Supporting a culture of self-help at the community level: Serena Morena

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This month’s story series is about inroads members who accompany people’s abortions across the world. While there is a growing need for self-managed abortions to bust stigma that exists in different legal contexts or medical establishments, there is also a need to understand what building a community of companionship for abortions looks like. The members who we speak to work as doulas, companions and even comadres, roughly translating as godmothers. We have blogposts from Ecuador, Peru, Poland and USA

This fourth story features Serena Morena from Peru, a network of women volunteers who accompany women in abortion. “We do this because in Peru women who decide to abort – even in cases of rape! – are criminalized. Many of us know the painful effects of the secrecy to which the Peruvian State condemns us, and we rebel against this disastrous reality!”

Serena Morena, Peru

Serena Morena arose in response to certain questions that went on in our heads. Why abortion, a process that some of us have experienced, continues to be clandestine despite being massive? After participating as activists in one of the legislative attempts to decriminalize abortion in cases of rape, we noted the need to move beyond just the legal level and begin to work, a little more, in direct accompaniment.

Teamwork means putting our energies into collective power and letting the importance of our experiences function as a catalyst for many other experiences. Talking about abortion in Peru also means talking about illegality and injustice. Therefore, saying “Yes, I aborted” means challenging the stigma that forces us to hide and silence our experiences. Without visibility, unfortunately, there is no transformation. Medical institutions address abortion as a crime, and despite violating certain basic principles of the practice of medicine, they sometimes denounce, mistreat and / or intimidate women who arrive at the health center after having undergone an abortion.

For this reason, we consider that it is necessary to strengthen networks, which bet on feminist information and support as a legitimate way for information to be socialized so that women can access it more easily, without intermediaries that exacerbate guilt and mistreat our bodies and subjectivities.

Accompaniment is essential, both in the abortion process and, for example, in the consumption of retrovirals, referring to HIV. A person who is accompanied, oriented and understood, develops some vital strength to challenge the stigma that society and religion, whether Catholic or evangelical, – the most powerful and assimilated in our country – deposits in the bodies of women and non-heterosexual people. Therefore, we believe that a complete accompaniment system forges stronger and more confident citizens. The citizens we want to become.