Women’ s History Month

I learned today that March is Women’s History Month and it is a celebration of women’s contributions to society.  Before Women’s History Month, there was Women’s History Week, the birth child of the school district of Sonoma, California which participated in Women’s History Week, an event designed around the week of March 8 (International Women’s Day).  From 1978 to 1979, the idea to secure a National Women’s History Week lay incubated until February 1980 when it was born, thanks to President Jimmy Carter who issued a presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the law which was passed making March Women’s History Month in the United States.  This year’s theme is “Nevertheless, She Persisted: Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination against Women.”  What a great theme.  Like warriors facing bitter battles with ferocious armies, women face societies, communities, institutions and governments that would deny them their rights.  Nevertheless, like phoenix rising from the ashes, women all around world are rising up, joining together and fighting for what they believe in.  Their voices are raised in unison, refusing to be silenced, in spite of the draw backs they face.  Silence is not golden.  Using one’s voice to be heard is golden.

Throughout history, women have had dreams, hopes, plans and visions which they had to fight hard to realize.  No amount of discouragement, obstacles, nay-saying, discrimination or opposition could quell those dreams, hopes, plans, visions which had taken shape.  Women clung to their faith that one day they would be able to vote, own businesses, own homes, land, get an education, work in jobs and play in sports that were predominantly male oriented.  They had to have the courage and the faith to step out, speak up and conquer a world that had long denied them and still does in some cultures, equality, recognition for their accomplishments and basic human rights.

However, despite the strides women have made in their fight for human rights, they still face mountains like human trafficking, modern slavery which target young girls, child marriage, FGM, access to safe water, realizing their self worth and potential in societies which favor boys over girls, pay equity, access to safe water and quality education.  Just this month, the organization, Freedom United is calling for action for the following campaigns:

Show solidarity and tell Uzbekistan to drop all charges against Malokhat.

Malokhat is being targeted because of her determination to expose human rights violations and forced labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry.

JOIN THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM FOR GIRLS

The fight to end modern slavery today in order to help girls like Phoebe, forced into the commercial sex trade at just 15 years old.  Women and girls make up 71% of all modern slavery victims. 

These girls should be in school getting quality education so that they would have a bright future.  Sex should not something that they engage in until they are adults and married.  Sex came from God was never meant to be exploited or forced on anyone.  It was meant to be a physical and emotional expression of a husband’s and wife’s love for each other.

Help End Forced Marriage in Lebanon

Momentum is growing to repeal laws that enable convicted rapists to marry their victims to avoid punishment. As well as the horrors endured by victims, this law means many women and girls where these laws exist are then forced into marriage against their will

Marriage was meant to be between a man and a woman not a man and a child.  And any law which allows a rapist to marry his victim to escape justice, should be done away with.  It is a disgrace to human decency and dignity and it violates the victim’s rights.  Marriage is a holy institution and is meant to be entered into with the consent of both the man and the woman.

Call on Niger’s President to outlaw child marriage.

Three-quarters of girls in Niger are married before they are adults. Child marriage often amounts to slavery, for example, when girls have not given their free and full consent, are subjected to control, exploited and unable to leave, so outlawing it is an important step towards protecting Niger children.

Imagine you have a young daughter and that a Nigerian girl her age is being married off to an older man.  At the age of twenty, Fati Yahaya has been married twice, divorced once, suffered a postpartum hemorrhage after giving birth to her first child.  I didn’t have a child until I was 41 years old!  It’s so hard to fathom a young girl going through two marriages, one divorce and suffering excessive blessing following the birth of her first child.  I don’t know how many children she had afterwards or if she suffered any more hemorrhages.  And I can’t imagine giving my consent to have my daughter marry at the age of consent which is 15 or even younger when she should be in school.  I can’t imagine subjecting her to a life of “abuse and unrealized potential”.

End sexual exploitation of children in Kenya

The last place you should expect to find a child is in a brothel; yet for 17-year-old Phoebe from Kenya, this is her life.

Phoebe comes from a poor family. When she dropped out of school, she went in search of a better life – instead she has been forced to have group sex with tourists for no money.

