Body of Work Uses Art to Counter Abortion Stigma by Kristen Daskilewicz

A guest blogger Kristen Daskilewicz

Body of Work Uses Art to Counter Abortion Stigma by Kristen Daskilewicz

by Guest Blogger, Kristen Daskilewicz, South Africa

The Body of Work exhibit was on display at the Abortion and Reproductive Justice: The Unfinished Revolution III (ARJC III) conference in Grahamstown, South Africa in July 2018.

The exhibit included pieces by South African visual artists Gillian Basson, Nicola Harris, Kea Makhooane, Zola Ndimande, all designed to generate conversations about abortion. The pieces spanned sculpture, painting, prints and collage poetry.

Abortion is legal in South Africa and reproductive choice is protected by the Constitution. Despite this, many South Africans, especially those in the poorest and most marginalized communities, struggle to access abortion services and information.

Historically, the female body has been an object of state control in South Africa. Today, social, geographic, economic and racial inequalities, and a resource-strained public health sector, continue to limit reproductive justice.

The portrayal of abortion within the media is generally one-dimensional, with much emphasis placed on “backstreet” abortions, and little empathy for women seeking these informal services. This is salient, as many facilities designated to provide abortions are in fact not doing so. General anti-abortion sentiment provides little support for officials to implement policies that could improve service availability.

In an effort to challenge this sentiment, the End Abortion Stigma Initiative, in partnership with Marie Stopes South Africa, applied for seed funding from the Abortion Conversation Project (ACP) to produce Body of Work.

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