The Power Of Women Within Communities

LuxG
Posted March 27, 2019 from Mauritius

My next-door neighbor is a fascinating woman who's been through myriads of ordeals throughout her life.  She was married at 14, became pregnant at 15 and had had to undergo a series of surgical abortions in a country where abortion is illegal.  She's had 5 children, all of whom shower their adoration upon her.  I ran into her last week and struck up a conversation around an issue that's controversial in my country-teenage pregnancy.

Teenage pregnancy is a salient problem across all countries in the world and some countries have been able to mitigate the number of teenage pregnancies per year by providing comprehensive outlets for teenagers to learn about their sexuality, none of which is provided here.  A little background story for those of you not very familiar with my country, Mauritius; We are the second richest country per capita behind South Africa in the whole of the African continent and we're just a tiny dot on the world map.  We became independent in the year 1968 and rapidly progressed into a middle-income economy.  While we're doing well on paper, there are many societal issues affecting women primarily.

Inheriting a very patriarchal and sexist culture from our forefathers has made discussion about sexuality, menstruation and pregnancy quasi non-existent. To this day, our reporters shy away from sharing their frustration about the influx of horror stories impacting mostly women and women of all ages.  Recently, a 13 year old got pregnant after she was coaxed into sexual intercourse by a much older man.  The conversation centered around how she should take responsibility and most people stood up for the guy.  In a culture like ours, where women are most likely to be vilified rather than supported, many have chosen to stay silent on the major issues.

Our female politicians in parliament are nothing more than female tokens to imply that our government is inclusive.  But in the 50 years we've been independent, not one woman has clamored for our reproductive rights or for the persecution of men who abuse women.  If you report a case of aggression in a local police station, nothing will be done to arrest the aggressor even if you show up all battered up.  Because of this loophole in our laws, many women have been murdered in cold blood and many of their aggressors got away with less than 5 years in jail.  Our Prime Minister even pardoned one of them!

When my neighbor and I discuss these issues, we always end up lamenting how nothing has changed in our country.  We need female militants, women who are willing to fight for their causes, and not female politicians who pander to the male population and show no interest in forging the path toward gender equality.  In societies like mine, we pretend like sex doesn't exist, we tell our children that babies come from God and we castigate women who embrace their sexuality.  

But as a women with a clear goal and an admirer of all the legendary feminists who fought for women's issues, I've written countless accounts of why feminism should be embraced in my country.  To my surprise, many women have agreed and whenever they search for feminism in Mauritius, they come across my article where I clamor for reproductive rights, open dialogue and an open culture regarding sexuality.

All of this has been possible due to my initial encounter with Worldpulse and other media tools, and I am convinced that change will be made possible when all women will unite to vociferously clamor for it!  

 

 

This story was submitted in response to Change Starts With a Story.

Comments 10

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Kay Link
Mar 27
Mar 27

Yes, yes, yes! You are so right. There is no true progress without first having equality. How slow change seems to happen in gender equity, having female politicians is not enough when women are still facing violence daily. Thank you for bringing attention to this here and in your community!

LuxG
Mar 28
Mar 28

Thank you for your response Kay Link!
I'm trying to change how we tackle women issues here :)

Jill Langhus
Mar 28
Mar 28

Hello LuxG,

How have you been? Thanks for sharing your passionate post. I hear you, and am totally with you. So, will you be the woman who is the one fighting for women's rights and reproductive freedom in Mauritius? Or, will you be the woman who starts the group of women forging equality there? I can totally see this, and this is what your country sorely needs by the sound of it.

Hope you're doing well:-)

LuxG
Mar 28
Mar 28

Hi jlanghus!!
Long time no see!
I've been great and you? I am actually heading a sensitization campaign around reproductive rights here in Mauritius after this epidemic of teenage pregnancies and it's been amazing to see many women responding positively to this campaign. We really need to remedy these issues ASAP as we don't want the next generation of women to go through the same hardships.
Stay well Jlanghus :D

Jill Langhus
Mar 29
Mar 29

Hello stranger:-)

I've been well, thanks! Oh, that's sound great! I agree. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your campaign, then. Much luck to you on this important endeavor.

You, too, dear!

Lisbeth
Mar 30
Mar 30

This is a very serious and sensitive issues you just touch. Its sad to come across just in our societies. Thanks for sharing.

Hello, LuxG,

I truly understand what you mean about teenage pregnancy as it is also the case in our country, the Philippines.

Wow, what an inspiring story this is. There’s hope for Mauritius because of you and the initiatives you’re starting. Congratulations! Please update us.

Tamarack Verrall
Apr 13
Apr 13

Hi LuxG,
This is an important look at what is happening in your country, with the obstacles of what happens when women manage to get positions but play it safe by ignoring needed change.
It is so encouraging to read your strong words about embracing feminism. The word has been so attacked, as have women identifying as feminists. I love that you outline the importance of working for real change. I believe the real reason feminists are attacked is exactly that, we are talking about and working toward a very different world.

Beth Lacey
Apr 18
Apr 18

Much luck with your work!

Obisakin Busayo
Jun 24
Jun 24

Thank you for sharing your experience of what women is going through in your community with us. Thank you for great change you are making with your voice
Love
Busayo