Tag Archives: women

Sex Trafficking of Girls Is an Underground American Problem

Last week I saw someone in my Twitter feed mention the new movie, The Long Night, that was recently featured on the New York Times. The Long Night is an online film by Tim Matsui and Media Storm and funded by the Alexia Foundation about girls who are sex trafficked in and around Seattle. I immediately watched the entire movie and sat there in stunned silence! I just couldn’t believe what I was watching. I came to quickly realize how easy it is for young girls (mostly who come from abusive families) to fall tragically into lives where they become prostitutes, are owned and branded by their pimps, and use drugs to simply forget the lives they live. I also learned that prostitution is a cycle nearly impossible to leave because most of these girls do not have educations and many have criminal backgrounds. It then becomes even harder for them to become employed and to leave the life of sexual exploitation and trafficking.

Primarily following the lives of two young women, Natalie (a runaway from a good home) and Lisa (who was turned out by her pimp at 13), Matsui delves into the catalysts that drove them both to enter a life of being sex trafficked and their struggle to live a “normal” life. It was all too easy for them, even though at the time neither one of them really understood the risks of living the lifestyle. They were too young and fell into the trap of being coerced into becoming prostitutes by their pimps.

Lisa, who stood out most to me, is currently in jail and throughout most of the film she is noticeably high on heroin and even gets high before going into rehab where she stayed for one hour. Lisa also used to be a “cutter” and so along with her track marks are countless healed wounds from where the slashed her arms and legs.

"I’m not going nowhere. I have an image in my head of what I would want to be, but no matter what, it’s like, how do I get there? But in reality, maybe I realize that me being in jail, me getting sober, is a step toward that image of who I want to be."
“I’m not going nowhere. I have an image in my head of what I would want to be, but no matter what, it’s like, how do I get there? But in reality, maybe I realize that me being in jail, me getting sober, is a step toward that image of who I want to be.”

The one silver lining of the film is that there is King County police officers who help girls like Nicole and Lisa get immediately shelter, support, longterm housing, and rehabilitation services.

Taylor
Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Taylor, on how his policing changed when he started listening to the sex workers he encountered on the job. “Take the time to engage them and talk to them and find out why they are out there and I think it would change a lot of officers’, young officers’, minds and not look at them as throw away people.”

This year alone 2740 sex trafficking cases have been reported. I’m sure that number is probably just the tip of the iceberg since so much of sex trafficking is underground. California, Texas, Florida, New York and New Jersey are the top sex trafficking states based on data from the National Sex Trafficking Resource Center.

When you watch The Long Night you can easily become overwhelmed and feel a little helpless about what you can do to help these girls who are in such vulnerable positions.

The good news is there are ways you can help!

• First, think about your sphere of influence
• Then, watch the film at thelongnightmovie.com
• Like the Facebook page facebook.com/moviethelongnight
• Like the Facebook page facebook.com/leavingthelife
• Invite your friends to do the same
• Comment on the film. On your page or on the film’s. Tweet about it.
• Share a story. Share your own Call to Action.
• Host a living room screening of the film
• Bring the film to your PTA or PEPS group
• Integrate it into your schools
• Call your city officials and ask they watch the film.
• Get the film to your local police chief
• Get your mayor on board
• Find local victim service providers and ask what they need; socks, meals, donations for their annual fundraiser, they’ll know. And then let your community know what you did, inspire them!
• Have Leaving the Life come to your municipality to facilitate the co-creation of solutions in day-long convenings. This will take some work, even if you’re the mayor or the county executive.
• Because it’s all connected, consider donating to your favorite non profit working on a social justice issue. This includes Leaving the Life www.leaving-the-life.com/take-action

Why This 21-Year-Old Filipino Mother Dropped Out of School in 6th Grade

I met Jasmine and her son, Kent John, 7-months-old, on a sunny day at a free health clinic in Ormoc, a busy port city on Leyte island in the Philippines. At just 21-year-old Jasmine came to the clinic because Kent John had been experiencing a cough and fever for two weeks.

Luckily located very close to the clinic, Jasmine takes her son to the clinic for his regular immunizations and goes anytime Kent John is ill. Sometimes she has to wait for two hours before being seen by Glenda B. Serato, the health clinic’s nurse.

