Mexican Indigenous Moms Pushed, Pulled by Fertility #Vaw #Womenrights


By Vania Smith-Oka

WeNews guest author

Mexican Indigenous women

 

Credit: Shawna Nelles on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Bookmark and Share

(WOMENSENEWS)–Most women in Amatlan consider themselves, their neighbors and their friends to be good mothers.

Almost all the women in the community labor in the domestic sphere–they cook the food, wash the clothes and generally look after the house and children. Making lonches — lunches for the men in the fields and for the school-age children — is an integral part of their mothering. A good mother frets about what she is feeding her children. Though the terms the women use to talk about each other’s mothering are similar to the good-bad dichotomy used by the main­stream, their interpretations and the reasons behind their interpretations are more nuanced.

For the state, good mothers follow the rules, have few children and invest in them emotionally; they are also expected to live in a nuclear family. For the women I met, good motherhood entailed a significant amount of investment, but also drawing from one’s extended-kin network to achieve a child’s success; abuelas and ahuis (grandmothers and aunts) were frequently key to the socialization process of any child . . .

Not Suffering in Silence

In Amatlan, many mothers suffer alongside, or because of, their children. While marianismo – -the all-suffering, passive motherhood epitomized in the Virgin Mary — is very present in many corners of Latin America, it is not much in evidence in this region. The mothers who do struggle with their children neither view themselves as martyrs nor do they suffer in silence.

Esperanza often despaired at the laziness of her son Adrian, one day exclaiming, “He is no use to me here. He should go away to work but he doesn’t want to. I don’t know what to do with him.” I suggested, “You should stop feeding him.” She replied, laughing, “That’s true, then he’ll go away. . . . [If he is here] I worry when he doesn’t get back [or] whether he has been beaten or something. But when he is far away I don’t worry. My head can rest.”

All the mothers I spoke with worried about their children’s future. Emma said, regarding one of her sons who was attending university in the city of Morelia, “A student is a lot of money. My son always asks me for money, 70 pesos, or 50, and it is a lot of money. As he doesn’t work. . . . And when there is money we can [help] but often there is none. I tell [my husband] to go to Mexico and to work in a house, or as a bricklayer, to make some money.” She added with a smile, “But he says he is too old.”

Women in Amatlan were the primary caregivers to children, whether their own or their extended kin; their main duties were domestic. Emma’s eldest daughter, Cristina, irritably pointed out that mothers, and women, had to do everything with never any rest.

Exhausting Anxieties

She constantly worried about her children and hoped that they would be able to make something of their lives. But her anxiety was exhausting, as she said, extending her emotion to all aspects of motherhood:

“It’s just that as women we have to do everything, get pregnant and be nauseated for the first few months and when everything makes you feel sick. And [cleaning] the pigsty made me feel so sick. And then in the last [months] it is difficult to stand up and do everything. It is so much trouble. And then the pain of the birth, and to breastfeed, and to get up to change the baby in the middle of the night. Your husband is happily asleep but not you. And then to have to control yourself so you don’t get pregnant. We [women] have to do everything. There is only the condom and the vasectomy for men, but they don’t want them. We have to do it if we don’t want to get pregnant. And well, one has to satisfy the husband and also not have so many children.”

This centrality of women as caregivers and men as providers is echoed in the structure of Oportunidades, a federal social assistance program in Mexico. When some of the men of the village on occasion asked to receive the money alongside the women, they were scolded by the authorities and told that it was only for the women. They were told that they should work, not be lazy and support their families. This response somehow implied that women’s natural job at the home could be rewarded and encouraged with money, but men needed to be out in the public sphere without complaint.

Excerpted from the new book, “Shaping the Motherhood of Indigenous Mexico,” by Vania Smith-Oka, published by Vanderbilt University Press, 2013. Reprinted with permission. For more information:www.VanderbiltUniversityPress.com.

 

Immediate Release- Norwegian child confiscation case


CHILD WELFARE COMMITTEE, BURDWAN

163, BELHATI ROAD, DHALDIGHIPAR, BURDWAN-713101

PRESS RELEASE

8 November 2012
The Child Welfare Committee of Burdwan (CWC) has today passed interim
orders for release of the siblings Abhigyan Bhattacharya (4 yrs) and
Aishwarya Bhattacharya (23 months) from foster care and restoration to
their mother, Smt. Sagarika Chakraborty.

With the help of a panel of experts, we have evaluated the children,
their condition in the foster home and the capability of their mother
to care for them. We have found the mother to be fit to take care of
the children and their foster carer to have failed in his duties
towards the children.

The care of Abhigyan and Aishwarya is governed by Indian law by virtue
of their residence in India and the agreement under which the children
were given in foster care to their paternal uncle. Under Indian law,
foster care is a temporary measure with the aim of restoration of
foster children to their parents wherever possible. Notwithstanding
any agreements or court orders as to foster care, the Child Welfare
Committee is duty bound to change the foster carer or restore foster
children to a parent if continuation in foster care is no longer
necessary or beneficial for them. Foster children have a right to the
love and care of their parents, if the parents are able to raise them.
In this case, the father does not reside in India and the children are
being restored to the mother as the parent present in India.

The Norwegian orders under which the children were released to foster
care of their 26-year-old bachelor uncle do not justify an absolute or
permanent separation of the children from either of their parents. Our
findings as to the fitness of the mother and her interaction with the
children at visitations arranged by us establish a reasonable basis
for giving an opportunity to the children to be re-united with their
mother. We are keeping the case open for further review once the
children re-commence life with their mother.
We were unable to take charge of the children today for handover to
their mother owing to unavailability of police assistance to control
an unruly mob that had gathered around the foster home. We have
ordered police to ensure law and order so that the children can be
peacefully handed over at the earliest.

WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW

Why did they take my children away