In the late 90’s, I was in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica working with kids in a San Jose neighborhood called Leon XIII. After a nice trip back to Costa Rica, and a long day of travel yesterday, my husband, son, and I are home. I’m still trying to get into the groove of being back.
My mind is still on the trip. In trying to bring it back to the U.S. and for this blog, the status of women and justice, the transition for me is stuck on two different events I heard about. One there. One here.
When I lived there, I lived with a family. As we sat drinking coffee the other afternoon, my sister in that family was getting messages from a woman who she used to work with. She said something about the woman not feeling well/being upset because she’s pregnant. I asked if it was a symptom of the pregnancy (like morning sickness) or if she was upset because she didn’t want to be pregnant.
Sister: “Because she doesn’t want to be pregnant.”
My sister’s mother (my mother for the time I lived there in the house, who I still respect and love and who is very Catholic): “It’s awful that every child is not a wanted child. All children should be wanted children.”
Me: “Yeah, it’s sad. A lot of children are not wanted when they come into the world.”
Sister: “Well she and her husband split up, so I guess she doesn’t want to be pregnant.”
Me: “Is the pregnancy from her husband or from someone else?”
Sister: “I don’t know,” she shrugged.
Another text came in.
Sister: “She said it’s her husband’s. I didn’t know this, but she said her husband broke in a couple of months ago and forced her to have sex with him even though she didn’t want to and now she’s pregnant.”
Me: “No wonder she doesn’t want to be pregnant. She was raped.”
We all agreed it was awful, but that was the end of the conversation.
Now I’m back in the states. I’m still getting unpacked and doing laundry. During my time out of the country, I barely checked email and Facebook and tried to ignore the news here. I wanted to be away from it all.
And I got to do that in a way. I got to briefly ignore social media demands and the craziness of my own country. But that doesn’t last long and there is no escaping injustice. Not in Costa Rica. Not anywhere. And nowhere is there an escape from violence against women.
In Costa Rica there are fewer services for women who are sexually assaulted. There is less awareness that rape within marriage is rape. There is no legal abortion and there is much less reproductive justice, though there are many people fighting for women’s right to choose to have a safe and legal abortion and for women to have complete reproductive freedom.
As for me, I left thinking about many things, one being my sister’s friend.
Back in the states and behind on the news, the second event I read about was this:
22 year old pregnant woman in Detroit, Latonya Bowman, was abducted, set on fire, and shot by some weird combination of her boyfriend (father of the baby) and his roommate. She escaped by playing dead and drove off for help once her attacker fled the scene, which is an amazing testament to the strength of women fighting for survival. She is still alive and gave birth on Tuesday, which was three weeks early.
There are days I want to get out of the country, hang out at the beach, stop thinking about all this, stop reading, writing and talking about such awful evil things, but this hatred of women is worldwide. It’s insidious. And its consequences are all over, all the time.
It has to stop.
The hatred of women comes from women being seen as inferior to men. When women are seen as inferior, more violence is perpetrated against us.
All over the world, control of women’s bodies is being taken from women. We must have that control back.
Laws need to effectively protect women from rape and all violence.
Laws need to proclaim and reinforce women’s equality.
Laws need to punish acts of violence against women.
Laws need to ensure women have choices about their bodies in all areas of life.
We all need vacation time, but these issues are not going away. I’m climbing back into my world knowing there is no way to completely escape the hatred of women and that we must continue to speak out against violence happening against women, about injustice, about hate crimes based on gender that are not recognized as hate crimes.
STOP VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN! Until violence against women is actively being stopped by our government, our culture, our laws, this is still a War On Women.