Tag Archives: FGM

A Drop In The Bucket

 

Instruments of torture.

 

It is, I suppose, a start.

Unlike France, which has for decades taken a firm stance against FGM, the UK has been wishy-washy at best. Recently, its softly-softly approach – that worked so well against marijuana, didn’t it, when London dealers turned to cocaine? – has given way to thoughts that perhaps, just maybe, they needed to get tougher.

That anti-FGM protests are being made by women who have themselves been cut, and hate it, and have suffered for it, gave them added weight against Britain’s traditional attitude of toleration of religious differences.

Now, finally, a woman has been arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport for conspiring to commit FGM.

In France, parents know that if their minor daughter’s genitals are cut, no matter who does the act or where it is performed, the parents will be held responsible, charged, tried, and also jailed. The first parental incarceration for FGM was in 1993. This history gives France a great deal of credibility.

Britain is still discussing whether the government has the right to examine minor girls to see if they have been mutilated.

Yes. It does. In France, every girl is inspected at least once a year.

It’s anti-health not to do so, regardless of “cultural sensitivities”. Consider the girls’ pain and horror – and occasional deaths through shock and septicemia. Consider the adverse effect FGM has on their health and the condition of future pregnancies. Reflect on the fact that if these girls were pale of skin, and Christian, outrage would be loud. But since they are the progeny of immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, they do not seem to count. Their parents get to do as they like.

FGM originated thousands of years ago in the Egypt of the pharaohs. There was likely no valid reason for it then, there certainly is no valid reason for it now.

Britain, your girls need you to protect them from violation and cutting. No matter who does it or orders it done.

It’s time to follow France’s lead.

 

 

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All Breakdowns Cost . . . Not Just Marital Ones

 

A Telegraph story quotes UK Welfare Minister Lord Freud about couples cohabiting without being married: “Those couples are four times more likely to split when their child is under three than if they are married.” He promises to support marriage (by which he really means heterosexual unions, as being more likely to produce children who need looking after) and reduce payments to single parents – most often, of course, female parents.

 

It’s awfully nice that Lord Freud cares so deeply about children. Would that the rest of the Conservative Party did. If only they had not removed the benefits that married couples received, years ago. If only, too, they acknowledged that marriage, even heterosexual marriage, in undergoing a revolution. It will never again be the 1950s-style union the Tory Party would like to recall, even those Tories who have no memory of the 1950s because they were born after that era.

 

Caring for children, giving them loving guidance, is an essential task of society. So why do the UK and US make it so difficult?

 

The BBC reports here that many parents are paying more for childcare than they are for their average mortgage. Another report here points out that London parents, in particular mothers, cannot afford annual childcare costs of approximately $18,000, so they are leaving work – at a time when many politicians blame non-working parents. Whether there are two parents or one paying hardly matters, when the issue is the high price of quality childcare. Is Lord Freud addressing that? Hardly.

 

In Sweden, many parents are unmarried and stay that way. It is not marriage that keeps them in the home and caring for their children – it is the sense of family, of responsibility and partnership, which are supported by Swedish national policies.

 

When bad marriages create pain, why keep them intact? It is not just spouses that suffer from the evil actions of the adult they’ve married. Children suffer, too.

 

As a child, Sir Patrick Stewart witnessed his father repetitively beat his mother. He has never forgotten. “As a child, I heard in my home doctors and ambulance men say, ‘Mrs. Stewart, you must have done something to provoke him. Mrs. Stewart, it takes two to make an argument.’ Wrong. Wrong! My mother did NOTHING to provoke that — and even if she had, violence is NEVER, ever a choice that a man should make. Ever.”

 

Now that he is, as he says, “an old white man” who will be listened to, he has been speaking out against domestic violence because that kind of breakdown costs. His work for Refuge, a nonprofit that helps women whose husbands and partners mauled them, is proud and essential work. Yes, Sir Patrick survived. He has done well. How many others have not? How many former children never got over the trauma of their parents’ treachery? How many perpetrated violence themselves?