“I am confident with my baby’s health because I can access free immunizations and medicine,” Jasmine says through translation.

The mothers I spoke to including Jasmine mention always coming to the clinic for their children’s  immunizations even though many live deep in the rural areas where rice and sugar fields are abundant and access to health services are not.

“The mothers are educated now,” Serato confirms. “It is very rare that mothers don’t get their children vaccinated.”

During Typhoon Haiyan that devastated much of Leyte island, Jasmine was five months pregnant, but was able to deliver her first child, Kent John, via C-section at a public hospital. Now, she is taking oral contraceptives to space her children with her husband, who drives a motorcycle for a living.

Continue reading Why This 21-Year-Old Filipino Mother Dropped Out of School in 6th Grade

One Mother’s Story Of Giving Birth in a Hospital Instead of At Home

Merida, Philippines – I met Jocelyn Pingos, 27, in Merida, Leyte on a bright, sunny tropical day in the Philippines. A mother of four, Jocelyn sat outside her local health center and waited patiently to have her youngest, Lenith, 10 months, looked at because of a nagging cough. Her second youngest, Jelenia, 3, was also with her. Jocelyn’s other children who are 9 and 6 were attending school.

When Jocelyn delivered Lenith earlier this year, she and her husband decided that she should have a tubal ligation two months after her delivery.

“I have no plans to have any more children,” Jocelyn said.

Lenith

Jocelyn delivered her two youngest, Jelenia and Lenith, at the local hospital. Her two oldest were delivered at home. “For the first two, the midwife came to my home,” Jocelyn remembered. “The midwife wasn’t available for the last two.”

Continue reading One Mother’s Story Of Giving Birth in a Hospital Instead of At Home

How PSI Reinforces Positive Reproductive Health Messaging Through Branding, Edutainment

In Tanzania, orange has increasingly become the recognized color of family planning and reproductive health services. Population Services International’s orange Familia brand is quite common in most regions of this coastal country of 49 million. PSI, a global non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health of people in the developing world, has consistently and effectively branded everything in its nationwide Familia social franchise network since it began in 2009 with unforgettable orange and its semi-cursive Familia logo that bears a heart at the beginning of its name. All aspects of the Familia social franchise network from its clinics’ signage to the clothing of its health workers to its condom brand that claims in part 80% of Tanzania’s condom market and its health education booklets, all get PSI’s extensive branding treatment. The result: PSI Tanzania was able to serve 119,000 clients in 2013 through Familia via word of mouth and effective marketing.

Familia

Familia is PSI’s social franchise network of over 260 private sector clinics across 23 regions that primarily provides family planning, cervical cancer and maternal health services as well as health services for children under the age of five in urban and peri-urban community settings in Tanzania.  Tanzania’s most remote areas are serviced by PSI outreach teams.

Continue reading How PSI Reinforces Positive Reproductive Health Messaging Through Branding, Edutainment

A Day in the Life of a Family Planning Health Worker

Salasala, Tanzania — It took over an hour in notoriously congested Dar es Salaam traffic and gingerly moving through winding, narrow, dirt roads to visit Blandina Mpacha. Mama Blandina, as her community affectionately calls her, is a PSI health worker who teaches women, men, and whole families about the importance of family planning. This isn’t something new to her. Mama Blandina has been a family planning health worker for over twenty years and has seen the slow-going, but eventual change in attitudes toward spacing births. In a country where women give birth to 5.29 babies on average, Mama Blandina is saving lives and giving women a chance to raise their families instead of living in a perpetual cycle of pregnancy.

Greeting us on her front porch where adult shoes and sandals laid strewn about, Mama Blandina first wanted to show us her chickens. It wasn’t just a few adult hens milling about and pecking around; no, it was a coop full of at least seventy growing chickens being raised for sale, for as much as Mama Blandina is a family planning health worker, she is also an entrepreneur and has been for much of her adult life.  This is yet another sign of Mama Blandina’s resourcefulness, standing, and importance in a relatively poor community on the immediate outskirts of Dar es Salaam.

Blandina Mpacha first learned about being a family planning health worker on the only radio station in Tanzania at the time. Back then, she recalled between sips of coffee, only women who worked in offices used family planning methods. Now, for the most part, the stigma has fallen away.

