By Vanessa Blanco, youth volunteer at PLAFAM (Asociación Civil de Planificación Familiar)
Leading this project on the de-stigmatization of abortion was a great challenge for me and for all the participants since it is the first time that my organization, PLAFAM, has delivered a project specifically referring to abortion stigma. We therefore started with a training on abortion and abortion stigma, which gave us all the capabilities we needed to share information in our community.
We made four short videos to be shared on the PLAFAM website that gathered the stories of three women who had gone through abortions in their lives, from a perspective in which all are healthy and the only problem they have faced is the social stigma surrounding abortion. The final video was informative, with figures and testimonies concerning abortion.
In addition, we had the opportunity to be present in two shopping centres to publicly discuss the issue, generating discussions with the general public, where people were interested in having information about abortion since it is a taboo subject which is rarely spoken about. Elderly gentlemen, adults and young people could clarify their doubts and questions regarding this issue and we could raise awareness about the problems in Venezuela caused by the legal restriction of abortion. This results in the death of many women each year. At first, people were concerned, and even annoyed, but once they were given clear and concise information they changed their reactions. I was able to talk with them and exchange views, many of them had never heard of the subject and they thought of abortion as something that did not happen here. It is very worrying that there is no information about abortion in one of the countries with the largest unwanted pregnancy rates in South America.
Finally, I delivered a talk in a public square in my community, inviting my acquaintances and friends to talk about the stigma of abortion, comparing world figures and visualizing the problems that exist regarding education about sexual and reproductive health. Thanks to the support of PLAFAM, I was able to bring brochures and condoms for everyone, as well as talk about the importance of using condoms for protection.
This was a great opportunity to start working on the issue of abortion stigma, the people who attended were satisfied with the information and some of them even joined us as community peer educators.