 

That, Lord Freud, is a family breakdown.

 

There are married parents who stay in the home and abuse and rape children, either hiding it from the other parent or threatening the spouse with murder, mayhem, deportation if word leaks out.

 

That is a breakdown of the family.

 

What about the parents – heterosexual, married – who subject their daughters to the horrors and continuing pain of FGM? Who beat their children for talking to a friend of a different religion or caste? Who arrange marriages of underage children to people they have never even met, often much older than they? Who perpetrate or condone dishonorable killings of their own children?

 

Lord Freud, what more horrible evidence of family breakdown is there?

 

You think this does not cost???

 

In terror, in mental illness, increased violence, suicide, intergenerational conflict, arrests, lawsuits, trials, convictions, prison time? In fear, blame, shame, in children wondering where help lies, whom can they trust, dare they tell a teacher?

 

We understand. For you, money is the only counter, and your party does not want to pay for other people’s children. We get it, you think it essential that both biological parents care for all their children within the context of a legal marriage.

 

But seriously, Lord Freud, the lack of marriage is not the problem here. It’s the lack of structure. The lack of hope. It’s a society that has turned its back on loving guidance – both of those words equally stressed. It’s condoning violence within the home, financial shenanigans that remove jobs, unlimited immigration (and in the UK, giving immigrants benefits no other society allows, simply for arriving) that pits very different cultures against each other. It’s the lack of respect for schools and teachers coupled with an economy so shaky that no one knows when they might be downsized or sacked, where entrepreneurship is sometimes the only logical answer.

 

It’s not the lack of marriage alone. If it were, Sweden – with its thousands of unmarried yet diligent parents – would bubble with unrest.

 

 

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From Victim To Survivor

 

 

When does a victim become a survivor?

 

Some would argue – as they have since the 1980s – that one can only “survive” a life-threatening attack or event. A hurricane, a gunshot, other look-death-in-the-face episodes.

 

Yet that attitude contradicts dictionary definitions, which include the following:

 

“to remain alive after . . . the cessation of something, or the occurrence of some event”

 

“to get along or remain healthy . . . in spite of some occurrence”

 

“to endure or live through (an affliction, adversity, misery, etc.)”

 

It’s clear that adversity, whatever it was, does not need to rise to the level of life-threatening for someone to be considered a survivor. A life-altering event suffices.

 

The recent stories on Hannah Anderson, the teenager who was kidnapped, whose mother and brother were murdered by the kidnapper – since killed himself by law enforcement – emphasize her survivor-ness. Some people question that. Yet just because, as the facts are known now, she was not threatened with death by her captor, does that make her less a survivor? Bringing her into an unfamiliar wilderness far from other people was likely to have been merely a prelude. The man had a gun. Even though she knew him – or thought she did – as her father’s friend, he could have turned on her at any time.

 

What about rape? It’s a life-alerting event for a victim, and when they live after it, surely they are survivors. Considering that the rate of PTSD is as high in rape survivors as in battle-experienced soldiers, people who have been raped and yet go on are among the bravest of survivors.

 

This is even truer where rape is endemic, as in Central African Republic, where women are often forced to carry to term the pregnancy caused by their rapists.

 

FGM (female genital mutilation) is another attack that – although death can occur through loss of blood, trauma, or sepsis – commonly does not kill. Yet it is a traumatic assault, and therefore is illegal in many Western countries, so much so that a UK dentist is alleged to have promised to perform FGM on two little girls only if their aunt promised to keep totally silent. Yet women who live through the assault and its resultant scar tissue, pain, and difficulty in giving birth consider themselves survivors. As they should.

 

Finally, if the people who worked on the second “Lord of the Rings” film can create T-shirts bearing the proud slogan “I Survived Helm’s Deep” (the arduous shooting of which was mainly done at night) and not be laughed and hooted at, then people who continue after life-altering events – events that can affect their emotional health for years and decades – have every right to name themselves survivors.

 

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