Sexuality Policy Watch

Painted bodies


“Decisions about your body, your health and your life belong to you, they are your rights, make them true.” These were the slogans of the 2009 campaign “HaceLosValer” (Make them count, in English) coordinated by Carola Cardenas, which promoted urban intervention in front of the Uruguayan Parliament for sexual and reproductive rights.


One of the objectives of the campaign was the incorporation of the theme in the scope of the 2009 legislative and presidential elections. The research carried out by the Factum Institute, at the request of Mujer Y Salud en Uruguay (MYSU), which was called “Electoral Campaign and Abortion” indicated that 52% of the population felt that abortion should be an important issue in the election campaign. This very high percentage placed the issue of abortion as a highly relevant issue in the Uruguayan society. In fact, between 1992 and 2008, the number of people who showed up in one direction or another ranged from 88% to 94% – more than eight in ten people expressed their views on the criminalization or the decriminalization of abortion. However, between 60 and 80 percent of Uruguayans did not know whether the four political parties that would compete in the national elections, or their presidential candidates, had a position on voluntary abortion. Therefore, MYSU’s activism strategy sought to promote the positioning of politicians on this issue, and among them, more specifically, the position of the leaders of the Frente Amplio party that allowed in 2008 the “dissidence” of parliamentarians and no less than the greatest of all divergences, the presidential veto”(Bottinelli 2010)

Urban interventions were undertaken to draw attention to the problem. One of them was a starring group of young women with bodypainting carrying the image of the campaign (a flower) on their bodies. They exhibited makeup allusive to the theme on their chest and torso, and they carried signs with slogans asking for the inclusion of this question on the electoral debate with slogans such as “What does your candidate propose?” or “Every 20 minutes, a clandestine abortion in Uruguay”. These interventions took place in emblematic locations in Montevideo, the seat of the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch or Plaza Libertad (the latter took part in the framework of the Day for the Decriminalization of Abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean, September 28). These public mobilizations were characterized as “novel and timely”. On the one hand, they attracted attention and involved citizens in a non-traditional way. On the other hand, the action had a major national and international print media.








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