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