FRI, 21 FEB 1997 17:01:06 GMT
AIM Zagreb, 8 February, 1997
In Croatia, an abortion is a murder because the foetus is also a Croat. This is usually said by those who imagine a woman as a mother and a housewife. Sex is, therefore, in the service of the nation, and the role of the woman, as Stalin said, is to bear new heroes. In Croatia, the question of women is in fact the question of men or predominantly of patriarchal morality. Apart from having born sons who were killed in this war, they mean very little to the male world which is in power. Of course, TV stars, actresses, models and singers, mostly young women, are not a good example for that. But even they use make-up to conceal bruises, so they too could be classified among all those women accused by the Croat Democratic Community (HDZ) seven years ago for the tragedy of the Croat people, along with pornography and abortions. The accusation was: they plunged into debauchery, indulged in their passions and concentrated only on their carreers, had two children at the most, then there was make-up, beer and rock and roll, pleasure and a thousand other things. The reasons are still similar, even more profound. The Nation is still topic number one, but this time as the Nation-State for which the abortion is in fact death of a small Croat, and therefrom death of the sacred substance - the Nation. And the state, as we all know is an organized force which can do to one much worse things than ban the right to the abortion.
But Croatia, as almost any place else in the world, is ruled by men and men's values. Recently these ruling men have given their women a gift, less than two months before the 8 March (which is of course "out" in Croatia because we have the so-called Mother's Day, which is a fact that speaks for itself).
The first is the story about the abortion, and the other is the story about compensation for employed mothers on maternity leave which has dropped below 1540 kunas from the amount equal to the average six-month salary. The catch, however, is not in the fact that it was reduced, but that it was reduced by half and that it is simply too little. The catch is also that it was not at all discussed before the law was adopted and that it was not known that it would refer to the last salary received last year. This means that women will remain at home with their babies for only six months, which is not acceptable either for them, or as they say for their men. When it came out in the open, several mothers organized on 26 January signing of a petition on the central Zagreb square. They could do nothing more because the police did not issue a permit for a (mass) gathering. The argument of the authorities is that there is no money, and the argument of the mothers is that the authorities are lying (the favourite slogan is that "children are worth more than cars", bought by the state, of course). The truth is on the side of the mothers, ordinary housewives, who realized that they were in trouble. There were a lot of those who had believed that the state would give them money for the so-called surplus of children (three and more), because last year the HDZ and its right faction had promised them miracles, but only if they bear chidren. Many women took the bait called "demographic revival" with a lot of money, but especially those who collected signatures in favour of the petition. Not a single of these 10-15 women has less than three children. That is why their wrath was much greater than that of the smart ones who are hesitating even about their first child. The difference between them is in the calculator. The latter calculated living expenses and postponed the undertaking of giving birth to children until the next millenium - or at least until the next change of authorities.
In a normal state, at least two things would have happened concerning the latest developments. The first would be giving up implementation of the new law and return to the previous amount and even raising the amount of the compensation, which is nothing but wishful thinking, and the other would be a major gathering of the citizens which would cause a big commotion, such as the one which occurred in Danemark when the price of sanitary napkins increased by two per cent. This too is just wishful thinking. In our country the only realistic thing is at the same time the stupidest, and that was that the public attorney Ante Klaric "sent the initiative for amendment of the Law on calculation (...) to Chairman of the Assembly Vlatko Pavelic". And that was all, at least for the time being. Whether mothers with several children will also do nothing else about it, remains to be seen.
Tha authorities showed to what extent they were concerned about women whom they call - mothers. For the majority of men in the HDZ, women are primarily mothers. On Radio 101, some women commented on this as follows: "This is nostalgia. In their ripe age they remember warm hands on their hot children's forehead".
The first story is even crazier. And it is uncertain whether the authorities reach out for it every now and then because they have nothing else to do, and wish to make confusion for the sake of the game, or whether the issue is serious to such an extent that one should be seriously concerned. Will women in Croatia, like in Ireland and Poland, travel to Slovenia or Austria for an abortion? There is still no answer to this question. There is no official answer, that is, because majority of the people in Croatia (70 per cent) believe that it is the right of the women and that not even the Pope is allowed to interfere, although he does whenever he has the chance. The latest document about it is the encyclical letter "Evangelium Vitae".
The Catholic Church in Croatia has been sticking its nose into the question of the prohibition of abortion from the very beginning, because this is the dictate of the ecclesiastic law, although nota bene, not even all the believers agree with it. Because of the authority enjoyed in Croatia by Cardinal Kuharic, he is permitted even in some independent journals (e.g. Novi List) to talk as much as he pleases without a single word of criticism. He talks from the aspect of the 19th century and the journalist still lets him do it.
In connection with it, in the first week of February, the Catholic Church celebrated the Day of Life. Cardinal Kuharic wondered on the occasion "can man have the right to sentence the innocent to death". And he concluded that "it is a crime to kill every conceived child". On that day at 15.10 h, all church bells tolled against the right to abortion.
However, parties from the opposition tend to say that the story about the prohibition of abortion is in fact a pre-election trick, that through those who proposed it - Djapic and his party (the HSP who say that Croatia is a "slaughter-house of unborn children" and whose political will is the puppet on the string pulled by the HDZ), the right faction of the HDZ (Susak and Seks) wish to find out whether it is possible to prohibit it or not yet, because they plan to go along with the conservative circles in the Catholic Church who would then back them. They are hoping that, with it, they will attract the part of the electorate which is in favour of the abortion, which in fact they need not bother about because they are supporters of the HDZ from the very beginning anyway.
The only thing which is good is that a conflict was created in the society, which is agreeable for the situation we are in. A conflict of big proportions has begun between the Nation which considers itself the beginning and the end of everything and which is represented by the state, that is by the group in power and wish for more children to be born so that the nation could flourish with a thousand flowers, and the citizens, that is parents who see their right to choose as a much greater right than that of the Nation-State to take that right away from them. The demarcation line passes through the very sense of this type of state. The gap has opened, but it remains to be seen who will open the season of jumping over it.