Illustrations Perspective Top

Brazilian politicians want criminal penalties for abortion

Nicole Luna/YJI

Rio de Janeiro, BRAZIL – In recent weeks, conservative efforts to punish women who get abortions – including child victims of rape –  as criminals has spurred demonstrations and discussion on social media.

Unfortunately, abortion access is something that we, as a society, must fight to achieve. 

Abortion in Brazil is allowed in cases when childbirth is a risk to life to the mother or in cases of rape or if the fetus has brain damage.

The problem is that here in Brazil, the process to be able to receive the right to abort is extremely slow.

It puts the woman’s life at risk, and it brings undeniable sadness and physical and mental complications with women who are rape survivors. In the majority of those cases, the perpetrator is never identified or located.

Legislation now under consideration would change the rules on the already restricted procedure. If passed into law, anyone who had an abortion performed after 22 weeks could receive a sentence of 20 years in prison.

That is twice as long as the possible 10 year sentence for convicted rapists.

But these politicians believe it is fair and suitable that they have the right to discuss and decide about women’s bodies and futures for us.

The struggle that we, as women, are engaged in is to gain the attention of those in positions of power, to be heard, and to demonstrate that this proposed law is not viable. It would only bring fear, pain and lack of choice.

It would just make our daily lives harder and painful. 

One of the points of this proposed law is that the time allowed to consider a legal abortion after a rape is until five months and a half of pregnancy. After that, you would be a criminal, ending up in prison for two decades.

If you are underage, you will spend three years in an educational reformatory, being excluded from society and treated as a target instead of receiving support in this critical moment.

A trauma lasts forever. 

This legislation makes the women the criminal, as the one who did wrong. Unfortunately, the perspective that our political system possesses about us and this type of situation only adds to the infinity of doubts that occur with sexual assault: “Was it my fault?” “Should I have worn those clothes?” “Should I have reacted?”

Unfortunately, these are some of the endless doubts that women worldwide go through after a sexual assault.

So, how is it plausible to force women and girls to carry an unwanted pregnancy? Why should this be women’s punishment? 

Women just want to be safe.

This is about kids of all ages, and women who should be only carrying their life’s dreams and not obligated by law to carry their trauma. 

With our strength, through all voices and beliefs, one day, we will gain the right over our bodies, our health, and the safe future of all generations.

Cassiane Saraiva, a Reporter with Youth Journalism International from Belford Roxo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, wrote this commentary.

Nicole Luna, a Correspondent and Senior Illustrator with Youth Journalism International from Maringá, Brazil, made the illustration at the top.

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