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Hey, Lolita Hey

Abigail George

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We hope for a cultural, for a spiritual awakening amongst the Coloured race, the mulatto. They devote themselves not to the pursuit of family life but to the speculations of pleasure, the consequences of pleasure. Youth is not wasted on them, youth is lost.

In adulthood, they no longer dream because they have already found their place in the world, as failures who have found the exit out in their own troubled lives, through violence, addiction and alcoholism. There is nothing authentic about their lives. No sincerity or originality. They do not understand aesthetics. The sophistication of the high art of culture. Religion to them though is not a myth. They believe in order to live lives of disorder, to create mayhem they must confess in a church. They think nothing of the spiritual in art, for it is a wasteland to them. There is no map, no atlas for them illustrated in the world around them. They have no worldly wisdom and cannot attain it. Complexity is the name of the game. The world around them is complex but because they are simple creatures, their lives are at the cornerstone of simplicity, even their faith in God or the god that they worship it is a faith of simplicity. That there is a heaven and a hell. They virtually have retained no verbal pleasure. The source of their pleasure is often found in the weakness in others and their minds are not curious. Which leaves us to beg the question. Are they intelligent? Are they curious about the world around them? Do they have an identity? An ego? What has history shown us about the mulatto who finds themselves around the world?

They are for the most part comprehensively displaced and if we take an intriguing look at the hierarchy and family structure of mulatto this is what we will discover. A memoir of alcoholism. Lost in translation is a legend of men who drank themselves to death. When you examine the life of the female alcoholic you will find that she will often tend to be emotional, hysterical, engage in violent behaviour herself, dress and behave provocatively, behave sexually inappropriately in front of small children even. She will be abused powerfully and in return she will abuse any one and every one in her path. This is the system of alcoholism. It diminishes the forces of your intuition and your common sense, it inspires nothing, it is graphic, it is a voyage into darkness, suffering, sadness, depression, midnight and the early hours of the morning. In this climate, children will grow amongst these customs, belief systems, values and norms. They will learn to believe that this is the custom in all homes which it is not. They will come to learn and believe that this is acceptable behaviour which it is not. Unfortunately, this season in their life will not pass. They will either begin to drink themselves as early as adolescence. They will begin to smoke too.

That phallic symbol of all phallic symbols and perhaps engage in sexual behaviour too. Children who grow up with alcoholic parents (an alcoholic mother who is absent, violent, mentally, emotionally, physically abusive, there will be abandonment, there will be paths to torturous thinking, sexual maladjusted behaviour, they will to experiment with pornography. If at an early stage of the development the child in their formative years viewed shades of soft of hard-core pornography then sexuality for them will always be a pilgrimage into a play on violence, artificial lovemaking. Children that are born from these ‘Christian’ reproductions and I wonder will come of these mulattos. Proof of pornographic material, it will give them ‘archived’ instructions, stylised techniques if you will to be violent towards their partner in the physical act of the sexual transaction. There will be nothing charming about it.

To a certain kind of man the alcoholic woman will be an attractive woman. Women have always been appealing to men. That is a scientific fact because men are sexual creatures, curious by nature of the female for sex. Men are physical. Men play the dominant role in the human species. If they find a woman sexually appealing they will ‘take her’ or ‘take care of her’ or simply put take her to bed. It is in the physiology, biology, psychology of man.

For the mother who is the alcoholic, her adolescent children will rebel against her, her adult daughters will not forgive her for abandoning them, her adult sons will worship her. There will be scenes from childhood of an alcoholic mother the morning after, the mother captured sleeping it off, commenting on the father’s sexual inadequacies in the bedroom with other aunts or friends, defining her, the daughter’s childhood and for that the adult daughter will never forgive her mother.

For the neglect, for her own mother’s ignorance, for the fact that she is not educated but that the daughter is educated but that the daughter was never loved. If a mother loves her daughter, is not neglectful of her daughter then her daughter will grow up will self-worth and appreciate that her body to all intents and purposes is a temple. That there is something holy about it. Daughters and sons who have mothers who are alcoholics will always struggle with the word intimacy. Young adults will always explore intimacy. The young girl is sensuous in all of her youthful beauty. The young boy when he interacts with her all he sees is the physical. The young girl’s physical beauty. The first love-affair is always the most intense. Its life is a long, beautiful memory but sometimes also a painful meeting place. But nobody thinks about the children. Nobody thinks about the mulatto as a child. Nobody thinks about how having psychopathic adults for parents, how the mulatto’s own childhood will be affected. There is a kind of bizarre dementia of having an alcoholic as a mother or the father drinking himself into a stupor every night. Here, in this world children are possessed and ruled by a hallucinatory Technicolor world and how do they survive? They will use their sexuality.

The young girl and boy will have multiple partners.The young girl will usually fall pregnant. The father of the child will not usurp his responsibility. Sex is a profound act for the young girl. For the young boy it is a physical act and after the act, his climax, he does not have any more intentions towards the girl in any way, especially if there is a baby on the way afterwards.

Will the mulatto ever develop, build him or herself up to be to be that teacher, that pharmacist, that lawyer, and that doctor, that educated and spiritual mentor and that role model? I say this with intensity. No. Not even under extreme circumstances? No, not even under extreme circumstances.

 

Abigail George is a feminist, poet and short story writer. She is the recipient of two South African National Arts Council Writing Grants, one from the Centre for the Book and the Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council. She was born and raised in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth, the Eastern Cape of South Africa, educated there and in Swaziland and Johannesburg. She has written a novella, books of poetry, and collections of short stories. She is busy with her brother putting the final additions to a biography on her father’s life. Her work has recently been anthologised in the Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Anthology IV. Her work was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She briefly studied film.

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New Social Compact

Herat, the fire’s bride

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The olive eyes of Shaista peep between the bandages covering her burnt body, for she, like so many other Afghan women from the city of Herat, decided to escape her life by way of fire.

Shaista arrived at the hospital burning between wisps of hair and fabric, and her 19-year-old body is now a landscape of lava.

Tears seep between the gauze and the passageways of her blistered skin. Compassion is the closest thing to love that she will experience, and the hands of the man who changed her bandages are amongst the few that didn’t strike her.

She set herself on fire for a crime she didn’t commit, one that doesn’t exist, or one that everyone else appears to see except her. Her crime was being born a woman.

According to Oxfam, 8 out of every 10 Afghan women suffer either physical, sexual or psychological violence.

In 2015, the Independent Afghan Commission for Human Rights registered 5,132 gender crimes and between April and June 2016 the Ministry of Women’s Affairs reported 600, but many go unreported.

The women who go to the police are at risk of being raped before being returned to their families. Those who escape for more than 48 hours face accusations of adultery, the punishment for which is either facial mutilation or death. Passed between relatives, offered to others to pay debts or settle disputes, raped and subjected to acid attacks in the streets; these women lose their mental stability and take their own lives in the most brutal way.

They usually come from lower social groups and as they don’t have access to guns or money to buy barbiturates, they drink rat poison, hang themselves, jump into rivers or set themselves on fire.

Although the families declare a ‘domestic accident’, it is easy to identify a suicide, as the majority are aged between 14-21 years old and are soaked in kerosene, when in fact most people use firewood or gas to do the cooking at home.

85% of Afghan women are unable to read or write and thus out of ignorance believe that they will die quickly. But instead they suffer for days before dying. Many pour boiling oil over themselves or drizzle it over their abdomen in order to raise attention to their plight, but sometimes the flames envelop them.

One of the most influential thinkers and leading Afghan practitioners in the field, Dr. Djawed Sangdel says: “Education is a key. This country needs a thorough horizontalisation of education for all.”

80% of those who arrive in hospital perish because of a lack of means to treat them, and if they do survive, they suffer lifelong consequences, for it is difficult to follow a course of treatment whilst carrying water and looking after numerous children.

Almost 40 years of war brought with it misery, poor health and lack of governance, under which the patriarchal system flourished; a system which made Afghanistan an open-air prison for women, causing them irreparable psychological damage.

The country’s laws tolerate tribal codes and 60% of girls under the age of 15 are forced to marry men double their age, according to the Revolutionary Association of Women in Afghanistan.

Studies from the UN Fund for the Development of Women reveal that the majority of widows sell their bodies or turn to begging in order to survive, and 65% of them see suicide as the only solution to their misery.

