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French manifesto of the 343 in 1971

In the late 1960, women in France started demanding for their rights and respect. Rebellions by women had become popular in the country since 1968. During that time, single mothers suffered in poverty and were despised by the society. This was as a result of them being banished by their relatives and parents leaving them with neither home nor hope. However, the society was changing and women in France were ready to quit the guiltiness and modesty they had lived with for along time.

By the time the French manifesto of the 343 was published in 1971, sex was no longer a fault in the French society and bearing a child was not a deserved penalty in the society. At the same time, the legislature which was dominated by men had passed laws that made the use of contraceptives and procuring abortion illegal. Moreover, the judiciary was also dominated by men who condemned women accused of sexual faults to death. This led to the signing and publication of the manifesto of the 343 in 1971 . French manifesto of the 343 in 1971

The manifesto of 343 which is also known as the manifesto of the 343 sluts is a declaration that appeared in the Le Nouvel Observateur a French magazine on 5th of April 1971. The declaration was written by Simone de Beauvoir and signed by one hundred and forty three women who admitted having had an abortion. Abortion was illegal in the country during that time and therefore the women exposed themselves to prosecution for being involved in unlawful act . The manifesto declared that about one million women in France procured abortion every year despite it being illegal in the country.

The illegitimacy of abortion, which was inevitable by many French women forced them to use risky methods under dangerous conditions. This was because the procedures were carried out in secret to avoid arrest and prosecution. However, the declaration noted that if the procedure could be allowed to be performed under medical procedure, it would be a very simple procedure. The author claimed that the women were oblique by their silence and time had come for them to speak out. The women declared that they are among thousands of women in France who had procured an abortion in their life time.

They stated that the government should give them their reproductive rights and allow them to freely access birth control measures as well as safe abortion . Several days after the manifesto with the signatures of the 343 women appeared on the front page of Le Nouvel Observateur, a weekly satirical magazine, some feminists such as Charlie Hebdo attacked the men in the society especially the politicians drawing their attack on the fact that men were also in one way or another involved in the illegitimate acts and therefore should not blame the women.

Charlie Hebdo challenged the male politicians and legislators asking them who had got the three hundred and forty three women who admitted to have had abortion pregnant. Obvious it was men who had gotten them pregnant and neglected them while the society despised single mothers leaving them with no option but to secretly abort . Two years later, the manifesto received support from three hundred and thirty one French doctors who signed a manifesto supporting the legitimization of abortion to give women their reproductive rights.

The doctors claimed that freedom of abortion was inevitable in the country because whether to procure an abortion or not should entirely be the decision of the woman and not the state. There were opposed entities that required the woman to defend herself which created a situation where she felt guilty. This was suggested to be the main cause of secret and life threatening abortion because making it illegitimate could not stop women from procuring abortion.

This contribution from the doctors led to the adoption of the manifesto of 343 sluts by January 1975 and named the Veil Law after the then French minister of health Simone Veil who pushed for the legalization of abortion through the French parliament. The law revoked the penalties imposed on women who procured abortion in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy which was later extended to the first 12 weeks. Conclusion The manifesto of the 343 sluts was an important step towards the realization of the reproductive right of women in France.

The laws that made abortion and birth control illegitimate in France affected negatively the poor women as the rich could afford to pay for the procedure in other countries. The 343 women risked being prosecuted but due to their carriage, for the first time in France, abortion became a legitimate choice of the woman. The adoption of these laws made abortion free and women were able to access the risk involved in the procedure as well as consult a qualified medical doctor. The medical risks involved in abortion and the number of illegitimate children and single mothers reduced significantly as a result of the adoption of the proposals.

Bibliography Bair, Deirdre, Simone de Beauvoir: A Biography. New York: Summit Books, (1990). Rennard, Marie, The Unfinished Business of Simone de Beauvoir, (2008), retrieved on 27th April 2010 from; http://www. swans. com/library/art14/marier15. html Monteil, Claudine. Simone de Beauvour and the women’s movement in France: an eye witness account retrieved on 27th April 2010 from; http://www. claudinemonteil. com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/simonedebe auvoir_pa per1. PDF

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