Friday, September 18, 2009

international reproductive rights, birthing injuries, and "the fistula foundation

This is a guest post by femonade

i was looking for video of the 2000 new york senate debate between hillary clinton and douchebag extraordinaire rick lazio…because of the similarities i saw between that and kanye west’s recent douchebaggery.  both men, it seems, believe that its acceptable male behaviour to invade a woman’s space and act like an aggressive, entitled asshole. anyone remember that clinton/lazio debate? i will never forget it, but it seems like that video is nowhere to be found.  and i am not the first to have noticed.

what i did find was the above:  an excellent clip of hillary handing some pro-life congressman his ass at an april, 2009 congressional hearing addressing access to abortion and international reproductive rights. listen and see how strong, well-reasoned, and respectful she is. and she doesn't back down from her position even a teeny, tiny bit. a masterful response.

now, speaking of international reproductive rights:

this is a short clip from a PBS documentary about the “fistula foundation,” a charity that provides medical services to Ethiopian women who suffer birth injuries…as long as the women can get to hospital in the capital city of addis ababa, on their own. 

turns out, malnourished 12-year old girls being married off, impregnated, and bringing their fetuses to term is bad for the girls’ health. who could've guessed? specifically, their pelvises are too small for childbirth, and they labour for up to 10 days before expelling a dead fetus (or having it pulled or cut out)…but not before suffering permanent injuries called “fistulas.”  a fistula is a tear in — or death of — vaginal tissue that creates an opening between the vaginal wall and the bladder and/or rectum, causing urinary and/or fecal incontinence. these women are then ostracised from their families and communities for the stench, and largely unable to access medical care for their injuries. its heartbreaking, and infuriating, to watch, as these things often are.

here is the full-length documentary. please, please watch the entire thing if you can make the time. i promise you, its worth seeing.

possible trigger warning:  the video does not directly address rape, but it does address child-brides and what is pretty obviously child rape in that context.  i did not find that i was triggered, however, and i watched the whole thing when it was on NOVA.  on a related note, some of you may be aware that fistula injuries are commonly inflicted on female rape victims, for obvious reasons. the tissues of the vagina and rectum are extremely delicate, and simply cannot withstand the abuse that comes from violent rapes, and from prolonged labour and “failed” childbirth.  rape-related fistuals are not addressed in the video.

as always, comments are very welcome.