My post on Feministing this week covers the treatment that migrant women are facing as detainees in my “land of the free,” aka the United States of America.
Last week, civil rights groups filed a lawsuit on behalf of migrant mothers and children being held in a detention center in Artesia, New Mexico, arguing that they were being denied a fair deportation process. According to the complaint, “Plaintiffs have an indisputable right to seek asylum and related relief, and to a fair hearing to present their claims.” They also have the right to legal counsel.
But there a number of barriers standing in the way of that theoretical right. How is it possible to access anything when Artesia is 200 miles from the nearest city? One cannot claim one’s right to legal counsel when there are no legal service providers in New Mexico who are funded to represent people in detention centers. Currently, detainees are being served by volunteer lawyers who fund themselves to travel to Artesia and support these women. When women are forced to recount their horrific experiences with violence and rape in front of her children, or next to strangers she does not know, how accurate can her statements be? After hearing their stories, how can anyone possibly argue that they are a national security threat?
A new report has been released by powerhouse reproductive justice organizations the Center for Reproductive Rights, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and Sistersong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, titled “Reproductive Injustice: Racial and Gender Discrimination in U.S. Health Care.” This potentially ground-breaking report targets the U.S. government and United Nations, arguing that U.S. health care is in violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
The report highlights the devastating rate of maternal mortality and associated risk factors for Latinas and African-American women in the U.S. Among many horrific statistics, it demonstrates that in areas of the U.S., women of color suffer from maternal mortality rates higher than countries like Rwanda and Kenya. I hope you’ll take a minute to read through Miriam Zoila Pérez’s great analysis of the report, but I’ll highlight a particularly salient quote from it:
With the Latina immigrant women in “Reproductive Injustice,” the major issue was denial of health care based on immigration status, which the report deems a form of discrimination. Recent Texas policies have eliminated funding for women’s reproductive health care that many could receive regardless of immigration status or a lack of insurance. The report states that “immigrant women of reproductive age are approximately 70 percent more likely than their U.S-born peers to lack health insurance.
Even documented immigrants are barred from accessing health care benefits. Federal policy imposes a five-year waiting period for documented immigrants before they can be eligible for Medicaid. Texas goes a step further and refuses to extend Medicaid coverage to legal immigrants even after five years. Recent cuts to family planning funding in Texas have had a significant impact on immigrant women who live there. For example, in the Rio Grande Valley, the Southernmost part of Texas along the U.S.-Mexico border, the funding cuts and resulting closure of clinics has resulted in a 72 percent decrease in women receiving services, according to “Reproductive Injustice.”
Read more over at Colorlines.
Because I can’t get this song off of repeat, I present you with this French Afro-Cubana duo Ibeyi (Yoruba for twins). Their new single “River,” is dedicated to the river Orixá Oshun (or Oxum in Portuguese). Read more about them on NPR.
Trigger Warning: Rape, Sexual Violence
At age 13, a young girl known by her initials L.C., was repeatedly raped by a man in her neighborhood. When she found out she was pregnant, L.C. jumped off of a roof, severely damaging her spine. Doctors quickly concluded that she desperately needed attention but refused to address it because she was pregnant.
L.C. is now a quadriplegic. Continue Reading →
Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux has a new video out, and its adorable. The song, “Los Peces Gordos No Pueden Volar” (“Fat Fish Can’t Fly”), features a round-cheeked little girl dressed just like Tijoux, and lip-syncing to the music. While she sings, we are presented with scenes of children partying, dancing, waiting in line for a concert, etc.
This is Simona, an resident of the Ecuadorian Amazon, and an incredible activist. She is one of nearly 300 women who, in 2013, embarked on a 219 km protest march to Quito demanding that the Ecuadorian government spare indigenous ancestral lands from aggressive oil and mining policies. Handwritten around her photograph, is Simona’s description of herself and her work:
“My name is Simona. This is our land. This drawings are symbols of the richness that exists in the jungle. We live well here. We have been fighting for our land for 35 years. This government doesn’t have a conscience. That’s why they violate our rights. But we are not going to stand down. Even if they surround us, our communities are going to stand strong.”
I found Simona’s (and her many comadres‘ in action) story in the online media project, Imagining Equality: Your Voices on Women’s Human Rights. This project is an effort to shine a light on the state and future of women’s human rights around the world – through women’s art and voices. The pieces come from all around the world, and many of them focus on Latina feminist issues.
You can read about some of the other women and girls who marched with Simona here. While you’re there, check out Suhaly Bautista’s “A Ribbon Around a Bomb,” a photo series of women in Bautista’s life that embody “multi-issue lives.” For her, the artistic process was as much about thinking about representation as it was about creating images:
“In the process of creating these images together, my muses and I are challenged to consider who we are, what we have to offer our communities, and what we deserve as human beings, as well as to compare that against what we actually have.”
Of course, you’ll also have to spend some time enjoying María María Acha-Kutscher’s image series Indignadas. Acha-Kutscher, a Peruvian-Spanish visual artist, creates pop art style drawings of photographs taken from protests. Portraying almost exclusively women, this is her effort to centralize women within social movements, by elevating their work into a medium that is socially understood to be more “legitimate” than others: art. In her piece, Acha-Kutscher says that she wants “the series to serve as a memory bank that shows future generations that social changes throughout history were made by women and men together.” For more of her wonderful (I’m a big fan) work, check out the Indignadas Facebook page.
I could go on, but I’m going to let you check out the project yourself!
This is one of my favorite photos that I have taken recently, and I paid for it.
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you know that I am currently traveling through Peru with my family, visiting Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Colca Canyon. For some members of our group, the natural beauty of this mountainous country is by far the biggest draw. Though this is a stunning aspect of our trip, the best part for me are the people – particularly the women – I have met. Considering that the populations of the places we have traveled through are mostly indigenous, I’ve been thinking a lot about how these communities are forced to live off of what some people call “heritage commodification.”
Heritage commodification, according to Wikipedia is “the process by which cultural themes and expressions come to be evaluated primarily in terms of their exchange value, specifically within the context of cultural tourism.”
One can see this phenomenon at work anywhere there is tourism or museums. However in my experience traveling through Americas, heritage commodification often falls on the shoulders of women of color. From Salvador, Bahia where Afro-Brazilian baianas put on layered white dresses to sell acarajé to tourists, to Chiapas, Mexico where Zapatista women solemnly guide visitors through their Comunidad Autonoma, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where brown women pose with tourists in full carnaval regalia, women seem to be in charge of holding what is culture, and learning to sell it. This involves a lot of uncompensated performance work – posing, selling, smiling, hawking – in the hopes that someone will buy a drink, a scarf, or a photo. Obviously, this is quite different than encasing one’s culture in glass and charging an entrance fee to see it. Continue Reading →