Posts Tagged ‘migrants’
A woman died. A day after Diwali, when the Irish Times had a front page image of a lovely little Indian boy lighting Diwali candles, it had another beautiful Indian face on its front cover, this time of a woman who died in an Irish hospital. Savita Halapanavar has since become a household face, even if we are not entirely certain on how to pronounce her surname, and a symbol of the oppression of women, whose lives and health are put at risk in Ireland’s maternity hospitals.
The minute details of the circumstances of Savita Halapanavar’s death are yet to be ascertained. Savita was in her 17th week of pregnancy, presented at Galway University Hospital with severe pain in her lower back, sent home because the foetus’s heartbeat was sound, came back to hospital with her waters broken, told the foetus’s heartbeat was still sound. When she was still having pains, Savita, clearly aware she was miscarrying, asked for a termination to be told her foetus’s heartbeat was still sound, and, as ‘this is a Catholic country’, she could not have a termination. Her reply that she was not a Catholic, not even Irish, was of little help. Savita suffered until her foetus’s heartbeat was no more, at which stage septicaemia set in and Savita died along with her foetus. And a day after Diwali her picture adorned our screens and newspapers and we held vigils and demonstrations, saying ‘we are all Savita’, declaring ‘never again’ and demanding that the government enacts the long-promised legislation, 20 years after the Supreme Court ruling in the x case, to protect the life of birthing mothers. Abortion was again big news as the ‘Pro Life’ and ‘pro choice’ camps battled it out over Savita’s dead body.
Last week I attended ‘On migrations: Images, subjects, objects’, an event co-organised by the Dublin City Council Arts Office in association with PhotoIreland Festival 2012 and GradCam. Listening to papers on ‘diaspora space’ among indigenous Irish people in the north inner city and on ‘collaborative’ photography projects with residents of direct provision hostels, a line from the Israeli poet Nathan Alterman rang in my head: ‘Here are the trees with their murmuring leaves / Here is the air dizzy with height. / I do not want to write about them / I want to touch their heart’.
But the poet, like us academics, did continue to write. Indeed, writing was his stock in trade, as it is ours. And writing ‘about them’ is just as invasive as the poet’s wish to ‘touch their heart’. So I reflected aloud about the permission we give ourselves to turn others, in this specific case migrants, into the objects of our ‘desire to know’, as Alice Feldman of UCD expressed it. And – although I was a founder member of the Trinity Immigration Initiative, for which I managed a project on migrant networks assisting in their own integration, and although I am deeply committed to supporting migrants in Ireland and elsewhere – I made a decision there and then that I will never again research and write about migrants. Read the rest of this entry »
Last night right wing demonstrators, including Israeli membersof Knesset attacked African asylum seekers in the south of Tel Aviv
The statement by Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last week regarding the ‘infiltration’ of African asylum seekers via the Israel-Egypt border, is indicative not only of Israeli state racism, but also of the West’s approach to asylum seekers in general.
If Israel does not stem the flow of African refugees and illegal immigrants, Netanyahu said in last week’s cabinet meeting, ‘the problem that currently stands at 60,000 could grow to 600,000’, threatening ‘our existence as a Jewish and democratic state, the social fabric of society, national security and national identity.’ Read the rest of this entry »
Met Micheal Martin (Fianna Fail leader and former minister) at a do in Cork.
I: we did meet before in 2005, on a Questions and Anwers programme after the 2004 Citizenship Referendum, when you told me you knew a Nigerian woman who had quintuplets, had one in Nigeria and hopped on a plane to have the other four in Ireland (see After Optimism, Lentin and McVeigh, 2006, p. 101)
Martin: Oh, yes, I remember. I actually got a letter from an obstetrician about it…
I: But Micheal, how logical can this be?
Martin: No, really… He wrote to me that something had to be done about all these women coming to have babies in Ireland…
Martin: Believe me, I can show you the letter
I raise my eyebrows, but Martin is not embarrased at all…
I saw Alan Grossman and Aine O’Brien’s film ‘Promise and unrest’, the story of mother and daughter Noemi and Gracelle from the Philippines, and was reminded, yet again, of the hidden lives of thousands of migrant women care workers in post-Tiger Ireland.
Noemi came to Ireland when her daughter Gracelle was seven months to work as a care worker for an elderly person in Dublin. She is one of many domestic and care workers who have become a feature of Ireland once independent and enterprising Irish women returned to the workplace in their thousands, requiring enterprising and independent migrant women to take their place – the assumption being that this is ‘women’s work’. Read the rest of this entry »