Friday, July 22, 2011

Two Obsessions

I can see how this summer is shaping up. It will go down in history, or at least in MY history, as the summer I discovered and had my eyes opened to the plight of oppressed women around the world.

Or as one of my children would say, I'm straddling first and third world problems.

Is this not a great idea for a cabin? I would add curtains for each cubby, so that there is a degree of privacy in there. You know, for people over 40 who sleep with their mouths open and their nighties bunched up.

From: Half the Sky -
Female infanticide persists in many countries and it is often the mothers who kill their own daughters. They do so, because often husbands threaten to divorce them if they keep their girls. Shahnaz poisoned her newborn daughter to avoid being divorced by her husband. Pervenn killed her daughter after her father-in-law beat her for giving birth to a girl.

And wife beatings? Happen because husbands are illiterate and uneducated. Zoya Najabi from Afghanistan was married at age 12 to a 16 year old boy. "Not only my husband, but his brother, his mother, and his sister all beat me." They would punish her for being a bad housewife by tying her to a bucket and dunking her in the well, leaving her freezing, gasping and half drowned. When she talked back to her mother-in-law, her husband dug out an electrical cable and flogged her until she fell unconscious. Then the next day, her father-in-law strapped her feet together, tied her down, and gave a stick to Zoya's mother-in-law who whipped the soles of Zoya's feet. "My feet were beaten until they were like yoghurt."

From pinterest:
Isn't this cool? It's a clear toaster. You can watch your bread toasting, and pop it up when it's exactly the right color -

From Half the Sky:

Du'a was a beautiful Kurdish girl living in Northern Iraq. She was 17 years old when she fell in love with a Sunni Arab boy. One night she stayed out with him. No one knows if they actually slept together, but her family assumed that they had. Her family and religious leaders determined that she must die. So eight men stormed the house and dragged her out into the street and a large crowd gathered round her. She was thrown to the ground, her skirt ripped off to humiliate her. The men threw rocks and concrete blocks on her - it took 30 minutes for Du'a to die.

They estimate that 6,000 honor killings like these take place every year. And many, many more honor rapes.

Mass rape is as effective as slaughtering people, yet it doesn't leave corpses that lead to human rights prosecutions. Rape tends to undermine the victim groups' tribal structures, because leaders lose authority when they can't protect the women. In short, rape becomes a tool of war in conservative societies precisely because female sexuality is so sacred.

A United Nations report states that 90% of all women over the age of 3 were sexually abused in Liberian during the civil war there.

Doesn't this look inviting?
LOVE it.

From Half the Sky:

The world capital of rape is eastern Congo. (The UN undersecretary says "The sexual violence in Congo is the worst in the world.")  Militias consider it risky to engage in firefights with other gunmen, so instead they assault civilians. They discovered the most cost-effective way to terrorize civilian populations is to conduct rapes of stunning brutality. They rape women with sticks and knives and bayonets and fire their guns into women's vaginas.
"All militias here rape women to show their strength and to show your weakness," said Juliene, a rape counselor in Goma, Congo. "In other places, there is rape because a soldier wants a woman. Here, it's that, but also a viciousness, a mentality of hatred, and women pay the price. Most victims are girls - some as young as 6, most are 14 years and older."

In 2008, the United Nations formally declared rape a "weapon of war."

Seventeen year old Dina grew up working on her parent's farm. All the local residents knew that there were soldiers from the Hutu Militia in the area, so Dina was fearful whenever she went out to farm the crops. But the alternative was to starve. One day, because of the danger, Dina cut her work short in her bean field and headed back to town well before sunset. As she was walking home, five militia members surrounded her. They had guns and knives and forced her to the ground.

"If you cry out, we will kill you," she was told. All five men raped her. Then they held her down as one then shoved a stick inside of her. Her family found her later, but couldn't afford to take her to the clinic. The stick had broken into her bladder and rectum, causing a fistula, or hole, in the tissues. As a result, urine and feces trickled constantly down her legs. These injuries are common because of sexual violence.

Ruffled incing on a wedding cake:
Is there anything more feminine?

From Half the Sky:

For Dina, lying incontinent and paralyzed at home, life seemed to be over. Then neighbours began telling her about a hospital where doctors would fix injuries just like hers. Eventually, due to assistance from HEAL Africa, she was taken to the hospital. Nurses gave her a plastic diaper and put her together with dozens of other women all who were incontinent because of fistulas. This gave Dina the courage to try to stand and walk. The nurses gave her crutches and helped her hobble about. They fed her and began a course of physical therapy and added her name to the list of women waiting for fistula surgery. When Dina's day came, a doctor successfully sewed up the hole in her bladder. Later, she had a second surgery to repair the hole in her rectum...

