Poor, poor Africa; poor, poor African women
One in 18 Nigerian women dies during childbirth, compared with one in 2,400 in Europe. And many of the teenage moms who survive childbirth, end up with the horror of torn insides and fistula, which renders them totally incontinent -- cast off by their paramours, shunned by their families.
It's a condition that can be reversed at $300 an operation. But Mozambique, with 17m people, has just three surgeons who consistently perform the operation. Niger, population 11m, has six. Nigeria, Africa's most populous country with 137m people, has eight fistula repair centers.
A Dutch doctor, Kees Waaldijk, who does fistula repairs in Africa, and trains others to do them, tells this story.
One patient managed to push out only her baby's head before collapsing from exhaustion in her hut. Her brother carried her, balanced on a donkey, to a road, where a bus driver demanded 10 times the usual fare to take her to a hospital. She half-stood, half-sat for the trip, her dead baby's head between her legs, her urethra ripped open.Read the whole report here, and weep.
Sweet Jesus, the horror so many women in the world go through, especially in Africa. And I'm off to see a movie this afternoon, and then on to a friend's book party. What lives of privilege some of us lead -- but what lives of preventable deprivation and suffering most of us lead.
That's the problem: "us" doesn't include those poor girls in Africa. There's something horribly wrong with a world in which those who have it OK -- like me -- feel no responsibility for those of the human race who don't. If we all end up in hell, I hope we're not so blind as to ask the devil why.