Choice. Freedom. Rights: Feminism.
I wasn’t entirely sure how to tackle my comeback to writing after a month long self-inflicted ban. That was of course until I saw Ross Kemp’s latest, deeply shocking documentary. I suddenly felt the compulsion to begin scribbling once again, in aid of International Women’s Day…
‘Libya’s Migrant Hell’ aired on Sky 1 a few weeks ago. Except this wasn’t Libya’s hell, this hell belonged entirely to the Migrants. Tears poured out of my angry red face as I struggled to process what Kemp was saying, and the horror he was witnessing.
I wanted to highlight not only the frightening injustice being dished out by the world’s governments to these Women and Children. But the truly shameful way the media have cast this grotesque crisis aside, in favour of highlighting feminism and women’s rights from the point of view of Emma Watson’s chest.
The ‘coverage’ Emma has clocked up is appalling. We shouldn’t be debating if a women who actively promotes feminism should be persecuted for showing half a boob: Who cares! It’s her body and she is choosing to show or not show as much as she wants. Emma Watson has the ability to exercise that right. Unlike the hundreds of female Migrants who find themselves caught up in this lawless Libyan nightmare.
What we should be debating and creating as much noise as possible about, especially in the run up to International Women’s Day, are the powerless women being forced into prostitution as part of a sick ‘pay as you go’ migrant scheme.
The Women with no choice. The Women who have been stripped of their right to choose as they succumb to a web spun out of the repugnant smuggling and trafficking gangs. Those Women who have been encouraged by their own families to run straight into the hands of the most evil of human beings.
These are the women we should be bringing into the media spotlight.
Or how about we make some noise about the hell-on-earth detention centres? An environment so hostile people are dying on a daily basis. These prisons, (let’s not mess about here, they do not deserve the name ‘detention centre’,) are being endured by the women and children who have either been ‘rescued’ from the sea or detained prior to getting on one of those inflatable death traps. Which by the way, the smugglers know will never make it to the advertised destination. The inflatable rafts aren’t hardy enough, instead the smugglers are relying on the Italian coastguard perimeter to deliver the dead-behind-the-eyes migrants to European soil. A sickening twist.
This is Mum-guilt like I have never experienced before. Seeing pregnant women, babies and children, just like my own, being kept in a concrete box with no end date in sight is a revolting disgrace. Witnessing a mother breastfeeding her baby in a raft which had crammed in so many people that bodies lay on top of bodies. Those visible were whipped with a lasso so long it resembled scenes from the times of slavery.
Of course, by the time these women and children have reached the rafts they have already survived several hundreds of miles travelling in the back of a van across a desert, which is widely accepted to be more dangerous that crossing the ocean. Isis training camps are frequent, rebels patrol the area with check points, not to mention the blistering heat with temperatures of up to 45 degrees, contrasted to the frozen nights. Limited water, and just enough food to stop them starving to death. Oh and guess what – this cost them upwards of £4,000.
I am embarrassed and truly saddened that as I type this there is Toddler a few thousand miles away, just like mine. But they aren’t playing in a sand pit with their friends or about to eat so much lunch that they will feel full and happy. No, they are sitting lifeless waiting to live or waiting to die in these limbo cattle prisons reminiscent of a concentration camp. There is no joy, no warmth, no security for these toddlers. Their only crime was their Mother’s desire for a better, safer life.
Where are the UN aid tents? Libya is not a war zone – so what is taking so long? Their own African governments don’t appear to want these women and children back. There seems to be no attempts of repatriation; The Leaders are simply turning a blind eye. It makes you wonder what these women were running from? What could possibly be a fate worse than indefinite imprisonment, abandonment by your home country, stripped of your nationality?
Individual identity is no longer relevant, for the term ‘Migrant’ fits all.
There is a stigma attached to the term ‘Migrant’- a nuisance, that just won’t go away. Governments fight over how many they will allow to stay as official refugees and locals rebel in droves about those coming to ‘take over’ their towns. My perception has changed, this documentary has changed my warped views. There is no way I could go through what these people are currently going through. If they make it all the way to Europe they should be welcomed with open arms. This is running the gauntlet like nothing I have ever seen before.
Thank God for the brave reporting by Ross Kemp and his team. Awearness is finally creeping into the lives of us ordinary folk, for we should never underestimate the power of ‘Ordinary’. I tweeted Kemp and asked him how we can help. In my mind I imagined an SAS escort as I boarded a plane for Tripoli to single handedly take on the most feared smuggler gangs in the world… Not surprisingly, his response was slightly more conservative:
International charities are putting increasing pressure onto governments. Funds are at last being pledged to help this crippling humanitarian crisis. The more noise that is made about this dire situation the better.
As Ross Kemp’s poignant words are still swimming around in my head, I’ll leave them here for you to ponder…
“I don’t care who you are or where you come from… As human beings we have a duty to try and stop this suffering”
Never a truer word.
International Women’s Day should be a day to celebrate being a Woman, and to take a moment to recognise those that desperately need our help.
The Sisterhood doesn’t care for creed or colour; if you can write that letter to your MP, if you can pledge that pound or 2 to Medicins Sans Frontieres, you can help give these women their right to choose once again.