Child marriages in Yemen

Are you familiar with the country of Yemen?

It is an Arab country in Western Asia which occupies the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula.

Recently, an article was brought to my attention titled: “8 year-old Yemeni child dies at hands of 40-year-old husband on wedding night.”

When I read the headline, I knew that there was some form of sexual misconduct, but my gut reaction was complete disgust.

In Yemen, child marriage is extremely common. Over 50% of Yemen girls, under the age of 18, are married off, 14% of them before the age of 15. Families will often sell off their daughters due to debt and poverty. Daughters, essentially, are seen as an economic asset. On top of that, the older a husband is and the younger a daughter, the higher the amount of money the family gets.

These young girls are expected to fulfill the duties of a wife, including bearing children. However, they are so young that they don’t have the understand the ideas of child bearing or sexual intercourse. On top of that, they are more likely to suffer from illness because their body isn’t ready for such a change.

Children need time to grow up and learn before taking on adult responsibilities especially those that can cause harm to them because of their age.

In 2009, there was a law passed saying that the legal age for marriages was to be the age of 17. It was then repealed it because it went against Islamic beliefs!

I understand that religion can play a factor in this, but it is bringing harm to children, and something seriously needs to change.

 

Check out the video below to learn more.

Human Rights Watch

Story of a young girl

 

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Let’s 86 Sexual Assault Part 2

Tonight, we have a guest blogger writing about sexual harassment in the restaurant industry. Her name is Lindsay. Thank you so much for writing. Check out her story below.

When I was first approached about sharing a story regarding sexual harassment in the restaurant industry, I didn’t hesitate. “I’m sure I can come up with at least one instance,” I responded. After all, I’ve been doing this for what feels like forever. At the age of 16, I got my very first job as a hostess, and now here I am – 11 years, a college degree, and a baby boy later – and serving is still my primary source of income. So can I come up with an instance of sexual harassment? Yeah, no sweat.

Then I sat down to write, and I froze.

“How do I choose?” I thought. “How do I pick just one?”

Because the truth is, sexual harassment is a daily part of a female server’s life. Only we’re not allowed to say that. Because when we say that, we become the victims all over again, though this time of ridicule. We’re “uptight.” We “can’t take a joke.” Or my personal favorite, we’re “such a bitch.” And though it may seem like a silly excuse for perpetuating this behavior, let’s face it – most of us will let it slide because we all want to be liked. We all want to come in and do our jobs without causing an uproar or alienating ourselves. I know I do, anyway. But sometimes you just want to scream ENOUGH.

And sometimes you should.

I’ve had co-workers bark at me like dogs in heat. I’ve had my butt grabbed and my boobs grazed. When I scoop ice out of the maker, I have to be conscious of which direction my co-workers are so that I don’t bend over with my behind facing them and open myself up to comments. I’ve been called sexy… fine… delicious… a MILF. And that’s all behavior just from my co-workers.

Sexual harrassment from my guests? I’ve had my fair share of that, too. Men have commented on the size of my breasts and the shape of my body.

..they’ve asked to take me home and been mad when I’ve (too politely)

declined. Once I was walking past a table and dropped a slip of paper in front of them. When I bent down to retrieve it, the man seated there muttered, “Well, why you’re down there…”. I looked up in disbelief, and it was only worsened by the fact that he had his two teenage sons with him. Seriously, sir? I thought. This is the example you’re going to set for your children? That it’s okay to speak to women this way? As a mother myself, I find that absolutely terrifying.

In some instances, I know no harm is intended. It’s a sad fact of society that sexual harassment has become normalized, so most people don’t think anything of it. As women, we’re supposed to feel flattered – as if there is no higher praise than being desirable to a man. But when you’re on the receiving end, it’s different. You feel a certain shame. You find yourself thinking, What is it about me that draws this sort of attention? What am I doing wrong?

But as far as I can tell, my only mistake has been to stay silent. So I’m taking steps to speak up, starting right now.

Let’s 86 Sexual Harrasment

So, if you have ever worked in the restaurant industry, you should know what 86 means. For those that you that have not…..it means, we are out of that item, or it is not longer available. For example: 86 Cheesecake!!! We are out of cheesecakes, tell your customers/guests because they can’t order it unless they want to go down the street.

This week is going to have a few blog posts and we will get to hear from friends and family the I know that have been effected by sexual harassment while working in the restaurant industry.

