I have longed for thy salvation, O L-RD; and thy Torah is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. Psalm 119:174-176

25 January 2013

Girl Effect Sidebar: The Family Bed by Tine Thevenin

As some of you may have noticed, I've added a new code to the right sidebar of my blog, where I list what book, or which books I am currently reading. Partly for accountability to continue reading the book, and partly so I remember to go and write a review.  I just finished reading "The Family Bed" by Tine Thevenin. She has written another book that I'm looking to get, entitled "Mothering and Fathering: The Gender Differences in Child Rearing." - It's an out of print book, but there seems to be a lot of copies floating around out there.

I don't remember where I first heard of this book, but I recall that I heard of it when I was early in my walk towards attachment-parenting and "crunchy" living. I had not yet given birth to my first son, and I had dismissed the idea of the family bed as something that was cultural, and unacceptable in not only my culture, but for the most part was talked against in the church. Not necessarily by the pastor, but by all the really über-spiritual women in the church. And if the older ladies said it is a bad idea, it's a bad idea. Right?


I shelved the idea of getting the book for 4 years. I heard of it again somewhere, somehow via Gentle Christian Mothers. So I put it in my ever-enlarging Amazon wishlist under "Parenting" and just waited until I saw it go on sale.  One day, I had a few extra Euro laying around, logged into and voilá, there was my book on sale. "A match made in heaven!!! It is now time!", I exclaimed and purchased it.

I hadn't had the book in my hands for more than a few minutes when I noticed who had commented on Tine's book. Jane Goodall. Hmm, interesting. This piques my interest even more than it already was. I'd already read "Born Dancing: How Intuitive Parents Understand Their Baby's Unspoken Language and Natural Rhythms", "The Continuum Concept: In Search Of Happiness Lost", "Beyond the Sling", and "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding", "The Politics of Breastfeeding: When Breasts are Bad for Business", as well as "The No Cry Sleep Solution". (which, I honestly did not like.)

I'm slowly, as stages come along, referring to "Child Behavior: The Classic Child Care Manual from the Gesell Institute of Human Development", when I had begun purchasing in the series of books "Your ____ Year Old" by Ames and Ilg. I'd heard of the larger "compendium" and purchased it in the last few months. I'll continue along with the other series, but I'm finding this one rather helpful as well, to understand better how children develop and fix the issues I have with my own self for some of the needs that were not met when I was little.

Sometimes I find it rather strange how I am driven to learn... and sometimes, I find it absolutely hilarious how the little puzzle pieces come together. I throw in some history, some studies about women of faith, some religious studies, then I go back to child development.  I might switch up the order, but it always will have a theme running through the books that echoes and feeds each thing that I am learning about. I might even, for good measure, throw in a fiction book. Guess what? Somehow it fits into the theme.

I want to say that this year, since Rosh Hashanah, the themes that keep coming up are "Healing" and "Grace", "Tikkun Olam".

You have to imagine my surprise at reading the books I have read since September to only have this same theme over and over in my mind. Healthy boundaries, Healing, Grace...Tikkun Olam.  It does probably help that I am on Gentle Christian Mothers and every single day (and time I log in!) being reminded that not only is grace for parents, it is always available and there for children.

You cannot begin to imagine how healing it is to be told that over and over, and read it over and over again being told to many other women in their varied parenting journeys. It doesn't matter if they are Orthodox, Messianic, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Catholic,  Anglican - we can agree on more than the very basics - that our children deserve to be treated with respect, with grace, and with understanding while they are in their early years so that they do grow up to be well boundaried, healthy adults.

I wish I had found the community sooner than I did, but G-d had reasons for guiding me where I was guided on my journey through The Babywearer, and Diaper Swappers, Christian Forums and eventually to GCM.

Initially, I was very against the idea of a family bed or co-sleeping as it is now known. It'd been drilled in that children sleep in their own bed or rooms, might co-sleep with siblings, but rarely if ever with parents. That's just "weird" unless it is within your culture to do so. Which I find hilarious, given the fact this was normal until about 100 or so years ago for the middle and lower classes to do just this thing out of necessity.

My husband however, was raised with a family bed. He had his own, but at any time, he was welcome to "room-in" with his parents.   For me, that was kind of interesting since we did climb into bed with our grandparents when they visited, or we visited them - but only in our parent's bed if we were sick or scared.

It was my husband's idea to just toss conventional wisdom and let JD sleep with us after he was born. Eschew stupidity, and just go ahead and make life easier while breastfeeding. I was exhausted, why argue? It worked.

It's taken four years though to get rid of the mindset I had, and become more comfortable with having one or both children in bed with me when we are asleep. I can honestly say I am appalled and very sad to know that for almost five years, I'd been fighting my children to assert my right to my bed, when honestly, they were asserting not only their right to be with their parents, but their biological need to do so.  I've come to terms with the fact that I can't have my childhood back, and I can't change how I was raised, but I want to look forward and know that if there were things I could change to make us happier and healthier - this is one thing that did change and that we have a better attachment, understanding and that we extend grace to the children, and they in turn, extend grace to us as well.

I'd like to share some quotes from the book that were my "clincher" that this is definitely the right thing to do for our family.  I don't often underline or highlight in books, even used books that I purchase, but this book was so awesome that I had to underline the things that jumped out and screamed at me "Pay attention! Pay attention to this!!!"

