25 million unsafe abortions a year. Every day in the world, dozens of women die because voluntary abortion is prohibited or extremely restricted in two-thirds of countries. This is the theme of a shock exhibition at the photojournalism festival Visa pour l'image, in Perpignan, in the south of France. Poland's Kasia Strek worked for three years on abortion in several countries.
An operating room to illustrate abortion. The picture was taken in a German hospital where many Polish women come to have an abortion because in their country the law authorizing the voluntary termination of pregnancy is extremely restrictive.
And the weight of religion is very present, as explained by Kasia Strek , herself of Polish origin.
" In Poland , there are a lot of doctors, and even entire hospitals that sign a conscience clause that allows them not to proceed with legal abortion, because it is religion that forbids it. And that goes to the point where there are certain regions in the country, where all hospitals sign this document. Therefore, women can not access abortion at all, even in the event of danger to health or life.
On this image, she continues, we are actually in a clinic in Germany where women go. In this picture, we are actually in the operating room. What, for me, is extremely striking when I was doing this picture is that the doctor is on the phone. And he is on the phone with a woman who calls him and who will come in the coming weeks. So even while he is doing the abortion, there are women who call him all the time. "
Massages causing hemorrhages
Women do not always have the possibility to have an abortion in a hospital with a qualified doctor. In the Philippines , in the poor neighborhoods where Kasia Strek worked, a local midwife is often used.
" In shantytowns, the most common way of doing things is a midwife doing abortions with extremely painful, extremely deep massages. It can cause hemorrhages. In the Philippines currently between five and eight women die every day because of unsafe abortions , "she says.
Kasia Strek's work also takes us to El Salvador . The picture of a woman with a lost look strikes the spirits. Maria Lopez Zelada, 40, has spent 17 years in prison for giving birth to a stillborn child, a non-isolated case in El Salvador where abortion is totally proscribed and condemned by law.
►Also read: El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras, total ban on abortion
" There are currently, as we know, at least 20 women who are still serving 30 to 40 years in prison, often not for abortion, but for the obstetric complications they have suffered. delivery. They are poor, uneducated women who live in areas without access to medical care often, the majority of whom are left alone to give birth. The children were stillborn or dead just before giving birth, and the women were directly in prison. "
Pro-abortion activism in Ireland
A note of hope concludes the exhibition. In Ireland abortion was legalized last year, by referendum, thanks to the mobilization of citizens.
" In Ireland ," she says, " I focused a little bit on those women activists or women who became activists at this pivotal moment in the history of their country, to show a little hope and show that mobilization is possible. What was great in Ireland is also that several organizations with slightly different ideas have come together on this topic to work together, to fight together, and together, to change the future of women in their country. "
If Ireland has legalized abortion it is also thanks to a slow evolution of mentalities. In other countries the path is still long.
► The exhibition of Kasia Strek entitled "The price of choice" is to be seen until September 15 at the festival Visa for the image in Perpignan.
► The website of photographer Kasia Strek