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Human Rights in Ireland >>
The Death of Savita Halappanavar - Some Thoughts
gender and sexuality |
Saturday November 17, 2012 20:37 by john throne - facts for working people loughfinn at aol dot com
Savita killed by right wing Catholic laws and their boot licking politicians.
Savita would be alive now if it was not for the all male dictatorship of the Catholic hierarchy and their cowardly politicians.
by John Throne
I am Irish. I read of the murder of Savita in Galway with horror. She was murdered by the right wing Catholic hierarchy and their boot licking politicians. If it was not for the tens of thousands of Irish people who are marching in the streets and demanding a change in the laws I would be ashamed to be Irish.
Wendy wrote a very moving, educational and inspiring blog yesterday about shame and how it is used to intimidate and keep people, especially women, down. I cannot thank Wendy enough for writing it; for its content but also because it is obviously a very personal account of what it is like to be a woman and especially a revolutionary woman in this world.
It made me think of an event in my own life that had a profound effect on me and I'd like to share it with our readers.
Wendy talks about shame, the dirty controlling brutal shame. I am weeping here as I remember a scene with my mother. I went to visit her in her farm house in rural Donegal, Ireland. She was near the end of her life. She was different that night. She looked at me in a different way and spoke to me in a different tone from ever before. When she started to speak to me I realized why. For the first time she told me about my grandmother, her mother, who was hired out to a rich farmer. This was common in this part of Ireland in those days as poor people had children to feed and the land was beautiful but not the most productive. It was often referred to as the Hiring Fair System, a sort of indentured servitude.
My grandmother, little more than a child, was raped and made pregnant by this rich farmer who was much older than her. To cover this up, she was then traded off to a man, my grandfather, who was also much older than her. She was then raped again and again. Of course, these were not called rapes as by then the church, in this case a Protestant church, had approved the transaction.
After telling me this my mother said: "So you see the kind of people we are." She was so ashamed. I said: "Mother, your mother was a great woman. I wish I could have met her. It was those men and institutions in her life run by men, and upper class men, that were to blame for all she went through. You believe in sin, I do not, but in your terms they were the sinners, not your mother. She was a great women. I wish I could have known her." My mother looked up at me relieved at my answer but the shame was still on her. And it was even the more terrible because she loved her mother with all she had and yet she was told that she should be ashamed of her. I have to say and I am sorry to say it here because I may offend somebody but I detest and hate with all my being the male dominated religious institutions which control and rule by shame. And killed that poor Savita in Galway and kill millions of other women by their ways.
I wrote a book about my grandmother. It is called The Donegal Woman. Without an agent or publisher it was number two in the best sellers list at home in Ireland. It would have been number one but we ran out of copies at the height of sales. I had many launches of the book in small towns and villages and some big cities in Ireland, England and the US. In Ireland the launches in the smaller towns and villages were mainly attended, usually around 80% or more, by older women. The book dealt in detail with the sexual oppression and economic oppression of women in rural Ireland in the early 1900's. I was worried that some of the older ladies would find it too graphic. Instead again and again I was thanked for writing it. As one woman said:"That was every women's story back then." My main regret is that I had to write it. That one of my female relatives did not write it. But they were held back by the shame too.
I remember one launch in a hamlet in Donegal. There were about 20 people there. Only two men and myself. All the rest were women in their fifties and up. The two men were there because we had done some smuggling and poaching together in my youth and they could use this to pretend this was why they were coming to a book reading, and about a woman too. More shame.
The discussion proceeded and then a small woman with hunched over shoulders, hunched I venture to say by oppression and shame, just jumped into the discussion. "I hate worms you know." Everybody stopped and looked at her. There had been no discussion about worms. I never knew why she said this. She went on. "I was working in a big house. The mistress was good to me. But one night she was out and he just grabbed me and put me down." Then the lady stopped. It was clear she was afraid of what she was saying. More shame. Then she went on but in a different tone: "But nothing happened you know, nothing happened." Then this lady lapsed back into silence. Silenced again by shame. She never spoke for the rest of the meeting. just sat with her head down. She later insisted to another lady that nothing had happened but that she had never told what she had told to the meeting to anybody else before.
Thank you again Wendy for your commentary.