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Let's get talking

I hope that you have started year 2010 on a high note! This year we want to make our group the most active and the most vibrant on Pulse Wire. We will begin by exploring Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (for everyone). To kick start this exciting adventure read the short story below. The story is based on a real life experiencealthoug names have been changed.

Noma was 15 years old. She lived in Lupane, ZImbabwe with her mother and father and five younger siblings. She left school at 12 to help her mother look after the other children. Money was always a problem and her younger brother was often sick and needed medication.

An older man from town, a wealthy father, always chatted to Noma when he visited her father. He brought her small gifts and complimented her. Her friends thought she was really lucky to have such a rich man showing her attention. Her mother encouraged her to be friendly with him and to accept his gifts.

When he invited Noma to his house one day, she agreed. In his room he fondled her and offered her money for her family. He said that she only had to have sex with him and then she wouldn’t have to pay back the money. Noma was scared and confused. She had heard about HIV, but he was so smart and well-dressed that she didn’t think he would be positive. She didn’t want to suggest using a condom because he was much older than her and she knew she couldn’t get pregnant if it was her first time. She desperately needed the money because her brother needed an operation. She agreed to have sex.

The money was a great help to the family and Noma continued to see this man for a few months, until he moved to South Africa.

Noma began to feel very sick in the mornings. Her breasts were swollen and she couldn’t eat. She didn’t tell her mother because she was worried her mother would be angry. Eventually, her mother noticed and told Noma that she was pregnant. Noma’s mother decided she would have to get rid of the child because the family were very poor and the man had disappeared. Noma’s mother new a woman who could help them. Noma agreed, although she was very scared. However, her mother told her that it was the only way. Noma was about six months pregnant when she aborted. She started bleeding very heavily. Her parent tried to take her to the hospital but it was too late. Noma died.

##
Let's get talking!

1. Why did Noma die?
2. Is this happening anywhere in your community?

Comments

Starland's picture

sex as control

It comes as no surprise to anyone that sex is a long time control tool for many, many reasons and in many different circumstances. One of the things that often bothers me when I read stories of women who are "tossed aside" or "abandoned" or whatever just because THEY didn't deliver a boy. This is just an old untrue mechanism of control and it is believed by so many women and men both. LET'S SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT: From Medline Plus a website by the US National Library of Medicine, I quote: "The genetic sex of a child is determined at conception. The mother's egg cell (ovum) contains an X Chromosome, while the father's sperm cell contains either an X or Y chornosome. These (male) X and Y chromosomes determine the child's genetic sex.
Normally, an infant inherits one pair of sex chromosomes - one X from the mother and one X or Y from the father. Thus, IT IS THE FATHER WHO "DETERMINES" THE GENETIC SEX OF THE CHILD."

Perhaps this important information could be starting point for sexual rights. Would Norma and other girls be so readily "sold" (or even abandoned as in China) if people are clear about who is the determiner of the gender of a child?

How would this information change things, do you think?

K-lee Starland, Ph.D.

Nusrat Ara's picture

This awareness will defintely

This awareness will defintely help yet u know even after the knowledge the attitude of people doesn't change.

I think one more awarness is also needed that is of birth control. U see especially poor people seem to be unaware of its use. They go on having children thinking the children will change things for them by earning whereas the fact is they can't afford these children. What they end up is giving these little souls a hell of a life like Noma.

There are so many instances like these in India where older children are unable to go school either to earn or look after the younger siblings.

Nusrat

cad_communication's picture

Interesting

Nusrat,
I mention that there are lots of children in India who are like Noma. What is currently been done in your area to help these children?

Gertrude

Nusrat Ara's picture

When are talk of Kashmir

When are talk of Kashmir there might be some cases like Noma but not open like that. We are a very conservative society so it is really difficult to get things out in open. So there is not much question of help.

A few years back a sex scandal broke out in which various highly influential and govt people were involved in which girls were exploited in lieu of jobs, blackmail etc. The case is still in court and most of the accused are already free vindicated by the govt.

Nusrat

cad_communication's picture

The Housekeeping guide!!

Nusrat,

Indeed, most communities are closed. DO women in India conform to the guidelines (below) suggested in the Housekeeping Monthly magazine published on 13 May 1955?

The guide gives the following points:
1. Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have be thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.

2. Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

3. Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.
Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dustcloth over the tables.

4. During the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

5. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.

6. Be happy to see him.

7. Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.
Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

8. Don't greet him with complaints and problems.

9. Don't complain if he's late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.

10. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie him down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

11. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.
Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

12. A good wife always knows her place.

Let me know what you think.

Gertrude

Nusrat Ara's picture

That is hilarious but the

That is hilarious but the fact remains that even after so many years and so much development these things are there even if in a subtle way. Women are still expected to behave in a certain way and this is so subtly ingrained into us during our upbringing that we are unable realise what is happening.

Nusrat

cad_communication's picture

It's absurd

Women in most country are brought up in such a way that they uncounscious follow this guide. We always want to look good for him and not ourselves etc.