Did you know that women and men who have to live off tips are subject to sexual harassment. “Some 90% of women in restaurant jobs that depend on tips report being bothered at work by some form of sexual harassment,” according to USA Today.

I have worked in the restaurant industry for many years, and I am sure there have been a number of times where I personally was sexually harrassed but one time always stood out me. It was back around 2012/2013 and I was a manager of a restaurant right outside of Pittsburgh, PA. There was a couple in a booth dining, and the gentleman had quite a bit to drink. I was told by the server to keep an eye on this man, because he was being loud, and disrupting other guests. (The worst part is my parents had chosen to come in that afternoon and were dining a few booths away from this couple) The woman at the table got up and went to the restroom. And when she did, the man got up from the table and began to yell at another customer. I immediately went over and asked him to leave the premises. He turned to me, and gave me the “up and down” and asked me if I was single. I told him I was engaged, and he then said, “I bet your fiance likes that pussy.” Completely disgusted, I asked him again to leave, and with that he left with his glass in hand. I was completely and utterly mortified.  Not to mention, now my parents were able to see what goes on, on a daily basis in the restaurant industry.

 

Wait for our next post, it should be out Wednesday night and will feature one of my friends Lindsay!

 

Resources: USA today

Check out this site, its pretty cool…..Living Of Tips

Fighter Part 2

The Idea

Summer of 2008, I lived in Pittsburgh again, for some reason I just kept coming back to this city. Little did I know that 3 years from then, I would be living there and dating my future husband. I moved back in with Julie while completeing an internship. I was so excited to live with Julie again, we were going to have so much fun!!  I knew that I had an idea that I wanted to put together and my friends from Pittsburgh would be the perfect people to help me with it. The song “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera always stuck in the back of my mind, especially revolving around the rape. Christina says, “After all you put me through, you think I would despise you but in the end, I want to thank you because you made me that much stronger.” I was at a point in my life where I felt like that. I wouldn’t be who I am or where I was without that happening to me. Christina then goes to say, “Well I thought I knew you, thinking that you were true.” I did think I knew you, my abuser, when really I didn’t.  “Cause if it wasn’t for all that you tried to do, I wouldn’t know, Just how capable I am to pull through. So I wanna say thank you ‘Cause it, Makes me that much stronger, Makes me work a little bit harder, It makes me that much wiser, so thanks for making me a fighter.” In honor of the song, I got a tattoo that says “Fighter” across my right rib cage. I wanted it further away from my heart because my fight did not stem from love but from hurt and pain. I also put two dates on it. My birthday because I was a premie, and almost died after being born, and the date I was raped. God made me a fighter from the beginning.

The Development

The concept I had in mind was to include some items of the actual incident, particularly when I was left on the side of the road. Filming in a cemetery would be ideal as well. I also thought about a boxing scene, and another scene where I would have words and dates, such as 10/10/04, fly at me, as I hit them with a baseball bat. So I sat down with two of my friends and told them my ideas and they bounced back with their ideas. Ideas began to come to life. They knew some people at a cemetery we could use, and changed the concept with the bat, but I loved it and couldn’t wait to put it together.

The Day of the Shoot

The day of the shoot I was so excited. I had picked out two outfits I was going to wear. We met early in the morning and shot all day long. I remember being so nervous that day too…..when Julie, and I went to get some Starbucks before the shoot, I had gotten a parking ticket….actually I think I got two parking tickets that day.  The shoot was a blast. I even got to break some glass with a brick. Once filming was completed, I waited for my one friend to finish editing it. Once he was done and shared the project with me, I was completely floored. I could not believe that was me. It was me symbolizing how tough I truly felt. Some days I didn’t feel that tough, but it truly showed me how strong I could be.

Completion and how this could help someone else

I remember showing the video to my mom, and she cried. I also showed the video to all my managers at work, which at that point I had to share my story with some of them as well. I will say, I did share this on Facebook, and I was partially open to social media aboutwhat had happen to me, but not completely. When I did share the video, I did not share that I was raped……I wasn’t open about it on Facebook until 2014(but that’s another story). This video truly meant the world to me at that point in my life. It really helped me in my healing process and I truly felt I was fighter.

