Monday, 31 December 2012
Does it ever happen this way? I normally make a list of 10 resolutions but only ever manage to accomplish about half. My intentions disappear at mid-point through the list. This is probably because numbers 6 to 10 contain things that I should give up but don't want to. Willpower versus 'Oh, What the hell I will try next year'. Old habits die hard and I am mistrusting myself even before the clock strikes midnight.
Happy New Year and here's wishing you all the best with your resolutions.
Sunday, 23 December 2012
Saturday, 22 December 2012
The trigger for this blog post is the gang rape of a poor woman on a bus in Delhi in the last week. Gang rapes seem to have become commonly committed incidents in India and when I delved further into it I discovered that gang rapes were taking place in institutions and open spaces where the public, whether man or woman, can reasonably expect their safety to be of paramount importance. What is happening here?
When I was growing up I witnessed the seeds of violence against Indian women rapidly being sown. I can pinpoint two reasons for this - women's rights were seen as non-existent and women's issues were seen as belonging to the private domestic sphere. In other words, Indian social culture placed a woman firmly in the home where she was to be subject to the domination of others. Young Indian girls left school at the age of 17 or 18 and were immediately married off before they could 'sully' themselves by having boyfriends. Once married she was deemed to be too 'westernised' if she did not cook, clean and submit herself to the authority of her in-laws. Any husband who dared to take his wife's side in disputes was told to 'behave like a man'. Being 'Westernised' meant that you were letting your family, in-laws, society, community and culture down by not being adhering to the patriarchy of the Indian culture.
After marriage the issues moved on to childbearing. Any mother who produced a girl was second best and her daughter soon followed suit in being second best too. A second best mother and daughter duo were scarred for life. If the daughter was darker skinned than an average Indian she would soon be pushed into third best position.
The Indian movies portrayed scenes of rape in abundance in the absence of being able to show romance through kissing or bedroom scenes. Sex was still part of the cinematic culture but it had to be accompanied by violence to be acceptable viewing. This may be a simplistic explanation but Indian movies did play a role in the causal link between the treatment of women and rape.
Indian patriarchy afflicts both men and women and this is where the danger lies by placing the issues of women firmly in the domestic arena rather than as an important subset of social policy. Boys are being brought up by women who tell them that their masculinity is defined by acquiring a wife who will obey them. Girls are being brought up with unreasonable burdens of expectation laced with the threat of shame and marginalisation should they bring shame to the family. 'Shame' is an umbrella term that covers every aspects of an Indian's woman's life.
The treatment of Indian women is a race to the bottom rather than an upward curve. While the class system exists, while the rich are protected the poor suffer which leads to prejudice being acceptable, while a woman's worth is judged according to who she marries and while her daughters are treated with embarrassment nothing will change.
Wednesday, 19 December 2012
The pop star Rihanna has, sadly, become an icon to millions of wannabe girls around the world who think that a bit of shimmying, fewer clothes and an ability to sing will bring them a life of $$ and glam. Her excessive lifestyle of consumption and glitter acts as a beacon of hope in, what in reality, is a misplaced guiding light that leads them to the rocks.
Witness the tears and dashed dreams on programmes such as X-Factor or 'Britain's Got Talent' and realisation will quickly dawn that only a handfull will actually make it through to an expansive lifestyle of international proportions.
However, not even Rihanna can have everything by the sounds of it. The boyfriend, Chris Brown, who hit her and whom she subsequently got back with has, allegedly, dumped her. Rihanna tweeted the photograph above of an empty bed and the press have interpreted this to mean that she is alone again. If her loyal female following can learn anything at all that resembles a real life lesson of reality it is that nobody can have anything. Money cannot buy everything.
I can't believe that I have posted something so insubstantial as a blog post on a pop star but the celebrity culture does annoy me greatly for propagating a message that is as useful as a colander in a flood.
Monday, 17 December 2012
This blog post was written by my favourite Christian blogger who calls him 'Mad Priest', otherwise known as Jonathan Hagger.
