Women’s Lament for Lent: Stop Maternal Death!

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“Mother as warrior and survivor” will be the highlight of Lenten rituals organized by the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN), the largest coalition made up of women’s and other sectoral groups. The event called, “Pasyon: “Panaghoy at Pagbangon ng Kababaihan” brings women to three “stations” or tableaus reminiscent of the Pasyon. The first depicts maternal agony and death; the second depicts the institutions that prevent her from achieving full maternal health and well-being; and the third, a pledge to fight together as women and prevail over her ‘enemies’- the church hierarchy, and insensitive governance that has yet to decide whether women’s lives are worth saving.

The Pasyon culminates in reiterating women’s commitment to fight for reproductive health and rights, chanting their pledges on the iconic, life-sized sculptures of Agnes Arellano’s “Haliya” (the expectant mother)and “Red Carcass” representing the violated woman stripped of her reproductive parts. There will be poetry-reading and singing by women-artists. Giselle Tongi, Lolita Carbon, Bayang Barrios and Cookie Chua will be joined by one thousand women, comprising community and professional groups on Friday, March 30, 3:30-7:00 pm at Bantayog ng mga Bayani grounds along Quezon Avenue.

“We had been preparing to celebrate the passage of the RH Bill since all possible arguments had been exhausted in over 10 years of debate. The people have spoken ; popular will for the RH bill has been steadfast. But it seems the religious right’s obstinate resistance is too great for our government officials to overcome,” lamented Rochit Tanedo, writer and public information officer of RHAN.

“It is a travesty that women who are “kagampan” or about to give life continue to die needlessly”, said Dr. Junice Melgar, Secretary-General of RHAN. “People need to see these deaths, not as fate or destiny, but as the result of societal discrimination. They need to understand why women are enraged by such injustice and why we have to fight to make our lives count.”

The Lenten program is part of RHAN’s advocacy to put Reproductive Health and Rights in the center of public policy. RHAN has been advocating for people-centered reproductive health policies, including the RH Bill, since 2001. It is comprised of 44 national organizations and over 10,000 individuals, including women leaders, community leaders, youth leaders, academics, lawyers, health professionals, and media practitioners. RHAN members organize communities, provide information and educate, and operate clinics and development programs./END

For further information, contact the RHAN Secretariat

Joy Salgado (mobile: 0915 4079894); Ellen San Gabriel (mobile:0916 6025203)

Likhaan Center for Women’s Health, Inc.

88 Times St., West Triangle Homes, QC

Tel. 926-6230, Telefax. 411-3151

This is a press release from Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN).

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