"All of our birth experiences were happy ones...  It's interesting to me, though, that my ways of baby care at home reflected the way in which I was or was not allowed close contact with our babies in the hospital... as if I were programmed in a certain direction."
- Page 20

"Parents should take pride in the fact that they are the ones the child seeks in time of need. To the child, they are more important than all the toys and teddy bears and dolls and blankets in the world. Only they can give him true security. How frightening that the child is discouraged from telling his parents that he would rather be with them than with his toys."
- Page 26

"...tactile demonstration of affection between parents and their children, especially with children of the opposite sex, is frequently open to misunderstanding and ridicule...
 ...the great  importance of the emotional transaction that takes place through the skin by touching, has until quite recently [1970s-80s] been ignored." *brackets mine, Page 38

"...our physical isolation from one another has been plotted since infancy. Single Beds. Separate rooms. Stop fighting. Don't touch." - Page 39

"It is a real eye opener to count the number of times we say "NO!", or remind a child that he is dealing with potential danger. Should we, therefore, frustrate him even more by putting restrictions on emotional wants and needs?  The child's sleeping... should be understood as an important fulfillment of a basic human need." - Page 49

"When our response to a crying baby is inconsistent, we are teaching him that people are not trustworthy, and he may feel confused and powerless. The interesting thing is that young children... will immediately respond with concern to an unhappy baby. But as adults, we want a reason, and excuse, a label that we can attach to his crying..." - Page 79
These quotes certainly remind me of the following "Silly Song" from VeggieTales:

And this Youtube clip:

One of the funnier (to me) quotes, is something that I am finding, having come out of a very patriarchy-friendly / complementarian, spiritually abusive church-related childhood  and the Purity movement was this quote:
"If you want hanky-panky going on in your family, play down affection and have lots of taboos about sex. ...without exception, any person I have seen with problems in sexual gratification...grup up with these kinds of taboos..." - Virginia Satir, author of People making; Page 116
Tine also wrote this gem after her book was published, which draws heavily on her books:
"Children should be given the credit that, provided the home environment is healthy, they will mature. As each need is fulfilled at each stage, they will move on and become more mature. (We did. Let's hope.)
It will be found that one phase passes into another, and another, and another. Please trust that in a sound surrounding the child will graduate from each stage of development."
Need vs. Habit  By Tine Thevenin

Flowermama, the owner/admin at Gentle Christian Mothers said this:

" Children are not animals who need to be broken. Not to mention that using harsh ways of training animals is not good or healthy for animals either. The fact is, there are so many ways to discipline our children -- there are so many ways to help children learn. They can learn without spanking. They can learn without being purposefully hurt in any way. Pain is not necessary for someone to learn something. We adults learn things *all the time* without having pain associated with it. "
Some thoughts by flowermama

 I am coming to see my world as somewhat detached, consumerist, and that it doesn't value children.

Contrary to this wave of consumerism and detachment is the attachment parenting movement, usually coupled with natural living.

Some of us might be neo-hippies, but hey, don't knock it if it works, right?

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you have noticed that I have been struggling with the world's (and church's!!) perception of women. I've been struggling with the rape culture around me.  I'm struggling with the acceptance and  pervasiveness of spousal and child abuse, and how difficult it is for victims and survivors of this abuse to get the help they desperately need.

I am beginning to think that a lot of the problems we see in the world would actually get better and/or end entirely if we simply:

  • Slowed down
  • Took time with our children and actually engaged in their learning processes prior to and during their schooling years.
  • Removed obstacles that would take the place of our love and care (bumbos, props, bottles (unless absolutely necessary of course!), strollers, carrying our children in bulky car seats (can we say UNSAFE?!), and other ridiculous contraptions such as crank swings and walkers)
  • Carried our children / wore our children in child-safe baby carriers (When in doubt, TheBabyWearer)
  • Breastfeed (if at all possible. Sometimes it isn't, and that's ok - skin to skin while feeding also helps!!)
  • Co-slept / Family bed
  • Learn about child development prior to, and after having children
  • Give our children grace and expect them to act like children, not rebellious miniature adults
  • Banish punitive/shaming childcare practices
  • Be "The Village" and help each other raise our children.

I know that Dumbo is generally not a well beloved movie in my inner GCM circle, but I love it for my own reasons. It shows mothers being mothers to their children, even if they have a job. That we need to cultivate a good relationship with our peers and elders, as well as other species. That our children deserve respect, patience and protection from the evils of this world.

Others don't like it because of how the elephants are treated (pretty par the course in the 1930s, sadly), and how Mrs. Jumbo is separated from Dumbo after she struck a child for hurting her baby. (I still get teary-eyed 20+ years after I first watched this film for that very reason)

Yes, there is bad in the film. Yes, there are stereotypes in the film... but there are so many touching, tender moments where there is right in the world... where others are helping each other out, and eventually, mother and child are reunited.

I believe we can learn from the past and show our children how things were, and discuss how things ought to be ideally, with values from the Bible (in the best of our understanding) and work towards Tikkun Olam.

Another similar Disney film that had an impact on how I saw mothering and childhood, is Goliath II.. You might not actually know this short film, but it was a favorite of mine growing up.

It shows the typical "Parent-y" attitudes of the child being a nuisance / never-do-well,  until a crisis where s/he stands on their ground and makes a big impact.  (If you're a big Disney fan, you'll recognize a lot of the voice actors here. *ahem*)

I believe there are many, many lessons in this short film about what needs to change in our cultures... in our parenting.. in our marriages,  how we relate to and discipline our children, community...
I do dislike that Goliath II is spanked, especially so harshly... but I think it can be a teaching moment. Why we do not do that, why it is not good, and how that is NOT what G-d ordained in Scripture.

