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from The Human Impact:

The pain is far worse than childbirth – FGM survivor

Britain has announced new measures to tackle the hidden crime of female genital mutilation making it compulsory for doctors and nurses to record FGM cases. London community worker Sarian Karim Kamara, who underwent FGM as a child in Sierra Leone, told me how it has affected her life and why midwives are on the frontline in efforts to end the brutal practice.

“I’ll never forget what happened to me. I was only 11 years old and I’m 36 now. I’ve had five children and the pain I went through on that day cannot begin to compare to any of my labour pains. It’s indescribable.

Some people might think that FGM is just a cultural practice, that it is normal or acceptable for some communities. But it is not acceptable because it causes so much physical and psychological harm and has no benefit at all.

It also damages relationships, but people don’t discuss this because it goes against our upbringing. I’ve had problems in the past when I’ve met men from other communities and the relationships did not get anywhere because of this. The sexual part is totally destroyed. You have to have somebody who really cares for you for you to ever enjoy sex.

from The Human Impact:

Extreme measures to “protect” daughters in India

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Gurpreet Singh is a determined man. But he is an even more concerned father.

The 32-year-old investment adviser is leaving India and migrating to Australia. There is nothing new in that -- tens of thousands of professional Indians emigrate every year.

Unlike most of them, Singh’s reason for leaving is not the pursuit of greater economic returns, but a search for something increasingly perceived by parents to be lacking in India -- security for their daughters.

from Photographers' Blog:

Helping the helpless

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More than just a photograph, irrefutable proof.

It was three weeks ago when a woman named Carolina called me to denounce abuses inside the Pequeño Cottolengo shelter in the city of Quintero, near Valparaiso. The shelter is part of a chain of homes for mentally handicapped children and youths run by the Catholic Church. Carolina had been working there only three months.

I met with her and saw photos that she had taken with her cell phone during the different shifts she worked there. One of the images showed very clearly the bruises caused by the beating of a young girl, a girl too handicapped to defend herself. Others showed the obvious effects of malnutrition on one young boy.

from Fan Fare:

Michael Jackson’s dad in spotlight, despite son’s “strong hate”

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In a cruel twist of fate, the man for whom Michael Jackson once said he felt "strong hate" is taking a central role in his final memorial. Joseph Jackson, the 79-year-old family patriarch who, according to Michael, dished out regular beatings to his children, has also raised eyebrows in the past few days, rarely missing the opportunity to promote his new record company.
    
joe3"Joe Jackson is like the ultimate evil stage mom," British music author Barney Hoskyns told Reuters, comparing him to the abusive father of the Wilson brothers in the Beach Boys. "You ask what ultimately killed Michael Jackson: It was the self-hatred that was cultivated in him by an extremely abusive -- both physically and mentally abusive -- man."
    
Michael Jackson, the third-youngest child in the Jackson clan, made no secret of his father's harsh methods.
    
"He was very strict, very hard, very stern," Jackson told Oprah Winfrey in 1993. "Just a look would scare you ... There's been times when he would come to see me and I would get sick. I would start to regurgitate (as both a child and adult)."
    
In an interview with British broadcaster Martin Bashir that aired in 2003, Michael said he got off lightly compared to his older siblings. He tearfully recalled that his father would "tear you up" with a belt or some other convenient cord, and "would throw you up against the wall." At such times, he said he felt "strong hate" for his father.
    
In the 1994 book "Michael Jackson Unauthorized," author Christopher Andersen wrote: "Beatings were administered with razor straps, belts, wire coat hangers, rulers, switches, and fists. Bloody noses were not uncommon, and more than once one of the boys was knocked senseless."
    
But Michael Jackson said he still loved and forgave his father. Billy Wilson, head of the Motown Alumni Association, said spankings were common with black families before "we started moving into mainstream America."
    
"Without his father, Michael would have taken a different path," Wilson wrote in an email. "Michael was brave on stage because his father instilled that toughness needed. The only person Michael was afraid of was his father! Which meant ... he was fearless with anyone else and on stage."

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