Mothers Day in Parliament Square

“I left my country in 2003. I come over here and apply for asylum. And I left my daughter behind. She was three years old. I couldn’t come with her and since then I don’t know where is her whereabouts. I’ve tried through the Red Cross but haven’t been successful. So I always live in fear of not knowing where she is.”

Juliette, Asylum Seeker.

The Mothers March.
The Mothers March.

Mothers and War.
Mothers and War.

Yarls Wood Hunger Striking Mothers.
Yarls Wood Hunger Striking Mothers.

Fathers Supporting Mothers.
Fathers Supporting Mothers.

Which is Better, Motherhood or War?
Which is Better, Motherhood or War?

A Mother and Baby.
A Mother and Baby.

A Grand...Mother.
A Grand…Mother.

A Tamil Mother.
A Tamil Mother.

Asylum Mother, All Africans Womens Group.
Asylum Mother, All Africans Womens Group.

On the day before Mother’s Day, an enactment of the importance of mothers throughout the world, campaigners for the rights of mothers gather in London to meet and discuss many problems still faced by women not just here in the UK but worldwide. Mother’s Day is traditionally a day set aside to reflect on the importance of the Mother figure in society however it has, like many other special days, been corrupted in service to the economy and much of what we feel and think about the role of the mother is being lost or set-aside pointlessly in favour of economic financial fundamentalism.

The mothers gather at Trafalgar Square for a march to Parliament Square where they invite speakers to get up onto a public microphone to talk about what being a Mother in the modern UK means.

From professional mothers to asylum seeking mothers, from mothers from war-zones to mothers fighting for midwives, from mothers who are breast-feeding to mothers who are rape victims, the campaigners talk about a whole range of issues.

The open session starts with the issue of breast-feeding and the role large corporations play in the commodity of feeding the infants of mothers.

“Breast feeding is a crucial, life-giving, life-saving part of women’s caring work. Lack of breastfeeding costs the lives of 1.5Million infants per year, mostly in countries of the south and causes countless suffering and disability from infancy to adulthood. This has gone on for decades.

“Breast feeding is constantly questioned and undermined. This is an attack on mothers and those we care for. We face many obstacles, bad advice, even health workers tell us to top-up with a bottle, lies about HIV, formula advertising (industrial produced powdered milk), short and low paid maternity leave, financial pressure to turn to a job, overwork at home, being jeered at for breast feeding in public. In the UK mothers who return to work have no legal entitlement to paid breast feeding breaks. They have to arrange it with their employer. Even though we won that in the Maternity Protection Convention 10 years ago.”

“Welfare reform is the latest attack. NGO’s and UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) don’t talk about breastfeeding any more, they talk about ‘infant feeding’ which covers both breastfeeding and formula. This is a cover up to hide increasing attacks on breastfeeding by the formula industry.”

Emily, a professional working mother talks about raising her three children. She is a solicitor who has her children with her on today’s march.

“I’ve got three children. I have got two jobs. I have one job that the world recognises: I’m a solicitor. My other job, which the world doesn’t recognise is that I’m a woman with three children aged five, two and four months and I breast feed.”

“The job that I do when I leave the office is [that] I’m raising the next generation and that’s the most fundamental job there is.”

“My own role is totally [irreplaceable]. At work they can always find another solicitor but at home they can’t find another mother. The burden of being a mum, of mothering, is done completely by women.”

“Every bit of work you do as mum is considered so mundane and I think about what that means. Whenever I’m cooking a meal I’m teaching my children how to cook but I’m also thinking about whether what I’m cooking is nutritious . I’m also thinking…is it nutritious for me as a breastfeeding mum, so I can still feed the baby. I’m thinking about what it costs and all of that…goes into cutting a carrot!”

“When I’m trying to explain this at home its hard to say all that and its hard to say how important it is.”

“If you got paid for the work you did at home, you would have power in your job as-well which we need because most women who work don’t have the situation they want at work, even privileged women like me who are lawyers.”

“My children have just had Chicken-Pox and I’m thinking thank god I’m on maternity leave because god knows what I’d do with three weeks of Chicken-Pox if I was at work. And that’s what its like for every woman at work, if their child ever wakes up with a fever…its an impossible situation suddenly.”

