In this article, we will delve into what life would have been like for women during the communist era in Romania.

The “Women’s Almanac,” created specifically for ladies, offered countless practical advice and articles on various topics, aiming to shape the image of the “perfect” communist woman. Each issue repeatedly emphasized that, thanks to the communist regime, women had become equal to men. But was it really so?

Legislatively speaking, one could argue yes. Women were granted the right to vote, education, and work. They were not only encouraged but mandated to have a profession and work alongside men. However, women were also expected to take care of children and manage the household. Thus, they ended up fulfilling a triple role, and the idealized representations in magazines did not reflect the challenging reality experienced by the majority of them.

Access to sexual education and contraceptive methods was severely limited, and abortion was prohibited by law in 1966, as part of the pro-natalist policy to increase the workforce, at the cost of millions of women.

During the communist period, the phenomenon of improvised and unsanitary abortion flourished. Women resorted to home procedures performed by experienced neighbors using hangers, toxic flower teas, and knitting needles. The exact number of women who died from these procedures is still unknown, and most victims left behind motherless children.

Here’s a personal story about how my grandmother underwent an abortion in the tailor shop where she worked.

“Since I was a child, my grandmother told me what the communist era meant for a woman. She recounted stories of neighbors who died from sepsis after using a hanger for an abortion. She spoke of her own ‘sins,’ the numerous abortions she had undergone, and how relieved she was when she finally entered menopause.

One particular story will stay with me forever. A rebellious doctor, risking imprisonment for helping women abort, had imported a new injection from abroad, allowing abortions without the need for objects in the uterus. Grandma, for a substantial sum, secretly received the injection and went home without feeling anything.

However, a few days later, while at work, she suddenly felt unwell and began bleeding profusely. Terrified, she rushed to the toilet—she couldn’t let anyone see her with blood on her skirt, as suspicions could lead to being caught by the Securitate, tortured, and likely imprisoned.

Alone and scared, in the tailor shop’s restroom, she miscarried. She watched her child come out, lifeless on the floor, mutilated and covered in blood. Though only a fetus of a few months, it had all the features of a tiny baby: tiny hands, feet, nose, and mouth. The child was likely dead at the time of the injection, and Grandma had carried it in her womb without life for several days before her body rejected it.

Grandma had to hide the truth so that no one would find out. Back then, women created makeshift graves for aborted fetuses in their yards, praying to God for forgiveness. Situations like these are so complex that you can’t even determine who the villain is. One thing is certain: these situations could have been avoided if people had at least basic sexual education to prevent reaching the extreme situation of improvised abortion.”

If you want to find out more about the communist era of Romania, you can visit the Museum of Communism in Bucharest (Old Town, Covaci St. 6).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *