Between Us Only!
There Is Nothing Wrong With These Children!
Or The Need To Be Careful In Reporting!
The Oman Daily Observer – Wednesday – December 5th 2012
- Writing is a struggle against silence – Carlos Puentes
- People will forget what you said; People will forget what you did;
- But people will never forget; How you made them feel! – Anon
There was an article recently by one of the local newspaper titled ‘Illegitimate children need social support’. The full article is shown below –
Whilst the article intention was good and well intentioned overall – I liked this particular ending part – The children of unknown parents have appealed to the society to treat them with sympathy, saying it is not their fault that they were born out of wedlock. It seems to me that the writer got it finally right at the end of it all! By using the highlighted words – The children of unknown parents – instead of the offending words of illegitimate! There is simply nothing ‘illegitimate’ as far as the children goes – because like he said it himself – It is not their fault that they were born out of wedlock.
Like I always say in my articles – even the last one last year titled ‘Responsible Reporting Is Required’ – I had said about using words like ‘many people are saying – or many people are thinking’ – and you do not quote References or Empirical Research done – but you simply go by your own (gut) feelings on the subject – and what you think is right, correct, ethical, professional and transparent – and it is simply nothing of these things in the report itself!
With due respects, I also feel that there is this great problem of translating work that has been written in Arabic into English – or writing in English – but thinking in Arabic. The gist and true meaning of words are lost in translation! That is where the problem really lies!
The offending word is ‘illegitimate’ and using phrases like ‘Society looks down’ – ‘many people think’ – ‘are seeds of the devil’ – my God! Let me elaborate by a real live example that has happened in one GCC country – that had happened a few years ago. It was even in the newspapers!
A taxi driver saw this young girl heavily pregnant by the road side waiting for a taxi. She was bleeding profusely! She told the taxi driver to take her to the medical clinic because of the way she was bleeding! She told him – I do not have money to pay you – but God will. Out of kindness of his heart, the poor man agreed to do that. When the woman was admitted as ‘standard procedures’ the Hospital Authorities insisted for the husband, parents or guardian to be present – and they also called the Police at the same time as the woman was admitted as a casualty case – even if pregnant!
When the woman was queried – she responded by implicating the poor taxi driver as ‘the father of my child – and his taxi is waiting outside! Human beings – how nice and poetic they can be! The poor man was apprehended. The Medical people conducted lab tests on the poor man – who was protesting his innocence! Then the bombshell verdict dropped in! The man was told he could go – as he was not the father of the new born child! With the added proviso – this man cannot bear any children because of his sperm and sperm count!
This time the poor taxi driver protested angrily – because he was ‘father of 5 children’ back at home – and what was this nonsense being thrown at him now? Eventually the man found out the truth – when the wife defended herself by saying ‘you were threatening to divorce me – what else could I do?’ Bombshell!
That brings us to the bigger question of legitimacy! There is this crude joke of how a man asked his father that he wanted to marry a certain girl – and his father was against it! He said – ‘son in reality she is your sister! Another 2 names were proposed. Same answer! So the poor boy went to ask his mother. His mother abrupt response – Son – you can go ahead and marry her – because ‘he is not your real father’!
And still – a lot of the youngsters now read English newspapers and articles get translated in the social media. Frankly, I would not have written on this except of a imagining one such youngster reading it and doing harm and injury to himself – after all he is ‘illegitimate and seeds of the devil’!
Who in his right mind thinks of such things? I remember as a kid we had a boy adopted by my uncle. One day – boys being boys – he nearly knifed some other boy – when he insulted him with words like you being what you are!
Like I had said so many times in my articles – people should be careful in their reporting. Especially in sensitive emotive taboo subjects like this one – even if the theme and focus was originally good and well intentioned. It is what you say in-between and how you get there that is very important!
We must always remember that these children are already being mistreated – in some isolated cases even by one or two of the sponsoring parents – let alone others in the family, relatives and friends!
And when we are talking about marriages of children – another taboo emotive subject – there seems to be a lot of bias and prejudices already in such marriages already as they are! It is a very difficult and complex subject in itself. But certainly calling the poor children as ‘seeds of evil’ is definitely going overboard – and stretching it out too far! Such expressions would only license these children for further unnecessary abuses and victimization only!
Also it should be noted that quite a number of people – including high profile and public figures – have taken and welcomed these children into their homes – even if they have their own children too – as their contributions to society! An Arab Leader had allocated one of his palaces for the sole use of orphans – because at the bottom line – these children too are – and not their mistake they came into this world!
We should stop punishing and harrassing these poor children any further! The time is now – not after!
By Majid Al Suleimany