Saturday, 1 December 2012
A survey has uncovered yet another prejudice/barrier that working mothers face. A company called Business Environment conducted the survey and discovered that one in four female managers would not consider employing a woman with a family or who was of child-bearing age. Male managers held the same attitude too. Taking time off to have a baby or to attend to one's children is seen as unproductive factors. Apparently an inability to work long hours is equated to a lack of commitment to one's job. Long hours, it seems, is being seen as one of the solutions to the country's economic woes. Women with children are viewed as the weakest link in the model of productivity.
This is a shockingly short-term view of the female success factors that could be harnessed in the process of modernisation of an ailing economy. Women who work are tireless advocates of commitment and hard work. We want the best for our children and realise that our incomes are crucial in enabling us to do this. Never intentionally would most working mothers jeopardise their jobs.
However, it is important to challenge views and to point out that working flexibly or having to take emergency leave to tend to a domestic situation is not the equivalent of taking annual leave to sit in the park. It is the perception of others that distorts the reality of flexible working and part-time. If an economic lens is to be used to sit in judgment on working methods then it ought to be one of the ageing population. With more and more people living longer a growing workforce will be needed to sustain the situation. Striking mothers off the employment radar is an economic and societal disaster in the making.
Monday, 29 October 2012
Wednesday, 17 October 2012
I live in Britain and I set the alarm clock for 2am to watch the second Presidential debate. It was certainly worth hauling myself out of my warm bed during a cold and rainy night to catch Mitt Romney put women in boxes. I am not American and, it goes without saying, I cannot vote in this election but my interest lies in the fact that American social and political trends always make their way across the seas to the UK.
So can the UK now expect binders full of women to be the new catchphrase for equality rights? I certainly hope not because one of the mindsets feminists have fought against and continue to fight against is the placing of women's issues in situations and locations that suit the patriarchy. Women figure in all layers of life and in all spheres of life.
While Romney did not and will never grasp this fact he did the next best thing in patriarchy terms. He trumpeted the fact, allegedly false, that he promoted women to positions of high-power. Equality legislation has made it easier for men to play the equality card by hiring women and playing to the 'women on boards' debate while making cuts and demeaning women in other ways. It is easy and lazy chauvinism.
Amidst all the twitter jokes, slurs and twitpics what is lost is the fact that Romney can only equate female rights to the workplace. Granted that the question was phrased in terms of pay rights but Obama was able to extrapolate his answer to include the role of women as mothers, nurturers and to highlight the difficulties faced in overcoming adversity both at home and in the work place. Obama said:
"And, you know, I was raised by a single mom who had to put herself through school while looking after two kids. And she worked hard every day and made a lot of sacrifices to make sure we got everything we needed. My grandmother, she started off as a secretary in a bank. She never got a college education, even though she was smart as a whip. And she worked her way up to become a vice president of a local bank, but she hit the glass ceiling. She trained people who would end up becoming her bosses during the course of her career...And that's an example of the kind of advocacy that we need, because women are increasingly the breadwinners in the family. This is not just a women's issue, this is a family issue..."
A vote for Romney will be a vote for the decimation of women's rights. You know that saying 'in your backyard'? Ann Romney's daughter-in-laws have spoken about how she taught them to buy nice shoes and not bother their husbands with talk of domestic difficulties when they returned from work. There lurks the nugget of the rollback of women's rights should the Republican candidate win.
Tuesday, 9 October 2012
Monday, 3 September 2012
It is this. Getting to the top of the corporate ladder involves having to manoeuvre around some missing rungs between middle management and top management. To be precise, three missing rungs which represent the three evils of: 1. visibility 2. the idea of personal choice and 3.childcare.
Unless one is a mother with a nanny, an extended family or who has children who are already grown up then visibility is a problem. In our working culture visibility=physical presence in the office all the time unless one is at a very important meeting=dedication to the job=high probability of promotion. Most mothers just cannot
manage high physical visibility all the time. A culture that learns how to recognise keenness and ability in other ways would be far more constructive.
