March 17, 2011 § Leave a comment
In 2008, legally married Belgians, Peter Meurrens and Laurent Ghilain enlisted the help of a Ukrainian surrogate to have their baby boy. Samuel Ghilain was born in November of 2008 and have been detained in Ukraine for 2 years. Instead of coming home to loving fathers, Samuel spent his first year with a foster family and then his second in an orphanage after his fathers tried to smuggle him out of the country. Facing bureaucratic hurdles, the couple were not able to obtain a passport for Samuel until last week when the Belgian Foreign Ministry had to follow a court’s order to grant the passport. Samuel is now currently living this his two fathers in quiet town in southern France.
The question that comes to mind is how can a child be placed in foster care and then an orphanage when he clearly has two parents who wanted to care for him. The couple commented on homophobia on the part of Belgian and Ukrainian authorities. The story has caused me to wonder, how can one imagine that anyone would think that a child is better off in an orphanage than with parents who love him? It shows how much more work is needed internationally and in America to resolve legal problems and develop policies and understanding that support LGBTQ families.
After everything’s been said and done, there’s only one things left to say:
Welcome home, Samuel.
March 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
If you would like to help respond to the terrible crisis the people of Japan are facing in the wake of last week’s disasters in Japan please consider reaching out to TechCares, an initiative started to help the many organizations who want to help in a crisis to focus their efforts and provide a unified response. E-mail Elle Creel at firstname.lastname@example.org, one of the coordinators for TechCares, for more information. By communicating and collaborating with our relief efforts, we can all respond more effectively to this terrible disaster.
Our hearts and thoughts are with the people of Japan at this devastating time.
March 9, 2011 § Leave a comment
We are in the middle of a wonderful month of raising awareness about women’s lives and so I think it is fitting to remember significant events in our nation’s history, particularly as they pertain to gender, race, ethnicity, and class.
Some of you may remember learning about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in a history class, and others of you may just be learning about it today. On March 25, we will mark the 100th anniversary of this tragic fire.
“The Triangle Waist Company was in many ways a typical sweated factory in the heart of Manhattan. Low wages, excessively long hours, and unsanitary and dangerous working conditions were the hallmarks of sweatshops… The building owners supposedly never knew the rates paid to the workers, nor did they know exactly how many workers were employed at their factory at any given point. Many of the Triangle factory workers were women, some as young as 15 years old. They were, for the most part, recent Italian and European Jewish immigrants.
Near closing time on Saturday afternoon, March 25, 1911, a fire broke out on the top floors of the Triangle Waist Company. Workers recounted their helpless efforts to open the ninth floor doors to the Washington Place stairs. They and many others afterwards believed they were deliberately locked– owners had frequently locked the exit doors in the past, claiming that workers stole materials. For all practical purposes, the ninth floor fire escape led nowhere, certainly not to safety, and it bent under the weight of the factory workers trying to escape the inferno. Others waited at the windows for the rescue workers only to discover that the firefighters’ ladders were several stories too short and the water from the hoses could not reach the top floors. Many chose to jump to their deaths rather than to burn alive.
By the time the fire was over, 146 of the 500 employees had died.” (For more information see the Cornell site here)
The New York Times recently reported that 100 years after the fire, all of those who died in the fire had finally been identified.
So why does this matter? It matters because we still face this issue in the United States. Sweatshops have not disappeared, they are merely less visible. Workers (including those who are undocumented) who desperately need work are often exploited because our their need put food on the table and a roof over their heads. The U.S. Department of Labor found that 67% of Los Angeles garment factories and 63% of New York garment factories violate minimum wage and overtime laws, and 98% of Los Angeles garment factories have serious health and safety issues that could result in severe injuries or death.
It seems, we haven’t come that far after all.
March 9, 2011 § Leave a comment
Yesterday I took part in a fantastic Open Forum discussion on gender. Much of our conversation centered on why there are such large gaps on Tech’s campus, and in a broader sense, STEM fields in general, between men and women choosing STEM related careers and areas of study.
This morning I came across a blog entry on the exact same topic. The entry addresses and critiques a Cornell study which found that women’s choices are to blame for their under-representation in STEM fields, not inequality and discrimination. If you think it sounds like the scientists who conducted this research might have missed something, I urge you to check out the link below (it includes a link to the orginal research and other articles on the study).