Reports indicate that more than 50,000 children are involved in different forms of commercial sexual exploitation.  It is most common along the Kenyan Coast where the majority of tourism activities take place – in fact sex offenders travel to Kenya for this very reason: to prey on these vulnerable victims.

It’s sad that Phoebe had to dropped out of school and instead of finding a better life, she found herself plunged into a world of sexual exploitation.  A brothel is no place for anyone, especially children.  Sex offenders who travel to prey on young girls should be prosecuted and the brothels should be put out of business.  Basically, the Kenyan government needs to do something.  They need to protect the vulnerable.

Help end domestic slavery

Women and girls leave their homes every day to find jobs as domestic workers in the cities of your country.

But when they show up for their first day of work, some find out they’ve been deceived. Locked inside the homes of strangers — no contact with their families, and often beaten and sexually abused — they are caught in the nightmare of modern slavery.

What a nightmare it must be for women and children to go to what they believe is a job which will help their families only to be faced with brutality and sexual abuse.  They are cut off from their families and forced into a modern slavery.  People are not property and slavery should not have any place in our society.  There need to be tougher rules for domestic workers and anyone caught exploiting their rights should be imprisoned.  It’s time to get tough on those who exploit others.

Women’s History month is not only a celebration of the difference women have made in their communities but it is also a reminder that we still have a long way to go and that raising awareness is key.  When I shared these stories with my husband, he commented that there is a whole different world out there that we are not aware of.  And he’s right.  If it weren’t for organizations like Freedom United, Equality Now and many others we would have no idea of the realities that many women and girls are facing.

Sources:  Wikipedia; AJC.com; Freedom United

Advertisements

Women Beggars in India

The Bible has told us that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  In fact, Jesus said that one day He will say to those who helped those in need, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;  I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me’ (Matthew 25:34-36).

It is hard to go to a place like India and see a woman on the streets, begging with a child in tow and not do something about it.   She is dressed shabbily, perhaps bare feet, her face dirty and in her arms is a sleeping infant or a toddler with a dirty face, runny nose and big eyes looking at you as his mother holds out a thin, dirty hand for money.  Your heart melts and you reach into your handbag or your money belt to take out some money to give her.  It’s impossible for you not to help this mother and her child.  You give her the money and she takes it and goes way.  Your heart feels light.  You have done a great thing.

 

It’s a common sight in India to see a dirty looking woman carrying a child in her arms.  If you are driving, you see them at the traffic light and when you stop, they come to your car and bang on the window. Sometimes it’s a little boy with a runny nose.   You will find them in the railway stations, metro stations, tourist attractions, in temples and in areas where there are crowds.  People who see them are moved to give them money.  Sometimes they shoo them away.

 

It is perfectly normal for people to beg in a country where there is so much poverty.  In fact, begging has become one of the most serious social issues in India in spite of rapid economic growth.  This has led to the growth of beggars in the country.  Most of them come from Bangladesh and some are from India. The problem is that not all of the beggars are legitimate.  The few who are real are those who are handicapped because they are unable to work, they are old or blind or they need money for basic needs.  Many live far below the poverty line and have been forced to beg in order to survive.

 

There are entire families who are begging on the streets and in temples because their income is not enough.  The children are unable to go to school.  Poverty is very real in India and begging is the only way the people can earn their livelihood.  Unfortunately, begging has become a big scam in India. Travel India Smart warns people who plan to visit India that if they are approached by a women carrying a baby and begging for money not to give her any money.  These women make the babies look pathetic to appeal to the public’s sympathy.

 

In an article, Travel India Smart says that when one woman takes a rest, she hands the baby over to other women who continue to walk the streets in the hot sun, carrying the baby.  Babies are rented out from beggar to beggar.  As a mother, I can’t imagine how a mother could allow her baby to be used like this.  Maps of India says that sometimes the babies are drugged for the entire day so that they look sick and can be easily carried from one area to another by the young women beggars.

 

These beggars want money.  One beggar said that the baby she was carrying had just been fed and she would prefer money.  In Mumbai, a child or a woman beggar approaches a visitor, wanting some powdered milk to feed a baby.  The woman would take the visitor to a nearby stall or shop which happens to sell tins or boxes of the milk.  The milk is pricey and if the tourist hands over the money for it, the shopkeeper and the beggar split the proceeds between them.  The beggars rent babies from their mothers to make them look credible and they carry these sedated babies who are draped limply in their arms and claim that they don’t have any money to feed them.

