Monday, August 20, 2012


I have been working in Maternity.

And today - it was her first baby - but the contractions became farther and fewer between, there was meconium, and the baby was delivered with the chord wrapped tightly around its neck - no heart beat. 

Danae breathing for her -  tiny white grey fingers, I'm doing CPR with middle and index finger - listening, straining, what that a heartbeat, or did we just want there to be one.

Making little inky footprints and rolling them onto crisp white paper - wrapping her in the orange and maroon flowered cloth that had been brought to bring her home in - the mother hemorrhaging afterward - her groaning and rolling with pain as Bikaou scrapes the clots from her uterus with gloved hands - the uterus that wasn't contracting properly.

Having a baby here means you are risking your life. 

if you knew there was a 1 in 8 chance you would die if you walked to the mailbox this morning, would you go get the mail anyway? 

This country has one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world.

The happiest moment in her life becomes the saddest.

And then the man, i would have liked to take a baseball bat to his skull - his wife had had 8 pregnancies already - by that time her uterus is tired, she is much more susceptible to complications and to dying in child birth. 

He had four wives. 

He refused to let her go on birth control.

She said she was tired.  "its God who gives children, its God who decides."  he said, fat, grinning,

"it is not your right to say you are tired."

and there it is. 

The reason why every time you get pregnant there is a reasonable chance you or the child will die.

The reason why there is little child spacing and so much malnutrition.

The reason that 1 in 5 little ones never make it past childhood.

because here, if you are a woman, you don't have any rights - not to your child, not to your future, not to your own body.

"its not your right to say you are tired"

I have been interviewing men and women here for the past 5 months. 

this is not just a passing sentiment - it completely encapsulates the prevailing attitude. 

Women are valuable because they give children.

If they have no children - or stop having children,

Then they are nothing.

If there is a divorce, a separation, or a violent grey area in between - the man will always get the children.

Even if he beat his wife with a rock and bit her in 8 places and left her bruised and bleeding to die, he still has a right to the child after they turn 7. 

Why isn't it her right to be tired? 

Because he payed the dowry.

Because he bought her.

Because her purpose is to deliver children.

Because he wants to be replaced.

and therefore

it is not her right to say she is tired. 

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