Maybe this is why Healing and Grace - and Tikkun Olam keep coming up so much this year...

I still have a lot to learn, but I have a lot to share too.

14 January 2013

The Girl Effect - Part 33 - Social Justice

Word art found on Pinterest. If this is yours - let me know!

The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by the Jesuit Luigi Taparelli in 1840 based on the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and given further exposure in 1848 by Antonio Rosmini-Serbati. The phrase has taken on a very controverted and variable meaning, depending on who is using it. The idea was elaborated by the moral theologian John A. Ryan, who initiated the concept of a living wage. Father Coughlin also used the term in his publications in the 1930s and the 1940s. It is a part of Catholic social teaching, the Protestants' Social Gospel, and is one of the Four Pillars of the Green Party upheld by green parties worldwide. Social justice as a secular concept, distinct from religious teachings, emerged mainly in the late twentieth century, influenced primarily by philosopher John Rawls. Some tenets of social justice have been adopted by those on the left of the political spectrum.

 "...Social justice is justice applied not just in individual relationships but across social systems. Social justice envisions a society in which every person is given an equal opportunity for a dignified human life. It’s about insisting on basic human rights and rectifying inequalities in society. From a religious point of view social justice is rooted in the notion that we are all created equal. According to some religions our equality in creation is based on being created in the image of God. It is this notion of a common human family that transcends barriers of nationality, race, gender and religion that binds us all together in pursuit of what is in the common good..."Faith for Justice

"Tikkun olam" (literally, "world repair") has come to connote social action and the pursuit of social justice. The phrase has origins in classical rabbinic literature and in Lurianic kabbalah, a major strand of Jewish mysticism originating with the work of the 16th-century kabbalist Isaac Luria.
The term "mipnei tikkun ha-olam" (perhaps best translated in this context as "in the interest of public policy") is used in the Mishnah (the body of classical rabbinic teachings codified circa 200 C.E.). There, it refers to social policy legislation providing extra protection to those potentially at a disadvantage--governing, for example, just conditions for the writing of divorce decrees and for the freeing of slaves.
-My Jewish Learning
 Tikkun olam (Hebrew: תיקון עולם) is a Hebrew phrase that means "repairing the world" (or "healing and restoring the world") which suggests humanity's shared responsibility "to heal, repair and transform the world."
...Tikun Olam starts with God's creation of the universe. It entered the cosmos on the sixth day of creation and has persisted to this day, and is hinted at in contemporary religious practice. Every Shabbat evening we proclaim at kiddush: "God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because on it God ceased from all creative labor that He created to do (la'asot)." (Gen. 2:3) The final word "la'asot" appears both superfluous and irregular in this context. Creation is complete—or so it seems from the simple past tense of all other verbs in this verse. Yet 'la'asot' is the infinitive form, implying ongoing activity. 'La'asot' indicates that there is still some creating that is continuing or at least requires continuation. Based on this textual clue, kabbalah teaches that God did not finish creating the world at the end of six days. He left a little corner of the world unfinished. He left disease. He left poverty. He left drought and starvation. The cosmos is unfinished, and who will complete creation? We will. Perfecting God's universe is the task for humanity in general and for the Jewish people in specific.
-Learning to Give: The MItzvah of Tikun Olam

I've been thinking a lot these last few weeks. In the last couple of weeks, there has been a lot of changes in my life, and two concepts keep whirling around in my mind. "Tikkun Olam."  and "Social Justice".  Having just finished reading "Dating Jesus", my interest has been piqued to go back and complete some of my History education that is apparently sorely lacking in certain subjects.  I've made it my goal this year to fill in blanks I have in UK history and American history. I will be filling in information about many subjects, one of which happens to be the older "Social Justice" movement that began during the Industrial Revolution. In so doing, I have been learning many things.

Today, I'd like to share why Tikkun Olam / Social Justice is a big issue to me.

"...The mission of Jesus Christ was to love you and me while we were most decidedly not Christians. We were poor in spirit, enemies of Christ and his kingdom, and he offered His body for us anyway. Is it even Christian, then, to say we will only care for those who are like us? For some reason it doesn't occur to us to question foreign missionaries who give of themselves, even to the point of death, for the lost and the pagan overseas. But in our own country we give the unsaved scraps from the table..."
Eight Reasons Why Social Justice is Necessary

"...Here are some truths that we Americans need to know about: The United States has but 5% of the world’s population and yet we consume over one third of the world’s natural resources and we generate 19% of the world’s waste.  –E Magazine Jan/Feb 99
A USA Today snapshot feature this past week stated that the U.S. gives the highest amount of aid for development assistance around the world.  (Fri. June 18, ’04, 1A)
But what that article didn’t mention is that the U.S. is # 20 among nations in the percentage of our national income (GNP) that we give to other nations. We’re currently giving less than 1/10th of 1% of our national income (GNP) to humanitarian aid."
“Band-Aids Aren’t Enough!” – Progressive Christian Social Justice
"...Social justice is at the heart of the Christian faith. The religious leaders and people of faith we spoke to in the making of this PSA couldn't fathom a form of Christianity that doesn't speak to systemic brokenness. They couldn't imagine a Christian message of redemption and healing that only applied to people's personal lives and not to their social lives..."
Huffington Post: I'm A Social Justice Christian

I pray you indulge me for a moment, but this lady's song really speaks to me today.  In many ways, especially in the society where Y'shua lived and moved in, he was a "liberal" (in the true, non-political meaning of the word, way) - and it resonates in me the reaction she had to Glenn Beck's remarks back in 2008 about how Christians are "unconcerned" with social justice issues unless it infringes on our rights and pet projects.
I do not listen to Fox any more. It is not news. It is not relevant. It is fear-mongering. It's divisive. It's very opinionated and I don't have time for that. So, if that kind of view bothers you, don't listen. It probably won't speak to you as it did to me today, when my heart really needed it.. 