They want to bring in a Chicken-Pox vaccine and we know the real reason for that is so that we can go back to work, its not because we really need to vaccinate against Chicken-Pox, because its not a very serious illness. The vaccine is going to be more dangerous than the illness.”

“The fact that we don’t recognise the value of women’s work also means we don’t recognise the importance of our children’s lives so children become undervalued. When you go into work and your child is sick your child is only a burden and that is a shocking situation for our society.”

Janine is a mother of a 22 month old and was with a midwife practice called Albany. The practice was closed by Kings College 2009.

“I’m a mother and have a 22 month old son. I believe that today midwifery as a profession is really under attack. As women we should get the best care when giving birth.”

“I was with a midwifery practice called the ‘Albany Midwives’. They were based in Peckham for twelve and a half years. They were the gold standard of midwifery care, five star, they were fantastic.”

“I knew my midwife from the time of booking. I built up a relationship with my midwife. I totally trusted them. They knew what I wanted. I wanted to have a home birth. They knew me, I knew them. Midwives want a relationship with the women they are caring for. At the moment, [what] we have in the UK is an inhumane system and its pot-luck.”

“Its pot-luck where you live. The trust that your with and its pot-luck if you have a good midwife and if you have a good relationship with her. And it shouldn’t be pot-luck.”

“When we give birth we should have the best care.”

“When you go into hospital is under a ticking clock! Women are scared. If your five days over your due date [you are] told that your going to be induced and that’s not right.”

“Albany had their contract terminated by Kings College hospital in 2009. We are fighting to get them re-instated. There are lots of statistics to show that the Albany are a safe midwifery practice.”

“Of a thousand live births, 4.9 babies died with the Albany, that’s compared with 11.9 in Southwark as a whole.”

“It is vitally important that you listen to the statistics because if you read what’s out there about the Albany midwives there’s an inquiry to say they were not a safe midwifery unit but that’s not true and we are fighting that at the moment. They were an excellent midwifery unit.”

In Sri Lanka, scene of appalling violence and barbarity after the radicalised people of Sri Lanka lost control of its internal political structure to Nationalist Fundamentalists, leading to a devastating conflict in which upwards of 30,000 people died, many Tamil mothers are forced to give birth with no midwifery care at all. Malnourishment and infant mortality is currently exceptionally high.

Puni, a grandmother from ‘Tamil Women for Justice and Peace’ talks about the situation for mothers on the island.

“Tamil women from Sri Lanka have no voice. Journalists have been killed, attacked and abducted. They have gone through all sorts of violations of human rights because they have been trying to speak out against oppression of Tamils by [the] Government.”

“Tamil women have been subject to all the abuses in the book. Just last year about 300,000 people have been detained in camps with little food, water and access for aid agencies. It is internal colonialism, oppression of minorities. Tamil women [are] tea workers. You might be enjoying Ceylon tea but the tea plantation [workers] in Sri Lanka are paid much below the wages of the others, because they are Tamil women.”

“When you are drinking tea [from Sri Lanka], you are drinking blood!”

In recent months the political whip of immigration has been raised in the UK in an attempt to frighten the domestic UK population into foregoing its ordinary voting duties in favour of supporting the main globalist parties in the UK. These are the UK Conservative and Labour political cartels. Ordinarily, immigration is blamed on a number of tactical villains including, the Government, Liberals, the EU, lax domestic immigration ‘policy’ and outward international migration. In reality, business and industry is the prime mover for all immigration into the UK in order to reduce the largest capital costs to employers. Employee salaries. Immigrants are favoured by business and industry due to low salary expectations. Government is required to ensure high immigration into the UK while at the same time ‘appearing’ to be tough with immigrants. As can be seen in recent weeks, this ‘management’ periodically leads to fatalities.

In Glasgow just a week ago, three members of a Russian family fell to their deaths after the UK Border Agency attempted to remove them and in 2008 at a notorious housing estate in Woodford Green, London, a man fell to his death from a tower block as UK Border Agency staff ransacked his flat. Here on IM we recently covered the case of Iranian pro-democracy campaigner, Bita Ghaedi who has been threatened with removal back to Iran, and almost certain execution by the fundamentalist Iranian regime, again by the UK Border Agency.

