Monthly Archives: February 2013
The Genesis Project was started by Deputy Andy Conner in the Seattle area in 2011. Their target group is victims of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST). Deputy Conner used to arrest prostitutes, now he helps them get out of the life. Blessings on this man and may more like him rise up.
Below are links to the Genesis Project and a powerful article by a photojournalist named Tim Matsui, another great man rising up and doing something to make a difference. Mr. Matsui’s article led me to the Genesis project. Matsui is doing a photojournalism research study on DMST in the Seattle area.
Yes, some child prostitutes (under 18) choose on their own to sell their bodies, but why? They are slaves to survival. If they had another choice, would they do it? NO! Or they are desperately searching for love and do not understand the difference between love and sex. Or their bodies have already been violated so what difference does it make? They are slaves of circumstance and need another choice. Bless those who are giving them choices.
This came from a friend of mine in Cairo, Egypt where rape and sexual assault are being used as weapons to terrorize and silence protestors. Almost daily, he is sending reports of women being assaulted in the crowds and on the streets. Why do men do this? I just don’t understand. Those commiting assault say it is improper for a woman to have her head uncovered or her face or her feet or even her eyes or her voice should not be heard on the streets, but it is not improper for a man to tear her clothes off, grope her or shove his hands inside her or worse?? Like in the New Delhi rape or Sohaila Abdulali’s case, the men point at the perceived improper behavior of the women and justify their own rampant sexual violence. Again, I just don’t understand. Sigh.
While I do not claim to be fully informed on the subject of female genital cutting (or mutilation) and recognize that there are a lot of cultural traditions that are difficult for those of us in the U.S. to understand, I believe this is a practice that comes out of male dominance and control of the female population. I realize women support it in many places, but it has more to do with cultural acceptance and marriage possibilities than that it enhanced their lives. One sociologist purporting tolerance equated it with female genital cosmetic surgeries in the U.S. The difference (in my mind) is the cosmetic surgeries are completely voluntary and done on consenting adults. In most countries FGM/C is done on girls from infants to young teens or as a right of passage into womanhood at the onset of puberty.
The information below is from the U.S. Department of State with a link to a panel discussion on the topic that will air tomorrow:
“In observance of the tenth anniversary of the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer will deliver remarks and lead a panel discussion on February 6 at 9:30 a.m. in the Loy Henderson Auditorium. To raise awareness of the prevalence and consequences of FGM/C and discuss efforts and solutions to address this harmful traditional practice, Ambassador Verveer will be joined by leaders and practitioners in the field including: The Honorable Amina Salum Ali, Ambassador of the African Union to the United States; Dr. Nawal Nour of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA; Bakary Tamba of the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Tostan in Senegal; and Jessie Hexpoor of the NGO Hivos in the Netherlands.”
Follow the event @S_GWI and hashtags #EndFGM/C and #ZTD on Twitter.
The program will also be webcast live for international audiences at URL: http://conx.state.gov/digital-diplomacy
Beautiful. Sad. Left me in tears.
What does it mean to have a voice, other than in strictly physiological terms? In counseling, we use this phrase, or a near cousin, quite often in abuse recovery work. We speak of finding your voice, using your voice.
In writing, we talk about voice in the sense of having a unique tone or style that distinguishes it from other writers or one project from another. If everyone had to write in a flippant, smart-alecky voice or a somber, morose tone then soon all books would merge into one indistinguishable blob, and the art of the writing would be lost. It would be like every painter being forced to use only shades of blue.
I’ve pondered this idea of voice a great deal since I started thinking about constructing a blog. Developing a voice, and a unique one at that, is about learning to express yourself, finding what it is you want to/need to say, and speaking it as authentically as you can. Part of the process is getting over the fear of speaking and/or writing.
So what is the fear—or more accurately, what is MY fear? (Or fears…mine are numerous.) The biggest fear is that there is nothing inside me worth saying or that others would find worth listening to. I think for those of us raised in abusive homes or who have been tormented or tortured, we come to believe this is the truth because we are told it is so—if not in direct terms then in indirect ways. Our words, our objections, our cries are ignored as if we weren’t even speaking. Or we are told we are stupid or worthless. If I am stupid or worthless, then my thoughts are stupid or worthless, so what would be the point of speaking them except to prove it?
Another fear is making a mistake or lots of them. There is a Jewish proverb that says, “In a multitude of words, transgression is unavoidable.” So if I write, it’s going to happen, but making mistakes is a frightening thing to those raised in abuse. A wrong word, a wrong look can bring punishment, swift and painful. So why risk it? Because it is one way of taking back control of our lives, something we lose in abuse. For me, a way of safely flipping off my abusers. I can make mistakes now, and it won’t end me. In fact, every mistake I make is one more piece of evidence that I have my life back. I can screw up and survive. I can say stupid things and correct them later or apologize. I can learn from mistakes and grow.
The third fear is breaking the rule of “Don’t tell.” Or else. I’m still a little shaky on this one. This is the “irrational” fear I mentioned a few blogs ago. It seems to me almost all abuse carries this edict. If the threats are not explicit, they are there in the body language, the brute force, the hiding behind closed doors, “this is our secret”. Abuse thrives in such secrecy, “telling” exposes it. I’m taking the risk and standing up to this fear, partly to prove to myself that the oppression has ended. I am free. As free as I will allow myself to be.
The last fear I’ll mention is the vulnerability of using my voice. It’s vulnerable because it exposes my inner self, and what if I lay my true self out there and I get rejected? Having a persona rejected is not nearly so painful because, well, it’s not really me. Ironically, I’m writing under a pseudonym, which is kind of like hiding behind a false self, but the truth is, I’m more honest here than in most of my life where people can see my face.
In writing novels or stories, vulnerability is essential. I’ve had to push myself in my novels not to use the “safe” terms or edge around an issue. If I’m going to write, I want to write honestly, authentically. I don’t expose everything, that would be unwise, but I push myself as close to the edge as I can. This is another part of taking my life back.
One last thing. Part of using my voice is speaking for those who do not yet have one or who are not in a safe place to use it. When I wrote my Azora’s Castle novella, it really connected with some people in Egypt. The story is about a little girl’s isolation. I had no idea when I wrote it that it would speak to a culture where many live in fear and isolation due to an oppressive social structure. In exposing my feelings through this character, it exposed the feelings in others, and then offered hope as Azora overcame her fears and learned to connect. My writing is not only life-giving and cathartic for me, it can be for others as well. At least, that is my hope.
So I’m testing my voice here, strengthening those vocal chords. And I invite you, if it is safe for you to do so, to join me. If it is not yet safe, I pray I may speak words on your behalf that bring life to your soul.