Got BreastMilk?

Empty shelves at Target

By- Mubina C

It has been five months since the formula shortage was addressed in the U.S. Maker of popular baby formulas, Abbott laboratories, closed a manufacturing facility in Sturgis, Michigan, in February 2022 due to contamination problems. This contamination contributed to the death of 2 infants and many sick children. Since then, mothers of newborns have hit the stores desperate to find even a box of formula while holding their crying and starving babies in their arms. In addition, many parents drive 4-6 hours to different states looking for baby milk. One mother drove from Austin to Dallas, searching stores with her baby in the backseat.

While others are lucky to have excessive breast milk, some are not. As a result, mothers give their babies donated breast milk as a last resort. A friend of mine in NJ had her sister, who has a five-month baby of her own, breastfeed her newborn. She said she tried everything from lactating drinks to pumping more. Unfortunately, the newborn refused to take her milk.

However, as formula shipments come in from Europe, there is no solution for parents who have to give their babies specialized formula due to specific health issues. A mother wrote on ‘what to expect’ that her baby, due to severe allergy uses a unique formula that is nowhere to be found in stores, and now her baby is admitted to NICU.

As someone who is going to deliver soon, this situation makes me furious. How could the government be so unprepared for something like this?. Even though the Biden administration has stated that the formula will be in stock by July, nothing is guaranteed. In places where the formula is available, parents buy them in bulks—leaving less for others.

Mothers to be, what are you doing to prepare for the shortage?

Will I ever love myself again?

A HARD PILL TO SWALLOW

Many changes occur in a women’s body during pregnancy. After delivery, women go out of their way to get their bodies the way they used to. From postpartum diet to daily exercise. Many even go to extreme levels like surgery. But we fail to realize that some things might not ever be the same. For example, your stretch marks might take years to go away. The days you stayed out late to party with your friends will be missed. You might wonder how your life went from mixing drinks to making a bottle for your newborn every few hours. That postpartum back pain may continue until a decade. YEP, A DECADE!. Your daily schedule has now changed for someone else. And it’s going to stay like that for some time.

You might scroll through your old prepregnancy photos and want to cry. And it is entirely alright to shed a tear. Our body has done so much. Science says a human body can bear up to 45 dels (units) of pain, yet a mother feels 57 dels (units) of pain when giving birth. Even after the baby is born, we are exhausted and sleep-deprived, slowing down our recovery process. Becoming a problem that now starts affecting our mental state.

LET’S TALK ABOUT DEPRESSION

One in seven women suffers from PPD (postpartum depression). Symptoms can appear anytime during pregnancy to the first 12 months after childbirth. Suicide accounts for about 20% of postpartum death and is the second leading cause of mortality in postpartum women. Black and Hispanic women are more likely to get PPD and less likely to get treatment. Did you know that there are 7 types of mood disorders that a woman can experience from pregnancy to postpartum?. So a mother can suffer in silence with a disorder and won’t even know she has it.

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. I myself have met with a counselor while being pregnant. Even if you don’t suffer from PPD there is a positive feeling you get just by sharing your thoughts with others.

Pregnancy and motherhood are not a picnic. And it is unfortunate that many don’t give attention to it. There will be struggles that mothers need to overcome. For working and single mothers, it may be more challenging than others. Speak to your gynecologist and contact online support groups for assistance. Don’t feel guilty to take time out for yourself to love yourself so you can make a healthy and positive environment for you and your baby.

Happy International Women’s Day!! 2022

To my sisters in Africa fighting for even access to education, To the daughters in India forced to marry as a child and have her dreams snatched away, To the mothers in Mexico and Afghanistan facing domestic violence because the government failed to protect you , To the women around the world who face sexual assault, abuse, low pay wage working 10x harder than a male coworker who makes more, not getting inadequate health care. May you overcome the gender discrimination. WE SEE YOUR STRUGGLES AND WILL KEEP FIGHTING FOR YOU!

Orange Jumpsuit Or A Shroud?

Written By- Mubina C

“He doesn’t let me see my child!” 

Erica shouted at the other person on the line. It was my second year in college. We had 15 minutes for the Biology class to start and were both waiting outside the lecture hall. She hung up the phone in rage, wiping her tears with the sleeves of her sweatshirt. I could not resist and asked her if she was ok. She looked down in misery with tears dropping on her open textbook. She told me she was fighting a complicated custody battle of her four-year-old son. 

Erica got pregnant when she was a junior in high school. Afraid to be a single parent, she continued to stay in an abusive relationship with her child’s father. One day during an argument, Erica’s boyfriend attempted to beat her. To save herself, she threw a paperweight at him, which accidentally hit her son. He was hurt so severely that they had to take him to the ER, where her boyfriend, upset about Erica fighting back, accused her of hitting her son and child neglect. Since Erica didn’t have a stable job after high school and never contacted domestic violence support about her abuse, her boyfriend was given temporary custody. She luckily didn’t go to prison because the act was proven unintentional but reckless. However, she had to take court-ordered parenting classes and pay an attorney $3,000, given to her by friends and family. Erica decided to transform her life while continuing to fight for her son.

