THE BLOG

Amazons With a Cause

Why are women first to pay for every crisis? In every society, capitalist, socialist, or transition? It's because the bodies of women are expendable.

I always noticed how women over 80 in Turin looked incredibly well, beautiful and loved and taken care of: desirable, because they are old and valuable. I connected this to Italy's long-established and sophisticated health care system. Italian hospitals were famous for methods which preserved the dignity of the patients, in tumor cures, especially breast cancer; the invisible mastectomy (quadrantectomy, Istituto Europeo di Oncologia) was invented in Milan. Rather than simply intervening in crisis, they were good at illness prevention and attentive follow-ups.

The economic crisis and financial harassment of Italy has reached this safe haven of health and dignity. In Turin, one of the best clinics for cure and prevention of breast cancer is about to be closed. The patients are on the streets, their appointments cannot be scheduled, they are paying for their urgent operations because their doctors cannot hep them. The doctors are on the streets too.

Public health care in Italy was guaranteed as one of the basic human rights: without class race of gender discrimination. We are all equal in front of death.

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photo by Jasmina Tesanovic

The Valdesian hospital was founded by Italy's Protestant minority; it was about spirituality and charity rather than the global health market. However, the church passed the hospital to the state some years ago. They naturally assumed that it was in good hands, but as this tiny church is to the state, the state is to the market. Although "Italy is not a brothel," as they said during the Berlusconi scandals, the flesh of women is negotiable by other means.

Protests, sit-ins and negotiations have failed to save the hospital. So last weekend, Turinese women decided to take action. They organized a public booth to photograph their breasts anonymously. They plan to release an affresco of hundreds of their depersonalized female bodies, as a warning. They are merely doing publicly what the hospital did less visibly.

Next step is the big demo planned for December first, to be followed by a sit-in for Dec. 7. On that day, the police are scheduled to physically shut the hospital. It was a lace of solace where women felt like respected human beings, and the attack on it has made them into Amazons with a cause.

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