Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Rawan

I feel nauseated.  I can't decide if I caught a bug, or if it's hormonal.  At age 42, by hormonal I could mean either I'm pregnant or perimenopausal.  It's probably neither.  It's probably the usual suspect: my choice in reading material.  Certainly my choice in reading material this week hasn't been helping my condition, whatever it may be.

Trigger warning: if child abuse, sexual abuse, child sexual abuse, rape, powerful people controlling disempowered people, or any type of human mistreatment of other humans makes you want to vomit, congratulations!  You're empathetic!

Here's another warning before you read on.  Time management warning: if you've got shit to do, like, you don't have time to sit around the house and bawl your eyes out for a week or more, you might want to stop reading now.  Certainly skip this news report:

I mean, look at this bullshit:

"Activist groups and politicians are still trying [to] change the law, but more than 100 leading religious clerics have said restricting the age of marriage is 'un-Islamic.'"

Um, I'm no theology expert, but I think raping little girls is un-Islamic too.

Rawan, the eight-year-old girl featured in the story, is reportedly dead due to internal bleeding.  From a ruptured uterus.  A few days after her father forced her to marry a forty-year old man.

I say forced because, you know, when I was eight-years-old I could barely make up my mind what I wanted to order off the menu at Ponderosa Steak House in suburban Kansas City, Missouri--fries or a baked potato?  Fries were what I wanted, but I noticed grown-ups eat a lot of baked potatoes and what I wanted more than anything was to be a grown-up, because then, I believed, I'd be in control of my own life.  I say forced because at eight-years-old I did not have the capacity to make up my mind over a potato selection in a timely enough fashion that it ever prevented my father from losing patience and just ordering fries for me, let alone the capacity to decide whether or not I wanted to enter into a marriage contract with a man five times my age.

Rawan, the eight-year-old "child bride" featured in this story is--was--one year older than our daughter, Katie.  Our second-grader who is not yet old enough to walk to school by herself let alone walk down the aisle.  Our sweet, innocent girl who still has trouble keeping her shoes tied let alone keeping a home in order.  Our girl who is so fickle about relationships that she comes home from the playground and announces that So-And-So is her NEW BEST FRIEND! and then the next day she returns again to proclaim that So-And-So is "kinda annoying" and that today she just felt like playing by herself.  Our girl who still sits in her daddy's lap as he reads her stories.  Our girl who still wants me to stay by her side until she falls asleep.  She's barely ready for sleepovers at friends' houses let alone a fucking arranged marriage.

Oh, Dear God, why?

Rawan: I would have loved to have met you some day.  I would have loved to watch you and my daughter play together at the playground.  I would have felt badly if the next day my daughter flaked out on you and wanted to wander off and lie in the grass and look up at the sky by herself instead of playing Ponies or whatever little game you two were playing the day before, but I'm sure you, merely one year older, would understand and you'd run off and find someone else your age to play with.  You know.  Like kids do.

But that's my American fantasy, cultural roadblocks blocking my view of your Yemeni reality.  The fantasies and what-ifs won't bring you back, Rawan.  We must move forward and use your story to help protect other Yemeni girls.

Please, take a stand for these girls.  Join me by signing this petition to President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, explained here on the WalkFree.org website and below:


ASK THE YEMENI GOVERNMENT TO END FORCED CHILD MARRIAGE

Aged 8, Rawan was sold by her parents, and forced into a marriage with a man five times her age. The injuries her young body sustained from her “wedding night” resulted in her death, and her story has sent shockwaves throughout the world.1

The most shocking thing about Rawan’s story? The fact that to many, her story is not shocking at all. Forced Child Marriage is a form of modern slavery, and in Yemen, there is no law which makes it illegal.

The Yemeni Government has the power to bring an end to Forced Marriage forever; the first step is to ban the marriage of anyone under the age of 18, protecting children from a life of domestic and sexual slavery. 

We know that ending Forced Marriage everywhere poses big obstacles and yet, in the aftermath of Rawan’s death, and with the eyes of the world on Yemen, this may be one of few fleeting moments when we can create change. We’re not going to let down the millions of girls vulnerable to this form of modern slavery. 

Forced Child Marriage is modern slavery and can be stopped. Call on the government of Yemen to ban Forced Child Marriage.

1 http://edition.cnn.com/2013/09/15/world/meast/yemen-child-bride/index.html