Check out my Fighter video

Fighter Part 1

Thoughts about the project itself

Kristine began making music videos shortly after I met her in college. They were videos of her dancing to her favorite songs and gave her a chance to practice her video editing skills…something which really became a hobby for her around that time. Having been in a few of her music videos myself, the “Fighter” video was the first and only video she ever made that really looked to share a social message. Utilizing a few film friends from college, she found a way to artistically express what she’d been through with the hope of creating a real conversation. What’s interesting looking back on the video now, is examining where Kristine still was in her healing process. She had accepted what happened to her, but she still hadn’t found a way to fully accept who she was or figured out how she wanted to present her story long term. While she was open about what had happened to her, she still needed some more time to heal before she could put those pieces of her recovery together.

The development

Kristine was pretty set in what she wanted in regards to the video. It just so worked out that one of the guy’s we shot the video with knew some people who worked at Allegheny Cemetery. The shot of her getting shoved out of the car was something she really wanted to include. Another thing she did prior to the video shoot was literally getting the word “Fighter” tattooed on the right side of her rib cage. The tattoo, I felt, was something incredibly liberating for her. I know that as years have passed and she’s added to that very tattoo, it’s just like her life, one piece of her. It doesn’t define her, but it is a part of her and it’s something she wears openly. Everyone did bounce ideas off of one another about potential scenes, but in the end, it was Kristine who really decided what she wanted shot. This video was really one of the first steps towards cementing her acceptance to what had happened publicly.

Production

What I really remember about the shoot is how excited and how nervous Kristine was that day. She was excited to be shooting the video, but there were nerves there about getting it right. I would even say we managed to really have fun that day. I know it sounds weird to say that, especially with what the video was about. Overall, I just remember how proud I was of my best friend and how honored I was to be a part of it.

I also would like to state that watching her break the window may or may not have been one of the funniest things I ever got to witness. Turned out well though.

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Final Product

After Kristine got the final video, I can remember watching it in a parking lot with a few people close to her. She hadn’t told them about her Fighter tattoo and when that scene hit the screen, I remember she was immediately asked, “Is that real? Did you really get that tattooed on your body?” When Kristine confirmed that she had, the response was, “How will your future husband feel having to look at that?” To this day, I still remember her exact response was, “This is a part of who I am. This happened to me. I would think my future husband would be proud of how far I’ve come.” Years later, I know he is. The video, like the tattoo, is a testament to accepting what happened, but knowing that healing is possible.

How the video could help someone suffering from some form of violence

I think what’s great about the video is that Kristine is just so honest about what happened to her. I think it’s also great that she was able to artistically tell her story and share it with others. While I know she doesn’t make or edit music videos the way that she used to, this video is a great time capsule for where she was at that point in her life. Part of me would find it incredibly interesting to see her make yet another music video today and use it as a benchmark for how far she’s come. So proud of you, Honkus!!!

Your Gift

A few weeks ago, my cousin posted an interesting blog about finding your passion and how God leads people.

My husband and I are pretty involved at our church and one thing we do every Thursday night is attend Focus with our son. It’s our chance to connect with the youth from both our church and the local area in hope of spreading God’s word. We also aim to send them home with a message to continue to spreading the good news.

These last few weeks at Focus, we have been studying Exodus and the story of Moses. I’m not sure how many people are familiar with the story of Moses, but God took an ordinary person, and had him do extraordinary things. Moses led his people out of Egypt, God called him to do so. Moses did not want to at first, and felt he wasn’t capable, but with God in his corner he was able to.

Throughout the Bible God does this with may individuals, he takes ordinary people and gives them the gifts and guidance to do extraordinary things.

On that note, I recently saw video of Steve Harvey. I am sure you all know who Steve Harvey is…and if you don’t, you know him this year because of the Miss Universe Pageant. But that doesn’t matter. The video is of him telling the entire Family Feud audience that they all have a gift. He says that God gives everyone a gift at birth. This doesn’t mean just singing or dancing, but rather everything! Cooking, sewing, and his one example is cutting grass. He had a friend who was great at cutting grass. This person has a landscaping company worth $4 million a year, simply because he was gifted at cutting grass. Steve Harvey Video

Steve then goes on to say that in order to identify that gift, we need to jump.

I am sharing this story with you, because I have come to a crossroads in my life. I could choose to live in fear and doubt or to become an advocate to end sexual violence. Everyday, I ask God, am I doing this the right way? Is this how I am supposed to make a change? How am I going to make a difference? What I really need to do is learn to let go and trust God. God has a plan for me, he has plan for you, he has a plan for everyone. We just need to choose if we want to follow that plan.

So today, I am asking all of you to look in yourselves and see if you have identified your gift. Maybe you do not know what it is yet…but it’s there.

I wish you all the best of luck in figuring out your gift because God has a plan for you.