Personal choice is a sling used to throw stones at working mothers who dare to ask for flexible working, time off to care for a sick child or who have to take annual leave at a moment's notice. 'If you cannot give 100% to the job then don't do it' is the popular verbal translation of the academic notion of personal choice. This second evil also has sub-concepts like 'not the employer's problem' and 'why should mothers have more rights?' If spending a day/days looking after a sick child is a right then we should distribute this privilege more widely shouldn't we? Opponents of this second evil are basically using the language of equality with the logic of a dead end road.
Finally, childcare. I speak as the mother of a 13 year old. Yes, you read me right. Why does the culture of Britain only recognise childcare as a formal requirement up until the age of about 11? I still cannot understand this arbitrary intervention that occurs at the start of secondary school whereby children are suddenly grown up enough to make their way on their own without parental presence. I have run the gauntlet of many mothers who think I am mad to be still picking my daughter up from school. There are many reasons for this which aren't relevant here but an appreciation of childcare needs regardless of a child's age would be helpful. For heaven's sake, if Anne-Marie Slaughter felt she had to be there for her teenage son then minion me has a right too.
My favourite Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen describes development as a process of expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy. Expanding the horizons of women on boards to include the diversity of roles that women play would be a start.
Saturday, 1 September 2012
Given the furore that has arisen over Ann Romney's speech at the Republican Convention this week one could be forgiven for thinking that what she had to say was novel. It was not. Twenty four years ago Margaret Thatcher gave a speech which Ann Romney could have very well used as a template. The similarity does not lie in both women being Conservative (that would be stating the obvious). It lies in the sentiment expressed and the examples used to back these up.
It is a recipe for the implementation of anti-women policies that serve the gender interest of neoliberalism in keeping a woman in the home because, ultimately, this will cut the state's spending costs in areas like healthcare, education and juvenile problems. If women did more than enough in the home then neoliberalism rewards them by likening motherhood to sainthood.
On May 25 1988 Mrs Thatcher spoke at the Conservative Women's Conference in Central London in which she used the traditional role of the woman in the home to support her neoliberal policies of welfare cuts and a small state. In the speech she starts off by pandering to Conservative women by playing on their nationalistic sense of pride and by seemingly aligning her experience with theirs to bring about a sense of female kinship. She said, "Conservative women bring common sense to Government. I can't help reflecting that it's taken a Government headed by a housewife with experience of running a family to balance the books for the first time in twenty years with a little left over for a rainy day".
Ann Romney used the same technique to escalate the love that a woman has for a man into nationalistic sentiment. She spoke of her love for Mitt then turned this into a romantic shared notion of "...profound love I have...for this country".
Both women then transpose this love into an intense feeling for children which thereby panders to the Conservative female ego and provides justification for the framing of a woman's role as being one that is firmly confined to the home.
Mrs Thatcher spoke of women wishing to be 'lawyers, doctors, engineers, scientists, politicians' but, went on to say that "many women wish to devote themselves mainly to raising a family and running a home. And we have that choice too".
Cleverly, she did not linger on the option of choice too long because she then went on to say that "very few jobs can compare in long-term importance and satisfaction with that of housewife and mother". Choice is an illusion.
Ann Romney does much the same. She spoke about "working mums who love their jobs but would like to work just a little less to spend more time with the kids, but that's out of the question with this economy". Again, choice is an illusion because Conservative women generally tend to be stay at home mums whereas non-Conservative mothers are seen as being selfish working mums. To bridge the link between a Conservative working mother and the picture of a traditional Conservative stay at home mother Ann Romney introduced the concept of choice as being one that is made under duress i.e If Obama had not wrecked the economy good middle-class mothers would be able to stay at home.
Both women used heavy emotional rhetoric in making their case as to why women are needed in the home. In addition, Ann Romney applied a technique which preys on the 'women go to the bathroom together in order to share secrets' gender specific behaviour.