Today, the UK Border Agency is strongly criticised in a report in which it is claimed that the those fleeing torture from abroad are held in high security detention centres like the infamous Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre in the UK, despite their accounts of torture being verified. Current guidelines state that those fleeing torture should be held in detention only in ‘exceptional circumstances’. Yarl’s Wood has suffered chronic complaints that its officers do not posses the emotional maturity needed to work within the heavyweight field of international migration and are abusing ‘detainees’ along petty racist grounds. One women who has fled torture in Zimbabwe and has had her account of torture verified independently, remains incarcerated in Yarl’s Wood. She has been there for five months.

In a telling, and illuminating, paragraph from a UK Guardian article (UK ‘ignoring’ systemic evidence of torture among asylum seekers, 14th March 2010), the UK Border Agency state that :

“The government is trying to clear a backlog of 200,000 asylum cases, though the border agency admits it can process fewer than half its target applications a month.”

Three mothers from the ‘All African Women’s Group’ talk about their experience of walking the potentially fatal tightrope of the ‘immigration system’ in the UK.

Marie, a mother of one talks first.

“I came to Britain in 2003. I’m from Congo. It took three years to win my case. It was through struggle.”

“I got my children [only] through the Red Cross. I was supported by women to get them here.”

Juliet talks about her flight from Africa and landing in the UK.

“I left my country in 2003. I come over here and apply for asylum. And I left my daughter behind. She was three years old. I couldn’t come with her and since then I don’t know where is her whereabouts. I’ve tried through the Red Cross but haven’t been successful. So I always live in fear of not knowing where she is.”

“As a mother I’ve never lost hope. I know one day I will be able to re-unite with my daughter. And I’m still fighting, because I haven’t got my status. Its been over seven years now, I’m waiting. Its not easy, what we are going through. Its psychological torture. We as mothers have been separated from our children. We didn’t leave them out of choice.”

Grace is a veteran of the immigration system. She has been here for eight years but endured a very real risk of death in the process.

“I have been here for eight years. I left my country after I was raped and tortured back home.”

“In this country if you haven’t won your case your are not entitled to benefits, you are an illegal immigrant and considered useless.”

“After a while, I ended up in the psychiatric hospital and I didn’t know why I was there. They said I had been admitted to the hospital because [I] was found on the street with a rope around my neck and I wanted to die. I was given care in the hospital but they [UK Border Agency] told me as soon as my baby was born I would be sent back to my country. They told me I would be taken to court and [my] child would have to be adopted and if I didn’t agree they would ask the judge to give them authority.”

“When I went to the court, the judge contacted the Home Office to send the documents to the court. The Home Office said to the judge that they wanted to send me back to my country and [that they] were willing to take the child for adoption. The judge said I’m not going to do that and I’m not sending her back due to the situation she is in. The child will be asking for its mother! Can you put yourselves in her shoes?”

“The judge said to me, ‘say that you will not do what they are asking’”

“The Home Office told me I was a lucky woman and they told me they would still fight for me to be returned because they want [me] to go back and that the child would be put up for adoption. They said ‘You are not entitled to housing, you are not entitled to benefits, we don’t want people to come here and be on benefits and housing’”

“After sometime they finally left the court and at the last court [hearing] they won their case and they took the child for adoption. I didn’t sign [to] consent.”

“Now I have won my status. No matter what [will] happen to me, I believe I will have my son back.”

The campaign also hears from rape survivors, disabled and blind women, from fathers supporting mothers and from anti-war campaigners. The campaigners are also given information about other actions around the world to bring attention to Mothers fighting injustice and discrimination in their own societies in Guyana, Haiti, India, Mexico, Peru, Turkey, US and Venezuela.

Global Women’s Strike:

http://www.globalwomenstrike.net

All African Women’s Group:
http://www.allwomencount.net

Save the Albany Midwives:
http://www.savethealbany.org.uk

Payday men’s network:
http://www.refusingtokill.net/

Black Women’s Rape Action Project:
http://www.womenagainstrape.net/

Death of Asylum Seekers Leads to Protest:
http://www.themoscowtimes.com

Guardian – UK ‘ignoring’ systemic evidence of torture among asylum seekers.
http://www.guardian.co.uk

1 Comment

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One response to “Mothers Day in Parliament Square

  1. Selma James

    I was on the marcxh, which was thrilling and had hundreds of women and children, as well as some supportive men. It was great, and your account really gives the feel of it. TGhank you.

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