I wondered how many Erica’s there were in the U.S prison who weren’t that fortunate. How many women linger in an abusive relationship with their children too scared to get out? End up getting killed? Alternatively, sent to jail for attacking their abuser in self-defense?. Even with domestic violence support and human services, it is not always easy for abuse victims to get up and walk out. Even after the abuser is detained, he could get out of jail in less than two years. Unfortunately, there is little to prevent a released abuser from returning and repeating the abuse despite issuing a restraining order. 

Few victims 

  • Nan hui Jo escaped an abusive relationship by fleeing to her home country with her daughter. The father reported her for child abduction in 2009. She stated that she didn’t know that she and her child could not leave the country to escape and not violate her U.S citizenship in 2014. She served 175 days in jail and lost her child’s custody. 
  • Marissa Alexander was prosecuted for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon to protect herself from an abusive ex-boyfriend. She fired shots at the garage door when she couldn’t get it to open and escape. Even though no one was injured, she was sentenced to 20 years in jail. However, her conviction was overturned in 2013, and she renegotiated a deal to serve three years in prison and two years on house arrest.
  • Bresha Meadows, 14 years old, shot and killed her abusive father in Ohio in 2016. She had reported her father to authorities multiple times but was dismally turned away. She spent a year in juvenile detention. 

The list goes on…

The statistics

In 2018, van der Leun started a project to provide that context and tell the complete stories of battered girls and women serving time for their victimhood being criminalized. Out of 5,098 surveys being sent to 45 detention facilities in 22 states, only 608 were completed. 60% reported abuse before being incarcerated. 43% confirmed their partner abused them. In comparison, 41% killed their abusers while claiming to be protecting themselves. That is 250 women serving years in prison for self-defense. Sadly, This is not even 1/3 of the actual numbers.

Around 4,000 women are killed yearly due to domestic violence in the United States. Approximately 75% of women who are killed by their batterers are murdered when they attempt to leave or after they have left an abusive relationship. So what options are there for women repeatedly traumatized by abuse other than leaving their home in a body bag or handcuffs?

A female’s body used as battleground

“You are disgusting, and this is what you deserve” – slur said to an Ethiopian rape survivor.

‘Look at how many children you can have. Now you are going to have our children. You are going to have our little Chetniks,’ said a Serbian white eagle gunman to a Bosnian Muslim rape survivor.

“Now you’re engaged, but after we rape you, no one will marry you.” – Kurdish rape survivor taunted by her captors. 

There are countless slurs like the ones above that are said to war rape survivors by their rapists. Yet, they can’t do anything but endure the pain. They are displaced, their family murdered, raped, and everything taken away from them, waiting years for justice to be served. When rape occurs during the war, it is very insulting to the community’s honor. Other communities and countires are not as accepting as in the west. Women must cope with the physical and psychological trauma of rape and the possibility of rejection by their families.

Motivation 

Sexual assault in a war has been occurring since the classical period. Before laws against sexual violence during any war came into place, it was acceptable for a man to use a woman as legitimate booty, valuable as wives, slave labor, or battle-camp trophy. Capturing the wealth and property of an enemy was regarded as a legitimate reason for war in itself. Women were considered lawful property of a man. Therefore, the rape of a woman was considered a property crime committed against the man who owned the woman. Even if we don’t see a woman as property owned by men today, females are judged as weak. A women’s sexual purity holds the honor for her and her community. When she is raped, that honor is taken away from her and her people. Her community indirectly blames her for the shame they have to face.

It was not until 1994 that rape was considered a war crime by the U.N. Near the second half of the 20th century, cases of rape were documented in more than 20 military and paramilitary conflicts. The international community became aware of this, especially after reports of mass rape of Bosnian women during the 90s’ Balkan war and the genocide in Rwanda (1994). That sexual abuse is intentionally used as a weapon to destroy whole populations, terrorize people and drive them from their homes. Unfortunately, the government does not give victims of rape proper psychological care, leaving them traumatized.  

Children of war

During the Bosnian war, more than 50,000 Muslim women were raped and forcefully impregnated by Serbian soldiers. There are around 4,000 children born out of those rapes. Many of the children were abandoned right after birth or given up for adoption because the children reminded the mothers of the horror they had to go through. In 2018 Rohingya women shared a similar faith. Raped by Myanmar soldiers and militiamen and impregnated, they were forced to flee to Bangladesh for safety. However, since Bangladesh doesn’t allow abortion after the first trimester, most women had to keep the baby. 

