Prague's 'Fragile like a Bomb' festival highlights reproductive rights

Taking place this weekend, the 'Auntie Czech' collective's will raise funds for Polish women who seek safe abortion in Czechia. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 15.09.2022 12:32:00 (updated on 16.09.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

This weekend sees an international festival devoted to reproductive rights taking place in Prague's Kasárna Karlín with an after-party at Bike Jesus in Prague.

The aim of the festival is to raise funds to help women who are seeking safe abortions in the Czech Republic as well as draw attention to reproductive rights which are currently being called into question around the world.

Organized by the Ciocia Czesia collective, which helps women from Poland, where legal abortion is restricted, terminate an unwanted pregnancy in Czechia, the Sept. 17 event will feature panel discussions, workshops, and entertainment in Polish, Czech, and English.

Prague-based Polish artist Jolanta Nowaczyk and like-minded activists founded the Ciocia Czesia (Auntie Czesia) initiative in 2020 to help women in need of abortions come to the Czech Republic for the procedure. 

“From the very beginning, over 1,500 people have contacted us. Some of them are in a difficult financial situation and are not able to pay CZK 13,000-30,000 for the procedure,” says Nowaczyk, one of the organizers of the festival.

"The entire amount that will be raised during the festival will be allocated to financial aid," she adds.

Since Poland ruled a controversial near-total abortion ban on abortion in October of 2020 dozens of Polish women have been turning to neighboring countries in search of safe alternatives.

Candles outside polish embassy
Candles appeared outside of the Polish Embassy in Prague following the country's near-total abortion ban.

Two cases of young Polish women dying after doctors refused to perform an abortion have been reported since then triggering protests worldwide.

At the National March For Life in May, an annual event that sees opponents of abortion march across Prague, Johanna Nejedlová, one of the co-founders of the non-profit organization Konsent and a member of the Executive Committee of the Czech Women's Lobby, spoke to a group of counter-demonstrators about the future of abortion rights in the EU.

Nejedlová discussed the issue of foreign interference in the financing of anti-abortion organizations in the EU that undermine sexual and reproductive health and the rights of women. More than €700 million went to conservative groups in the EU, such as anti-abortion groups, between 2009 and 2018 – about €80 million from the US and €180 million from Russia, she said.

In the summer of 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court's reversal of women's reproductive rights sent shockwaves around the world with fears that the country's overturning of Roe v. Wade could kick off a domino effect within conservative and far-right movements.

At a Prague protest following that verdict Chamber of Deputies speaker Markéta Pekarová Adamová expressed her reassurance by saying the legislation in the Czech Republic is "good and there is no reason to change it."

Nejedlová is just one of the panelists who will be featured at the festival which commences with a panel discussion in English moderated by Valeriya Kim, with the participation of Andrada Cilibiu from the Romanian Centrul FILIA, Lilia Khousnoutdinova from the Propolis33 Foundation, Silvie Lauder from Respekt, and Zdenka from the Slovak Nebudeme Ticho organization.

After the panel discussion, there will be two workshops (one in Czech and one in English) on how to stop sexual harassment as both a victim and witness. The festival closes with live concerts by Mala Herby (PL) and Josefína Dusk (ČR). Catering will be available from the Food Not Bombs collective.

Later in the evening, the festival moves to the nearby Bike Jesus, where the official afterparty will take place with Czech and Polish artists performing. See the Facebook event for the Ciocia Czesia festival here.

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