Hey, hi, hello!
I’ve been mentioning my upcoming trip to Ireland in my posts and on my Instagram page (what do you mean, you don’t follow me yet?!). And while a trip home is always a salve for the soul, this trip isn’t one for pleasure.
I’ve said in the past that I am an unabashed, intersectional feminist. I’m all about that every-girl power feelin’ and I’m here for equality for all of us. This is not the core theme of this blog but it definitely colours how I see the world.
I also think, as a travel writer, I have a responsibility to keep you informed about the social situations occurring in the countries I visit. It’s easy to live in a turquoise-hued bubble of isolated beaches and raffia everything, but that’s not an honest depiction of a place.
With that in mind, let’s talk about Ireland and the Eight Amendment.
Ireland is in the run-up to one of the biggest referendums I’ll see in my lifetime. Certainly the most important one for Irish women.
We’ll be voting to repeal the Eight Amendment; put in place in 1983, granting equal rights to a mother and ‘the unborn’.
Just think about that one. My life equated to a thing barely in existence. My sole purpose: be an incubator. Ah, that’s every little girl’s dream, no?
Abortion remains illegal in Ireland in all cases. This results in an average of eleven women a day traveling from their Irish home to the UK to avail of the healthcare they need. These are women carrying fetus’ with fatal illnesses. These are women who have been raped. These are women who work and pay taxes to a country who does not trust them to make informed decisions about their own body. And, of course, these are the ones who can afford the trip.
For those who cannot come up with the cost of flights, accommodation and procedure – or for those who cannot take days off work, can’t leave their dependents, can’t just up and go – their choices are limited. Back alley abortion or ordering pills online, mam?
We’ve had women die. We’ve seen attempts to block child rape victims from boarding planes. We all know women who’ve made the journey, often alone and generally without telling anyone. The stigma is strong with this one, folks.
I’ve had friends and family members make the trip. Generations of women making this silent pilgrimage across the sea. Ghosts amid blinkered eyes. Luckily, I’ve never had to face this ordeal myself.
And, yes, it’s absolute luck. If you’re sexually active, it could have been you. Condoms break, we get carried away, the pill is a nightmare of potential flaws. So yes, I’m one of the lucky ones.
But on May 25th we vote to stop exporting our public issues.
I will not be getting into the ‘pro-life’ bullsh*t tactics here. As I’m sure you can imagine, the gloves are off and these American -funded organisations are an example in classless, solution-less nonsense.
Irish women have taken a hell of a lot. For generations we’ve been the glue holding families together through sheer force of will and stubbornness. We’ve been shoved in Magdelene Laundries, assaulted and generally endured under a misogynistic, patriarchal regime. It’s not massively different to other countries, but that doesn’t make the tales any less horrific.
We’re tired. We’ve had enough. We’re taking the rights that should have been ours long since. I mean, you know it’s bad when Amnesty International is calling you out, lads!
I am so proud to be from such incredible women. The groups who’ve fought against this Amendement for years are an example to be followed. The Irish citizens who, in less than four days, donated half a million Euro to the ‘Repeal’ campaign give me hope.
So that is why I’m making the trip next month. I travel home for every single woman who had to leave it to access healthcare. For anyone who endured slut-shaming and shunning. And as a thank you to those putting in the exhausting, emotional labour of educating the public. It has not been an easy road and this is my responsibility as an Irish citizen.
This is a very brief post. If you’re interested in more detailed information, my fellow Irish blogger (and all round feminist badass) Leanne Woodfull put together a great, informative post on the topic.
This should never deter you from visiting Ireland. Ireland is a stunning country filled with craic and nature and the most authentic people I’ve ever met. But when you travel, to Ireland or anywhere else, please inform yourself. Understand something of what the locals are up to. Trust me, it’ll make the trip deeper and more meaningful for you.