17 April, 2009

What is Justice?

In Burkina Faso some women are getting the chance to have clitoral reconstruction surgery to undo the damages of female genital mutilation and cutting IRIN reports. Yet there is a long waiting list, the surgery is expensive, and there is more demand that surgeons available.

Félicité Médah, a member of non-profit Voices of Women said some women see clitoral reconstruction is a "luxury" because of its cost.

FGM/C victims  are at risk for childbirth complications, crippling pain during urination or complete loss of sensation during intercourse, in addition to psychological distress. Lifelong genital itching, scarring, cysts, infections, infertility and urinary disorders are common, for which women have sought relief through genital surgery that did not involve clitoral repair.

"But if a woman has the money to go one step further and reconstruct her clitoris, it is not a luxury, but rather a reparation of an injustice," said Médah.

While the article points to sexual satisfaction as one reason why women would get the surgery. I want to point out the health problems associated with it and say that most of these girls had the FGM when they were 9 or 10, before puberty, and the decision came form their parents. It's a reversal of a choice no one else had the right to make.

In other news, Zoriah, a photographer I am starting to respect more and more, turned over his blog to G.M.B. Akash who listed a harrowing look at child labor around the world. The first photo stays with you and the rest haunt you.

I got into a discussion at my last job with a woman from India who said that sometimes a
working child is the only option some families have, and in less developed countries that do not have the same luxuries as America, who are we to put our moral compass on the rest of the world.

The US had child labor at the start of the century, and people fought vigorously to end it. Maybe not directly connected, but by taking kids out of the mix it forced families to find other ways to survive (perhaps getting some deadbeat parents off their duffs), and brought about advances in machinery and other rights for other workers (40 hour weeks, safe conditions, etc.).  Over time, education standards went up, number of children per household declined and incomes rose.

Most of the countries that employ child labor could stop. Most (if not all) could find other ways of keeping those industries afloat. It is selfish to send your child to work at 6 because their fingers are small and they can be abused and manipulated more easily.

I am always reminded of the aunt in Born Into Brothels who would not let her niece get the free education the woman was offering because she was the family's bread & butter. In reality, the aunt was too lazy and dependent (closed minded) to consider anything else. So she, and others (I think one father who wouldn't kick his drug addiction turned down the offer too) chose to sacrifice their child verses looking for an alternative way of making money.

Ending child slavery takes changing a whole country. It takes demanding more from our manufactures. It amazes me that they can do audits on their factories for quality standards when it comes to product, but ask about child labor or forced labor and suddenly no one knows where their cotton, cobalt, chocolate, bricks came from. Strange, huh?

Women in Afghanistan protest against the law saying marital rape is legal. And for voicing their opposition they were attacked, their banners torn down, some were arrested. "The law covers members of Afghanistan's Shia minority, who make up 10% of the population. A separate family law for the Sunni majority is also being drawn up" The BBC reports. 

Supporters of the law say laws should come from Islam and not from outside sources. Which, on some level, I agree with. But it goes too far when laws trample on the inherent value each human being is given at birth. As creations for the Father it doesn't matter if you were born a man or a woman, your equality is equal in His eyes. And just as skin color, hair color, native language, place of birth, etc. etc. etc. doesn't determine your value or make your more valuable - neither does gender. And any law that tramples on people's rights and freedom based on natural characteristics is wrong.

I wish I had the numbers and research to back this up. But one thing I have learned is that there is something tied to keeping women illiterate and imprisoned and second class and the development of a nation. There is something about the modernity of women and the modernity of a nation.

The actions of Afghanistan break my heart, and the silence of most of the world shatters it further.