Continue reading A Day in the Life of a Family Planning Health Worker

Traveling to Tanzania With PSI, IntraHealth International, and Mandy Moore

Over the years I have had the distinct privilege of meeting health workers around the world from Ethiopia and Kenya to Tanzania and South Africa to India and Brazil. Health workers, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, are the unequivocal backbone of health systems that can oftentimes be severely taxed due to the overwhelming number of people who rely on them for care to the disarray of health systems’ frameworks coupled with a dismal lack of financial allocations to national health care.

Health WorkersFrontline health workers I have met throughout the years. Left to right: Angawadi workers in Delhi, a family planning health worker in Johannesburg, a member of the Health Development Army in Hawassa, Ethiopia, hospital administrators in Lusaka, Zambia, and nurses in Morogoro, Tanzania.

Continue reading Traveling to Tanzania With PSI, IntraHealth International, and Mandy Moore

Why Getting Women to Deliver in Health Facilities May Be Harder Than We Think

Every day 800 women die from preventable causes during pregnancy and childbirth. That is 292,000 women too many each year. One of the ways in which this statistic can be reduced is by simply encouraging women in low- and middle-income countries to deliver in health facilities with skilled health workers. That sounds simple enough, but it has been challenging. The number of midwives in most sub-Saharan countries, for example, desperately needs to be scaled up and in some cases health facilities and hospitals are too far for women who live in the deepest rural areas to reach. In these cases many women still prefer delivering at home which, of course, poses untold dangers to her life and the life of her baby.

But there is an underlying factor that many don’t address nearly enough that perpetually forces women to choose delivery at home over a health facility: the harsh treatment they receive from nurses and midwives at the health facilities.

It has been documented time and again that African health workers in particular can be bluntly unsympathetic and insensitive to women who are in labor and delivery. Just listen to the health worker in this mini-documentary, Birth is a Dream. At 5:00 you hear a woman crying uncontrollably during delivery and then you hear the female health worker tell her harshly, “Excuse me, there is nothing to cry like that as if they are beating you. Will you relax? Let the midwife do what’s she’s supposed to do!”

Continue reading Why Getting Women to Deliver in Health Facilities May Be Harder Than We Think

Human Rights Watch Explores the Lives of Indian Women Who Clean Human Waste

Lalibai stands by the entrance to the village cremation grounds. Before she took action, villagers had forbidden members of her community to cremate their dead here. © 2014 Digvijay Singh


Can you imagine getting up every morning to clean human waste from dry toilets (those without running water or that are not attached to a septic system) day after day without pay? And, while the work is humiliating enough adverse health conditions arise from carrying baskets of excreta on one’s head from losing patches of hair, having constant nausea and headaches  to getting skin diseases and having breathing difficulties.

india0814_reportcoverThis is the everyday existence for hundreds of thousands of women and men across India who are traditionally and culturally relegated to the lowest caste in India. It’s called “manual scavenging” or collecting human waste. When women in this Dalits (untouchables) caste are married, the first thing they are given from their mothers-in-law is a cane basket to clean human excrement. It’s a practice that has been handed down through generations. And despite laws in India that forbid this practice and provide protections to the Dalits (both men and women) who manually scavenge, it still goes on without any major government intervention.

In 2013, the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 (the 2013 Act), was passed that prohibits manual scavenging and provides stronger protections for those who leave manual scavenging, but the evidence suggests the law is not working widely.

I had to work with my head veiled. During the rains, my clothes would  become drenched with excrement. They would not dry. The house would smell. I started to get skin disease and even to lose my hair.  —Badambai, Neemuch district, Madhya Pradesh, January 2014 (quote from the HRW report)

Human Rights Watch released a report this week, Cleaning Human Waste: “Manual Scavenging”, Caste, and Discrimination in India, that shares the stories about women in particular who collect human waste from the dry toilets of the upper castes and explores the role of government and civil society organizations in manual scavenging. The report also lays out ways in which Dalits can successfully leave collecting human waste as a livelihood.

As aforementioned, these women are not paid, but rather are given scraps of food that they in turn take back to their families. If they don’t work in these deplorable conditions, their families do no eat. That is what perpetuates the horrid cycle.