 

When confronted by a woman beggar and a child, what do we do?  In an article written in Go India, Sharell Cook, suggests that it is best to ignore the beggars.  It may sound harsh but by not giving them what they want, you are taking the necessary step toward abolishing beggary.  It is something that has become a menace to society.  It is exploiting the compassion of those who want to help those in need.  It is making it difficult for the real beggars.  Babies and children are being exploited.  And gangs are profitting from begging.  Some beggars have gone as far as deliberately maiming and disfiguring themselves just to get more money.

 

Something has to be done to stop this epidemic.  One suggestion is that charitable organizations use their clout with governments to ban beggars from using babies.  Another suggestion is that the Indian government continues with its measures to alleviate poverty.  For our part, people can help to stop this problem by not giving money to these beggars.  Instead, they are encouraged to visit a temple and give alms to the beggars there.

 

Tips for giving to Beggars are:

  • If you really want to give to beggars, give only 10-20 rupees at a time and give them when leaving a place not when you arrive or you will be mobbed.
    • Try to give to those who perform a service, such as small children who dance or sing
    • Give to those who are elderly or crippled.

 

God wants us to show compassion to those who are in need but He doesn’t expect us to help those who would take advantage of our charity and exploit others for their greedy gains.

 

Avoid giving to women with babies because the babies are usually not theirs.  The best thing you can do is to not give anything to the beggars.  If everyone were to stop giving, then these gangs and all those who are profitting from begging will be put out of business.  They will have no choice to work and earn an honest living.  And visitors can enjoy a hassle free vacation.

 

indian_beggar_woman

Sources:  Map of IndiaTravel India SmartGo India

It’s a Girl Documentary

I saw this on WordPress and just had to share it.  This documentary deals with the very disturbing and heartbreaking topic of gendercide.  Imagine that being a girl in some parts in the world can be fatal.  Imagine being a girl brings death to many innocent babies.  Girls are devalued and seen as a burden to their families.  Boys are given preference.  When will those who murder baby girls realize that they are jeopardizing the future of their boys and their country?  If they continue to get rid of girls, the boys will have no one to marry when they grow up.  And how will they be able to bring into the world the boy babies they are so desperate to have?

Something must be done to stop this senseless act of gender killing.  Girls are precious and valuable.  They too are gifts from a heavenly Father who created both men and women in His image.  In His eyes we are equals.

We need to speak out and continue to raise awareness of gendercide.  In my opinion gendercide is a criminal act and the governments of China and India should treat it as such.  Those who kill and abort girl babies should be arrested and charged with murder.  This has been going on for too long and it’s time these governments take action and protect the rights of these innocent victims.

On their website, Causes.com explains that the “It’s a Girl” campaign is all about empowering activists to help tell the world that gendercide is real, it’s happening now, and there is something that all of us can do to put an end to it.  Here are all the steps you can take to get involved with the movement:

To fight gendercide in China:
– Sign the petition urging world leaders to help end forced abortions, sterilizations, and coercive family planning under the One Child Policy in China
– Donate to Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, an organization fighting gendercide on the ground in China.

To fight gendercide in India:
– Sign the petition demanding that the Indian government take immediate and effective action to protect its female citizens.
– Donate to Invisible Girl Project, an organization with multiple initiatives to save young girls and provide for their basic needs in India.

To pledge your support to the “It’s a Girl” campaign:
– Take the pledge to take a stand against gendercide.

Take action now and join the fight against gendercide.  The future of girls in China and India are at stake.

Death of Baby Falak

This evening I received an email update from Dreamcatchers For Abused Children about the death an Indian baby girl named Falak who survived two cardiac arrests and a meningitis infection contracted during treatment.  She was admitted to the hospital covered in human bite marks.  The Doctors in Delhi said the battered two-year-old suffered a fatal heart attack.  This was tragic news for many who were rooting for the toddler, especially as she showed signs of improvement after being taken off life support and taken out of intensive care before her sudden death.

