On the 8th of March I went to a salon for a manicure and a pedicure. It was a national mourning day, so the place was almost empty. In fact, there were more girls who worked there than clients. The girls could talk calmly while one of them worked on my nails.
The conversation started very trivially: “What did you do last weekend?; did you go to this party?; what’s her name is sooooo fat, what happened to her?”. That’s normal, I thought. Apparently a consistent feature of feminine society is to criticize the sudden weight gain of a friend.
Some minutes later, the conversation changed. “I have a gossip”. The girls lowered their voices.
“X is pregnant”. A co-worker and neighbor of the girls got pregnant of her third child. The father is not the same father of the other two children. This man is a “malandro piedrero”, jargon for a criminal who traffics drugs. “She’s nuts in having a baby with a man like that”. The mother of the girl got angry and “they had a fight in the middle of the roundabout the other day, didn’t you hear?”. X is only 21 years old.
Although shocking, situations like these are not atypical in Venezuela today. Similar cases of domestic violence involving someone with an early pregnancy appear in the crime section of any newspaper. For example, last year one of the most horrible prison riots in Venezuela started after an inmate murdered his pregnant twenty year old girlfriend (who was already a mother of two) during a visit. The penitentiary center called La Planta was then shut down.
Last 8th of March was the International Women’s Day. How can a society advance economically, socially and culturally if a great part of impoverished girls and women live in such contexts? How was X’s upbringing so her life turned out that way? What can we expect of the future of X’s children?
In any way I believe I am superior. Nor I wish to unjustly generalize every woman living in poverty: I am sure that there are many young mothers in impoverished areas that work and raise their children with values and love.
I do not know what environmental stimuli X received. I do not know what life she had in order to find herself in such a labyrinth. This case serves to reflect on the social implications of having women without any sexual education or strong family structures. These women are prone to giving birth to boys who can be potential criminals and girls who repeat the same behavior patterns from generation to generation. It is not surprising how problems, such as violence and insecurity, are well rooted in Venezuelan society.
Many questions jump in my head. In what moment did this crisis begin and how can it be left behind? Why are there impoverished women who motivate their children to be better while there are others whose stories have a sad outcome? What factor makes the difference?
Women aren’t the problem but the solution. The plight of girls is no more a tragedy than an opportunity.
-Half the Sky, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn
I recommend this video, called The Girl Effect: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIvmE4_KMNw