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  • Author or Editor: Selina Palm x
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Drawing on the South African context specifically and the international context more broadly, this chapter focuses on religiously informed social norms that contribute towards abortion stigma. It explores how Christian beliefs around motherhood, procreation, sex, women and family intersect to situate abortion as a sin, and where religion and culture can entangle to create an aura of morality around refusing abortion. It advocates for the need for those within these faith traditions to critique, engage and disrupt the underlying beliefs behind these norms. The author draws on two main sources for this: first, her professional work as a researcher engaging faith actors to end violence against women and girls; and second, her personal experiences as a Christian believer, qualified theologian, lay faith leader and married woman who has chosen to remain childless. This forms part of a feminist methodology committed to the integration of personal experiences and political engagement. Key theological myths around motherhood are examined with the aim of allowing new theological imaginaries around abortion to flourish within communities of faith as part of a wider commitment to reproductive justice.

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South Africa has some of the highest rates of gender-based violence and femicide in the world (WHO, 2018). COVID-19 is seen to be compounding pre-existing vulnerabilities globally and making visible a broader landscape of inequalities which interact in new ways. South Africa’s civil society organisational network forms an important asset in relation to the twin pandemics. A history of collaboration under apartheid and HIV/AIDS provides resources on which to draw, especially in the light of state systems mired in corruption and inefficiency. Civil society offers important resources for COVID-19, such as communicating information, providing food support, and holding the government to account on social issues.

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