Sunday, 7 June 2009

My world is still round

this morning.
Vanessa is still there so her world must be round too. That makes me feel better. I will prowl around Jane's world later. She's throwing a pitch party over at How Publishing Really Works.
If anyone heads here from there please say hello. I am friendly. I do not scratch visitors. I will visit you.
All this will make a nice change from trying to work out something which is still puzzling me. My job is to write communication boards for what are technically known as CHEs or 'complex humanitarian emergencies' - disasters, natural and manmade. There always seem to be more of the latter. They are always made much worse by the blinding stupidity and intransigence of some of the protagonists. I try to be neutral but this is difficult. It is especially difficult in the face of an apparently complete lack of logical thinking. If someone can explain the following I will be grateful.
"A woman's place is in the home. She does not need to learn to read and write. There is no need for a girl to go to school. A woman most certainly cannot go to university or work outside the home."
That's bad enough but then comes the next bit.
"No, a woman may not be examined by a male doctor."
Logic says that this means that a woman may not be examined by a doctor. We get around it by having other women present and witholding something the men need. Even then I am told that asking something as simple as "Are you pregnant?" or "Have you been violated? (Raped.)" can be dangerous. Doctors need to know. Women are fearful of telling them. They are suspicious of everyone. They do not trust other women to interpret for them, especially to interpret accurately. Many of them cannot read or write and the marks on a communication board are meaningless. Even some of those who are there to interpret are not really able to read and write - or only a little. It makes the doctor's job almost impossible.
It's a power thing of course. The men who run the displacement camps and refugee centres are using disasters to impose more disasters on the most vulnerable. Writing communication boards for these situations is like treading through a mine field. I await the day that someone puts a fatwa on me for adding something that should not be there or accidentally misspelling something in a language I cannot read, let alone speak. Or perhaps they will put a fatwa on me simply because I can read and write.


Katy said...

Shocking, Cat, quite shocking. You've made me realise again how lucky we are, how we take our ability to read and write, to be educated, as a right.

Education is such a powerful thing. It is a right I think, as it is to be treated by a doctor without fear. It's heartbreaking that people are being denied it even in places which should be "safe" for them.

catdownunder said...

I am often left wondering what 'safe haven' actually means!

HelenMHunt said...

Bringing greetings to Cat from the four cats, inspired by the pitch party!

Captain Black said...

Of all of my blogger associates, ninety-odd percent are female. I believe I can categorically say that you can write.

Any tips?

catdownunder said...

Thankyou Helen - a four cat life must be amazing.

Captain Black - thankyou sir!

I will prowl in on you both again.

Jane Smith said...

Cat, I love this blog post of yours and have linked to it on mine. I'm amazed by what you do.

My four cats (a Siamese, two Balineses and a Rag Doll, all blue eyed, all rescued, and all bonkers) are not impressed, though, as they think you should spend more time sneering at people, rather than helping them!

battypip said...

Thanks, Cat. I take my privileged life far too much for granted. How can 'normal' people like me best help to do something about the awful ignorance that exists out there in the big bad world? The enormity of it makes me feel so helpless... any ideas?

(staggered over here from the pitch party btw.)

cheers, Pip

catdownunder said...

Oh dear Jane - your cats probably think of themselves as some sort of exclusive club - with you as their servant of course!
Battypip, if you really want to help then I would say that being well informed and then informing others helps. Forget the sensationalist garbage in the media headlines and go behind the scenes. Does that help you?

Marion Gropen said...

I dropped by through a link on Jane Smith's blog, proving that this really IS a world wide web -- she's British, I'm in the US, and you're in Australia!

I have Ms. Smith on my RSS feeds because of her trenchant comments on the industry we share (book publishing), so I loved the tone of this post, too. (My blog is much less fun to read, since it's all about the financial realities of running a book publisher. Not easy to be witty about that, especially lately!)

You're right about the way we make our disasters worse. I've seen some of it, too. Don't let the frustration slow you down, though. If we keep hauling out Ms. Snark's clue-gun often enough, it WILL have an effect.

(Maybe we could find a clue-bazooka??)