By 2010 there was evidence of a feminist revival in many parts of the west. In the USA Jennifer Siebel Newsom made the documentary film ‘Miss Representation’ challenging the representation of women in the mainstream media, where very few women hold positions of power, and US students joined Campus Rising, protesting against the high levels of violence experienced by women on university campuses and demanding greater safety. In Italy women began to demonstrate in large numbers against the sexism epitomized by Silvio Berlusconi’s government and promoted by his mass media.
Another manifestation of this feminist consciousness is the SlutWalk Movement, which began in North America but rapidly spread to much of Europe and Australia, but also to Latin America, Asia (e.g. India and South Korea) and to Northern Africa and South Africa. The movement was sparked by a Canadian police officer telling university students that to avoid rape they should not dress like ‘sluts’. The first ‘Slut Walk’ in Toronto April 2011 attracted several thousand protesters, and was followed by Walks in many other cities in 2011 and continued into 2012 and 2013. The movement developed into a wider challenge not only to sexual violence and harassment but patriarchal attitudes and culture, and it has been supported by members of the LGBT community. But it has been criticized, for example by Black Women’s Blueprint in the US and by some feminists doubtful about the message conveyed.
A significant and succesful feminist campaign has taken place in Spain, where women have been priminent in challenging the worst effects of the recession (see A.8.b on Indignados) they faced in 2013 by the decision by the governement to amend in a pejortive way the Organic Law 2/2010 on Sexual and Reproductive Health and the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy. According to this law, abortion may be legally performed within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy at the woman’s request, provided that the woman has been fully informed of her rights and about public benefits and assistance for maternal support, and has waited for a three-day period to pass between the provision of this information and the abortion procedure.
Also, abortions may be legally performed up to 22 weeks for medical reasons, such as after a prior medical assessment issued by a physician other than the one performing the abortion that the pregnancy poses a serious risk to the life or health of the woman (the assessment requirement may be waived in urgent cases); a prior medical assessment issued by two specialist physicians other than the one performing the abortion that there is a serious risk of fetal abnormalities; or following the confirmation by a clinical committee of a report issued by a specialist physician other than the one performing the abortion that the fetus has abnormalities incompatible with life or an extremely serious or incurable illness. All abortion procedures must be performed by a specialist physician or under his or her direction in a public or accredited private hospital, with the written consent of the pregnant woman or her legal representative. Parental consent is required only for girls younger than 16 years of age. Girls aged sixteen and seventeen have access to abortion but are required to notify at least one parent or legal guardian. Notification is not required if the teen believes it would result in domestic violence, threats, coercion, abuse, or a situation of estrangement or helplessness.
In 2013, the right wing Partido Popular (or Popular Party), close to the Catholic Church, proposed to restrict radically the right to abortion that they had gained earlier. The practice would only be lawful in the case of rape or when there was a serious (but as yet undefined) health risk to the mother or the fetus. The likelihood of a child being born with disabilities would not be an acceptable justification for abortion. Moreover, women under 18 would require parental consent and parental accompaniment during relevant consultations. Those seeking abortion in Spain would need approval from two independent doctors who would not be permitted to participate in the actual procedure.
Women protested vigorously, including queues to register symbolically their bodies as their own property, and gained support from some regional and municipal bodies. The Justice Minister initially insisted this manifesto commitment would be kept, but later In September 2014, PM Mariano Rajoy announced that the government would abandon the draft law due to lack of consensus, and that the only reform to the law 2/2010 would be that the government will seek is that 16 and 17-year-old women will require parental consent to have an abortion. In fact, political discussions on abortion law are still being discussed, particularly in regards to parental consent to under 18's, and so it may be subject to change in the future.
For more information on abortion in Spain, these links give a short but comprehensive illustration of the issue:
Alongside this revival of feminism, groups representing minorities within western countries, who began to assert their special interests and perspectives in the 1980s, are campaigning on a range of national and global issues, For example, London’s first young poet laureate, Warsan Shire, wrote a poem in February 2014 supporting the campaign against female genital mutilation.
Although this section focuses in particular on the UK, where a surprisingly vigorous array of campaigning groups has sprung up, this rebirth of feminist campaigning around the West is beginning to promote a new literature which has a global dimension and it will be made available whether and when it will be published.