The blood and distress of Olayinka Ijaware and her two children

Olayinka Ijaware is a young Nigerian woman who has been living in County Waterford, in Ireland, for the last four years. She is the mother of two children, aged five and seven. Until quite recently, Ijaware was pregnant with a third child. Then she suffered a miscarriage.

Early Tuesday morning, August 16, the Gardaí, or Irish national police, showed up and `escorted’ Ms. Ijaware and her two young children to the Dublin airport, where she was `prepared for deportation.’ Olayinka Ijaware is an asylum seeker. According to the State, she is a failed asylum seeker. According to her, her attorneys, and her friends and supporters, she is in the process appealing the decision, and so is still an asylum seeker.

As she was being `prepared’, Ms. Ijaware complained of pains and bleeding, the result, she explained, of her recent miscarriage. She was taken to hospital. She was seen by doctors. The doctors said she should not fly if she was suffering vaginal bleeding. Witnesses say she was bleeding and in deep distress. The Gardaí disagree. And so, Olayinka Ijaware and her two children, two children who basically know only Ireland, were shipped back to the airport, to `prepare’ for deportation.

Magically, and without explanation, the flight was cancelled. Ijaware was told to report to the Gardaí next week, for deportation.

The date and time of Ms. Ijaware’s miscarriage is being debated. That she was bleeding at some point that night is not debated. That she and her children were taken in the very early hours of the morning, without warning, is not debated. That currently the Irish government is conducting a mass deportation of so-called asylum seekers is not debated.

The full name of Ireland’s national police force is An Garda Síochána na hÉireann. That means “Guard of the Peace of Ireland.” The Gardaí are the Guardians, and Ireland is Ireland. But what is the peace? What is the peace when women’s blood and distress count for nothing, for less than nothing if the women are Black?

What is the peace of Ireland? Ask Olayinka Ijaware. Ask the children of Olayinka Ijaware. They know.

 

(Photo Credit: http://victorikoli.blogspot.com)

Uganda is … “under attack”

Uganda is under attack and, as always, it’s the mothers of the nation who are to blame.

An Anti-homosexuality Bill has been tabled before the Parliament of Uganda. Many have risen to denounce and oppose it, both within the country and from across the globe.  Many others have risen to support it. Some in the Church have argued in favor of the capital punishment in the Bill, others have argued for life imprisonment. The ones arguing for life imprisonment are actually considered to be in opposition to the Bill. After all, in Uganda “homosexuality is already an offence under the Penal Code of Uganda as is same-sex marriage, which is prohibited by the Constitution.”

This is the logic of being-under-attack. As Michel Foucault put it, “Society must be defended”, and you, sir, madam, are not of society. You are a threat. Equally, you as a threat are a race, or better a sub-race. LGBTI people are being described as a public health threat, a moral threat, a national security threat, a spiritual threat, a pathogen. When, for example, the Archbishop of Uganda rallied his flock last year to protect him from the threat of the gay community, what did he say? ““The team of homosexuals is very rich, Archbishop  Henry Luke Orombi said, “They have money and will do whatever it takes to make sure that this vice penetrates Africa. We have to stand out and say no to them.” Sound familiar? If not, go to Nazi propaganda, especially in its early and middle years,  and see how the Jews, the Roma, the homosexuals and the disabled were described. Wealthy, a penetrating vice, infectious and infesting. Vermin.

The Bill was put forth and its campaign is spearheaded by Ugandan MP David Bahati. Some describe this whole situation as a convenient distraction for the government. Others see this as yet another sign that the government is filled with “purveyors of hate, who have no qualms about killing those who disagree with them or are unlike themselves. No doubt, they are more dangerous to the people of Uganda, than gays and lesbians.”

Not the good MP Bahati, however. He explains, in an interview published Sunday, November 1, that Uganda is under attack from the evil of homosexuality, that the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill is a nice piece of legislation. It is a consolidation of values of Ugandans and the country at large. It aims at holding the integrity of Ugandans high in the sky.” The nation is under attack, and now, so is Bahati: “ever since we tabled this Bill, we have come under attack. People have argued that we are promoting a hate campaign against homosexuals. And these attacks are coming mostly from civil society members who claim that homosexuality is a human right.

“These same groups have persistently continued to place this evil in the category of human rights. They have rallied people to resist the Bill. They argue that we are targeting homosexuals, we hate them. But some of the people behind these messages are mothers and respectable people in our country.

