I Carry Life not Shame!

The energy of life rests in my womb
Within me manifest the miracles of creation
A seedling of inspiration
Blooming into creative force
My womb
It is not my prison
It is not my tomb
Shun me not because of poverty
Nor since odour wreaks
Faeces leaks
Through the hole that has found a home on me
Remember, Incontinence does not define my dignity
Young, I married
Raped, I was
I am poor
Four days tried
Labor obstructed
Fistula became I
Thirty years counted
Baby is gone
Pelvis jam
Husband gone
Tears break dam
Shun me not because of ineligibility
To that enjoyed by the privileged
Nor since I cannot free
What inside me has been caged
Remember, Incontinence does not govern my nobility
Birth canal, torn
Vagina-bladder-rectum divide, gone
All waste now pass through the same
But Remember, I Carry Life not Shame
This poem honours the experiences of thousands of Ethiopian women and girls who have had a fistula and lived for years WITHOUT access to adequate medical attention but WITH plenty of social and psychological hardships. A fistula is a hole in the birth passage, often times induced by obstructed labour but also from sexual violence, resulting in permanent incontinence of urine and/or faeces. Imagine dripping urine and faeces all day beyond your control. Imagine being ostracized by your family and community because of a problem you cannot control. Yet this is the reality of approximately 100,000 women and girls in Ethiopia, some of whom do not access  re-constructive  surgery until many years later. And it is estimated that the number increases by 9,000 each year.

This poem is to honour their perseverance in light of their burden.
Love & Light

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  1. This broke my heart – ripped it to shreds – stomped on the remains.
    I have read about this subject before and was appalled by the cruelty and lack of compassion for these woman.
    You gave every single girl/woman a voice – and now I grieve for each one as an entity living in pain and isolation.
    Thank you
    They should all be able to use their voice – they should all be able to speak of the pain and the heartbreak and the isolation they have been subjected to through their abuse and neglect.
    Thank you for coming forward and speaking for them.
    I listened.

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