Earlier this month, I looked up from my computer screen and realized that it was December 1st. It felt like 2018 had flown by, almost as fast as it came. As excited as I am to move towards the 2020 elections with the potential for positive change, I think it’s important to take some time to look back at this year’s events that I perceived to be the good, the bad, and the ugly in the larger conversation of reproductive justice.
When I think of 2018, I think of multiple, and often emotionally exhausting conversations about sexual and gender-based violence. From the heartbreaking discovery in Northern India that sparked protests throughout the country to the United Nations’ report that 50,000 women a year are killed by intimate partners, news headlines this year have been pretty grim. We all watched in horror as the of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing unfolded, bringing with it, memories of Anita Hill’s similarly traumatic experience decades before. A few months later women across the world began flooding the internet with pictures of their underwear and the hashtag #thisisnotconsent after an Irish lawyer cited the lacy underwear of a 17-year old rape victim as a sign of consent. Needless to say, many news headlines and social media feeds this year left in me need of several mental-health days.
Despite it all, I continue to categorize 2018 as a truly inspiring year:
On January 1st, female celebrities created and endorsed the Times Up movement to publicize narratives that highlighted a wider variety of intolerable experiences of gender-based violence in the United States and around the world. In Nepal, 18-year-old Sangita Magar, the victim of an acid attack 2 years prior, testified in court and helped change Nepali law, granting financial support to victims of acid and burn violence and strengthen penalties for other gender-based crimes. Three El Salvadorian women were released from jail, after serving various sentences. The women were accused of “attempting abortions” and convicted of aggravated homicide (the unlawful termination of pregnancy). Their cases continue to bring increased attention to conversations about the criminalization of abortions, miscarriages, or stillbirths throughout Latin America.
It was also this year that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford stood before the Senate and spoke her truth, bravely recounting her experience of sexual assault, inspiring millions of women around the world and laying foundations for a reality where violence will no longer be rewarded with political position, and the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to two people, Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege, who have dedicated their work to advocact and elimination of sexual violence as a weapon of war.
Though there are countless more RJ stories that inspired and enraged me, I’ll end by quoting Oprah Winfrey’s incredible words from earlier this year:
“I’m especially proud and inspired by all the women who felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories…The women whose names we will never know.”
At the end of 2018, I still maintain that the future is female. And so we persevere.