I don't know how to fix it all. I don't even know how to pray for it all. But I know this year, I'm being moved to change. To do something tangible. To help, rather than hurt. 

13 January 2013

The Girl Effect, part 32 - Slavery

Found via Google.
Let me know if this is your image
1: drudgery, toil
2: submission to a dominating influence
3a : the state of a person who is a chattel of another
b : the practice of slaveholding
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

The English word slave comes from Old French sclave, from the Medieval Latin sclavus, from the Byzantine Greek σκλάβος.
The word σκλάβος, in turn, comes from the ethnonym Slav, because in some wars in early mediaeval times many Slavs were captured and enslaved. An older theory connected it to the Greek verb skyleúo 'to strip a slain enemy'.

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God.
- Micah 6, New Living Translation

“...this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
    lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
    and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry,
    and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
    and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
“Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
    and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
    and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
    ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression....
10 Feed the hungry,
    and help those in trouble...
-Isaiah 58, New Living Translation

Then this message came to Zechariah from the Lord: “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. 10 Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other.
11 “Your ancestors refused to listen to this message. They stubbornly turned away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing. 12 They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the instructions or the messages that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies had sent them by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the Lord of Heaven’s Armies was so angry with them.
Zechariah 7, New Living Translation
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,[f] you were doing it to me!’
- Matthew 25, New Living Translation

[My] coffee-and-chocolate experiment forced me to confront an uncomfortable fact to which I suspect most Americans can relate: I had absolutely no idea where the majority of my food came from. I didn't know how much it should actually cost, how it affected the people who harvested and prepared it, or what sort of toll its production took on the planet...
 ...I never realized the degree to which big corporations rely on the mindless habits of consumers to get away with exploitation and neglect... We started to make adjustments here and there... for items that were fairly traded... ethically produced...
Page 234, A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband "Master"

What are products commonly made using child or forced labor and slavery?
Gold, Diamonds, Footwear, Garments, Cotton, Bricks, sugarcane, rice, cattle, shrimp, bananas, salt, corn, tomatoes, Tobacco, Coffee, Pornography, Cocoa, Tea, Fireworks, Coal, Rubber, Gravel, Carpets, Sisal.

How To Help End Slavery:
  • Increase public awareness of human trafficking.
  • Learn to recognize the signs of human trafficking so that you are able to notify relevant authorities.
  • Support non-government organizations that work to end slavery and human trafficking.
  • Lobby your government or representatives to pass anti-trafficking laws and to do more to end trafficking and increase support avalible to victims.
  • Buy ethical products that are made by workers who received fair wages and working conditions.

12 January 2013

The Girl Effect, Part 31 - Child Trafficking

Image found via Google. If this is yours, please let me know.
Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines Trafficking in Persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs
What is Human Trafficking?

Nonprofits are asking the Obama administration to renew the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), which would provide resources for those trying to protect the 27 million people who are considered modern-day slaves engaged in forced labor and sex.
Congress allowed the TVPA to expire in 2011 after years of bipartisan support, leaving programs that fight trafficking at risk, according to a release from the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST). Nonprofits say the political inertia is stalling real progress.
Huffington Post: Human Trafficking Awareness Day: Nonprofits Call On Obama To Do More To Fight Modern-Day Slavery

 Trafficking in persons is a widespread form of modern-day slavery, and as we observe National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we’d like to update you on what the FBI—with its partners—is doing to go after the traffickers and help the victims.

...Along the same lines, the sex trafficking of U.S. children is also a priority within our crimes against children program. During fiscal year 2012, we opened 363 investigations into the commercial sexploitation of domestic minors. Fortunately, we were also able to locate more than 500 young victims of sex traffickers.

We participate in 88 human trafficking task forces and working groups around the country. Our efforts include not only investigating cases where we find them, but also proactively using intelligence to drive and support these cases, looking at known areas of human trafficking activities, and developing liaison relationships within communities to promote awareness of these crimes...
Human Trafficking Awareness Targeting Traffickers, Helping Victims

 To spark awareness and vigilance against a growing global human rights crisis, President Barack Obama has proclaimed January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

Linda Dixon, the Defense Department’s program manager for combating trafficking in persons, told the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service in a recent interview that DOD has strengthened training modules and reporting avenues to combat trafficking in persons...

    State Department officials said the three most common forms of trafficking are labor trafficking, sex trafficking and child soldiering....
DOD Heightens Training, Prevention to Target Human Trafficking

It's always the same story: A lack of care and education lead to poverty and despair - hopeless situations that human traffickers worldwide take advantage of.
The force their victims into prostitution, force them to work and misuse them for illegal trade in organs. Experts estimate the number of victims to be in the millions. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in its annual report that based on official data supplied by 132 countries, children and young people up to the age of 18 make up a large percentage of all human trafficking cases: 27 percent between 2007 and 2010. Of these, two-thirds were girls.
According to the study, the majority of child victims were found in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and the Pacific...
Deutsche Welle: Child trafficking on the rise, UN says

