There were two news stories that I took particular interest in this week and I wanted to share some thoughts on them.
The first was a news item about the arrest of nine men from Rochdale and Oldham who had been involved in systematic grooming and sexual abuse of young girls. Comment and opinion has come from quarters as diverse as the BNP and the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Interestingly enough they seem to be saying about the same thing - that race is a factor as 8 of the men are Pakistani and one is from Afganistan. The assertion has been that they targeted white girls due to cultural attitudes towards sexuality. This completely ignores the fact that abuse is abuse regardless of the ethnicity of the victim or perpetrator. It also turns a blind eye to the abuse that takes place within the Asian community (which is the catch-all term being used to describe these men) and goes unspoken about. Additionally there is the practice of underage marriage which pretty much sanctions child abuse and is more common than we are led to believe. To make this about race is unnecessary as it takes away from the reality that these are horrific and cruel acts committed by nasty people. In communities where it is the custom to call all adults uncle and aunty and to show respect to them a child can be placed in a vulnerable situation and not feel able to report it to anyone. Targeting complete strangers and luring them into a dangerous situation is downright criminal and thankfully these men have been caught and charged. Don't even get me started on how unhelpful Trevor Phillips' comments are - just read them and decide for yourself: http: BBC News website
The other news item playing out towards the end of this week was the cover of Time magazine to illustrate an article about attachment parenting. In case you haven't seen it this is the photo:
The various debates on radio and online have included spokespeople from Mumsnet and other parenting organisations. All of them commenting on the pose of the photograph and not the article itself. What was a piece about attachment parenting has become outrage at a woman defiantly appearing to breastfeed a child who can stand and look at the camera. Not for them the traditional babe in arms pose we are used to seeing (or not as the case may be). The various threads of discussion I've followed have been about whether or not prolonged breastfeeding is about the child or the mother. I breastfed my son and wanted to do so for as long as it suited him. Eventually at 14 months I had to concede that he wasn't really feeding any more and it was about me wanting to hold him close and keep the bond we had developed. When he was first born and we were in hospital for a few days I fed him for hours at a time and holding him close was just the most wonderful sensation. Being able to let go of that closeness is difficult, but I have noticed that as he grows he chooses how to be close to me and this autonomy and independence is important. It has always been important that my son feels close to both me and Hubbie and they also have a very affectionate relationship. Being able to breastfeed is a wonderful way to build a bond with your child and one I'd recommend to anyone. However, it isn't always possible for a mother to breastfeed and it isn't an option for the father so attachment comes in many other forms. The magic 2 year goal for breastfeeding is taken from the World Health Organisation guidance to women in the whole world. It is the safest, most hygienic and cheapest option for mothers of babies born in countries where water is not clean or accessible and where healthcare is not freely available. However, in a culture where we have the choice it is the tyranny of the 'Mummy mafia' that makes breastfeeding for years the gold standard of caring. If I sought validation from the Supermums I'd have serious concerns about my own sanity.
Next time: back to usual light-hearted self deprecating schtick I promise :o)