I think it is critical that women raise their children to be gender sensitive. It's also important for men to recognise the economic contributions made by women who look after the family when the husband goes to work.

Gertrude

Nusrat Ara's picture

You are right it is for the

You are right it is for the women to start changing all this. We can simply begin by teaching our children to be gender sensitive and keep them away from the gender sterotypes.

Nusrat

Starland's picture

Yes, I agree

Yes, I agree. It is like making a law and generations pass before it becomes part of the culture. Frustrating at best.

I will share some information with you in case you want to follow up. Strickly your choice, of course. For the past ten years or more I have been working (via computer) with a most wonderful man named Moazzam Ali. He was born in India and left with his parents as a child when the countries split. Anyway, he has worked outside of Pakistan and been around the world in his younger days.. Even here as a young man. He is very open minded, works for women and children now with World Church Service in Karachi. I promise there would be no stress or tension whatsoever if you contact him. If you use my name, the conversation will be delightful. We are very good friends. The manager of the office is a lovely woman named Mahnaz Rahman. We all worked together on what ended up being their Political Education Program. Moazzam takes the work to many rural areas. He told me that the information is presented in many ways including plays that the people create depicting their cultural issues. He said they are quite creative and often very humorous. The point being, he has many "tools" for helping to change the status of women and children and working with the men to change the cultural ways. He is very good "people person." If you choose to contact him, go to the World Church Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan site and you can find the "contact us." I have private email for both of them so I don't remember the business one. If you would prefer, I can also ask him to contact you. If you have a different email than this, that would easiest otherwise, if you want, I could direct him here. Don't be afraid of contacting him at all, however.

Oh, I want to share with you that I went to a meeting last night where a man wanted to play the "power game" with me. I didn't say a word and I just smiled at him the whole time. After the meeting he came up to me and commented on how my smiling made him feel good when he had come in feeling angry. He appreciated it! THANK YOU FOR THIS ONE, NUSRAT! Worked like a charm.

Take care of you
K-lee

K-lee Starland, Ph.D.

Nusrat Ara's picture

Dear Starland, I am not sure

Dear Starland,

I am not sure about the person you are talking about as right now I am not working with women as such though I would love to given an opportunity :) At the smae time I would love to know more about their work. Do they have a website.

As far as my charm is concerned. Please post this as a comment on the smile post in my journal. I am asking u to do this so that people get to know it really works. Your comment will ve a testimoney :)

Love

Nusrat

Starland's picture

opps

Hi Nusrat
I apoloize. I was under the impression that you were working with a women's group to help make cultural changes for themselves. World Church Service has many, many offices around the world. Just type in World Church Service and you can go anywhere from there.

love
K-lee

K-lee Starland, Ph.D.

Nusrat Ara's picture

It's alright. I just hope I

It's alright. I just hope I am associated with something of the kind someday :)

Love

Nusrat

Starland's picture

Awarness and education

I think these two areas are so critical. I know that the UNFPA has been strapped for money because of the past two American administrations but now the money is to be caught up if it hasn't been already. This organization can provide education and condoms and health advice through an instructior to bring info to the those who don't know. They can also direct you to other organizations that do this work and training. I so agree that this is a major area to continually address.

Perhaps one important area of education might be to change what one focuses on. What one focuses expands. (This is called here a Law of the Universe. That is, it has alway been and will always be. (Similar to the Law of Gravity - what goes up must come down) Well, I studied the science of Physics for a long time. Sigh.) Anyway, If I focus on being sick, I will continue to be sick. If I focus on poverty (lack and limitation) I willl have more of the same. Yes, I know. It is very hard to focus on something else when I feel buried in what is true for me now. But i've seen this work in my life many times especially in the health area. If there are options to poverty to focus on, would one be able eventually to lift herself out of poverty? (Actually, this is something I have been working on and it is working just like it did with my health.)

Education can offer many valuable options. I been reading about "Inovative Education." for making changes. If anyone wants to know more about this, I will share what I learned

K-lee
.

K-lee Starland, Ph.D.

cad_communication's picture

Inovative Education?

K-lee,
Thank you for your contribution.

You always bring forward significant contributions and whenever i read your comments i look foward to some form of personal growth.

I would like to learn more about Innovative learning for change. I'm currently at that stage in life where i feel that i have to change some things in order to continue growing and exploiting the great potential stored within me.

Could you kindly share more on Innovative learning and how other women can use it to bring positive change into their lives?

Gertrude

cad_communication's picture

Power and control

K-lee,
I agree with what you are saying.

The challenge is in changing people's mindset. How can we do so if gender is all a power game aimed at keeping women in their 'rightful positions in society'.

I was reading an article from a Housekeeping Monthly magazine published on 13 May 1955. It gives a guide on how to become a good wife. I was looking at these guides (bolow) and assessing how we have progress in the past five decades. When i look at my community i feel that a lot still needs to be done to change the power relations based on one's sex, which is determined by genetics. Do these guide apply to women in your country??