11 January 2013

The Girl Effect, part 30, slavery

Dictionary - Justice

January 11-13, 2013 has been set aside as a Weekend of Prayer to end human trafficking and slavery. This ecumenical event is meant to not only shed light on the issue but to also pray for victims, slave traders, “johns” and any affected by human trafficking.
Weekend of Prayer: Ending Human Trafficking and Slavery      
Weekend of Prayer
Prayer Guide

150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, buying and selling people into forced labor is bigger than ever...
The leading demographic accounts... a global slave population of between 20 million and 30 million  ...from South and Southeast Asia ...China, Russia, and the former satellite states of the Soviet Union. ..North Africa and the Middle East, including Lebanon. ...Africa.  ...the North Korean gulag system, which holds 200,000 people... ...After the earthquake... Haiti ...was quickly overrun with ...traffickers targeting children...
The Atlantic: Slavery's Global Comeback

H&M may have pledged not to “knowingly” use Uzbek cotton in its clothes, but labor-rights campaigners say the Swedish apparel giant isn’t doing enough to support an end to state-sponsored child labor in the Central Asian nation...
H&M Sourcing Child-Picked Uzbek Cotton, Claims Anti-Slavery Group

In its analysis of the 'List of Goods Produced by Child or Forced Labor,' the US Department of Labor records just six countries (Argentina, China, India, Jordan, Malaysia and Thailand) where violations were found in garment production and five (Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India and Indonesia) in footwear.

Compare this, for instance with gold (where 17 countries were found to use child or forced labour), sugarcane (15 countries), tobacco (15 countries), bricks (15 countries), coffee (13 countries), cattle (9 countries), rice (8 countries), and diamonds (7 countries).

Unfortunately, cotton continues to live up to its reputation for labour rights abuses, with the fact that 16 countries were found to be at fault...
2010 article: Viewpoint: Facing up to forced labour in apparel

"What we are seeing in India is that the middle class is doing better and better. They now have a lot of money, and therefore, they think they can buy whatever they want. ...treat personnel anyway they please," says Kant.

Kant also stressed that, India's major cities, like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai or Kolkata, the demand for cheap household labor is growing, too..
There are no reliable figures available on how many women and girls have been forced into slave-like ... situations. The Indian government says that in 2011 some 125,000 children had been rescued from forced labor... The numbers would be many times higher, argue human rights organizations, if young women over the age of 18 were included in the figures.
Deutsche Welle: Child slaves crowd the skeletons in India's closet

Though slavery was abolished in Brazil in 1888, members of organizations against slave labor define these sweatshops as “contemporary slave quarters.”

The workers union blames the retailers who sell products made by exploited workers, as contributing to the problem.
2011 article  - Brazil fights slave-like labor in the fashion industry

According to a new National Labor Committee report, an estimated 200 children, some 11 years old or even younger, are sewing clothing for Hanes, Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney, and Puma at the Harvest Rich factory in Bangladesh.

The children report being routinely slapped and beaten, sometimes falling down from exhaustion, forced to work 12 to 14 hours a day, even some all-night, 19-to-20-hour shifts, often seven days a week, for wages as low as 6 ½ cents an hour. ... many of the child workers get up at 5:00 a.m. each morning to brush their teeth using just their finger and ashes from the fire, since they cannot afford a toothbrush or toothpaste...
Children Found Sewing Clothing For Wal-Mart, Hanes & Other U.S. & European Companies  (undated)

"By the late 1800s, social reformers had turned their attention most particularly to prostitution, drunkenness, and slavery---all three of which, it could be argued, affected women most directly. Many early suffragists--the forerunners of modern-day feminism---cut their teeth in the abolition movement.
...most of evangelicalism's early adherents would be proponents of the so-called social gospel, part of a movement that would turn Christians into social workers in the truest sense.
...But for a few minor points of disagreement, feminists and evangelicals seemed made for each other." - Susan Campbell, Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl , page 92

Often, in the modern Evangelical flavors that I grew up in, the ideas surrounding Christian Social Justice, Christian Environmentalism, Egalitarianism  and Feminism are seen as "Pinko Commies" or some such other derogatory terms that I won't get into here.

However, the ideas behind social justice, environmentalism and egalitarianism were founded in the very Bible-based beliefs of both Christians and Jews. Men and women have held these views, and furthered the cause towards better "Creation Care", many charities and houses for the orphans, widows, people working in dangerous workhouses, homes for women and children escaping prostitution, and the fight to stop slavery in Europe, and later the United States of America.

As Solomon once said "Nothing is new under the sun" - many of the ideas that are coming out in this day and age, the renewed social justice movement within Christianity, is actually a much older idea, which fed into the Temperance and Women's vote movements, and later the Civil Rights movement.  American Experience: The Abolitionists

If you are fortunate enough to have access to PBS, they are currently running a series on the abolitionists of the United States.  Many news organizations are discussing it, such as the Huffington Post:

...In the early decades of the 19th century, a religious revival spread across the United States. For some, the promise that anyone could attain salvation through a commitment to Christ led to an optimism that society, like an individual, could be brought to perfection....
Huffington Post:  Angelina Grimké's Evangelical Passion To End Slavery

You may be surprised, if you are unfamiliar with your history, that many of the abolitionists were Christians of some denomination or another. Many were also Jewish. Some were deists, while still others were agnostic or atheists.

We don't much talk about that in our history classes though. Or, rather, we never did in the schooling I had - whether it was when I was public schooled, private schooled, in DOD school or homeschooled. I mean, we knew in passing that some people who fought slavery were Jewish or Christians - but we did not really just dig into that aspect of the lead up to the American Civil War / War between the States.

