Why We Need Feminism: Chapter 6,492
The other day, the Star ran Oakland Ross' incredible story about the Samaritans, as in the Biblical ''Good Samaritan.''
Who knew they were, essentially, an unlost tribe of Jews? Not only that, but they're still around.
Boldface is mine:
"For all the world, we haven't enough girls," Kohen says. "We are suffering from this problem for the past 200 years."
Greetings from Kiryat Luza, a somewhat careworn village perched high atop Mount Gerizim, the holiest place in creation for the people who dwell here, members of what is possibly the smallest religious sect in the world and certainly among the oldest.
Kohen, a grey-bearded father of five, lives with his family in an apartment above the Gerizim Center and Museum, of which he is founder and curator.
Next door, a half-dozen concrete pits burrow into the ground.
Here, the Samaritans celebrate Passover each year by sacrificing a small flock of sheep as an act of gratitude to God for allowing them – along with those other Israelites, also known as Jews – to escape enslavement in Egypt.
Many people know the parable of the good Samaritan, the passerby who, in the Gospel of Luke, cared for a battered man whom he found lying half-dead on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.
But the Samaritans – that is, the people of Samaria, as the northern West Bank is sometimes called – existed for centuries prior to that New Testament tale.
Their split with Judaism was sparked by conflict over the location of the first Jewish temple.
Jews believe the structure, built on the site of the biblical tale of Abraham and his son Isaac and destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC, was located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Samaritans are convinced it stood here on Mount Gerizim near the Palestinian city of Nablus in what is now the West Bank.
Once, Samaritans numbered more than 1 million people, Kohen says. By 1917, following a history of persecution, their ranks had dwindled to just 146.
Like observant Jews, Samaritans cherish the menorah, celebrate Passover, and mark the Sabbath on Saturdays, when they refrain from answering the telephone or switching on any electrical devices.
They worship in synagogues, have their own version of the Torah, and conduct religious ceremonies in an ancient type of Hebrew.
But the shortage of Samaritan women of marriageable age has led to inbreeding.
Kohen reacts testily when this subject is raised, estimating the incidence of genetic defects among Samaritans at no more than 3 per cent of the population.
"God allows us to marry our cousins," he insists. "If God allows me to do something, why is He going to harm me for doing it?"
Still, Samaritan men have been seeking to marry women from outside the community for at least the past 90 years.
This made me wonder. How is it that there are so few women in relation to men, especially when you conisder that the men are more likely to have the freedom to leave town?
Do the women run away? Or is something killing them? Are they worked to death? Is there infanticide? Or are women so undervalued, as they are in most of the world, that their health is neglected while men benefit from medical attention?
Of course, women suffer from so much, including maternal deaths. I have repeatedly noted that some 500,000 girls and women die every year in childbirth and from pregnancy-related causes.
Then tonight, I found this, posted on the profile of Facebook friend Markella Hartziano. Again, the boldface is mine while the photo is from the Digital Library of the Commons:
From political freedoms that are essentially designed to empower people — such as the right to freedom of speech, association, movement, etc — the concept of human rights has moved on to a vast non-political area encompassing practically every aspect of human development that impacts on the quality of life of an individual. The latest to enter this hallowed precinct is ‘preventable maternal mortality and morbidity’ which the 47-member UN Human Rights Council has now recognised as a human rights issue.
In a landmark resolution adopted on June 18, governments (including Pakistan) expressed grave concern at the “unacceptably” high rates of global maternal mortality (1,500 women die daily in childbirth or due to pregnancy-related causes) and committed themselves to enhance their efforts at the national and international level to protect the lives of women and girls.
The resolution identified some of the factors that lie at the root of this problem. Poverty, gender inequality, multiple forms of discrimination and lack of adequate access to healthcare are some of them. The resolution recognised that the prevention of maternal mortality requires effective promotion of the human rights of women, in particular, their right to life and equality in dignity, education and access to information.
This is a positive development not just from the point of view of health. It reflects on the assertiveness of women’s rights activists worldwide that such a demand can be made. It is now being increasingly recognised that maternal mortality rates are intrinsically linked to the status of women. A society that holds its female members in high esteem also cares for their health, maternal health being a top priority. That is why in UNDP’s human development index the countries that figure high on the gender empowerment measure (GEM) also have a very low maternal mortality rate. The two are inversely proportionate.
So you know what struck me?
This resolution was adoped two weeks ago.