By telling women that "i've heard your voices...we just can't get ahead" Ann Romney presented a picture of sisterhood that can only get ahead if mums "...have to work a little harder...you're the ones who always have to do a little more..." It is a shared burden that is comprised of sacrificial motherhood. The subtext being that if you aren't sacrificing something then you aren't doing your job of being a mother well and, perversely to Republicans, this means that the Obama presidency is working.
"The family is the building block of society...However much welfare the state provides, the family provides more-much more", Mrs Thatcher said. There you have it. The woman at home picks up the pieces left behind by the cuts made to the welfare state but is proud to do so because the Prime Minister has said so. Also, there is the hidden threat of how a welfare state will never satisfy a family's needs, only a mother can. What greater call is there to national pride being the implication.
Both women being Conservative neoliberals are, not surprisingly, prescriptive in their descriptions of the roles that mothers should play. Though this goes against the grain of the incursive state Conservative women will justify the descriptions as being ones that stem from the intrinsic nature of all women.
Ann Romney: "the price at the pump you just can't believe, the grocery bills that just get bigger, all those things that used to be free, like school sports..." A good mother worries all the time and finds life hard but, according to Anne Romney, "and that's fine. We don't want easy". Have you noticed that all these acts are couched in monetary terms? What about other things like praying that it won't rain because you forgot to give your child a waterproof jacket? A true picture of mothering covers concerns and joys that don't carry a price as well as ones that do.
Mrs Thatcher used 'family' interchangeably with 'women'. She said, "For the family is the building block of society. It is a nursery, a school, a hospital, a leisure place, a place of refuge and a place of rest. It is the preparation for the rest of our life. And women run it". A mother is a childcare expert, teacher, nurse, doctor, hotelier, entertainment manager and a self-help guru. Is it any wonder then that neoliberalism favours Conservative mums? Think of all the money it saves which can then be distributed to the worthy rich rather than to the unworthy poor.
My indignation lies with the use of mothers by politicians as tools of propaganda for an economic system that marginalises us by bestowing us with the so-called virtues of selflessness as a means to a selfish end. It is also a divisive game to play that favours the middle-class mothers who have rich husbands to rely on in the way Ann Romney does and Mrs Thatcher did.
Monday, 27 August 2012
1. An open minded person
2. Willing to make a difference in yours and other people's lives
3. You want to be more confident
4. You want to add more vibe to your stereo
1. See what coaching is and how it can have an impact to create happiness in your day to day life
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St. Luke’s Community Centre
85 Tarling Road, Canning town
London E16 1HN
Phone: 0207 366 6336 / 0207 366 6338
Sunday, 26 August 2012
Sunday, 19 August 2012
You see, people with disabilities have it harder. They have greater odds to overcome and society does not make it an easy for them. This is why I cannot wait for the games to begin. It is time to present the positive reality after the bad publicity that the disabled have received this year through being portrayed as benefit scroungers during the welfare reform debate.
I have a social investment in raising the profile and awareness of disability issues because I am CEO of a charity called Powerhouse. It is a charity for women with learning disabilities and was the first of its' kind to be set up in England. I joined it because I was motivated by wanting 'to give something back' and specifically wanted to work with women. Little did I know or realise how much I would learn from the experience and I have only been with Powerhouse for a year.
The Powerhouse women are courageous and aspirational. The charity is a lifeline for them because it provides a safe space from the so-called mainstream world where disability hate crime is on the rise. Disabled women as a subset group of disabled people suffer the most amount of abuse. They face inferior access to education, employment, health information and public services. They also face a higher risk of sexual and physical abuse. In fact, many women at Powerhouse have stories to tell that range from incidents occurring in everyday situations to crimes being committed against them in their own homes.
As examples, one lady had her hair snipped off while walking on a main street because a bunch of teenagers thought it would be fun to do so. Another was facing a forced marriage by her parents. The police were called in both instances.