I clean 20 houses in Sandawli every day. They give me rotis. They don’t give more than two rotis, but they do give us something. My husband works in the fields, but work in the fields does not come every day. If I do this work, at least we will have something to eat. – Shanti, from Nagla Khushal, in Mainpuri  district, Uttar Pradesh

When women step up to leave manual scavenging they are oftentimes threatened with losing their homes and are even threatened with violence, even though the Indian Supreme Court has recognized that manual scavenging violates international human rights laws. What is proclaimed on the federal level, however, rarely trickles down to the municipal level and manual scavenging still takes place across India every day. While the government on every level is failing in this regard, civil society organizations are succeeding and women and men are standing up for their rights given to them by law to leave manual scavenging.

Read Lalibai’s story of standing up and freeing women across India from collecting human waste through organizations like Jan Sahas (People’s Courage) and Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan – the National Dignity Campaign. 

Introducing Our Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Correspondents

As our work continues to expand globally especially as the MDG deadline nears in 2015 we want to ensure that international voices are the cornerstone of our coverage of maternal, newborn, and child health worldwide. We are beginning with three correspondents: Winfred Ogdom, a nutritionist from Uganda, Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama, a motherhood blogger and journalist from Nairobi, Kenya, and Midwives from Haiti, a NGO that is fighting maternal and infant mortality in Haiti, the most dangerous country in the Western Hemisphere to be a mother, baby, or child under 5.

If you would like to be a correspondent, please email us at info@mombloggersforsocialgood.com for more information.

HAITI

LogoNewVertMidwives For Haiti is fighting maternal and infant mortality in Haiti, the most dangerous country in the Western Hemisphere to be a mother, baby, or child under 5. We deliver culturally appropriate, high impact health interventions to increase access to quality maternal care.  Our projects- which include Skilled Birth Attendant training, a Mobile Prenatal Clinic, a Postnatal Care Clinic, staffing and supporting a maternity ward, and training traditional birth attendants in our Matròn Outreach Program- educate and empower Haitian men and women to improve the health of their communities, creating lasting change for our graduates and the lives of the mothers and children they care for.


 

KENYA 

Maryanne_Waweru pptMaryanne Waweru-Wanyama is a motherhood blogger from Nairobi, Kenya. She tells her motherhood stories on her blog mummytales.com where she also incorporates the experiences of other Kenyan mothers. On her blog, Maryanne provides education on pregnancy, birth, delivery and infant and child care and nutrition. Maryanne is a journalist with over fourteen years experience and who has written, and still writes for various publications in Kenya including: the Daily Nation newspaper, the Star newspaper, the Standard newspaper, Parents Magazine, Healthy Woman Magazine, Healthy Child Magazine and many other publications. Her area of specialty is human interest features, maternal and child health articles. Maryanne is married with two sons.


 

UGANDA

Winfred Ongom Winfred Ongom is a 23-year-old Ugandan Nutritionist acquiring a Bachelor’s degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics this year in December. She has a lot of interest in making the world a better place using her standards of humanity and care. And this has given her exposure on issues of maternal and child health and their importance in development.

Winfred advocates for children, young people and mothers. Currently, she is using social media to inform and educate people on the challenges being faced by young people and mothers. Winfred stresses the need to step up maternal and child health so the world can be a better place for everyone.

Winfred Ongom 1

 

 Featured photo courtesy of Midwives for Haiti.

Sharing Moms’ Stories for #WorldBreastfeeding Week: Ebony #WBW2014

Today marks the end of World Breastfeeding Week, but we still have more breastfeeding stories to share after today. We believe that moms help fellow moms through personal stories. That’s why we will continue to share the breastfeeding experiences of new and experienced moms alike. No one wants to feel alone at 2 AM in the morning when you’re feeding your baby and hoping you’re doing everything right.

You can read all of the stories we have shared so far on our Storify page.

We love Ebony’s breastfeeding story, Moms Gets Boob Job Less Than 24 Hours After Giving Birth , because it’s full of practical, uplifting advice for moms who are just starting the breastfeeding journey.

My advice to you is to breastfeed your child as long as he or she allows, or your body for that matter. Do not be discouraged by the initial slow production of milk (trust me, it’s just what your little one needs) or that you were able to do it for a short period. Know that some breast milk is better than none at all. Do your best!

Breatsfeeding Story