The guide gives the following points:
1. Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have be thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.

2. Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

3. Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.
Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dustcloth over the tables.

4. During the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

5. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.

6. Be happy to see him.

7. Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.
Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

8. Don't greet him with complaints and problems.

9. Don't complain if he's late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.

10. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie him down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

11. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.
Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

12. A good wife always knows her place.

Let me know what you think.

Gertrude

Starland's picture

Power and Control

Hi Gertrude

I am so happy to hear from you. I have used this same article in many speechs I have given and also went I taught Law and Violence Against Women in a college. I couldn't help but smile.

In general these "rules" no longer apply in this country except in some remote areas or in cases of domestic violence. They have mostly fallen by the wayside because many women have to work as well as their husbands to make a living. We Americans tend to live beyond our means. (I am sorry to say I too fell into that trap at one time.) Back when that article was written women were just beginning to go to college. Most didn't graduate. It was said they went to get an MRS. degree. :) After time, that changed and many women graduated college. They got paid less than men for the same job done. It was only this year that President Obama signed a law that women be paid the same a men for the same job done. Because of the current economic conditons many men have been layed off work and it is the women alone who are supporting the family while the husband stays home to take care of the children. Also, over the past years, many women (including myself) have formed their own companies and to support their companies, there are many women networking groups that support their members. In a lot of ways the women are in a sense becoming the "force of power" (in a good way) both at home and in the workplace. Intersting how the the poor economy has boosted this big change.

When the article was written my mother (and long before) was in this generation. The only job options for a women (most were expected to stay home and tend the children and house and follow these rules) were teacher, nurse or secretary. Very low paying work. The one exception to this rule I know of was my great aunt who had a very prestigous job at the Chicago Board of Trade. Still she wasn't paid what the men there were paid.

I think some progress is being made, isn't it? I read about the success of women getting micro loans and starting their own business. CARE and other NGO's like Women to Women are doing great work in this area. Women have been viciously taught to be victims until they believe it themselves. I read on this site about widows in Nigeria gathering to discuss what they can do about the abusive widow practices there. Perhaps when women know what other women are doing and then know they have options; however, tiny to begin with, changes start to take place. That is the main reason I joined World Pulse. We do just that don't we?

love to hear from you
K-lee

K-lee Starland, Ph.D.

K-lee,
Indeed, there has been progress in the advancement of women's rights. More women are now economically empowered and they can raise their voices and challenge gender inequality.

However, my worry is that most non governemental organisation address perceived needs for women rather than their real needs. For instance, the majority of women in my country do not own or control the media. This makes it hard for them to access information and to raise their voices in magnitude.Given this example, NGOs in my country have failed to identify and meet the needs of these women. It then becomes a great challenge for women to talk about poverty alleviation if they have limited access to information, if they do not know that they have the power to shape their destinies and that they can get solutions from other women worldwide.

In Zimbabwe and other developming country the media plays a key role in advancing the rights of women at grassroots level With limited resources to increase women's access to information, where do I start?

Getrude

jadefrank's picture

A woman's place

Hi Gertrude,

Thank you for sharing this article. As Starland said, yes - many things have changed in America in regards to these guidelines, though not for everyone. I believe that there are still many households here that function in this way - or at least where men expect their wives to be this obedient. And I think it's true around the world for many. However, the general notion of a women's place in households and families has shifted dramatically in the consciousness of an American mind for the most part and I think we can certainly celebrate that.

I especially found these lines interesting and indicative of how far we've come - because these lines would likely never today be printed in a popular publication in the US. Though I'm sure many people here in the US and worldwide believe these to be true.
"Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours."
"Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him."
"A good wife always knows her place."

This also reminds me of a conversation I had yesterday which has left me thinking a lot about perceptions of what a "woman's place" is. A male friend from Senegal who now lives in the US, upon returning from a 3-month trip home, remarked to me about how relaxing his trip was and how much he loves Senegal because, "life is so easy - you do not have to do anything but relax because the women do everything for you - it's great!" And all I could think was, "Great for who?"

Thank you for sharing this Gertrude and bringing up a topic for discussion. Thank you as well K-lee for leading us in such great dialogue.

Hugs,
Jade

Jade,

What you heard the Senegales man saying depicts the general mentality of most men in Africa. Although things are slowly changing, a lot still needs to be done to challenge cultural and religious practices that perpetuate these behaviour in African men.

Our mothers bring us up to embrace this oppression and to view it as normal. I guess they were also raised the same way and they think they are doing all this for our own good. (This is something that i defied from a tender age)

On the other hand, women raise their sons like little kings and the gilrs are raised like slaves. Mothers normally tell young girls that they will not get a husband if they do not conform to these guidelines. I guess i proved my mother and grandmother wrong.

I think that there is need for more awareness training workshops on women's rights and that both men and women should be target.

Gertrude

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