“You’re 17, almost 17 and a half, with a huge lump in your heart. You cross the courtyard, hoping you won’t run into anyone, that it won’t last long: one pill, then that’s it, the embarrassment will pass, you’re like the pierced child that the future will fill, but it’s too early for that. “Barbara, are you sure?” Life is explained to you, and around you, everything gets agitated. And then, a line is thrown at your face: “But you’re just a whore, that’s what happens, yep. You didn’t protect and you might be sterile, you should have thought of that”. Of course you thought about it. 8:50 am, you leave the room collapsed, full of guilt.1

The opening verses of the song “CHAIR” by Serbian-born French singer Barbara Pravi are as beautiful as they are memorable. At the age of 31 and with 4 albums, she who entered the public sphere following her participation at the 2021 Eurovision contest with “Voilà” and named female revelation of the year 2022 at the Victoires de la Musique awards, does not content herself with just singing. AS an author, composer and performer, she puts her fight against violence against women into music. Her songs “CHAIR”, “La Femme”, “Lève-toi”, and “Marianne”, recorded with Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani, are examples of the voice she brings to her albums.

Drawing from her personal story to write her lyrics, she notably composed “CHAIR” inspired by the abortion she underwent at age 17. In an interview with Vogue France in the context of the constitutionalisation of abortion, voted on March 8, 2024, she confides, “During my abortion, I was accompanied in a very violent and very painful way. I was judged, scorned, insulted… […] This experience had an impact on my relationship with my body and my sexuality. What is more, I felt an enormous amount of guilt, increased by my loneliness… However, it’s also what built me, even as an artist.”2

In 2024, France became the first country in the world to enshrine “the guaranteed freedom of women to have recourse to voluntary interruption of pregnancy”3 in its constitution. Almost 50 years after the Veil bill decriminalising abortion, and at a time when in the United States the right to abortion is no longer guaranteed by federal law but left to the discretion of state governments, women’s rights are increasingly under threat. The right to abortion for all those who need it is a public health issue. It is a fundamental and necessary human right; and the criminalisation of abortion, far from preventing this medical act (according to the Guttmacher Institute, the abortion rate per 1000 people is 37 in countries where it is prohibited, against 34 where it is permitted), creates greater health risks for people undergoing abortion. Access to a safe abortion procedure, far from clandestine abortions that put the patients’ lives and health at risk, is essential. “Unsafe” abortions, i.e. abortions not carried out by health professionals in a safe environment, are the third leading cause of maternal mortality, accounting for 13% of all maternal deaths each year according to the World Health Organisation. 

Through music, Barbara Pravi stages her story to raise awareness and at least try to liberate women. “I realised later that there was a political dimension to my lyrics, even though I didn’t write them with that in mind. I’ve always been a feminist, but I wasn’t aware of it. I read a lot, worked on these issues, to be able to reflect or propose solutions other than pitting women against men, being hateful4, she said in an interview with Le Monde. 

This global vision of feminism evoked by Barbara Pravi is also reflected in other of her lyrics:  she signs “Marianne” for freedom, particularly for Iranian women; she sings “La Femme” against systemic sexism; she writes “Lève-toi” to wake the crowds and call for more justice.

Barbara Pravi is an artist whose music speaks to the ears and whose lyrics speak to the heart, with songs that are committed and that make you want to stand up and fight, sometimes gentle, sometimes strong, sometimes both. 

To read further… 

Amnesty International. Éléments clés sur l’avortement, https://www.amnesty.org/fr/what-we-do/sexual-and-reproductive-rights/abortion-facts/.

Candellier, C. Chapot, M. Cottais, C. Girard, I. 2020. Droit à l’avortement dans le monde : un combat loin d’être gagné, https://www.growthinktank.org/droit-a-lavortement-dans-le-monde-un-combat-loin-detre-gagne/.

Guttmacher Institute. In Brief Facts on Induced Abortion Worldwide, https://youthsextion.wordpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/2011facts-iaw.pdf.

Rosemont, S. 2024. Rencontre avec Barbara Pravi : ‘J’ai la sensation d’être une guerrière hyper joyeuse’. Vogue Francehttps://www.vogue.fr/article/interview-barbara-pravi-ivg-constitution.

Schneider, V. 2024. Barbara Pravi : ‘J’ai toujours été féministe, mais je n’en avais pas conscience’. Le Monde.fr. [online] 10 Mar., https://www.lemonde.fr/musiques/article/2024/03/10/barbara-pravi-j-ai-toujours-ete-feministe-mais-je-n-en-avais-pas-conscience_6221129_1654986.html.

Sign the European Citizens’ Initiative for safe and accessible abortion in Europe, launched by the “My Voice, My Choice” movement: https://eci.ec.europa.eu/044/public/#/screen/home

1 Free translation from GROW.
2 Free translation from GROW from the original: « Durant mon avortement, j’ai été accompagnée de manière hyper violente et hyper douloureuse. On m’a jugée, méprisée, insultée… […] Cette expérience a impacté le rapport à mon corps et à ma sexualité. J’ai, de plus, ressenti énormément de culpabilité, accrue par ma solitude… Cependant, c’est aussi ce qui m’a construite, même en tant qu’artiste. ».
3 Free translation from GROW from the original:  « la liberté garantie à la femme d’avoir recours à une interruption volontaire de grossesse »
4 Free translation from GROW from the original: “I realised later that there was a political dimension to my lyrics, even though I didn’t write them with that in mind. I’ve always been a feminist, but I wasn’t aware of it. I read a lot, worked on these issues, to be able to reflect or propose solutions other than pitting women against men, being hateful

Leave a reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.