When I heard about the abortion laws in the US, I was brought back to a series of questions I had asked myself years ago.
I come from a place where controlling women is a way of life. I could fill a whole library with all the rules we were forced to follow. We weren't allowed to do anything without permission from the men in our lives. Many women died because of this, and what's worse was they were made to believe that their death was “honourable”.
I thought I left that behind. I thought surely these progressive countries that value human rights would not be as primitive as the countries I had come from. But when I watch the news and see how women are still victims of their own societies, it makes me wonder: when will it ever be safe enough to be a woman? Let alone a queer, black woman? Why is my mere existence a threat to anyone’s way of life?
That's the same question I was asking myself when I was sexually assaulted as a child, then suffered the consequences of that abuse by female genital mutilation. I didn't even understand the trauma of being assaulted but there I was, suffering at the hands of a religious society that blamed victims for trauma that was not even self-inflicted.
I was only nine, so I didn't fully comprehend what was going on or why I was circumcised. It took a while but I finally realized that that is one of many ways that women are controlled. Before that realization, I was told that God made it mandatory for women to get circumcised because we're not supposed to enjoy sex and that pleasure is a sin. When I asked why, I was told to not question it because it's what God wants.
So, I sat there wondering, why is God involved in my personal matters?
I few months ago, I had an abortion.
Considering how careful I am and how pregnancy is one of my worst phobias, it still happened. My whole world came crashing down when I saw the reading on that stick. A few days later, I felt as though my whole body was deteriorating. I couldn't keep anything down, solid or liquid, so I had to be hospitalized until the abortion. I started vomiting blood when there was nothing left in my stomach and I was in constant, excruciating pain.
I makes me sad to say that despite the excessive toll this was taking on my body, I still had mixed thoughts about my abortion, because I was brainwashed to believe that I was killing an innocent baby. I remember crying for weeks and spending every waking hour battling the guilt that was put on me by my religion and society.
It pains me to remember that even though I was literally dying, I still felt guilty for getting an abortion.
Why was I made to believe that my health is not a priority? Why was I being reduced to my reproductive system? Why is my choice not one of the deciding factors of having a baby?
I felt lucky that my unwanted pregnancy happened here in Canada. If this happened 2 years ago, my life would have been over. I would have died or lived a life I didn't choose. It was debilitating to know that these would have been my only choices.
Living a life of your own choosing shouldn't be a matter of luck and reproductive healthcare shouldn't be up for debate. It now pains me to see how my friends, whom I've escaped an oppressive society with, suffer another form of oppression.
There are a million ways to control women, and when we seem to make progress in removing those oppressions, another one seems to find it’s way back on the list. So, I would like to ask:
Thank you for these writing these words Joy and telling your story, it’s so important!