Neurosurgeon Dr Deepak Aggarwal said: ‘The reasons that triggered the cardiac arrest are still not known. An autopsy will be conducted on Friday and that may throw some light.’  He told the Economic Times: ‘The atmosphere is very grim in the hospital because all the staff was emotionally attached to her.’

Police are investigating the crime and 13 arrests were made, including that of Raj Kumar, the man accused of leaving Baby Falak with his 14-year-old girlfriend.  Raj is the child’s foster father.  Her mother is believed to be a 22 year old woman who allegedly abandoned Falak at the home of a woman named as Lakshmi, a resident of Uttam Nagar.

My heart aches when I think of what this precious child went through at the hands of people who should have cared for her.  When she was taken to the hospital, she was suffering from horrendous injuries such broken arms and a smashed skull.  And bite marks.  How could anyone bite another person, especially a child?

I have read what happens to baby girls in India.  They are aborted, abandoned and regarded as a burden on their families because of the dowry their parents would have to pay when they are older.  And according to The Times of India, India is the most dangerous place in the world to be a baby girl. Newly released data shows that an Indian girl child aged 1-5 years is 75% more likely to die than an Indian boy, making this the worst gender differential in child mortality for any country in the world.  In India, girl babies face ‘pre-meditated’ murder under femicide.

Femicide was redefined as a feminist term by Diana Russell in 1976 to refer to misogynist murders. Just as murders targeting African Americans differentiate between those that are racist and those that are not, so are murders targeting women differentiated into those that are femicides and those that are not. When the gender of the victim is immaterial to the perpetrator, the murder qualifies as a non-femicidal crime.

After making minor changes in her definition over the years, Russell redefined femicide as “the killing of females by males because they are female”  Misogynist murders are the most obvious examples of femicide. These include mutilation murder, rape murder, woman battery that escalates into wife killing, the immolation of widows in India, and “honor crimes” in Latin and Middle Eastern countries, where women who are believed to have shamed their families by associating with an unrelated male, or even by being raped by a brother, are often murdered by their male relatives.

In India son preference is very common.  I read there is celebration when a woman has a boy but when she has a girl, it’s a completely different reaction.  I just read another heartbreaking story about a little girl named Karishma.  When she was born, her paternal grandmother was incensed, “A girl! I am going to put salt in her mouth and kill her!”  Apparently each rural region of India has its own age-old method of female infanticide. In the West there isdoodh-peeti (Drinking milk), where the baby is drowned in a bucket of milk.  In the East, as in Bengal, where Karishma is from, salt is put into the baby’s mouth and it’s closed for a minute. Karishma suffered physical abuse at the hands of her grandmother and she almost died from malnutrition.  Read about her story here.

What kind of society do we live in where a baby girl is bitten and battered and a father would throw his new born off a train within 12 hours of her birth and a grandmother would teach her grandson how to strangle his sister, promising him, “If you kill your sister, you will be even more loved by us”?   And why isn’t more being done to stop this?

I wrote a post a while ago on A Celebration of Women about the atrocities committed against helpless baby girls like Falak and I am sad to see that nothing has really changed.  India is still the most dangerous place for a girl and the mortality rate for girls is alarmingly high.  I am hoping that the death of Falak will galvanize people into taking action.  Someone has to stand up and say enough is enough!  Girl infants should be allowed to have a future because they matter.  Girls can be assets and blessings to their families.  The dowry system needs to be abolished because it is the main reason why girls are killed.  Criminal charges ought to be brought against any family member or members who commit femicide or abuse their girl children.

I would like human rights’ organization start a petition to end the crimes committed against girl infants and sent it to India’s President Pratibha Patil.  She needs to step in and do something.  I would like to see governments around the world take action.  I don’t want to see more babies end up like Falak.

Let us tell President Patil and anyone who would listen that girls matter and that they deserve a future.  Falak deserved a future.

Sources:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2115877/Death-Falak-Indian-baby-handed-hospital-covered-HUMAN-BITE-MARKS.htmlhttp://womennewsnetwork.net/2012/02/07/india-girl-infants-murder-femicide/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femicide