Women's/Human Rights Issues--Oprah Today - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 06-03-2004, 06:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OK, I don’t mean this as a male-bashing post. Honest. I don’t. But I’m watching Oprah right now with my sleeping 2-yr-old dd in my lap while my 5-yr-old dd plays with dolls and books in her room, and I’m feeling rage and grief. Oprah’s show today is about plights of women in India and Africa. The India episode was researched and reported by Lisa Ling and it focused on the practice of Dowry Deaths. Basically woman are being burned alive by their husband’s every day because the bride’s family can’t pay the dowry demands of the husbands. In Bangalore, only one city in India, 1200 women were burned last year. The second half of the show has focused on the child brides in Ethiopia. The main guest on the show is a doctor who has spent the last several decades sewing up fistulas in these women who were sold into marriage at puberty and who developed horrible fistulas as a result of their bodies ripping apart in child birth. They are then cast out of their marital homes because they smell so badly since their own wastes now pour from their bodies. Their husbands abandon them. Eventually their parents do as well. In Ethiopia, this happens to about 9000 women/children each year.

Why are there cultures like this? Why are the men in these cultures so &$*@&# uncivilized? I truly don't believe that cultures where women were in control would ever be so horrific? Is there something lacking in the male brain that allows them to turn into such monsters? OK, I’m ranting and I’m really not a man-hater, but as the mother of two girls, the thought of someone treating my beautiful girls like property that can be thrown into the streets is maddening.
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#2 of 15 Old 06-03-2004, 06:40 PM
 
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I saw the trailer for this while watching another show, so of course I had to rush to program it to record. I try to avoid these upsetting visuals, but I can't help myself.

I'm reading Disposable People right now, and I've just finished the section on child prostitute slaves in Thailand. It's horrifying and you want to do something, but in many cases, the parents sell their daughters into sex slavery because of their religious and cultural beliefs. He cites a survey that says 2/3 of parents who have sold their daughters did so not for food, but for a tv. They might think that it isn't so bad, but they get payouts of money, so they have a vested interest in keeping their children in the business.

I guess the truth is that people are just conditioned to do things that are out of the question to some of us. I'd like to think, actually I do think, that there is a transmutable Right out there, and this is just wrong and people who can't see it will pay in the end. But then, there are those believe that these women and children who suffer are paying for transgressions of a previous life, so I can't even believe in karmic retribution.

The golden rule has a universal appeal, appearing in so many religious beliefs that you would think that violence and torture would be less common than they are. But the golden rule seems to be countered by the idea that humans are controlled by a supreme being and must accept their lot in life. When people are desperate enough to do whatever it takes to help themselves, or have been raised in a world where treating others brutally is the desired thing, what can you do?

I'd like to believe I would feel the same no matter how I was raised, but I know it's not true. That is why I am trying to change things by how I raise my children and treat others. At the same time, there is a violent part of me that could come out under the right circumstances, and those circumstances are nearer for me than they are for others. It's interesting how some children who are raised in a brutal atmosphere will become abusive and homicidal, but others raised in the same circumstances become victims of other abusers, or suicidal. It does seem like men are more likely to become the former and women the latter. It is because of what they have seen growing up, is it hormonal, or both?

I had a talk with my husband several years ago after reading the details of the little boy killed by the 10 year old boys, and I said that if anyone ever did something like that to my baby, I wouldn't rest until I had hunted them down and killed them myself. I feel such rage at the thought. So yes, I guess I can't give up the cycle of violence because I would be one of the ones wanting to rip someone apart with my bare hands, even another child, if that person tortured my child. I don't know if I could actually do it, but when the adrenaline gets flowing, I couldn't say I would stop myself.

Oh well, I'm rambling and off on a tangent as usual.
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#3 of 15 Old 06-03-2004, 06:59 PM
 
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T Amy, I love your sig lines..

I've often felt that women are feared so much by men that the only way to "control" us is by fear.... I wish there was a way we could educate these girls/women that they are strong and can kick ass when needed... of course, if you're told all your life you're someone else's property, how do you change that?
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#4 of 15 Old 06-03-2004, 07:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by GoodWillHunter
T Amy, I love your sig lines..
Thanks! It came to me the other night when I had to grate some cheese and I realized I was trying to hide that fact from her, or else both she and her visiting friend would have to come and stand on chairs by me and have their hands on the cheese as I moved it up and down on the grater. I actually do let her help me with cooking quite a bit, but sometimes you just want to get it done, ya know?

