On Valentine’s Day, chocolate is no substitute for my rights

It was raining this morning when I read the news: my country’s Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) reinstated the 2009 ban on the sale of emergency contraceptive (EC) pills, arguing that EC is “incompatible with the right to life as set forth in the Constitution.” Even though the plants in the garden seemed thankful for the rain, I know the sky was weeping—for yet another penetrating attack on women’s bodies that I could feel in my bones.

The SCJ equates emergency contraception with abortion and claims that this in no way violates women’s rights, saying “Nothing in the vetoed decree prevents women’s access to information or access to methods of family planning that are different from the one which said law prohibits.” In my rage, I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. The policy makers who seek control over women’s bodies and sexuality must suffer a terrible mental affliction or intellectual deficit. Perhaps we should send all of these poor souls back to school, to bring them out of the darkness and teach them about human rights, international conventions, or in the very least, the basics of human reproduction.

As my cynicism wanes, reality sets in. I’m living under a fundamentalist military dictatorship that installed itself after a coup d’état. The judges and lawmakers who are denying my sexual freedom aren’t seeking enlightenment. They’re seeking control and power—over me, my body, and the bodies of all women. How do I continue my work when faced with such an assault on my body, my dignity, my very personhood? When the emptiness in my stomach suffocates me, and I cannot contain the sense of rage I feel within my body? Where is my fortitude to resist?

Perhaps it has wasted away, the result of political, social, even physical assaults—too numerous to count—on women’s bodies, security, and well-being. Perhaps I have become the way fundamentalist politicians see me: a commodity to be bartered, bought and sold in exchange for political currency and influence. Perhaps I have become confused when my country’s lawmakers turn their own children into mouthpieces for their regressive agenda, as with Alexandra Villeda’s (who built a successful career by making a mockery of women’s rights) statement on celebrating Valentine’s Day. Perhaps the profiteering from my life—turning my experiences, needs, and relationships into consumer transactions, like equating chocolates and greeting cards to love—has numbed my senses, and I have forgotten that my body was once mine.

Or maybe it is because women’s lives are important to me. Outrage and pain can effortlessly become hopelessness, knowing that day after day women are challenging and confronting this oppressive regime and paying the price with their bodies, suffering blows, rape, abuse and more, while they sell us an idea of love that condemns us to indifference.

Valentine’s Day? What a farce! I am supposed to believe that chocolates, flowers, and greeting cards will bring me love even as Opus Dei and its web of influence try to eviscerate the most fundamental of my rights—the right to bodily integrity, self-determination, sexual expression— isn't this personhood? When they truly understand what it is to love women, they will celebrate only one thing: FREEDOM