Whilst my partner and I count down the last couple of days to the birth of our baby, I am busy finalising a report to be submitted before Parliament on unregulated sperm donor cyber-platforms and violence against women. This is an issue that needs to be addressed by Parliament and Policy. It has been a gamble, however, in terms of completion: would our baby eagerly make an impromptu arrival before the completion of the report or would I have a sufficiently easygoing pregnancy to allow the report to be finalized before I am cast into mothering a newborn baby alongside a small child? My partner is optimistically stoical, for he knows that both journeys have overlapped and have been entwined and the up and coming events will come to fruition somewhat organically.
Has my pregnancy had a bearing upon the way I engage with the Sperm Donor Abuse Foundation? Negatively, certainly not; unless one counts managing round the clock morning sickness whilst being interviewed by the BBC for their ‘Inside Out’ documentary on the darker side of sperm donation. Being a mother to a small child already, however, has provided me with considerable empathy and insight into the profound difficulties some women face when they lack access to male gametes to conceive and the horrific abuse they are at risk of experiencing when they take those first steps to enter a cyber world of unregulated men trading gametes usually for sex and increasingly for money.
Should my pregnancy contribute anything to the work of the Sperm Donor Abuse Foundation it is that it has been a salutary reminder of just how vulnerable women are during reproduction and pregnancy, making them easy targets for rape, sexual abuse, and exploitation. The peer support, which is provided by the Sperm Donor Abuse Foundation, has grown in popularity with increasing numbers of women accessing this vital service. Whilst there are always commonalities in the cases we deal with, each case remains unique both in terms of specific circumstances and the affects upon the individual woman requesting support and guidance. Through our peer support work we see the real human toll, the misery, fear, confusion, and the uncertainty for the future, which is caused by men seizing unregulated sperm donor cyber-platforms as an easy vehicle to exploit and abuse women who require gametes to conceive a child. The human toll of exploitation and abuse, however, is also facilitated by owners and administrators of websites and Facebook Groups, which fail to take any responsibility for abusers, and in some cases, actively support perpetrators of abuse.
As we count down the final days hours to the arrival of our newborn, I know that I am fortunate, for my current pregnancy has been free from exploitation and any form of abuse. Yet, I also know only too well, that violence frequently accompanies conception and pregnancy. It is this knowledge that propels the work of the Sperm Donor Abuse Foundation.