Yesterday I witnessed a horrifying event which got me thinking, are we so afraid of being racist we let people hide behind Culture?
When I arrived at my daughters school I heard sickening cries from a little baby girl, maybe 9months old. I saw a crowd of women gathered around her and was automatically concerned that something horrible had happened, perhaps a terrible fall. I walked towards them to see if I could be of any assistance but as I walked closer I saw that this pain was being inflicted by choice. The first thing I noticed was that they were filming this event and that was my first clue as to this not being an accident. The second was the smiles on these women’s faces, surely if your child was in that much pain you would be distressed. I was distressed listening to it and I wasn’t that little girls mum.
Soon I realised what was going on, they were piercing this little girls ears, in the school yard and using one of these women’s earrings to pierce her ear. Not only is this totally unhygienic but it was barbaric! Now one thing I haven’t mentioned was that these women were Indian. When I was talking about the horror I had just witnessed one mother said but maybe it’s a cultural thing? It was then that I started thinking, what if these women had been caucasian? Would be all be happy to sit back and watch then pierce their child’s ear with a blunt implement? Or would we sit their judging them, making sniggering comments about how awful they were as parents?
Why does culture make us blind to moral rights and wrongs? Of course if you ask anyone they would all agree sewing a woman’s vagina for cultural reasons is wrong, but that’s a pretty clear cut one. But what about circumcision? Piercing of ears even using proper tools?
We tend to think because a child is ours that we have the right to make these decisions for them. I personally don’t think we do, they are a little person, maybe without a voice but shouldn’t we let them make these choices when they are old enough to decide for themselves? I understand that we must make tough decisions for them that will benefit them in the future. Of course because they have no voice we do have to make these decisions for them. What I don’t understand is why we are allowed to make decisions for them that will impact them forever and that have no real benefits? Why are we allowed to hurt our children in the name of religion or culture or just because they are ours?
I understand my view will not be popular but my brain has been whirring and I just had to get it out there. For instance circumcision has been proven to help with the reduced likelihood of getting diseases such as HIV and as much as this seems to be a great reason to circumcise why do it to a baby under no anaesthetic, will your child be involved in sexual acts where this is relevant? As a parent I can’t understand why you would hurt your child by choice for the sake of religion or culture when it serves to have no benefit for them. If your child feels that they want to be circumcised let them make this decision for themselves, if they want the health benefits let them make that choice when they have a voice and they can have it done under anaesthetic.
Piercing of ears seems harmless enough and I guess it is but again I’m not sure why we are the ones who get the make that choice for our baby. That hole is there for their whole life, or it closes and leaves a scar. Now I know this isn’t a huge deal but it serves no benefit to them, in fact it can get infected and cause them to be very sick. So why is it that we get to chose? Why not let them decide when they are old enough to make that decision themselves? I was 6 when I got my ears pierced and I was so glad that I got to chose, it was my choice, my voice and it was special because of it. I didn’t just grow up having holes in my ears because someone had just thought I should. What if I pierced my daughters eyebrow or belly button? Why is that not ok? It might hurt a bit more to do these but when they are that little pain is pain, it would really hurt. What about tattooing my child? I know we have to draw the line and I know that a hole that scars isn’t as much of a permanent fixture as a tattoo but it is still permanent and serves them no purpose as a baby.
In the end I guess I’m not saying we can’t pierce our babies ears but I’m saying we need to start thinking about it more seriously, we need to make sure we make decisions for our children that benefit them. They are voiceless and we are their voice so we need to speak for them with their best interest at heart and try and defer as many decisions as we can for them to decide when they do have a voice.
My other point is this, we can’t be scared of being racist for not agreeing with someone of a different culture. If it is morally wrong it is wrong, it doesn’t matter if the person in Chinese, English, Ugandan or French. We are all human and we must make sure we see each other as that, not as a colour so our morals must apply to all. When we do that that is when we truly will be free of racism.