South Korea: Joint Action for Reproductive Justice formed & activities for 28 September

Joint Action for Reproductive Justice, a network of Korean feminist groups and organizations, and many other feminist groups and individuals,took part in the Global Day of Action this year.

In Korea, the Criminal Code Articles 269/270 makes all abortions illegal, with punishments of imprisonment or a fine for women and imprisonment and loss of employment for providers. The Mother and Child Health Act (1973, amended 1986 and 2012)permits abortion with the women’s and spouse/partner’s consent in specified cases of mental or physical handicap or disease, infectious disease, as a consequence of rape or incest, or risk to the woman’s health.

Historically, Korean governments have been controlling people’s (especially women’s) sexuality and exploiting women’s productive/reproductive capacity with family planning policies in response to low fertility, and through eugenic policies. But the governments and society have been shifting the social responsibilities to women by criminalizing abortion.

On 28 September, women from diverse contexts (disabilities, age, marital status, family status, HIV/AIDS, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc) shared their experiences and spoke out. They endorsed the inauguration of Joint Action for Reproductive Justice and the start of our movement.

They wrote: “We organised the following performance art: all participants wore white shirts. The shirts contained the date they suffered a negative experience, e.g. an unsafe abortion, unwanted abortion, a sterilisation because of disability or illness, learning she was pregnant after sexual violence, or when she was asked to accept an IUCD by the national family planning programme. Participants stood in rows on the stairs and described their experiences one by one. The first speaker held a red ribbon, and after speaking, she passed part of the ribbon to the next speaker, and the next, until all were connected by the red ribbon. The groups then shouted their demands:

-Repeal Articles 269/270 of the CriminalCode!

-Amend the Mother and Child Health Law!

-The real problemis the criminalization of abortion!

-My body is not illegal!

-Guarantee sexual and reproductive health and rights for everyone!

-We demand reproductive justice as social justice!

The Joint Action for Reproductive Justice network includes these groups: Center for Health and Social Change, Femidangdang, Femimonsters, Flaming Feminist Action, Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center, Korean Women’s Associations United, Korea Women’s Hot Line, Network for Glocal Activism, Sexual and Reproductive Rights Forum, Womenlink, Women with Disabilities Empathy.

E-mail from: Na-young, South Korea,whoworks for ‘Network for GlocalActivism’