Thursday, March 31, 2011

Humanity before culture a piece by Georgina Guedes

This piece once again made me realize the greed and difference in ideals and morals of different  people, races and religions especially in Africa
Pessimist Incarnate

Humanity before culture
Yesterday, a young father was reunited with his two small daughters after a battle with the law. The reason that his daughters were taken from him was not because he had neglected or abused them in some way, but because their mother had died before he had paid lobola (Marriage Dowry) to her family.

He had even said that he intended to honour the lobola payment, but asked for a little time to come to terms with his own grief and new family situation after the death of his partner before focusing on buying his dead wife from her family.

His in-laws chose to put financial matters ahead of their own grief or concerns for the well being of their grandchildren, and enlisted the assistance of the police and a social worker in removing the children from their father’s care.

This story is appalling for two reasons. The cruelty of the in-laws, whom I can only hope weren’t thinking clearly as they grappled with their own grief, is the least concerning. The fact that a social worker and the police were willing to put the outstanding lobola payment before the well being of the children is simply shocking.

To put this in perspective, these children had just lost their mother. Their father, by all accounts, was a good man who had raised and supported them since they were born. His commitment to his children is evident in the extent to which he was willing to go to battle a system so inexplicably determined to keep them from him.

At a time like this, the well being of the children should be far more important than a financial dispute. The children should have as little disruption as possible and be cared for in their home by their living parent, who is a responsible and loving individual.

Regardless of the cultural situation that requires a man to purchase his wife, in the absence of the wife, children are not objects or pawns to be held by one party or another to secure payment. This kind of human trafficking is inhumane and unacceptable - and I can’t believe that in a supposedly forward-thinking nation, this behaviour was upheld by various representatives of the law.

The social worker involved has been given until May 12 to show why she should not be reported for unprofessional conduct. Even in a country screaming out for social workers, I hope that she is stripped of her licence. It is clear that she has no ability to see what was best for the children - which is surely a basic requirement of her job.

And don’t get me started on the 14-year-old girl who was lashed to death for alleged adultery in Bangladesh.

Whatever your cultural beliefs, these should never become more important than compassion and respect for other human beings - especially children who have no ability to speak out for themselves.

Original Piece found at