Many people, especially privileged populations from developed countries (i.e. Americans), believe slavery ended long ago, not only in the U.S., but globally. Few people know that slavery is still very much alive in several parts of the globe, like in Pakistan, although it is known by a different name there.
My attention was first brought to ‘bonded labor’ through the Humans of New York (HONY) Facebook page. HONY has made a campaign with activist Syeda Ghulam Fatima to raise funds for her work to end bonded labor.
Before I get too ahead of myself, what is ‘bonded labor,’ and why is it so important that it is stopped? No one could explain it better than HONY in their first of seven posts spotlighting the issue.
“I want to conclude the Pakistan series by spotlighting a very special change agent who is working to eradicate one of the nation’s most pressing social ills. Over 20,000 brick kilns operate in Pakistan, supported by millions of workers, and the system is largely underpinned by an extremely close cousin of slavery—bonded labor. Throughout rural Pakistan, illiterate and desperate laborers are tricked into accepting small loans in exchange for agreeing to work at brick kilns for a small period of time. But due to predatory terms, their debt balloons, growing larger as time goes on, with no possibility of repayment, until these laborers are condemned to work for the rest of their lives for no compensation. If the laborer dies, the debt is passed on to his or her children. The practice is illegal. But due to the extreme power and wealth of brick kiln owners, the law is often unenforced in rural areas. It is estimated that well over one million men, women, and children are trapped in this modern feudalist system.” - from the Humans of New York Facebook page, written by the creator of the page Brandon Stanton
HONY continues with six stories from men and women trapped in the bonded labor system, forced to work off an ever-increasing debt that will passed onto their children. With 20,000 brick kilns across Pakistan, HONY estimates more than 1.4 million people and their families are enslaved through bonded labor. Laborers are beaten, exploited, and sold by the kiln owners, whom are very rich and powerful.
To help raise awareness for this growing issue, which is very often swept under the rug by the global (and even Pakistani) media, HONY has helped raise awareness (and funds) for Fatima, who is described as a “modern day Harriet Tubman,” as HONY credits her.
If you are interested in reading about Fatima, who is an incredible woman who has done incredible things to bring attention to and help end bonded labor in Pakistan, more can be read on her fundraising page . And consider donating to her cause, as she helps eradicate the debts of bonded laborers and their families. Let’s help Fatima help even more laborers, and start similar movements in Nepal and India (where some bonded labor exists as well).
The six laborer profiles HONY wrote about and published on their accounts are linked below;
***NOTE: We are no way associated with HONY or Fatima, and definitely do not take credit for any of the quotes or posts linked in this piece!
The social construct of virginity is bullshit and I've had enough. Even now, in 2015, as a young lady, I am expected to be composed, proper, only speak when it's my turn, know my place, and above all else, save myself for marriage.
With roots in the Christian tradition, women are expected to remain virgins until married. Except when you trace it back, Virgin Mary might not have even been a virgin. Let me explain. The words for 'virgin' and 'young woman' were used interchangeably in many translations of the bible, and many theorize that Mary wasn't likely as virginal as she is remembered. A likely explanation for this shift is Jesus, If Jesus was just born to a normal woman, that makes him seem a hell of a lot less miraculous than if he were born to a virgin, so the meaning of a few words shifted and nothing has ever been the same.
You'd think that our society would have shifted it's beliefs after so many years, I mean after all, we all wear clothing of mixed fabrics, eat shellfish, and gay people are even becoming widely accepted. So why do our older generations refuse to see women's sexuality as their own?
Control. As with many other aspects of the patriarchy, it allows for the subtle control of women. If, for generations, it is pounded into womens' heads that pre-marital sexual activity will de-flower them, will taint them, will pollute their sensitive fragile bodies, they will begin to believe it. They will begin to believe that this control is what's best for them, that they'll never find a good loving husband if their bodies are robbed of their virginity. Men are allowed to do as they please sexually, and women are controlled into refraining from something they are biologically programmed to to just because it wouldn't please those men.
This is part of the idea why the social construct of virginity is so damaging. When women believe that virginity is something that can be taken from them, that it's a piece of themself that they can never get back, they believe that it's something that a man has the power to take from her. They believe that somehow the penis has the magic power to take away part of a woman's self.