What angers me the most is that disabled women are often excluded from the discourse around issues that affect ALL women such as sexual health, domestic violence, education and feminism. The feminist issues of work life balance, fighting the porn industry and discussing whether plastic surgery is part of a modern woman's life is irrelevant to the women of Powerhouse. As a result, the visibility of their existence is diminished.
Charities such as Powerhouse are crucial in terms of advocating for disabled women and injecting their interests into debates so that they are recognised as individuals with individual needs who exist within the larger society. There are 3.2 milion disabled women of working age in the UK. There is much work that needs to be done and the austerity cuts have made this task harder.
In a capitalist society where a return on money given is expected to be a monetary one it is a challenge to prove that capacity building of humans sometimes does need a financial investment but without a return of money profit. We need funds to be able to open the centre for more than 2 days a week as we do at present (Mon and Weds). More than anything else though we need to build at micro level a group of women who feel confident and positive about their lives and the world that they inhabit.
The Paralympics will be a wonderful showcase of strength and endurance. It will also show the world that disabled people are as diverse and varied as anyone else.
Saturday, 28 July 2012
Tuesday, 24 July 2012
Friday, 13 July 2012
Monday, 2 July 2012
Monday, 18 June 2012
Thursday, 14 June 2012
Tuesday, 29 May 2012
I don’t know if
The true plot lies in the use of women’s reproductive rights as a weapon of patriarchal control. I have noticed a creep of anti-Caesarean rhetoric which seems to subtly suggest that it (a C-Section) gives a woman more control over the birth process and therefore is not to be tolerated.
Sunday, 20 May 2012
Monday, 7 May 2012
Work and kids are not enough, she says, and women need to learn more skills. I have looked at the Academy's website and am impressed by the courses on offer. There is a cookery bias which feeds into the stereotype of mothering but the concept of mothers looking after themselves is to be welcomed.
I recognised the 'mother hinterland' some years ago and my CV is now crammed full of various things that I do. I often have to wake up extra early to get through my list but something hit me when I read the rational behind Mumsnet Academy. If you extend the concept of 'mother hinterland' to the logical end it is about preparing yourself for the day when your child/children leave home. It is about equipping yourself to assume a new identity when your mothering is not needed 24/7. Then it struck me, that not even an overflowing CV could ever prepare me or compensate me for the moment when that happens. I will simply hate not having that little voice constantly call out 'Mummy'.
Friday, 4 May 2012
What if you were expecting your second child but the state authorities forced you to have an abortion against your will? The concept of violent state interference against a woman's maternal choice is abhorrent to those living in countries where individual liberty encompasses a right to bear life. Yet, forced abortions, are happening on a wide scale in China under the country's 'One Child' policy and this is where the story of Chen Guangcheng comes in.
Chen is a blind lawyer who has been making the news ever since 2005 when he exposed the forced abortion practices that were taking place in a Chinese city called Linyi, situated in the province of Shandong. He launched a class action against the state authorities in Linyi. The Chinese government is relentless and ruthless in its' pursuit of those who dare to question its' authority and, consequently, Chen was jailed for four years in 2006 and has been under house arrest since 2010.
Chen, his wife and child have been under police guard 24 hours a day. Chen and his wife have frequently been beaten up by the enforcement agents whom the Western media refer to as 'thugs'. Two weeks ago Chen managed to escape in a 10 second window when there was change over of guard duty. He went to the US Embassy for protection and then subsequently left of his 'own will'. Yesterday, he issued a statement asking that he be allowed to leave China with his wife and child immediately. Chen has also spoken to US Congress who were debating his case. He says that he is very scared and that his rights and safety can never be assured in China.
Chen deserves the support of feminists everywhere for his bold and brave stance against forced abortions because it weaves the pro-choice and pro-life debate by being both anti-choice and anti-life all at once.
The 'One Child' policy was implemented by China in 1978 and is scheduled to run till 2015. The title of the policy literally tells you what it is about-that every family is only allowed to have one child. It is a policy that masks a murderous multitude of sins when unpacked and analysed according to the concepts of human liberty and individual rights. It is a twin evil because not only does it deprive a woman of fulfilling her biological destiny if she chooses to do so BUT it also encourages sex selection through which Gendercide is practised.
