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!
Change starts with a story.