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I've often felt that women are feared so much by men that the only way to "control" us is by fear....
Interesting thought--is it related to reproduction, do you think? I have thought that because men are physically stronger, they could take advantage of the physically weaker women, and somewhere along the line they exploited them because it made their lives easier, and then it became ingrained. Then religions started incorporating the idea of men being subject to women, and all was lost. But I don't know, I just don't know.
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#5 of 15 Old 06-03-2004, 07:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think about male dominance much in the same way that I view mainstream parenting. Don't most parents who don't use gentle discipline do so because they have the power and it's just so darn easy to use it? I think in cultures where traditions are firmly established for the men to be ruthless, have no compassion for others, to be totally self serving, it's just too easy to continue. Let's be honest, what's in it for the men, from their perspective, to give women power? But I can't help but wonder what sort of blackness lies in the souls of people like that. How can it be possible to turn off all compassion? They truly have no concept of unconditional love. That's both very sad and very frightening.
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#6 of 15 Old 06-03-2004, 07:23 PM
 
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Men fear the feelings women make them feel. women can reproduce without men, but men can't reproduce without us. We can withold physical (to an extent untill they take what they want) and that can make men frustrated. So, why not keep us oppressed and repressed and basically make us think we are "bad" and make us keep "modest" by covering us from head to toe... etc. It's all about control. EVERY LAST INCH OF IT. Grrrr.... this just makes me angry. Men don't have to "cover up" we do. Men don't have to wear shirts in public. We do, lest we risk indecent exposure... what's so indecent about a woman's breasts? : :
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#7 of 15 Old 06-03-2004, 08:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I loved and LOL at Oprah's comments about how quickly this would be taken care of if it were the men who had fistula's in their penises. Can you imagine? If it were men who suddenly developed holes in their privates because they were taking "baby" brides and making them give birth before their bodies were ready? That cultural practice sure as heck would have ended right away!
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#8 of 15 Old 06-03-2004, 09:09 PM
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Rather than just b*tching about it, y'all could make a donation:

www.fistulahospital.org

And it's not just the MEN in their society. The women in their society shun them, as well.

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#9 of 15 Old 06-03-2004, 10:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by A&A
Rather than just b*tching about it, y'all could make a donation:

www.fistulahospital.org

And it's not just the MEN in their society. The women in their society shun them, as well.
Actually I DID make a donation before I posted my original message. Didn't know, however, that it was a requirement before I posted a thread about it. Thanks for the etiquette lesson.

I realize that it is also the women who shun them, but aren't they up for the same treatment from the men if they don't? I don't know how supportive of other women I would be if I knew it might mean that my dh would pour kerosene on me and strike a match in the middle of the night. From what I have read/seen, it is the men doing most of the violent work, not the men.
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#10 of 15 Old 06-03-2004, 10:24 PM
 
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I watched another show about the burning of the wives not that long ago. I can not remember what it was on. Anyway, the MIL does infact promote a lot of the ill treatment of her DIL. Of course the culture sets them up for that and the culture is dictated by men. The only power the MIL has is over her DIL and apparently it is an ugly relationship a lot of the time.
I did watch most of Oprah today, which I hardly ever watch. The treatment of these women is heartbreaking. Bless that doctor and her husband that help the girls in Ethiopia.

OUR DAUGHTERS ARE PROTECTED SHOULDN'T OUR SONS BE TOO! :
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#11 of 15 Old 06-04-2004, 05:00 PM
 
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OK, I watched the show last night, and Oprah kept talking about how we need to know these things for our own enlightenment. I wish there had been more in depth coverage. With the dowry burnings, there are so many questions. Why do they burn instead of choosing a more humane way of death? Is it because only burning can be chalked up to accident? If a father can save enough money to buy lavish gifts for a dowry, why can't he use that money to help set his children up in a life where they can be self sufficient? It sounded like that after the one woman called the police, others were more willing to stand up for themselves. What are available for jobs there, and would women be able to find a way to eke out a living for themselves? Are there groups that could help with that? I know that the years of cultural conditioning will not permit men to marry women for anything else but money, but obviously these women can be productive members of society. Is it that there are prohibitions in place to keep women from getting jobs so as to make it worthwhile to the families to sell them, knowing they could be tortured and killed?