Herat, once known as the Pearl of Khorasan, is today a ghost town, with a horizon dotted with adobe houses, obsolete war munitions and faces hidden from the world behind the grille of a burka.

After a week in hospital, Shaista’s mother-in-law escaped with her to hide her at home, as her son simply didn’t deserve the shame of a suicidal wife.

Almost a month after the fire, she returned with wounds all over her body and without any feeling in her arms due to large necrotic areas. She did, however, survive – one of life’s cruel jokes.

Now with the same fears as before, scars from the fire on her skin and with only one arm to carry her daughter, Shaista is back in the place that she so wanted to flee.

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New Social Compact

The Modern Tragedy of Child Marriage

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Authors: Pooja Shah & Russell Whitehouse

“And just like that, my mother was married to the village chaiwala when she was 14!” I distinctly recall my grandmother saying as we sat together on the front porch, warmed by the mid-summer breeze.“14? She’s a child!” I gasped out of horror. “How can she be married? Her parents allowed it?” I ignorantly continued.

It was July 2011. I was visiting my now-late grandmother in Ahmedabad, Gujarat after a two-month writing excursion through Mussoorie. The first few days of my stay were filled with pleasantries and questions about school and life in “Amreeka”, quickly followed by the incessant questioning of when I would get married and if I found a suitable companion yet… Of course, to a 19-year old college sophomore student barely at the cusp of adulthood, marriage felt like an intangible figment of my imagination, as it did for most of my peers back home who were too occupied by finalizing our majors and what party to attend next weekend. However, as my grandmother spoke, summoning stories of her own mother, it became dauntingly obvious that not only marriage was the traditional norm, but marrying early was the expectation in the era she grew up in.

12% of girls in the developing world will be married off before the age of 15; in many of the world’s poorest countries, like Bangladesh, over half of girls will be married off before the age of 18.  According to the IWWC, over 400M women aged under 50 years old are survivors of child marriage. .Western countries aren’t exempt from this scourge: over 200k girls have been married in this current century in the US.

Although theoretically child marriage is outlawed in India, in many rural areas, impoverished families will often “give away” their children in exchange for fleeting economic security. Rooted deeply in religious, traditional and cultural norms, and often motivated by economic factors, many families view child marriages as a means to end their economic suffering.

My grandmother confided in me that her mother, a child herself, gave birth at the age of 16 with a husband who was nine years her senior. Dadi dismissed my shocking reaction and confirmed, once again, that this was not atypical. I began to realize over the course of our conversation the very limited rights and personal choices these children, particularly young girls, have. Their lives are a mere transaction: exchanging their livelihood and existence for a few rupees on their families behalf, all while being forced to forego their educations, childhood, hobbies, and sense of independence.

This commodification of the lives of girls reinforces a culture of deep misogyny. Being married off while school-age tends to end a girl’s education; less than half of child brides have completed primary (let alone higher) education.  This can create economic shackles for a girl in a marriage; without even a basic education, a girl or young woman is unlikely to find a job that can create any level of financial freedom.  Being saddled with a child from a young age also impedes a girl’s ability to leave the house to find work.  With this reality in mind, it’s no shock that child brides are 9% more likely to experience physical or sexual abuse (generally by a husband or parent in-law) than women.  A young lady with little education is less likely to be aware of legal options to end this suffering, like filing a domestic abuse complaint with the police or filing for divorce. 

Such a culture is likely to continue other degrading practices, like female genital mutilation and widow ostracizing, as well as create whole generations of traumatized girls and young women.  The systemic rape of young girls inevitably moves the social Overton window, making the rape of women, men and boys seem less important or even noteworthy.  Growing up in a household featuring such disparate power dynamics is liable to create a twisted sense of self-esteem and justice among children of child brides.  Mothers are one of the primary sources of the pedagogy of a child.  Thus, girls who were taken from their schools to get married would be less well equipped to contribute to their children’s education.  This would be especially apparent in terms of sexual education; a culture of child brides is intrinsically less able to teach its children about health topics like STDs and birth control, to say nothing of ethical issues like consent.