“Can you imagine mothers who are supposed to protect their children from abuses like sodomy are the very people protesting this Bill? Instead of protecting their children they are up in arms supporting abusers of these children! People who support this evil have endlessly started to threaten us.”

This is the logic of national-being-under-attack. What is at stake here? Motherhood. Mr. Bahati simply wants to save the mothers of Uganda … from themselves.

This is the all too familiar logic of being-under-attack, of protection and security. Hate is called love, violence is called peace, victims are called perpetrators, and love itself is called evil.

Remember the Call to Action: “Denounce this bill through a protest at a Ugandan Diplomatic Mission in your country on November 9th 2009, where applicable. Urge the Government of Uganda to reject this Bill in its entirety.” Uganda is…not under attack.

 

(Photo Credit: Uganda Beat)

Security of Sex: New Oklahoma Abortion Law

Yesterday, October 7, 2009, the Oklahoma legislature passed a law requiring that private and identifying information be published online for women who have had abortions in state in order to deter women from having abortions.  While this is only one of a plethora of restrictions on women’s right to choose in Oklahoma, it is a particularly dangerous one.  The law has no actual scientific purpose, the manner in which the data is collected is practically unusable for any objective research, instead it is meant to shame and endanger women who seek this medical procedure. It even goes so far as to ask women why they are getting the procedure and outlaws any sex-based abortions.  Though women’s names are not published, information such as their age, race, level of education, marital status, number of previous pregnancies, and the county in which the abortion was performed.  Such information could easily identify a woman living in a smaller town.  No woman should have her medical history judged in the public square and the idea that this will deter abortions shows an unfathomable misunderstanding of pregnancy and abortion in this country.  Abortions are not sought simply by promiscuous teenagers that the overly paternalistic legislature is trying to make “take responsibility”.  You have to be 18 or have parental consent in Oklahoma anyway.  Abortions are sought by women for a wide variety of reasons including incest, rape, health of the mother, viability of the fetus or inability to care for the child.  Irrelevant of the reason, it’s private.

Likewise, the paperwork is incredibly long and puts an additional burden on already overstretched doctors and nurses at the handful of clinics in the state.  The publication of this information is a potential violation of HIPPA and the Oklahoma Constitution and while there are likely to be suits to overturn the bill, they will not be able to have an effect for some time.  The law goes into effect on November 1st.

Regardless of your feelings on the abortion debate, publishing women’s private medical history with information that could easily identify them is a gross abuse of power by the legislature.  It is not a matter of religion and scare tactics that drive women’s health procedures further underground are never for the public good.  Abortion will be reduced when the need for them is reduced through accessible and affordable contraceptives, education regarding contraceptive use and family planning as well as prevention of sexual abuse.  We need to let our legislators know that this is not acceptable.  Please look up your representatives here: http://www.lsb.state.ok.us/.  Write and call them immediately and let them know that you do not want this law.  Pass this information on to every Oklahoma voter that you know.  Below are several articles and the language of the law itself.

http://mobile.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/feature/2009/10/07/okla_abortion/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/08/oklahoma-abortion-law-det_n_313779.html
http://jezebel.com/5376502/new-oklahoma-law-will-put-details-of-all-abortions-online
http://www.sos.state.ok.us/documents/Legislation/52nd/2009/1R/HB/1595.pdf

(Photo Credit: Michael Cross / KOSU / NPR)

Scatterlings: “Shoot to kill”

At this time four years ago, New Orleans residents of color were being hunted like animals by white citizens and National Guardsmen alike as the waters of Katrina receded…

…and now ZA has its own “shoot to kill” policy. On the anniversary of 9/11, it really makes me wonder about how “we” define terrorism. Brutality by the state = law and order, mean to protect “football fans [that] could become easy targets during next year’s World Cup“. The low income (or no income) citizens of South Africa, of course, are always easy targets in the state’s shooting range. Oh wait, did I say citizens? Turns out “those who use illegal weapons would lose their normal rights as citizens“. Is this not terrorism?

It certainly is terrifying, and there are so many more layers yet: the resources being allotted to “security” and construction for this event instead of towards economic justice, the high rates of crime seen as unacceptable for Western tourists but the price of admission for South Africans…and where is the speech at an ANC dinner, the huge push of resources, regarding violence against women and rape?

(Photo Credit: The Telegraph / AFP)