Emma-Christina

Emma-Christina was born in Sweden in 1873. She was sentenced to a year and a half of hard labour for illegal abortion, in 1893 in Jämtland, Sweden.

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    OTALT/Helene Karlsson

Emma-Christina's story is written and dramatised by Sara Falkstad/OTALT. It is based on a true story.

My future was an abyss. There is nobody more lonely than a woman with an illegitimate child.

Emma-Christina

When I was pregnant I couldn’t sleep either. I knew I would never be able to keep the child alive outside of my body. After a few months, I was unable to ignore it, but the choice ahead of me was an impossible one. It was too late now, too late to do something about it. Despite that fact I made my decision. I had to stop my feelings. What was kicking inside me was a disease, something that ought to be cured.


I had moved into Sofia’s home on Frösön shortly before Christmas. She said she would help me but I knew nobody could. My future was an abyss. There is nobody more lonely than a woman with an illegitimate child.

The first time I tried, Sofia stopped me. She jerked the phosphorus matches out of my hand, and threw them into the fire. We don’t use things like that in my home, she said.

A few weeks passed before I had another opportunity. The darkness inside me grew, and so did the child. I hid the new matches in my sewing box when I got home from the store. When Sofia left home that evening, I made myself a cup of coffee and put the matches in the cup. I left the cup in the cupboard overnight.

The doctor asked me if I knew that I could die, too, from drinking phosphor. Of course I knew. What they did not understand was that this was my only way out.

Emma-Christina

I tried not to think at all, as I drank the cold coffee the next morning. Right after, I washed it down with a fresh cup of hot coffee, as if it were a normal day. It helped me forget. My body got warm. I threw the matches in the trash in the yard.

A few days passed before I started to feel ill. I threw up so much I thought I would die. Sofia immediately realised what I had done. She took me to Dr Moberg and I told him everything. The doctor asked me if I knew that I could die, too, from drinking phosphor. Of course I knew. What they did not understand was that this was my only way out.

Anna Eugenia Karolina was born five days later. She was wooly and yellow, and she could neither breathe nor feed properly. She was not meant to come into this world alive. She only lived for two weeks.

I never wanted them to get involved. Sofia, Dr Moberg, the midwife. I was almost relieved when I received my sentence. I should have died, too, I thought as I lay in that bed like a living corpse, weak and covered in blue marks.

Instead I ended up here, in prison. A year and a half of hard labour, and now without bedlinen, after I knocked on the cell wall to a friend on the other side.

The bed board is hard and cold. But now I only have to keep myself alive. I don’t have to share my darkness with anyone.