She returned home again, knowing there was a very good chance she'd be raped again.


I kinda like this cake too...

Half the Sky -

There are three million women and girl incontinent, just like Dina. Outside of the Congo, the cause is not rape but by obstructed labor and lack of medical care during childbirth.

Mahabouba grew up in western Ethiopia. Her parents divorced when she was a child so she was handed over to her father's sister who treated her as a servant. She ran away and worked as a maid in exchange for room and board. "A neighbour told me he could find better work for me, then sold me for 10 dollars. I thought I was going to work for this man, instead he raped me and beat me." She was 13 years old. The man was 60 years old and had purchased Mahabouba as his second wife. Both husband and wife beat her til she was black, blue and bloody. When she was 7 months pregnant she ran away. "I thought if I stayed I would be beaten to death along with my baby."

"I ran to town, but the townspeople said they would return me to my husband. So I ran away to my native village. But my immediate family was no longer there and nobody else wanted to help me because I was pregnant and somebody's wife. So I went to drown myself in the river, but my uncle found me and took me back."

Mahabouba went into labor but her pelvis hadn't yet grown enough to accommodate  the baby's head. She ended up with an obstructed labor with the baby stuck inside the birth passage. After 7 days, Mahabouba fell unconscious and at the point someone summoned a birth attendant. By then the baby had been wedged there for so long that the tissues between the baby's head and Mabaouba's pelvis lost circulation and rotted away. When she recovered consciousness, she found her baby was dead and that she had no control of her bladder or bowels. She also couldn't walk or even stand, a consequence of nerve damage that is a frequent by-product of fistulas.

"People said it was a curse," Mahabouba recalled. "They said, 'If you're cursed, you shouldn't be here. You should leave." Her uncle moved her to a hut at the edge of the village and allowed the villagers to take the door off so that the hyenas could get her. At night the hyenas circled her, all night long she fended them off, yelling and waving a stick.

Not sure I'm a fan of the brown piping. I woulda done it in white. White on white.
Yes, that would have looked awesome. I just know it.

Mahabouba realized her only hope was to get out of the village, so she crawled to the doorstep of a missionary, pulling herself with her arms. It took two days to get there. The missionary took her inside, nursed her, then took her to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital.

There Mahabouba found scored of other girls and women also suffering from fistulas. She was examined, bathed, given new clothes and shown how to wash herself. Fistula patients often suffer wounds on their legs, from the acid in their urine eating away at the skin, but frequent washing eliminates these sores. The girls in the hospital wear flip-flops, chattering with one another and steadily dripping urine - hospital staff joke that it is 'puddle city' but the floors are mopped several times per hour and the girls are too busy socializing to be embarrassed.

Catherine, the Australian doctor who founded the hospital, has done over 25,000 operations. (It costs about $300 to repair a fistula.) There are estimates that 30,000 to 130,000 new cases of fistula develop each year in Africa alone. The fistula patient is the modern day leper. She's helpless. She's voiceless. She smells. She is an outcast.

Oprah interviewed Catherine and later visited the hospital. She then donated a new wing for it.

Today, if you were to visit the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, you might well see Mahabouba. She's the one walking around in a nurse's uniform.

Ha. Great use for those bread bag closure tags:

Oy. This reminds me of, well, me.
I used to do this with the kids.
I rocked at being a mom to pre-teens.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. The sun was out for a few hours. I sat in it for 35 minutes. It was glorious.
2. I was invited to join a friend and her daughter watch a movie this evening. We saw the latest Pirates.

Yeah. I totally enjoyed watching Johnny Depp frolic for 2 hours.

3. Afterwards, I drove into Vancouver to drop off coolers for Clint. He needed them for Friday night's event... Are you coming? To the Art Show?
All money raised is going towards building schools in India for the most needy - the lowest caste, The Dalits.

Please join us if you can.
We live lives of privilege here. Seriously.
Find a cause you believe in and support it heavily.
Women and children around the world are crying for our help.



Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness Jane, How do I even comment? I was going to get my nails done again today, but I think I need to find a way to support that hospital instead. Is there an address I could send money too. I would imagine I could find a website. You can fb me if you know. Thanks for blogging this stuff. We all need to know.

Anonymous said...

You're killing me Jane. Whiplash from being yanked back & forth between two worlds.
That was the fistula hospital Richard visited (sorry, thought it was in Kenya because he went there too.)Amazing, grace-filled ministry.
Thanks for making us aware even if it hurts.