Reclaiming SRHR in New York, our contribution

Nazioni Unite, New York, Stati Uniti
Nazioni Unite, New York, Stati Uniti
Serena Sapegno
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Swedish Women’s Lobby would love to invite you to participate in our event on SRHR at CSW. The event will take place March 14 10am at 4 W 43rd Street: what we want to discuss this year is the term SRHR (Sexual and reproductive health and rights), and the fact that it comprises and is being used by the two sides; both those who think trade in women’s bodies is accepted, and us who not. We think that there is a need to clarify what sexual and reproductive health and rights are, and that it should mean that trade in women’s sexual rights (prostitution, pornography) and reproductive rights (surrogacy) is not tolerated.

Participants in the event:

Clara Berglund, Secretary General Swedish Women’s Lobby,  Maria Serena Sapegno, Se non ora quando – Libere, Rome, ItalyTaina Bien-Aimé, Executive Director, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), Nomonde Mihlali MejiEmbrace Dignity (2010, a South African NGO based in Cape Town, partner with the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) International (; the Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution (CAP) International (; Equality Now ( and SPACE International (, which are international organisations working against prostitution and trafficking.)

 Maria Serena Sapegno, Se non ora quando – Libere Roma, Italia, Nomonde Mihlali Meji
Advocacy Coordinator at Embrace Dignity and Taina Bien-Aimé, Direttora Esecutiva, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women


Here the contribution by Maria Serena Sapegno for our group Se non ora quando – Libere, Rome, Italy:

  • Against exploitation of poor women for:
  1. Prostitution, traffic and slavery
  2. Surrogacy
  • In favor of education of women to prevent:
  1. An ownership-based idea of our body so that we can dispose of it, either selling it in prostitution, or selling part of it (organs trafficking), or ‘renting’ it in surrogacy.
  2. A reduction of the complex and profound process of pregnancy and of the relationship between mother and fetus to a ‘cooking time’ in an oven for a dish prepared by somebody else for somebody else
  3. An objectification of babies such as it allows to sell them or give them as ‘gifts’.

SRHR implies a full empowerment of women and a full control of their own bodies: Our Bodies, Ourselves, was the all-encompassing title of a famous book published in the 70’s. It meant that we are our bodies, we don’t own them. Then women started their new awareness, listening to their bodies, discovering their sexuality, imposing respect for themselves. Therefore, what happens to our bodies leaves profound marks in our psyches.

This is why sexual violence is so devastating, also if it doesn’t kill you. That is why it is impossible to sell your body without incurring into a problematic process of detachment from your sensations that will have an impact on your psyche.

This is why we claimed self-determination about the abortion, not because it is a right, to use with levity, but because the very pregnancy is a process that involves the entire person, emotionally and physically, it is sometimes risky, it always produces permanent changes. Therefore, nobody should be forced to undergo such an ordeal unless she has chosen it with full awareness.

The pregnancy is a process in which all sorts of connections and exchanges take place between mother and fetus, on a physical and on an unconscious level, so much so that many scholars now believe that a significant part of the personality definition of the child takes place then. Moreover, since the process of labor is, despite its ‘naturalness’, a traumatic and dangerous experience for both mother and child, not rarely source of profound depression, sense of loss and death, it requires a subsequent long and delicate process of bonding and reassuring. It is true that it does happen, much less often when there is enough information, that babies are abandoned immediately after the birth. It is a terrible trauma, but it is not the result of a planning within a market logic.

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From the point of view of the child the women’s movement asserted the importance of being born out of choice, so that the coming into the world could be a difficult but happy event. Is being wanted and payed dearly a good passport for the world? Even if your mother, the woman who carried you and gave birth to you, gives you up to somebody else, who desperately wanted you, so much so to do something like that? Can a child be a gift? It is a crime to sell children; does it stop being a crime because there is a contract behind it?

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Therefore, we should try to figure out an idea of SRHR in which it is clear that to preserve mental and sexual health we can’t put a distance between our physical experience and our mind: detaching one from the other and make use of somebody else’s body for our means is an act of violence against human dignity.



Chi ha scritto questo post

Serena Sapegno

Serena Sapegno

A Roma sono nata, ho studiato e incontrato la politica e il femminismo: qui vivo ancora con il mio compagno, il figlio ha appena lasciato casa. Ma anni decisivi per me sono stati quelli passati in Inghilterra, i lunghi periodi in altri paesi come gli USA, le avventure europee. Insegno alla Sapienza Letteratura italiana e Studi di genere e lì, da quindici anni, coordino il Laboratorio di studi femministi. L’amore per la letteratura è sempre stato anche studio sulla formazione della coscienza individuale e culturale. Mi appassiona da sempre costruire imprese con altre donne per cambiare il mondo anche a nostra misura: per questo ero in DiNuovo e in Se non ora quando? e ora andiamo avanti.


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