Gendercide is the practice of aborting baby girls and happens mainly in Asian countries where a premium is placed on males and a metaphorical curse is placed on females for being the weaker sex. Through state intervention which forces families to have one child, backward social and cultural practices drive families to opt for boys. Women who are pregnant for the first time opt for a sex identification scan and make a 'choice' (sometimes forced upon them by their family)thereafter. Gendercide is a whole evil in itself against the female population.
Testimonials of women who have suffered from having to undergo forced abortions in China can be found in Chen's report as carried by 'Womensrightwithoutfrontiers.org'. Here is an extract:
February 19, 2005. Where: Xiajiagou Village, Liangqiu Town, Linyi County
Source: Teng Biao, recorded August 20, 2005
Zhongxia Fang is a villager from Xiagou Village, Liangqiu Town, Fei City, Linyi
County. The first time I [Teng Biao] met her was in Duozhuang, Mengyin County,when
four people from Fei City came to report. More than twenty people guarded the village
where Chen Guangcheng lived. We [Teng Biao and another lawyer] walked through the
footpaths between fields and crossed Meng River to escape their monitor and assembled
in Fei County.
Zhongxia told us her story briefly. She had repeated it many times:
“The Family Planning Officials inserted an intrauterine device in me after I
gave birth to two daughters. I worked in another city since then and didn’t go to
the Family Planning Office for the pregnancy check. But I was pregnant
accidently again. The Family Planning Officials said I was in violation of the
“Population and Family Planning Law of the Peoples Republic of China” and
looked for me all around. On the lunar calendar November 9, 2004, they had a
conversation with my mother and asked her to pay a deposit of 1,000 Yuan
[$157]. My mother hid after that.
“Two months later, they found my mother-in-law. They seized her and smashed
her belongings. She was seized and released altogether three times. They did the
same to my third elder brother’s wife. On February 19, 2005, they seized my
elder sister’s husband (Yongjun Hu, from Beiyan Village, west of Liangqiu
Town). He was detained in the town Family Planning Office for a whole week
and beaten twenty-seven times. Later they seized my nephew (Qiang Li, 27
years old), his wife and his child Ranran (one year old). My nephew was beaten
fourteen times. His toenail was trod down by a Family Planning Official’s
leather shoes. After that they seized my uncle’s wife (Shaoxiang Zhu, from the
same village as I) and my husband’s younger sister (she comes from another
“They seized all my relatives they could find. On March, 2005, they seized my
younger sister Zhongyan Fang (pregnant with her first child for three months).
Seven or eight Family Planning Officials pushed her into a car and detained her
for a whole day. They set her free after she paid 1,000 Yuan. My younger
sister’s mother-in-law was also seized for a whole week. They didn’t give her
anything to eat or drink. She was released after she paid 1,500 as so-called
“tuition fee” [a fee for the cost of detention].
“My younger sister’s father-in-law was detained when he went there to send
food to his wife. He was beaten by six or seven people in the Family Planning
office. He ran out after one day’s detention. Then my husband’s nephew, my
third aunt and her husband (Kaifeng Liu) as well as her granddaughter (not even
four years old), my fourth aunt (Deying Xue), my uncle’s wife were all seized.
My uncle’s wife was beaten in the car with rubber sticks all the way to the
Family Planning Office. They stamped on her with leather shoes. She lost
consciousness several times. Her kidney was so injured that she couldn’t do any
manual work until now (proven by the medical record prescribed by expert from
people’s hospital of Fei county). They also seized my fifth elder brother’s
wife’s younger sister (Xuelan Guo) and my third elder brother’s wife’s younger
sister (Yufeng Chai).
My third aunt’s husband phoned me: “If you don’t come back, your aunt will
be beaten to death.” I was forced to go back on 31st, March. I was already
pregnant for seven months at that time and was forced to inject an oxytocic
drug. My baby was aborted one day later. I had ligation at 9:00 in the morning
of April 13, 2005. They let my aunt go after that.
