Of how an antiabortion decision can make Argentinians lose their patience: #AbortoLegalYa

One little girl. Only 11 years old. Raped and then, pregnant. She was obliged to have the baby, no abortion allowed. Almost 6 months of torture, of rekindling THE moment…and a caesarea. 2 suicide attemps. Who can blame her? Argentinians jumped to the streets because this was torture and Social Media walls were filled with support.

Two parallel movements, two colours

As in every tale, there are always two sides. This controversial topic could not be any different. The pro-life, antiabortion groups identified themselves with the sky blue colour and the slogan: “Salvemos las 2 vidas” (“Let’s safe both lives”). The pro-legalising and pro-abortion strikers opted for the green colour and the “pañuelazos” (scarfs).

© Getty images

The green scarfs have become the symbol of the revolution, of those who promote the legal abortion. Hope-green colour, the colour of health and life to identify what they want: the option to choose. It is easy to wear and it clearly represents the group.

Although the “green” movement started in Argentina, it has reached global attention and other countries, mainly from Latin America, have also marched to show their support to the “neighbouring” country. It is noteworthy that only in Cuba and Uruguay, among all the Latin American countries, there is a law that facilitates the abortion prior to the 14th week, without any particular restriction.

The green tide occupies the street

This was not the first time Argentinians take to the streets to call for a change in abortion policies. 2018 was a very active year: several women’s marches and even a national campaign to ask for a legal, safe and free abortion inspired in “The handmaids tale”. No matter how hard protestors tried, the Senate rejected legalizing this practice. That is why, this girl’s case has recently revived the movement.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q94K86QInUQ[/youtube]

Traditionally, social movements have had key leaders or spokesmen, but since the arrival of new technologies this tendency has turned towards a more massive representation, where any user can take the floor and “do something”. Digital spaces have become a space where supporters can spread the debate and show not only the street solidarity, but also some individuality. Demonstrators in a march belong to a community, repeat in unison the same mottos and therefore, they somehow lose “their own” story.

#Abortolegalya: global trending topic on Twitter

Since the uproar of the Arab Spring, popular movements have been tied to frantic social media activity. Indeed, there are not two protests: online and offline. There are some people who may only participate in one or the other, but many protestors share their views during demonstrations, pictures or observations as a way to individually take part in the debate and create a bridge between the ground and the net.

The green movement sparked the interest of many international organisations and artists, expressing their views using social media. For instance, International Amnesty published an ad reminding Argentinian senators that the world is watching in the back cover of the New York Times:

https://twitter.com/amnesty/status/1026785111923195904

Furthermore, some international artists have also given their views, such us Susan Sarandon:

As most movements, this campaign started offline and developed offline, adding press strategies and getting media engagement. Several hashtags appeared, gathering protestors and information on the theme. #Abortolegalya became global trending topic on Twitter, while other hashtags like #QueSeaLey and #NiUnaMenos compelled public attention. Hashtags encourage people to share news while trending topics catch the eye towards specific breaking news.

Moreover, social media gives women the opportunity to speak up, as we have seen with the #metoo movement. It gives them a voice and push them to challenge the perpetrators with the ultimate aim of changing harmful gendered social laws.

Social media can as well mobilise public support, advocate for social change, lobby and get further attention from politicians and international organisations so that they can create policies that promote equality.

Conclusion

The #abortolegalYa movement approached the relevance of legalising abortions to all citizens, making them aware that this was not a feminists’ concern, but a public one. This locally-rooted campaign will probably spread to other countries around the globe thanks to social media. Besides, it can be considered as an example of the importance of working together, online or offline, who cares! The key is merging the two worlds and using the strength of the in-situ protests together with the realtimelyness, individuality and virality potential of the Internet.

One comment

  1. Georgios Papadimitriou

    Very interesting post Miriam! It actually reminds me of a personal highscool story. In Greek highschools (note that abortion is legal in Greece), we had to attend “religious studies” as a compulsory course…we even had to sit on exams (!). So in one of the classes, the religious studies professor showed us a video of people throwing newborn babies in trash bins and told us that this is what abortion is all about and what it equals to. I remember I was really shocked. Eventually I became a fervent pro-abortionist but it really took me years to overcome the initial shock. I don’t know if my story teaches us anything, but I tend to believe that the anti-abortionist camp bases increasingly its entire “argumentation” on such images of cruelty rather than on any well-founded argument.

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