Yesterday I attended the Irish Council for Civil Liberties media green room for the appearance of Ireland in front of the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
In the room were a number of groups which had sent in submissions to the Human Rights committees and who had people over in Geneva. Atheist Ireland, Pavee point, Irish Traveler Movement, Irish Family Planning Association I was there to support the spokesperson for the Abortion Rights Campaign and to live tweet from the room.
And what a room it was I found myself talking to several ladies who were there with the Sourvivors for Symphysiotomy. They were easy to spot, ladies of a certain age, turn out smartly for the day, all walking with that slow waddling gait which denotes what the barbaric procedure of symphysiotomy did to their bodies and which they live with every day. They were polite, cheery, hopeful and most of all determined.
Over the course of the day, given where I was sitting several of the ladies asked were the toilets were, one of the issues they have to live with is that they have to make many trips to the loo, due to the damage done to their bodies. Given the room we were in the nearest toilets were either down stairs or a walk to the other side of the hotel. Both of which were a less then a 3 min stroll for me but for the survivors for symphysiotomy it is a much long trip. Also many of the survivors for symphysiotomy also can’t sit for very long due to the pain and constant discomfort they are in, most of them were not up to stay for the second half of the session.
As I was there to represent the Abortion Rights Campaign I was wearing my badge and when people were introducing themselves they said with org they were with. While I didn’t flinch I found myself worrying that some of the ladies would take it badly that I was there with ARC. But none of them turned a hair and a few of them were very supportive. It was lovely to chat with them, to have them say they are not giving up and we should not give up and to keep fighting; that for too long the Irish state and successive government have done wrong to generations of women in Ireland via the health services and lack there of.
I hope that these brave, brave women get the reparations and justice they are entitled to soon, before we loose more of them.