The penis has no magic powers. It cannot take away something from a woman. Penetration does not have the power to taint a woman. It has no magic ability to make a woman soiled or used or any less than she was before.
None of this is to say that sex should be taken lightly, as sex is important. Consenting partners should always both be on the same page, use protection, and communicate, however it doesn't have the power to ruin a woman. Those ideas strip women of their identity as human by removing their ability to have sexual desires or make their own decisions. These thoughts contribute to rape culture and the objectification of women.
I say we start teaching little girls that they can have sex when they feel they are ready to have sex, when they can make smart decisions about protection, who they want to have sex with, and how easily muddled consent can become. I say we tell them that sex is a part of life and they have the right to choose for themselves. I say we teach them that they don't have to have sex ever, even after they're married if they don't want to. I say we teach them that their sexual desires are just as valid as men's, but that with sex comes the responsibility of the possibility of pregnancy that men do not have to consider.
I say we teach little boys that they do not have the power to ruin a girl with their penis, they a women who has acted upon her sexual desires is not tainted or used up or no good. I say say we tell them that women's sexual desires are just as valid as theirs. I say that they learn that it's just as much their responsibility to use protection, as it is the girl's. I say that they learn that consent is a clear, sober yes and never should be assumed or implied.
I say we stop pressuring teenagers to engage sexually and stop pretending that there's something wrong with not having sex, or having sex. I say we teach teenagers that clear consent, protection against unwanted pregnancy and disease, and picking partners responsibly is what's important when and only when they feel ready to have sex not when their peers, society, the media, or anyone else tells them they should or shouldn't be having sex.
Finally, as a young woman, I can say definitively that who I'm fucking is between me, my sexual partners, and my gynecologist, and unless you are one of them, it is none of your fucking business.
Every time I see #WomenAgainstFeminism and #WomenBetrayed trending on twitter, I get more and more upset. This time, the topic of these tags is Planned Parenthood. Regardless of whatever “crime” Planned Parenthood may or may not have committed (Planned Parenthood has been accused of selling fetal tissues from aborted babies), they have done a lot of good for women (and men, too) in the United States.
Planned Parenthood has helped thousands and thousands of men and women everyday who struggle with unplanned pregnancies, STD testings, etc. Very few of what Planned Parenthood does involves abortions (which are safe, legal, and the choice of the women who seek help from Planned Parenthood).
Abortion is a very controversial topic that every person seems to have an opinion on, whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice. The platform behind these pro-life movements are that abortions are immoral because they are killing babies, and Planned Parenthood is the root of this evil. You can look at any pro-life webpage and see that they claim large percentages of the services Planned Parenthood provides are abortions to pregnant women, like this one at Life News.
These statistics, however, are very very wrong. Abortions compose only 3% of the services Planned Parenthood provides (332,000 terminations out of 11.4 million services provided in 2009 according to a Washington Post piece.)
So with only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services involving abortions, what other services do they offer to the 2.7 million men and women who seek help from the organization every year? These services include screenings for cancer (such as breast, cervical, and ovarian), pregnancy screenings and support, screenings for AIDS/HIV and other STDs, and general health and reproductive services for girls and women at risk. Many of these services are provided to people of low-income who cannot afford to have these tests done elsewhere, or people who are at risk at home or with their relationships (many teenage girls who become pregnant and must hide this from their families, or risk being kicked out).
But does anyone discuss those services, or the millions of women and men Planned Parenthood has helped? Of course not. Everyone is concerned with the 3%, the abortions that Planned Parenthood has assisted with (which, again, were performed safely and legally). I partly blame the poor sex education U.S. schools provide to their students, considering almost everyone behind the #WomenBetrayed campaign does not seem to understand the difference between a fetus and a baby. Stating that Planned Parenthood allegedly donates fetal tissue, and that it allegedly donates baby tissue are two very different concepts.
Regardless of your opinion on abortion, do you really want to condemn an organization (whose main goal to provide men and women with reproductive health services) because you disagree with 3% of its services, especially when there are more concerning matters to become enraged about? For instance, the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill lawsuit is still going on (and BP is trying to get out of paying for the irreparable damage it did in the Gulf). There are a lot of things Americans could get angry over, so why choose Planned Parenthood? This isn’t about saving a fetus (which, for those who do not know, is far from being a baby), this is about supporting women’s reproductive health (and general) rights.