I knew about the likes of Louisa May Alcott and her family. I'm a rather huge fan of Louisa's and let's just say any time I find something of hers that I have not read before, I go all fangirl and must snap it up immediately.

You might be surprised to hear, that I'd never heard of Anglina Grimké until this past fall, when I started reading several books about the injustices that many Christian women face in our shared faith.  While I knew about the Temperance movement, it was not until I had actually sat and watch the PBS production (three part, each around 53 minutes long) about the Temperance and Prohibition movement last year. I did not know about the theology, doctrine and prejudice surrounding much of what became both of these movements. I did of course know of the Temperance movement, the Prohibition, Tee-totalism (you sort of figure it out when you ask "What are wet / dry counties?" when you are a kid) and such - and I'd heard some terms used before that surround those movements - but I'd never actually read anything much about it other than a few paragraphs in history class.

I had thought we had come a long way, until these past couple of years of living abroad. It's really not that I was ignorant. I believe it was partly because I was so steeped in it and I would tune it out for my own sanity, and partly because of the intense spiritual abuse that I'd had, that I really only would pay attention to Jewish or Messianic things for a long time.

When I moved here, I slowly became aware of the huge organic market, and that the market here is often fair trade. Anything that can be bought commercially, is available with ethical concerns taken into account.  This was far different than how things were when I lived at home in my hometown of ten years, and my mom's hometown that we just simply call "home". (We lived a rather transient life, so Grandma's = Home)  

I now see a growing movement in the young (18-30 yr old) christian movement towards being inclined again to Social Justice, Environmentalism, Gentle Attachment Parenting, and Abolitionism. I do not at all believe this is aberrant behavior, communist, fascist, socialist or any other term that makes these people (self included) as the evil "other". I believe wholly, that this is where G-d has  wanted us all along, we just stuck with our own pet dogma and stopped our ears. We blame-shifted. We blamed the victims instead of helping them.  And the generation that would be either great-grandchildren or great-great grandchildren are stepping up to do the job their ancestors began so long ago.

If you don't believe my word, how about a few newspaper articles to make you think during these three days of prayer to end slavery?

More than 60,000 young Christians packed the Georgia Dome in Atlanta for worship and inspiration at the Passion 2013 conference that wrapped up on Friday. They came together from 56 countries and 2,300 universities, according to organizers, “to shine a light on modern-day slavery.”

“We believe when you fill a dome full of people who say they follow Jesus, there should be some tangible action,” said Bryson Vogeltanz, chief steward of Passion’s freedom initiative. That tangible action came in the form of tens of thousands of towels and socks donated by conference-goers to be handed out at local homeless shelters in the weeks following the conference.
CNN: College students raise funds to fight slavery

"It looks a little different here in the States than it does around the world," said Bryson Vogeltanz, chief steward of the Passion 2013 Freedom Initiative. "But it's true, girls are being bought and sold against their will here in Atlanta. Sex trafficking and slavery are realities right here in our city."
Passion 2013 tackles sex trafficking, slavery

“End It Movement” is working with seven different organizations that work to end slavery in the world. The movement is seeking for people to get involved and help to spread the word to everyone. The movement is working to bring slavery to an end. Slavery still exists in the world, even in the United States, despite the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution.

The movement encourages everyone to take a look at its website, to share it with others via social media as well as by word-of-mouth, to give financially to support the cause and be active in seeking to bring an end to slavery.
Movement Started to Fight Modern Day Slavery

Some sites you might find interesting
International Justice Mission  

08 January 2013

The Girl Effect sidebar - "Dating Jesus"

Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism,
Feminism, and the American Girl
"By the age of twelve, Susan Campbell had been flirting with Jesus for some time, and in her mind, Jesus had been flirting back. Why wouldn't he? She went to his house three times a week, listened to his stories, loudly and lustily sang songs to him. She even professed her love for him through being baptized.

In this lovingly told tale, Susan Campbell takes us into the world of Christian fundamentalism—a world where details really, really matter. And she shows us what happened when she finally came to admit that in her faith, women would never be allowed a seat near the throne."
Book Description on the inside book flaps

Honestly, I am uncertain  how I originally heard of this book, but it was likely in one of the many books I have been reading since August or September about women in the church.  At first, I wasn't truly sure what I was getting into. With a title like "Dating Jesus", the first thing I think of is "True Love Waits" or some other purity program, or maybe even becoming a nun - or something along those lines.

Instead, I found a very candid memoir of Ms. Campbell's life, and how her beliefs changed (and some stayed the same) after growing up in a very restrictive church of Christ background. She explains how her early life was, and what happened when her mother remarried. You hear about childhood (and teen) physical abuse, indoctrination into the cult she was raised in, and how the Über-Fundamentalism "broke off" in her, and how she is attempting to find healing now in her current life.

I read with interest and I put down the book only when I truly had to. I read every chance I got, including in the dark and by the light of parking lot lamps, the indoor car map light, in my house, at a doctor appointment and while waiting to pick up my husband from work. I did not care how, but I was damned to finish this book since I undertook it, come hell or high water - it was going to happen!!

A lot of what Ms. Campbell mentioned in her book about her childhood, reminded me of my own in very Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Churches.  She even mentioned a documentary that I had just finished watching the week I got to that part of the book. (Jesus Camp) I was just flabbergasted at how G-d really does bring things together, and how even if I could not discuss the film with someone else at the time, she echoed EVERYTHING that had stood out to me and made me cry for the poor kids being followed.

