I recently read Half the Sky, coauthored by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. It’s an impressive work. The authors travel to Asia, the Middle East and Africa and write about issues plaguing women in those regions, including honor killings, maternal mortality, FGM and a whole host of other issues that don’t make for good dinner table discussion.
Despite their exhaustive research, however, Kristof and WuDunn manage to completely ignore Latin America. Well, that’s not quite true. They do say — to paraphrase — that despite Hispanic machismo, Latin American countries do a good job of keeping girls in schools and mothers alive through good maternal healthcare.
They don’t mention a thing about the domestic violence in South America, despite the fact that in Argentina alone, such violence claimed the lives of 126 Argentinean in 2010, a 40 percent increase from 2009, when Half the Sky was published. Nor do they write about the predators who, at last count, murdered 430 young female maquiladora workers in Juarez, Mexico.
Perhaps most significantly, there is talk of Latin America’s draconian abortion laws. Although the continent has swung toward the left in the past few decades (despite America’s best efforts to keep it under the heel of dictators like Pinochet), there has been little progress in legalizing choice.
In a bluntly titled article “Abortion in Latin America — Still Illegal, Still Killing, Despite Growing Awareness” Estrella Gutierrez writes, “There are more than four million illegal abortions a year in the region, linked to over 4,000 avoidable deaths. And in some countries, like Argentina, there are nearly as many abortions as births.” Well, I guess there is good health care for women. . . who choose life, that is! I mean, what else do females expect when they have sex for pleasure rather than procreation, in defiance of the head of the state and the Pope himself? Those putas deserve a terrifying, traumatic (and possibly) fatal medical experience.
Speaking of the Pope, the Brazilian Catholic Church fought against allowing a nine-year-old girl to obtain an abortion last year. She had allegedly been raped by her stepfather, and, although Brazil outlaws abortion, there are exceptions in cases of rape and health of the female (both of which applied here.)
Fortunately, there are reasonable Brazilians and the girl was allowed an abortion. However, the entire medical team, as well as her mother, were excommunicated from the Church. As minors are exempt from excommunication, the child was spared this fate. I’m sure she’ll be thrilled to remain part of an institution so committed to helping her.
In an interesting call, Archbishop Don Jose Cardoso Sobrinho chose not to excommunicate the pervert who’d for years abused and ultimately impregnated her, saying “”A graver act than (rape) is abortion, to eliminate an innocent life.” Well, that, and, presumably, they’d have to excommunicate half their clergy.
Without access to reliable birth control and abortion, women’s freedom is limited — the freedom to stay in school, to be economically independent and the freedom to leave unhealthy relationships.
Half the Sky is a difficult book to criticize, as it obviously represents years of research, interviews and lists organizations that specifically aid women. But it must be said that WuDunn and Kristof drop the ball when they neglect to cover a continent.