06 March 2012

.reproductive health is a human right.

Maureen gave me a tour of the labor and delivery ward today. This is the most expansive ward in my district given that it’s the main hospital.  We passed thru two swinging doors and there were the 4 beds in the main room, half sheets hung for reasons unknown but none of which pertained to privacy. Only 3 of the beds were being used by women in early stages of labor. I asked what happens when more than 4 women are laboring and she showed me two separate rooms (actually private yet dark, damp, and depressing) mostly used for women with complicated or prolonged labor. They can hold a total of 8 women at one time. After they reach 8 then they made floor beds, Maureen says that this happens often. At the end of each bed was a cardboard box (it looked like a box of triscuits) that was the sharps container. On the floor was a bucket labeled “placenta” I asked Maureen if there were any cultural practices with the placentas and she opened up the bucket to see, yes a fresh placenta. They take them out to the placenta burning pit twice a day (not the cultural practice I had anticipated). We then we on to see the women who were being watched after complicated labors, this room was open and held 24 beds. All but 2 beds were filled. There was one woman who had been there for 48 hours, for some reason she really impacted me. She sat there naked from the waist up with only a chitenji wrapped around her, sitting on the bed with a blank hallow stare feeding her baby, her large swollen breasts looked painful. I wonder if she had any choice over her body.


There has been a lot of discussion, debate, and general commotion about women’s rights in the states. It saddens me that this needs to be a discussion, it saddens me that my body has become a political issue, it saddens me that it has turned into a women’s issue. It makes me reflect about one of my favorite buttons, it said “Be nice to vaginas you came from one” I like it because it’s funny, suggestive, and universal. Reproductive health isn’t a woman’s right, it’s a human right. We are only limiting our understanding of ourselves and our potential of health by wrapping up this conversation with labels. What do your statistics mean to the unplanned children, the mothers afraid of their own bodies, the families without a choice? When health becomes only an option for the rich there lies only one outcome, poverty (I mean this is a broad aspect).
Maybe that’s what those haunting hallow eyes of the Amayi were showing me, we have become so detached from our own bodies and thoughts that we start to control something, others, the voiceless, the impoverished, the meek, the sick, the young, the old, us.

This moment was a wake-up call for me to reconnect with myself, my body, my mind, my passion, and my world. It’s a call back to reality, to feel it.

1 comment:

Nicholas said...

So, so true. Very thoughtful, mi amor.