From the fervor of the preacher lady down to the dogmatism, and the culmination of the children being asked what they'd do with their life and what they thought of the outside world. I literally cried for these kids. I was one of these kids. Not in the same denomination, but I was one of them in many, many ways.

Here's a great sum up of the film:

Ms. Campbell mentions of her own childhood:

"... so I throw myself into biblical scholarship. Because I have been so greatly rewarded in school for my ability to memorize, I am sure the same will hold true in Sunday school. So begins my memorization of vast swatches of the Bible---Old and New Testament. I can recite the books and the apostles and the Beatitudes...  I puff up one day when I overhear... 'That girl knows her Bible.'...!
...I can't wait for Bible Camp every year...
...But while I learn vast portions of the Bible by heart, I remember not a single lesson on the context of those verses -- who wrote them and for whom and why. And it never occurs to me to ask any of those questions..."
"(gleaned from pages 24, 25, 27 and 28)
  She mentions teaching 4th graders and thinking she would advance with both her male and female students in the next year's class, as she loved teaching so much. She was shot down almost immediately and informed that the males in her class had reached the "age of accountability" and were therefore men, and superior to her, as she was a woman. She would, on no uncertain terms, be advancing to the 4th grade class, unless she was solely to teach the girls - who could use her expertise.   - I'd laugh at the absurdity if I were not already alternatively shaking my head, shaking my fist, face-palming and wanting to cry.  I've lived that, except I wasn't the teacher. I was the student, and we were informed that our classes were going to split by gender. There were only sometimes 3 girls. It did not work out. . . gee, I wonder why.

She mentions on pages 105-107 the very black and white views of fundamentalist church of Christ beliefs (IFBC is not much different, lemme tell ya!) and how there is a sense of uncertainty about your place when you do reach the afterlife. That certainly, you do know that whatever bad you have done, as well as the good will be played for you on a giant movie screen for all to see and hear when it comes to your turn in the great judgement.

She mentions that after all this dogmatism, the likes of Jay Bakker (Son of Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker - if any of you remember them at all), have it right - and we should just love EVERYONE, not just christians as much as we love ourselves and move on to the real social issues at hand and heal this world we live in, while we are waiting for the imminent return of Christ. #

She also mentions in the end of the book how she wakes one evening after a horrible nightmare (Ms. Campbell's had them since childhood), and realizing that she's been dating the "wrong Jesus" all this time.

"..Or rather, the entity I dated through high school and college and into my early adult years was emphatically not Jesus. It was someone's idea of Jesus, but not the real one."
-page 204

What she said reminded me of not only my own experience, but this video which is something I have not made, but have had floating around in the back of my mind about how many church doctrines just totally fly in the face of what was actually said in the gospels. What makes me sad though, this is made by an atheist, and he's really got a good bead on many believers.

Don't laugh, but it also reminds me of the film "Saved!". If you've never seen it, it is a satire of fundamentalist christian beliefs. I remember being told I would not be allowed to watch it at home, due to the bad reviews it had on christian review sites.

Reviews such as:

"Christians are portrayed as violent and devious."
"As a follower of Jesus, I regret having seen “Saved!” in the same way one might regret visiting a classroom of ninth graders who’ve been programmed to mock you. I know that the movie was not made with a Christ-centered audience in mind; rather, it appeals to Americans who, according to most polls, believe a God exists but can’t agree on whether He has called them to live according to any standard."
 "...while spoofing Christians for not being tolerant enough, the movie's alternative is simply this: If God let it happen or if you are happy, then how can it be wrong? This doesn't translate well to a world that, as Saved! even tries to argue, isn't black and white. It's also dangerously confusing for believers in the Bible, a book that does specifically draw lines regarding moral behavior. All this messiness is caused not only by poor filmmaking but also a general resentment. Several easy jokes and absurd stereotypes seem to stem purely from bitterness. . ."
Christianity Today
"...“Saved!” (with a cross over the exclamation point) is a relentless assault that maligns anyone and everyone associated with the Christian faith – especially those who disagree with the gay lifestyle. . . "

And this review. It is SO BAD, that I just... I can't put that on here.

This one though, gets to the heart of the matter:
"...“Saved!” mocks hypocrisy, Christian merchandising, Christian naivety, Christian assimilation of pop culture, as well as peer pressure and popularity, but contrary to what some may think it does not mock God. It just happens to mock some of God’s most delusional followers, like those who think everything is a sign from Jesus..."
Grace Centered

Well, I eventually saw the movie a couple years ago when it ran on a movie channel we get here that shows movies in English. To tell you how desperate I get for English films sometimes, I watch just about every genre of film that comes on them. Seriously.

When I first watched the film, I felt rather "upset" at the premise. They're making fun of all of us, no one really knows what we're up to --- then it hit. No. They have our number. And unfortunately, we're a pretty screwed up bunch when we want to be.

From "Saved!"

This has to change. And little by little, since seeing that film, I have been changing for the better.  Just like Ms. Campbell mentions in her book -- Fundamentalism "broke off inside" her. And she wonders if that part will ever heal. I will tell you this, after working through (for months, one week or so at a time) the book "The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse" - it is possible. But it is a slow process and it takes time.

I have to remind myself that it was the "wrong Jesus" that people are looking at when they see the likes of "Hillary" In the film "Saved!" and in the likes of Westboro Baptist Church.
If ever you've been beaten with a Bible, I'm sorry. I might have been someone a long time ago to have done that. I've changed, I really have.  And Susan Campbell is right. I was dating the wrong Jesus for a long time, but no more.

If ever there was a book to recommend for people that are healing from the damage of fundamentalism, this one is it.

