Sunday, July 3, 2011

India x 4

1. Randomly, Karm gave me this book:

Oh look, Angelina is reading it too.
(This is what she has to say: 
“For female readers it gives a new sense of what it is to be a woman. For husbands sons and fathers, it will infuriate and astound you. You will not want to put it down.”

I'm just finishing Chapter 2. The first chapter, though, tells a story about a gal in India. Her name is Meena and she is an Indian Muslim who was kidnapped and trafficked when she was 8 years old. She is from a poor family on the Nepal border, was sold to a Nutt clan ( a low caste tribe that controls the sex trade), then taken to a rural house where the brothel owner kept young girls until they were mature enough to attract customers. 

She was 12 when they brought in her first client. "I started fighting and crying out so that he wouldn't succeed," Meena said. "I resisted so much that they had to return the money to the client. And then they beat me, with a belt, with sticks, with iron rods. The beating was tremendous." "But even then I resisted. The showed me swords and said they would kill me if I didn't agree. Four times they brought customers in, and I still resisted, and they kept beating me. Finally they drugged me. Then one of the owners raped me."

"Now, I am wasted," she thought, and so she gave in and stopped fighting customers. 

Meena and the other girls were never allowed out of the brothel and were never paid. They typically had 10 or more customers per day, seven days a week. If a girl fell asleep, or complained about a stomach ache, the issue was resolved with a beating. And when a girl showed any hint of resistance, all the girls would be summoned to watch as the recalcitrant one was tied up and savagely beaten. 

India has more modern slaves, in conditions like these, than any other country.

In Meena's brothel, no one used condoms. She became pregnant and was filled with despair. "I used to think that I never wanted to be a mother, because my life had been wasted, and I didn't want to waste another life."
Her brothel welcomed the pregnancy as a chance to breed a new generation of victims. Girls are raised to be prostitutes, and boys become servants to do the laundry and cooking.

In the brothel, without medical help, Meena gave birth to a girl. She was taken away from her "to stop her from breast feeding (customers dislike prostitutes that are lactating) and to keep the baby as hostage to ensure that Meena would not try to flee."  A short time later she got pregnant again, this time it was a son, who was also taken away from her.

Meena estimates that in the dozen years she was at the brothel, she was beaten, on average, five days a week. One day Meena slipped out and went to the police station with her story. "I was forced into prostitution by a brothel in town. The pimps beat me and they're holding my children as hostage." The police sent her back. (Police are regular visitors of the brothel and are serviced for free.)

The brothel owners decided to murder her, she was becoming too much trouble. But she escaped and traveled several hours by train. The brothel owner's brother tracked her down and beat her. He told her she could live on her own and prostitute herself, but she would have to give him all her earnings. Not knowing how she could survive otherwise, Meena agreed.

.... the story goes on and on. 
Each chapter in this book, from what I can tell, tells the story of a girl from a different country. I just happened to be on India chapter at the exact same time that ...

2. Heather Armstrong (aka went to Bangladesh, (which is a country that borders on India on almost all sides.) She is in the midst of a twitter sh*t storm regarding her trip (where a journalist misguidedly called her a poverty tourist) but nevertheless, she's writing about the plight of women and girls in third world countries and it's hitting it's mark with me because of the book I'm reading, y'know?

3. My friend Christine just posted this story on her blog about India. Seriously. And her birth daughter? Has decided, along with her husband, to go into long term, full time ministry, as missionaries in INDIA. I KNOW, right? 

And then the other night, between the hours of 1 and 4 am, I engaged in a facebook chat with Clint who is coincidentally employed as a summer student intern at ...

4. the Dalit Freedom Network.

Yes, another India connection. My fourth one in 48 hours. And this one is close. I mean, close to my heart, because he's my son, yo?

(Just in case you don't know what Dalits are: 
The Dalit people of India have been the most widely oppressed caste for more than three thousand years. Indian Dalits comprise nearly 1/4 of the total population, a massive 250 million men, women, and children. Dalits are considered the "outcasts" of Indian society - the "untouchables", those the Hindu scriptures call the "unborn" - translated: it would be better if they had never been born.
Dalits are denied access to public wells, public parks, basic medical services, and education. Seventy percent of Dalits live below the poverty line. Dalit women are widely exploited and are considered the "Dalits of the Dalits".)
So. What does this mean? 
Like, what does it mean to ME?
What am I supposed to do?

I'm not totally sure. But I AM feeling nudged to spread the work about a fundraising event that my boy is helping to organize. (Yes, yes, yes... it hasn't been lost on me that I too am in the business of planning fundraising events for the ministry that employees me. Yes, I'm enormously proud of this kid.)

As soon as he has designed the poster and created the facebook event page, I'll link to them. However, in the meantime, consider this...

An Art Show
In Vancouver
On Friday July 22
7 pm

He is accepting donations of art. (Photography, prints, drawings, paintings, etc.)
If you are an artist, please consider this a worthy cause to support by submitting a piece of that brilliant thing you do.

Not an artist?
How about attending the event? 
And maybe buying someone's artistic talent for that blank spot on the wall in your hallway?

Oh dear.
This post is very text-heavy...
Are you still reading?

Three things I'm thankful for:
1. Tricia in Florida is awake, craving chocolate cake. (This is why we are friends.) So is Drew, who is also awake, right here beside me. So I just made cupcakes. At 1:15 am. I love summer. I love that Tricia has insomnia. 

2. The flowers in my window boxes and terra cotta planters are still alive. Maybe even thriving. It's cheerful in my backyard.

3. Had a lovely Canada Day ... after working for a few hours at a ghost-town of an office, I met my dad and mom at the Spaghetti Factory. Afterwards we went to Larry Crowne where all the rest of the senior citizens were also hanging out. Oh My Goodness. I was the youngest person in the theater. No, really. I was. 

As far as romantic comedies go, this one wasn't very romantic. But it was inspiring. Very. 
Larry is divorced and unemployed and needs to make hard decisions about his life and his future. 
His transformation from the beginning of the movie to the end? Was the result of hardwork, difficult choices and new clothes. Boy. Do clothes ever make a difference.


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