And with the Ethiopian children, the case was made that the families take the women back once they are cast off by the husband. The fathers sell animals in order for the women to make it there to the hospital. Dr. Hamlin said that once they are healed and have the new dress and bus fare to go back to their village, their families will welcome them with open arms and throw a feast. And the fathers might carry the ill women on their backs to the hospital for treatment. But if the issue is that the girls are too underdeveloped to healthfully bear children at their age, what about the campaigns to educate the population on this. Are there any? Would they do any good? The first seen was the screaming 12 year old being forced to marry, yet supposedly the family still loves her and wants her to be well. Is it possible that some education could help alleviate this, or are the mores too ingrained. Would better nutrition and prenatal care help? The doctor is fixing them up after they are injured, but it would be nice to know there is some prevention going on.

And the doctor did say that this condition is rare, only occurring in about 5% of women. I thought she meant even in Ethiopia. OK, I just went to the website and it claims that 1 out of 12 women die in childbirth in Africa, and obstructed childbirth which can lead to stillbirths and fistula are experienced by about 5% of women worldwide. They are blaming the lack of access to emergency obstetrical care, so I guess prevention isn't really an issue for them.

Oprah going on about how physically beautiful the people was a bit upsetting to me. The girls are so beautiful that they deserve better? Or maybe it was just her way of trying to understand their worth as humans, and complimenting their beauty was all she could think of.

One final commment is that I wish my 78 year old mom was as healthy as Dr. Hamlin.
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#12 of 15 Old 06-04-2004, 05:24 PM
 
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I have a female collegue from Bombay whose former draftsperson (my collegue is a structural engineer) in India married and was later found hanged in the bedroom. My collegue is convinced it wasn't suicide. Or, even if it was, that her husband and his family drove her to it. Her baby son was in the room when it happened.

And her family's housekeeper returned to the village she had been born in to marry and was set on fire by her husband whe she went out to the trees to pee one morning a year after she had married. No one knows why.

My collegue is in her late 20's and is still not married, which in her culture is late, and doesn't want to. Those are only two of the stories. She has others. Her parents and family are concerned but also want her to be happy. We were talking about this one day and I asked her if there was a "place" in her world for the batty old lady with a lot of cats. She started laughing and said, "Yes. Maybe I should do that. But I'd have birds. I already have two. If I have twenty, no one will want to marry me."
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#13 of 15 Old 06-04-2004, 05:42 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amywillo
I'm reading Disposable People right now, and I've just finished the section on child prostitute slaves in Thailand. It's horrifying and you want to do something, but in many cases, the parents sell their daughters into sex slavery because of their religious and cultural beliefs. He cites a survey that says 2/3 of parents who have sold their daughters did so not for food, but for a tv. They might think that it isn't so bad, but they get payouts of money, so they have a vested interest in keeping their children in the business.


This is so sad...

I really have no answers as to why ths happens. I just get so angry!



BWH - you have a good point there....
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#14 of 15 Old 06-04-2004, 05:44 PM
 
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Just to let you all know this episode was a rerun and since it first aired lots of money (in the millions) has been raise for the fistulas. I saw the follow-up episode.
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#15 of 15 Old 06-04-2004, 05:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Amy, those are all excellent questions. I had similar thoughts, especially for the situation in Ethiopia. If I was hearing correctly, the doctor has been there for 50 (?!) years. What a wonderful service she and her late husband provide(d), but they are simply dealing with the symptoms instead of dealing with the actual "illness". I wanted to know what if anything was being done to stop the child betrothals. So much continues to be done in Africa to educate and change the cultural norms of genital mutilation. I just hope this horrible cultural practice can eventually be stomped out as well.

Sohj, what sad stories. Your friend sounds delightful. I think I would rather be a crazy old cat (or bird) lady than the seemingly inevitable victim of a "stove accident".
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