About the SHHH project

A woman has on average one abortion during her lifetime, statistically speaking. This means that abortion is a common female experience. Still, personal experiences with abortion are rarely spoken of. The project's goal is to change this.

The project

In this web exhibition we present 57 personal stories about abortion, and the history of the abortion legislation of all 23 countries featured in the stories. All the material has been collected by the project partners, mainly through the International Association of Women's Museums.

SHHH! Stories about abortion and sexuality is a project that was started in January 2020 and concluded June 2022. The project was initiated and managed by the Women's Museum Norway. The project is twofold: a physical exhibition and this web exhibition. The physical exhibition opened June 2021 at the Women's Museum Norway. The web exhibition was launched internationally July 2022.

The topics we deal with in this project and the statistics we refer to are related to induced abortions. We have not collected stories about miscarriages.

The goal of the project

The aim of this project is to tell women's own stories about abortion, as well as highlighting how laws on abortion affect women's lives. Women have always found ways to terminate unwanted pregnancies, and they always will. History shows that when abortion is inaccessible or against the law, women will still have illegal abortions. In some cases, with their lives at stake. With SHHH! we want to break the silence, crush some myths and make room for the universal experience that abortion is.

Our goal has been to contribute to more knowledge and safety, and also to connect women together globally.

Our methods

For this project we have collected personal stories about abortion from different parts of the world. A questionnaire and an ethical guideline were developed for the interviews and the contact with the informants.  

All informants and stories have been anonymised. All names are changed. 

In the presentations of the personal stories, we have chosen to respect the terms and expressions used by the informants. Their choice of words are not always in line with the standard medical expressions, but they give important insight into how the women have experienced their abortions.  

Partners

The SHHH project has been made in collaboration between the Women's Museum Norway, the International Association of Women's Museums (IAWM) and the feminist artist group OTALT from Sweden.

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Project group

Project manager: Mona Holm/Kvinnemuseet/Women's Museum Norway
Project assistant: Thea Aarbakke/Kvinnemuseet/Women's Museum Norway
Exhibition design: The artist group OTALT, by Sara Falkstad and Helene Karlsson, Arvika, Sweden
Research/Collection: International Association of Women’s Museums (IAWM), through members and collaborating intstitutions and persons, OTALT, and Kvinnemuseet/Women's Museum Norway
Illustration: Helene Karlsson/OTALT
Text: Sara Falkstad/OTALT and Tilla Solli, Mona Holm, and Thea Aarbakke/Kvinnemuseet/Women's Museum Norway
Graphic design: Ellen Jacobsen/PETRA designkontor
Translations/Proof reading: Sara Falkstad/OTALT
Exhibition design consultants: Gry Linderud/Anno museum, and Stian Mausethagen/KulturIT

The SHHH project's reference group:
Berit Austveg, MD (Public Health), writer, and president of Sex og Politikk (IPPF Norway), Kathrin Pabst, Ph.D. in museum's ethics, Vest-Agder-museet IKS, Stine Küle-Hansen, sexology counselor and museum mediator, Tove Fjellheim, midwife, Kvinnehelsa Kongsvinger, Christina Bukaasen, school nurse, Kongsvinger kommune, Hilde Offord, school nurse, Kongsvinger kommune, Kristine Bjartnes, senior advisor, Sex og Politikk (IPPF Norway), Eli Marie Skytteren, ultrasound midwife, Akershus University Hospital, Kongsvinger ward

Special thanks to:
All informants who have shared their stories with the project, Sex og Politikk (IPPF Norway), Break the Taboo Malta, TICAH (Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health, Kenya), SAAF (Safe Abortion Action Fund, Uganda), Women on Web

Sponsors

The SHHH project has been supported financially by:

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