What we can do to help

Educate others that rape in war should be spoken about and brought attention to. Help provide counseling to the victims and those affected. We must change people’s attitudes that women and girls are just as worthy as men and boys. Donate to charities that help survivors of war rape and children born from war rape. 

Women of Color

By-Mubina C
I am a woman of color
the one who is racially profiled
and wrongfully convicted
are my race, ethnicity, and faith such a threat?
why do I wanting the same privilege as you
makes you so upset?
I am a woman of color
who is attacked and falsely accused
for starting a pandemic and putting the world in a troubled state
if only they knew a much worse disease is hate
I am a woman of color
who doesn't get a callback or a job interview
for this reason only, "my name does not sound white enough"
but I keep my head high and remain tough
I am a woman of color
who suffers violent crimes
The world disregarding my silent cries
I am a woman of color who is killed in the name of honor
raised to believe the only way a lady can fit into society is to be proper
if I have the freedom to wear whatever I want
why am I viewed as oppressed
when I choose to cover myself?
Or a flaunter if I am provocatively dressed?
I am a woman of color
who is exoticized and hypersexualized
in American films dominated by white men
objectifying and degrading me again and again
I am a woman of color
who is excluded and have my dreams shattered
like my voice never mattered
everyone ignoring my troubles
If you turn off social media you will see, white women are not the only ones
with tears and struggles

Please “Act like a lady” and don’t worry about him “Boys will be boys”

At least every woman has been told once in her life to “act like a lady” by her mother or older women in her family. It is a term used to control and discipline young girls during the years. Simply it means not to do anything that doesn’t look ladylike in front of society. Acting like a lady has to do with your etiquette. How a female should behave and act in the presence of others. 

Where did the word “lady” come from?

 The term lady was developed in the 19th century and was the equivalent of gentleman. It used to describe only women of high social class or status. The women during that time practiced acting more feminine and classy so suitors would give them attention. The word “lady” itself means strength and respect but has been misused to disparage women. When a girl is told to “act like a lady,” she is described as not equal and having less power than men. People who tell young girls to act feminine are basically saying girls can’t act a certain way or do things because of their gender. Gender stereotypes like this hold women back, making them believe they cannot succeed in life because of their sex. It causes as much harm as telling young boys to “man up” and not share their feelings.  

The problem with “Boys will be Boys”

We have been using stereotypes throughout history to control one gender’s behavior and not the other’s. “Boys will be boys,” for example, has always been used to excuse poor behavior in males for years. The phrase developed in 1589 Britain originating from a Latin proverb, “children are children and do childish things.” however, like the term “lady” was misused to discredit the female gender, the word “children” was switched to “boys” to excuse the attitude and actions of men all ages. The idea that aggression and bad behavior are something boys are born with and expressing that behavior is normal does wrong. Unfortunately, “Boys will be boys” has been used to justify serious offenses like sexual assault (Steubenville 2012 Rape case). The phrase leads boys to assume that they are free to do as they please without facing the consequences because of their gender. 

   What can we do?

Gender stereotyping has been harmful and prevents both men and women from developing their personal and professional abilities. It lowers self-esteem leading to depression and anxiety. We should try to eliminate gender stereotypes and educate others about its damaging effects. Talk and train parents to avoid sexist behavior and raise their boys and girls the same way. Help our children understand stereotyping, and if they feel being treated differently because of their gender, they should address it. 

Written by- Mubina C

Better to have a divorced daughter than a dead one

 It was 9 A.M on a Wednesday. I was drinking my morning tea scrolling through TikTok when I came across a heartbreaking video of a young Indian woman named Ayesha Banu recording her last few words before taking her life. The suicide was due to her husband’s domestic abuse, whom she married in 2018. She said her finals goodbyes with a smile on her face and tears in her eyes. She sounded as if she lost all hope in humanity and was fighting a battle she would never be able to win. If only people had reached out and shown her support, she might still have been alive, and her story would have been something else that her future generation of women could have learned from. Her final call was to her husband, who told her “she should kill herself and send him the video” rather than stopping her from taking such a harsh step. As tragic as this looks, this was not the first dowry death in India, and if people don’t change their mindsets, unfortunately, it won’t be the last. About 20 women die daily in India due to harassment over dowry, either by murder or made to commit suicide. From 2005 to 2019, the death amounted to more than 7.1 thousand. Many times arrests are not made due to the lack of evidence, and criminals walk freely to find their next dowry victim.

“Why take your life? Why not leave the abusive marriage?”