This is why Chen deserves the support of feminists everywhere.
Friday, 20 April 2012
1. Post the rules.
2. Answer the questions.
3. Create 5 new questions. (I have changed the number from 11 to 5)
4. Tag 5 people with the post.
5. Let them know you tagged them.
The following are questions which have been given to me to answer.
1. Do you consider yourself a yummy mummy?
I really hate these ridiculous labels which do not reflect the reality of a busy mum's life.
2. Why did you start blogging? And do you still do it for the same reason?
I started blogging to disseminate the message of feminist mothering and have stayed true to this reason.
3. What’s your biggest vice?
Eating too much curry.
4. What is your claim to fame?
I know Brian Paddick and Siobhan Benita. Both are standing in the London mayoral race.
5. What do you miss most about your pre-kids days?
To be honest, nothing.
6. Where in the world would you live if you had the choice?
7. How many tattoos do you have?
Lol. At my age? None.
8. What time did you get up this morning?
9am because my daughter is on school holidays and I am on annual leave. It's a luxury to wake up this late.
9. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
'Woman in Black'- a real scary ghost movie it was.
10. What did you want to be when you were little?
A lawyer and I did study law.
11. How many times did you fail your driver’s test?
Sigh! Never learnt to drive.
I have now got to tag some fellow bloggers. Here are some of those I enjoy reading.
1. Bicultural Mom
2. Lick the Fridge
3. Lulastic and the Hippyshake
4. Reluctant Mom
No one is under an obligation to continue the chain and this is just being done for fun but I would like to know their answers to my questions which are:
1. What is your hobby?
2. Who is your inspiration in life?
3. If you could change one thing in your life what would it be?
4. What is your favourite parent moment?
5. When did you last read a book and what was it?
Thursday, 19 April 2012
The commercialisation of a woman's body and babies knows no bounds but the heartache and suffering that goes with it carries no price. In fact, it is not even priceless because it is not costed into the pricing model for surrogacy.
Surrogacy firms in India run a service whereby poor Indian women from slums are recruited to be baby carriers to supply married couples, singles and unmarried couples who want to be parents.
This is how the service works. A man's sperm is sent to the US where women from the Ukraine or South America are on standby to donate eggs. The embryos are then flown to India because poor Indian women provide the cheapest wombs to rent. The Indian women are then kept in hostels run by the surrogacy clinics/agencies where they are looked after. To many poverty stricken mothers this is the first time that they would have had the simple comforts of a proper roof over their heads and decent food. This is what gets me as well. In a country where maternal care is poor private providers are able to exploit a deficit.
The clinics justify recruiting poor women because they can sell the business idea to them easily and 'educate the women and their families in a clean slate'. Such an imperialistic attitude belies any consideration for the baby carriers.
The concept of choice, as with so many women's issues, is illusory because their husbands earn about £130 ($110) or so a month and the clinic pays about 20 times more. That amount will keep a poor Indian family going for years. However, the women suffer public shame and stigma from carrying somebody else's baby. The Centre for Social Research in New Delhi reports that a high proportion of women are shunned by their families when they return. The report also found that many women had been forced into becoming surrogates by their husbands and were deeply unhappy with the situation. The clinic says that it is careful to not recruit any women who have been forced against their will but the evidence proves otherwise.
Providing babies in this way to service a global need for maternal provision is a caricature of the biological ability of women to reproduce. Firstly, the Indian women are no more than commodities because they may have no say in whether to become a surrogate or not, they are powerless to decide whom they would like to carry a baby for and their emotional wellbeing is immaterial to the economic process of childbearing. The politics of race is part of the equation too because, apparently, most requests are for white babies so the brown baby carrier is a vessel much like the way brown boxes are discarded when the contents are taken out.
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
Tuesday, 10 April 2012
Saturday, 7 April 2012
Friday, 6 April 2012
Monday, 2 April 2012
Tuesday, 20 March 2012
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