In Chanti Hasradanga, a rural village in rural northwest Bangladesh, a clinic is helping the community to change harmful cultural practices that cause infant mortality.
Women in this village typically do not receive pre- or post-natal medical treatments, but rely upon traditional birth attendants who are not skilled in handling complicated pregnancies or births. Instead, they rely upon old traditions, that are harmful to infants. One practice highlighted in this article is where babies are doused in cold water following birth. The result is, during winter months, babies often die due to hypothermia. The reasoning behind this practice is because people believe babies should be clean.
The clinic reaches out to mothers through in-person communication such as going “door-to-door” to encourage women to seek medical/prenatal care and family planning services.
The film, It’s A Girl (available now on Netflix watch instantly), casts a light on the way girls in India and China are discriminated against because of their sex. According to the film’s website, the UN estimates as many as 200 million girls are missing because of female infanticide. The film also explores dowry and domestic violence, sex trafficking, issues of reproductive health and control, female suicide, and forced abortions. The film presents some interesting statistics about men and women, including the estimate that there are 37 million more men than women in China today.
Before posting, I wanted to look up some of the statistics. I found an interesting and thought provoking article that looks at the funding and perspective of the film (you can read the Slate article here). The writer found that the film was actually funded and produced by pro-life ministries, yet is being shown and recommended by many pro-choice groups. The article also accuses the film of looking at the people of China and India as being savages, the girls as being victims, and Americans as the saviors.
This critical perspective is a useful lens for viewing the film. The director interviewed social worker, activists, and mothers to get a picture of the cultural issues that allow such discrimination against women to continue. The stories are powerful and the issues compelling. The film ends by stressing the importance of the changes that must be made both within the minds of the individuals and the culture as a whole in order to end the violence. Still, the film fails to give a tangible solution for how this should happen.
Have you seen the film? What do you think? Pro-choice or pro-life? Does it matter? Is it another product of the “white-savior complex?” What could be done to change cultural ideas that devalue girls, causing violence and discrimination?
– Lindsay Cortright
Sarah El Deeb’s article discusses the opposition that a UN Women’s document has received from the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt. The group has opposed this document because of clauses within it that they consider incompatible with the tenants of Islam. Actual details of the document have yet to be released pending negotiations. Officials are remaining optimistic that the document will pas, but there is speculation that Egypt will seek the choice to opt out of sections of the document before passing it. Libya has also publicly rejected the document. Egypt has called for an amendment to the document before they would approve it. Issues lie in the differences in interpretations of ideologies of Islamic law. The rise in Fundamentalist groups as a result of protests and political upheavals in the region has led to more traditional interpretations as well as an increase in violence against women. Women activists have responded on both sides, some agreeing with the document and others with those who have challenged it. Issues between differences in interpretations have created contention amongst Politicians and activist who have called for stronger protection and enforcement of rights for women. Shannon
This article from the BBC details a the Malaysian Women’s Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s response to a camp that claims to “un-gay” young Muslim boys. She maintains that characterizing these supposedly effeminate teenage boys as gay or transsexual, and then attempting to “correct” their behavior will be detrimental to their mental and emotional health.
Though this is the first time I’ve heard about any Muslim attempts at “curing” perceived homosexuality, it is definitely not the first of its kind, as we have such camps and programs here in the United States, and unfortunately they also exist in Europe (and I’m sure the rest of the world as well).
This fascinating little article addresses a new study published by the Guttmacher Institute on contraceptive use amongst religious women. The Guttmacher study found that there is little to no difference among contraceptive practices between religious and non-religious women. The article suggests that the results from this study will have implications in United States health care policy, but do you think that this new data will have any repercussions within our government, especially with regard to our healthcare and insurance? Though I find the results of the Guttmacher study fascinating, I remain skeptical when it comes to actual positive governmental or social change for women’s sexual and overall physical/mental well-being.
Aljazeera has created a special series about maternal health in the world. The website has videos with detailed stories about maternal health issues around the world. It has detailed facts about the social problem. The social facts state that maternal morality is the greatest health disparity in the world. 99% of maternal morality happens in the developing world. Pregnancy is the biggest killer of women age 15 to 19 in the developing world. Girls under 15 years old are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their twenties. A girl in Chad has the same percentage chance of dying in childbirth as they do of going to secondary school.
With the transition from extended families to nuclear families, elderly women have lost their support from their children. Money, contraception, and education has changed the institution of the family. Elderly women are showing up are orphanages that were traditionally for children. Now, the orphanages are becoming packed with elderly women without family members to help them. The government has not done anything to correct the social problems that are been created from the transition of the extended family to the nuclear family. Private donations have been keeping the orphanages operating. The elderly women constantly talk about the change in values of the culture that has lead to them having to live in the orphanages.