My dadi also revealed how her own mother suffered multiple miscarriages throughout her youth, as her body was not fully equipped to bear pregnancy. This is unsurprising; young girls aren’t biologically ready to go through the physical traumas of pregnancy and giving birth.  Pregnant girls under 15 have quintuple the maternal mortality rate of women; 88% of them suffer obstetric fistulae, which often lead to permanent disability.  Girls are also disproportionately likely to receive cervical lacerations during intercourse, which can lead to cervical cancer down the line.  The children resulting from these underage marriages suffer similar hazards.  Babies born to child brides are 28% more likely to die within their first 5 years of life than babies born to women.

When confronted by my bachelorette status (as I often was when I visited India), I remember I would always counter with “I have to finish school first”, acknowledging the privilege I had to control my education and career aspirations. When it comes to these child brides, often times marrying at a young age will likely mean an end to their education, and in turn, will hinder their ability to obtain the skills and knowledge that is vital for income-generating employment.

That day I was enraged by the fact that child marriage continues to exist in the 21st century, as well as my personal lack of awareness on the issue. It has been over eight years since that enlightening conversation, and thankfully due to the tireless efforts of activists, legislators, and advocates there has been movement towards ending child marriage. In fact, UNICEF and Indian Wedding Buzz joined forces earlier this year on Valentines’ Day to #EndChildMarriage, demonstrating that one of the most crucial steps in eradicating this humans right issue is to stand against it. By utilizing their global social media platform and influential magazine, the #EndChildMarriage initiative was aimed at raising awareness of the implications of child marriage and more importantly, how we, collectively, can help put a stop to it. The campaign further empowered young girls in many South Asian and African countries (i.e. Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, among nine others) with the information and resources to understand the implications of what they are being forced into. Furthermore, the program continued to develop national strategies with the efforts of government investments, religious leaders, and of course our community. This social media sensation, backed by Indian Wedding Buzz, demonstrated their respective commitment to being part of the change, so that we as South Asians, as Americans and as humans can follow suit to be part of this revolutionary movement. After all, there is strength in numbers.

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Marcia Andrade Braga: A ‘stellar example’ of why more women are needed in UN peacekeeping

MD Staff

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Brazilian peacekeeper Lieutenant Commander Marcia Andrade Braga serves in the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). Photo: MINUSCA

Training gender advisors and focal points in the Central African Republic (CAR) has earned a Brazilian United Nations peacekeeper a special gender advocate award, it was announced on Tuesday.

Secretary-General António Guterres will bestow naval officer, Lieutenant Commander Marcia Andrade Braga, with the UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award during the 2019 Peacekeeping Ministerial conference due to be held at UN Headquarters in New York this Friday.

“UN Missions need more women peacekeepers so local women can talk more freely about the issues that affect their lives”, said Lt. Cdr. Braga.

“I am so proud to be selected”, she said, upon receiving news of her award, also expressing gratitude to her colleagues in the UN Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

Serving as the Military Gender Advisor at MINUSCA Headquarters since April 2018, Lt. Cdr. Braga has helped to build a network of trained gender advisors and focal points among the Mission’s military units and promoted mixed teams of men and women to conduct community-based patrols around the country.

These “Engagement Teams” were able to gather critical information to help the Mission understand the unique protection needs of men, women, boys and girls, which in turn helped develop community projects to support vulnerable communities.

Projects include the installation of water pumps close to villages, solar-powered lighting and the development of community gardens to cut down the distances women have to travel, to tend their crops.

Lt. Cdr. Braga is also a driving force behind MINUSCA leadership’s engagement with local women leaders, making sure that the voice of Central African women is heard throughout the ongoing peace process.

Moreover, as a former teacher she has also helped train and raise awareness among her peers on gender dynamics within the Mission.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, who heads the UN Department of Peace Operations, spelled out: “Marcia Andrade Braga is a stellar example of why we need more women in peacekeeping: Peacekeeping works effectively when women play meaningful roles and when women in the host communities are directly engaged”.

Created in 2016, the UN award recognizes the dedication and effort of an individual peacekeeper in promoting the principles of UN Security Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) on women, peace and security, which underscores the “3 Ps”, to prevent conflict; protect women and their rights during and after conflict; and to increase the numbers of women participating in all mechanisms, to prevent and resolve conflict.

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