   To answer this question, we must first understand how the dowry system came into existence. The dowry systems started a century before the partition of India and Pakistan. That is why the dowry problem resides not just in India but all South Asia. The rich business class handlers started by giving their property as inheritance to their sons, and some of that amount was given as a gift to their daughters. Dowry was seen as a way for the family to give women their share. The dowry system has always been complex and deep-rooted. During the Colonial rule, it was the only way to get married because the British had made the practice mandatory. As time went on, it became more of a demand from the groom’s side than a gift. A few of the reasons dowry is demanded 1. it has been going on for generations in the groom’s side of the family, and no one is willing to break the cycle due to family pressure 2. The groom’s parents have spent a lot on their son’s upbringing, from paying for his education to helping him get a house. After marriage, that luxury lifestyle will be shared by his wife. 3. The groom’s side needs to maintain a status in front of relatives and friends. The more educated and wealthy the groom, the more money he will demand, the more he will display. 

   The Dowry prevention act of 1961 made it illegal to demand and receive dowry in India and recommended imprisonment of a minimum of 5 years. Even if the groom’s side does not demand dowry, at times, the bride’s side pays it to show pride and a symbol of social status. Instead of downright asking for dowry, the groom’s family may ask for it by saying, “We don’t want dowry; you may give your daughter any gift you want.” and just like that, the burden of dowry is placed on the parents. So legally, it will no longer be dowry but a gift given by the bride’s parents to the couple. Even if the dowry system is a threatening reality, the girl’s parents have no choice but to give dowry due to the fear that no-one will marry their daughter if they don’t. 

  The majority of females that are victims of dowry find it a little easier to stay in an abusive marriage than to leave. Since divorce is still taboo in the South Asian community, divorced females are often looked down upon. One reason for that is in South Asian communities; family reputation is put first. South Asians have closely-knit communities, which have a huge influence, and their opinions matter. When a daughter gets divorced, she is believed to have shamed the family’s reputation and lost respect. It’s actually worse for women seeking divorce while having paid a huge dowry amount. The husband doesn’t want her unless she brings more dowry. The girl’s parents abandon her because they don’t want to hurt their family’s reputation. The girls’ parents often tell their daughters to stay in an abusive marriage because of the amount of dowry that is already given, which cannot be taken back. They don’t want to be humiliated in front of their community and go through a difficulty of financial struggle at the same time. This leaves the girl with no emotional and financial support. 

    What can be done to help fix this issue?

If you or someone you know is being harassed for dowry, you could reach out to many mutual and legal support groups that help. We need to educate our daughters and help them become financially independent. If you as a parent are saving for your daughter’s dowry and not investing in her education, you are putting a price tag on your child, and she will never be able to defend herself. Getting rid of the dowry system can help fix many other problems, such as female infanticide. If possible, it’s better to get a prenuptial agreement before marriage and always know your marital rights. In India, Hindu marriages don’t consist of a contract, unlike Muslims. However, a prenup is still governed by the Indian Contract Act and has as much sanctity as other contracts, oral or written. Parents also need to realize you can always fight to get your money back, but nothing will bring back your daughter once she is gone. Stop worrying about what others might think and support your daughter who needs it the most. It’s about time we break the toxic cycle of dowry and show love and respect to our women and not put a price on them.

By : Mubina C

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A lie we were raised to believe

Women are made to believe that we can have it all if we work hard enough from a very young age. It doesn’t matter how many hardships one faces. She should never quit because giving up is failing. When we grow up, we realize that having it all is a lie and sets us up to fail to make us feel worthless. When you ask a woman what she wants to achieve in life, she will give you a list of goals (even if many of the goals sound unrealistic). They are determined to accomplish every one of them, even if that means putting their mental and physical health in danger only because they don’t want to look like a failure in others’ eyes.

“According to a 2015 survey from Marshalls, ‘85% of American women ages 22-54 who have goals feel confident that they will achieve them in the next year.’ Which is hard if you are juggling four different goals on average. We ladies need to understand that, at times, it’s ok to let things be even after knowing we could or can’t do the task. Even if we have failed before at something, we should not be afraid to fail again because we learn valuable lessons from those failed attempts.

Just because society has expectations from us doesn’t mean we need to fulfill them, and if we decide to do so, it’s not necessary; we have to get it right on the first try. We work so hard to show the world how perfect we are when in reality, we are scared that we might fall short of ourselves. You could be working full time, be a stay-at-home mom, a college student; each one of us has a breaking point. At times we are overwhelmed, tired, and need to put everything aside to take care of our mental health. That is what we should be caring about rather than mentally hurting ourselves to accomplish every single goal in life. So do whatever it takes to put your mental health first, like meditation, reaching out to a friend, joining a self-esteem support group, doing your favorite hobby. It’s not the end of the world if you couldn’t accomplish some of your goals. It’s alright if you don’t have a set of goals you want to achieve. JUST BECAUSE YOU BELIEVE YOU COULD DOESN’T HAVE TO MEAN YOU SHOULD.

By-Mubina C