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Commentary by Betty Arenson
| Friday, Feb 17, 2017

Her name is Maryam Adam. She lives in Kano, Nigeria, and is married to Mohammed Umar. All of that might sound normal to women in America; it is anything but.

Maryam married Mohammed when she was just 15 years old. She was his second wife, and she would be followed by wife No. 3, Jamola Idris, and No. 4, Aisha Samaila. Umar’s first wife, also a cousin, Mainuna Ahuaibu, married him at age 14 and gave birth the following year.

Umar has no education of any consequence and complains he cannot support his 17 living children on his haphazard bricklayer trade. He bemoans his situation: “I never knew it would be such a burden for me,” or so he tells an L.A. Times reporter.

The sensible mind would automatically move to the obvious: Stop getting married and make a conscious effort in preventing more babies.

That concept is not in Umar’s head.

“You can’t escape fate,” he said. “What will happen, will happen. It’s divine destiny. People are pushed by passion, just the natural urge, this instinct.”

The first two wives objected to the third wife and certainly the fourth one. Their despair was met with laughing it off as “‘typical’ female jealousy.”

In addition to Umar’s 17 living children, he helps support an 18th – a son from his third wife’s previous marriage. Her other four children were sent to live with an uncle.

The culture is to disallow girls from going to school. They do not question their men, and if not married at some young age, like 15, girls are considered spinsters.

This is a country with vast areas of high illiteracy, high infant mortalities, human beings living in mosquito-infested spaces with chronic hunger, and thus severe malnutrition leading to poor brain development, if they survive at all.

It’s unimaginable to think of two wives and 13 kids, hungry and sick, living in a “small, dark corridor with no ceiling,” breathing charcoal smoke-polluted air.  The latest resident is a 2-week-old baby.

The poverty continues on with no end in sight.

A number of women have recently commented to me, wondering what the women’s marches are all about, especially here in America, the most privileged place on earth. Yes, women included.

We’re told it’s about women’s rights and apparently not having enough of them, whatever that means in this day in age. I do not know of one woman who thinks she can’t strive for anything she wants because of her gender, including seeking equal pay for equal job performance.

A leading theme of the marches is the “right” to have an abortion, and that means a demand for abortion anytime and for any reason – under the umbrella of “it’s my right to control my body.”

There is an irony in the strident and raucous demand from women who exact that they have control over their own bodies. If that end game, i.e. “control,” is so prominent to them, then why are so many women finding themselves with unwanted pregnancies?

Irrespective on one’s views on abortion, the number of unintended pregnancies for women using birth control that failed even though they used methods consistently and correctly is small. The Guttmacher Institute puts that sect at 5 percent. The same goes for pregnancies as a result of incest or rape, which the Guttmacher places at 1 percent.

Social media provides an ease of communication that allows these marches to take place in cities around the world.

I can think of four wives in Kano, Nigeria, who would welcome these marching women on their territory where women truly have no rights.

 

Betty Arenson is a Valencia resident who believes in the Constitution in its entirety and that laws should be upheld and apply to everyone equally.

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4 Comments

  1. Gary says:

    Betty,

    I kind of find myself agreeing with you here. In my past culture (LDS) women were treated and bargained for like chattel, and often had tremendously large families in poverty. No choices. Do as you’re told. Man leads the woman, and “if I want more wives, so what?”

    Education, public action, public outrage, women’s rights, and government intervention all helped move the dial on that one and the practice ended in the early 1900’s.

    We are blessed here, Betty. And part of that blessing stems from all the women who’ve marched over the decades and now, centuries.

    We may not be able to help the Nigerians. Lord knows, we don’t need another war, right? But we can help here, and stand firm for women’ rights resolutely. Good that we have them. Let’s hope that we keep them.

    – Gary

  2. Denny NNWofLA says:

    Your party’s goal of eliminating women’s services such as Planned Parenthood cause the effect you mentioned at the first part of this non-sequitur.

  3. mellie says:

    I hate to correct a person who is so in line with what’s right and what I know to be true, but the phrase is “…in this day AND age”, not “in age”.

  4. Stella Perez says:

    Betty,
    Truly where to begin? Has the thought ever entered your small provincial mind that those of us who choose to walk do so for the many who are not able to?

    You mention abortion as a running theme of the Women’s March and conveniently omit the fact that the GOP has for decades has run on platforms that call for repealing ROE vs WADE, defunding Planned Parenthood, denying the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, and failing to support rate increases in the hourly minimum wage. All of these issues and so many more affect all women regardless of age, race or ethnicity.

    Of course women in the US have it easier than some women worldwide, but that “exception” applies predominately to white women, and NOT to women of color and not to single working mothers.

    FYI, Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of reproductive health services in the US, serving approx. five million women, men and adolescents. Of those served, 80% have incomes at or far below the federal poverty level. Services provided include breast exams, prenatal care, Pap smears and research. ONLY 3% of their services is to provide abortions. Yet, defunding Planned Parenthood is the focus of this administration and the GOP. Do you plan on telling us where the millions who are currently served though Planned Parenthood are supposed to turn to if the nonprofit agency is defended? Of course not, because the purpose in defunding it is to punish women for getting pregnant. Never mind that 34% of Planned Parenthood services goes to contraception and preventing unwanted pregnancies.

    As to the gender pay gap, it affects women of all ages, races and education levels and women face this gap in nearly every occupation. In the US, women working full time are paid 80% of what a man is paid. Again the pay gap is far worse for women of color and working mothers.

    According to the US Census Bureau, the earnings ratio has not had a significant change since 2007, and this wage gap will not close until the year 2152. Although education may help to increase earnings, it is not effective against the GENDER PAY GAP, because at every level of academic achievement, a women’s median earnings are LESS than a men’s median earnings. Even you must acknowledge that earnings are affected by race and ethnicity as well as gender. Or do you not deal with facts either?

    Finally, sexual violence against women. 1 in 5 or 20% of all college aged women will be sexually assaulted while only 4% of men will be. Sexual assault/violence against women on US college campuses is rampant; 11.2% of all students will experience some form of sexual assault. This places women ages 18-24 at an elevated risk that is simply unacceptable. In fact, only 5% percent of all assault cases ever get reported making it the most under reported crime.

    So yes Betty, I marched. And yes, everyday I am grateful to have been born and live in the US and yes, I am a college educated woman of color, a granddaughter of immigrants, a wife, mother and a proud #NastyWoman. Yes, I marched and will do so again. For my rights, my daughter’s and for all those who could not. The only question left is why didn’t you?

    #whyimarch

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