06 January 2013

The Girl Effect, Part 29 - Update on India

image via Indian News Agencies

I've continued following the news about the young victim of rape in India since news broke. Unfortunately, life got in the way and I'd been unable to blog about the situation until today

Since my last post, the young woman did pass away due to her injuries being so severe.

Her body was flown back to India and buried, her family and friends are now in mourning.

The reaction of the nation however, has been quite interesting. There have been riots and protests, and speculation that the students of this generation are pushing for political change and finding their voice in this terrible time of great need for women to be valued. Social Justice is becoming a rallying cry, and men who are perpetuating India's rape culture are being called out on it.

It is my hope, that this is where NGOs can step in and offer a support system and build up the victims and their families, and that no more women feel the need to commit suicide due to the unspeakable horrors  they are subjected to, as detailed in the Girl Effect Post # 22.

Below are the updates on the story. I will continue to follow it, and update as appropriate.

The six men responsible for the rape attack in Delhi, after which they threw her off the bus, included a bus driver, a vegetable seller and a gym assistant. They had grown up in deeply conservative parts of rural India before moving to the capital.
The rape has triggered widespread protests and calls for ensuring the safety of women who are subject to sexual harassment ranging from groping to rape everyday across India.
Deutsche Welle: India rape victim's condition deteriorates
The case has received blanket coverage on cable television news channels. The woman has not been identified but some Indian media have called her “Amanat”, an Urdu word meaning “treasure”.
“As of 9 p.m. Singapore time on Dec 28 (1300 GMT), the patient’s condition has taken a turn for the worse. Her vital signs are deteriorating, with signs of severe organ failure,” Mount Elizabeth Hospital Chief Executive Kelvin Loh said in a statement on Friday.
France 24: India gang-rape victim's condition deteriorates

The unnamed victim had already undergone three abdominal operations and suffered a cardiac arrest in India prior to her flight.
Hospital chief executive Dr Kelvin Loh said she also has an infection of the lungs and abdomen ...
SKY NEWS: India Gang-Rape Victim 'Struggling Against Odds'
Investigators say the physiotherapy student was beaten with an iron rod, raped by six men in a bus, and left for dead on the side of the road the night of Dec. 16.
The demonstrations demanding justice for the victim reflect not only the public revulsion at the brutality of her attack, but also the simmering rage over the prevalence of sexual violence in India.
NPR: Indian Rape Case Ignites National Debate On Abuse Of Women
Several thousand riot police were again on duty on Thursday to prevent a group of around 500 people, mostly women, from marching on the presidential palace.
"We want justice," the protesters chanted, with some demanding the sacking of the Delhi police chief for authorising the use of teargas and water cannon at previous protests.
AlJazeera: India rape victim 'takes turn for worse'

Thousands of police were deployed across India's capital on Saturday following the death of the unnamed medical student. Authorities closed 10 metro stations and banned vehicles from several main roads in the city amid fears of further violent protests.
Hundreds of people are gathered at two locations in the heart of the city, although the day's protests have so far remained peaceful.
Deutsche Welle: India braces for violence after death of rape victim

A young Indian woman who died after being gang-raped on a bus has been cremated in the capital, Delhi.
The ceremony came hours after a plane chartered by the Indian government brought her body back to the city.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the head of India's governing Congress party Sonia Gandhi were at the airport...
The private funeral was held amid tight security.
 BBC: Delhi gang-rape victim's funeral held
 Six suspects have been arrested and are to be formally charged with rape, assault and murder on Thursday when their trial begins, Delhi Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said. If convicted, the accused could face the death penalty.
Deutsche Welle: Indian rape victim cremated in New Delhi
A juvenile ... was the most violent of all the attackers... Because of his age, he is the only one of the six who cannot be sentenced to death if found guilty. He will be tried in a juvenile court...
However, the maximum sentence the juvenile can receive under existing law is three years...
International Business Times: Delhi Gang Rape: Youngest Attacker 'Ripped out Victim's Intestines with Bare Hands'
 Public anger has swelled since the December 16 attack. The victim, who was reported to be a medical student, boarded a bus with a male friend after visiting the cinema. The six men aboard the bus, including the driver, allegedly conspired to attack the woman. She was gang-raped, beaten and ultimately thrown from the vehicle. The bus driver has been accused of trying to run over both victims.
Deutsche Welle: India charges men accused in gang rape case 
Protesters furious at the impunity enjoyed by sex offenders in India were given a first indication that attitudes may be starting to change on Thursday when police in the north-eastern state of Assam arrested a prominent local politician who had been set upon by a group of women accusing him of rape. The politician was later suspended from his duties.
France 24: Indian women strip and beat politician accused of rape

The large-scale protests triggered by the gang rape of a 23-year-old student in New Delhi has renewed debate over the rise of a new urban middle-class activism in India....
The new activism isn’t allied to any political party, and whether it will be sustainable or effective without a unifying agenda or without reaching across caste and class barriers remains unclear.
Christian Science Monitor: Could gang-rape protests mark beginning of an age of activism for India? (+video)

On Friday, the male companion of the victim in the Dec. 16 attack, interviewed on camera by TV channel Zee News...
"Several auto rickshaws, cars and bikes slowed down ...Nobody from the public helped us..."
About 45 minutes after being dumped on the road, three police vans arrived ... It took at least two hours the time they reached a hospital...
"Even at the hospital we were made to wait and I had to literally beg for clothes. I borrowed a stranger's mobile and called my relatives,"
The Wall Street Journal: Friend of India Rape Victim Criticizes Police Response