Now, I don't live in a bubble. I track these things all the time. But nowhere did I see a mention of this, at least not in the mainstream media.
Is it because nobody cares about the UN? Or that women's human rights are not deemed worthy of coverage?
(Say ... didja hear? Michael Jackson is still dead.)
Anyway, for a larf, I decided to compare and contrast the reactions put out by the pro-choice movement with that of the fetus fetishists.
Leading causes of maternal death are divided into two categories. “Direct” causes include conditions such as pre-eclampsia or eclampsia, obstructed labor (especially prevalent among adolescent girls whose pelvises are not fully formed), and infection and haemorrhage (which may result from complications of unsafe abortion or unsafe delivery practices). “Indirect causes” include conditions (renal, heart or other conditions) left untreated and exacerbated by pregnancy.
Complications of unsafe abortion are responsible for at least one-fourth or roughly 75,000 maternal deaths annually worldwide, according to WHO.
Ninety-nine percent of maternal deaths worldwide occur in developing countries where women often cannot control whether, when, and whom they marry; may be subject to early marriage; and may be forced to bear children “too early and too often.” These conditions, paired with lack of access to the basic family planning methods needed to delay, space, or limit childbearing, lack of access to safe abortion services, and lack of access to emergency obstetric care in cases of obstructed labor (just one example) contribute to the ongoing toll in women’s lives and health.
As Patrick Buckley, who covered the Geneva conference on behalf of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), told C-Fam’s “Friday Fax,” the reference to "sexual and reproductive health" is qualified by placing it in the context of the right to enjoy "the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health," and does not expand the meaning of the phrase nor create any new rights.
Member states have consistently rejected attempts to include a right to abortion within the term "reproductive health." New United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stoked concerns that the Obama administration would push to expand the UN definition when she testified before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States House of Representatives that she understood “reproductive health” to include abortion.
The HRC resolution retains the agreed-upon language where it explicitly references (Millennial Develpment Goals), which it limits to “improving maternal health.” This can be seen as a victory for pro-lifers who lobbied delegates on the document language.
The involvement of the pro-abortion Center of Reproductive Rights, an abortion advocacy public interest law firm, in promoting this month’s HRC resolution had also raised red flags.
Critics contest any linkage between abortion and maternal mortality reduction. Buckley stressed that "Maternal mortality stems from poor nutrition, lack of basic health care such as adequate pre- and post-natal care, transportation et cetera, rather than lack of legal abortion."
Nothing about contraception. Not a word.
Which brings me to this -- and this time the boldface is the author's:
(T)he right wing isn't concerned with the fetus. By huge margins, they're concerned with controlling sex, specifically the sexuality of women. And that fact actually makes what should be a complex argument over abortion in this country fairly easy.
The fact is that if you believe that life truly begins at conception, abortion should be illegal in all circumstances (barring perhaps exception made strictly for the life of the mother). If you can't kill a baby with a horrible birth defect, you shouldn't be able to abort it either. If you can't kill the baby born of an incestuous rape, you shouldn't be able to abort it either.
It's that simple. Those who claim to be pro-life but still grant exceptions in the case of horrible birth defects or rape and incest are not concerned with the fetus, but rather with sex. The notion of blame is critical to the Right, and derived from conservative religious mythology stemming from Genesis onward: girls who have sex should be forced to "pay the consequences". It's almost never about the fetus--which is why the "no fault" circumstances of birth defects and rape/incest don't bother the vast majority of those who claim to be "pro-life". They're not "pro-life"; they're "pro-consequences."
The movement that calls itself "pro-life" is by far the sickest, most intrusive movement of anti-sex petty religious moralizing. The fact is that a person truly (and, most would say, bizarrely) committed to fetal welfare would have the following political characteristics:
* Adamant support for contraception and family planning
* Adamant support for comprehensive sex education
* Adamant opposition to abortion in ALL cases, except potentially for the mother's life
The fact that the number of Americans committed to all of these principles can be counted in mere thimblefuls says all you need to know about the petty moralizers who dare call themselves "pro-life", wrapping their petty sexual morality in the fradulent banner of love for the fetus.
It's almost always about sex, and always has been.
Judging from the usual suspects' going on about ''the consequences'' in the comments section of this blog, and the lack of contraceptive options offered by the PILL KILLS! anti-choicers, I'd say that it's all about controlling women.
Maybe those Samaritans ought to be good to their women.
Note: Some of the numbers cited above don't quite match up but I am citing them from UN documents verbatim.