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Backstreet

Paula Rego, one of the most famous living artists has said the recent anti-abortion movement criminalizes women and believes recent legislation banning the procedure in some US states is dangerously regressive and will force women into finding potentially deadly ‘backstreet solutions’.

The painter – who was born in Portugal but lives in London – has spent her career focusing on women’s rights and abortion. ‘It seems unbelievable that these battles have to be fought all over again. It is grotesque’, she stated.

Back in 1998, the now 84-year-old artist created a series of paintings – The Abortion Pastelsin response to a referendum to legalize abortion in Portugal. At that time at least 2 women per year died as a result of secretive and often tortuous illegal abortions. The women who survived the severe bleeding and septicaemia risked 3 years in prison.

The referendum was defeated as a result of an intimidating lobby of the ultra-conservative Catholic church and a very low turnout among voters.

It lasted until 2007 before this mistake was corrected and abortion laws in Portugal were liberalized.
In a provocative interview from that time Rego is very clear about the hypocrisy and horror of the rusty abortion policy in her country. And she is proud that her paintings – highlighting the fear and danger of illegal abortion – were useful as propaganda material in the 2007 referendum. ‘It is imperative women have a choice’, she emphasizes.

Rego’s series depicts a theme uncomfortable in Western art – often only concerned with the idealisation of womanhood. Its cruel realism exposes a very real picture for many – especially poor – women in countries beneath the Equator, where every 9 minutes a woman still dies as a result of an illegal abortion. ‘If you are rich it is easier to have an abortion, usually by travelling to another country. Poor women are butchered.’

The exhibition Paula Rego: Obedience and Defiance’ will be the first major retrospective of her work since the 1960s. To support the exhibition – that opens on 15 June at MK Gallery in Milton Keynes, UK – the artist has offered a limited edition print from her celebrated series hoping the etching Untitled Abortion, 2000 will help draw attention to the dangers of making abortion illegal again.

Bom fim de semana          Have a nice weekend             (pics Womensart/Sapo)

 

Undocumented

‘Only foreigners work here, he confesses. It’s hard work and poorly paid. Sixteen hours a day for the minimum wage. You keep going because they give you a contract, that is needed for a permit.’ Amit Kumar, originating from India is 32 years old and works since 2013 in Portugal. First in horticulture in the Algarve and after that in a restaurant in Belem. Although he is paying tax and social security, he runs the risk of being expelled as he can’t prove to have entered the country in a legal way. In 2017 he falls ill and has to be admitted to hospital for a week. Being unable to pay the bill, he asks his uncle in India for help. ‘I was supposed to support my family over there, not the other way around.’
When he returns to work, he discovers he is fired.

The ruling socialist party wants the government to speed up the legalization of undocumented immigrants, who have been working for more than a year and paid tax and social security. Even if they have entered the country illegally. The party invokes on Article 123 in the Aliens Act, which permits residency for foreigners on humanitarian grounds.

The reason for the amendment was the large-scale demonstration in May, when immigrants gathered before Parliament, expressing that they were treated like second-rank citizens, even though they paid tax and social insurance.

‘It concerns a group of approximately 30.000 people, who have work commitments but no rights whatsoever’, explains Flora Silva, president of the solidarity organization Olho Vivo (www.olho-vivo.org). ‘Most of them are from Lisbon but also from the Algarve, where many people from Nepal and Indonesia work in agriculture.

‘The law doesn’t promote the integration of immigrants, who work here for many years but are not treated as human beings’, says Timóteo Macedo, president of Solidaridade Imigrante (Solim). ‘Our Government argues, that we need more immigrants for our economy. Fine. They are already here, just come and see!’

Research by Solim in April showed that illegal immigrants pay on average 6 times more for a visit to the Emergency Department and 8 times more for a doctor’s consultation in Primary Health Care, than legal employees. ‘When undocumented workers pay their social security’, Macedo points out, ’there shouldn’t be any difference at all, isn’t it?’

Bom fim de semana            Enjoy the weekend                       (pic Público)

 


Immigration

‘Migration is a right, not a privilege’ – António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

Only immigration can save the Portuguese from extinction as more old people die than babies are born and the number of people leaving the country continues to be greater than the number entering it.

Over the past ten years more than 400.000 ‘new citizens’ have been added to a population of 10 million due to an extension of the law in 2006, allowing expatriates to obtain the Portuguese nationality after residing at least six years in Portugal. But who are these migrants and where do they stay?

The majority of the ‘new citizens’ originate from Portuguese speaking countries such as Brazil (120.000), Cape Verde (75.000), GuineaBissau (35.000), and Angola (35.000).
During the same period, a considerable number of Ukrainians (55.000) and Romanians (35.000) settled in the country.


About half of the ‘new citizens’ live in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area, over 60.000 in the sunny Algarve, about 35.000 around Setúbal and 25.000 in the northern harbor town Porto.
Lately more Western Europeans – primarily French and English – than Eastern Europeans and Africans are entering the country.

Portugal’s state of security, quality of life and favorable fiscal climate – especially of interest for wealthy pensioners from EU countries – definitively play a role.

It has always been difficult to get a residence permit without a fixed work contract. Yet last summer, the socialist government decided to relax the law allowing migrants with a provisional work contract or even a promise of employment, to apply for a permit. Moreover, immigrants caring for minors and those who are born in Portugal may no longer – according to the new legislation – be simply expelled from the country. A prerequisite, however, is that they haven’t entered Portugal illegally.

Timothy Macedo – from the NGO Solidaridade Imigrante (SOLEM) – is happy with the new law, but points out that there are more than 30.000 illegals (the vast majority living in Lisbon) and that most of them are waiting for years to be assessed by the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF).

Without legal documents, they are condemned to dirty, illegal and badly-paid jobs and deprived of social security.
Cynthia Paula – from the NGO Casa do Brasil – also denounces the lack of political will, huge bureaucracy and enormous waiting lists at the SEF, giving rise to unnecessary ‘slow and unjust’ integration and exploitation of illegal workers.

Bom fim de semana                                              Have a great weekend