Cooked • June 2, 2017
Al Atardecer, Picaduras
“In consideration of the current phase in which the epidemic is and the existing risk, it is recommended of all women living in the national territory to not become pregnant.”
– Ministry of Health, Colombia, January 2016
To those not versed in the nuances of Latin-American culture, this would seem like a sensible suggestion: evidence points to the zika virus as culprit for microcephaly cases in newborns. The Ministry’s resolution in sensible only from the perspective of those benefiting from the privileges of modernity, and points to the long-running divide between social classes in the region. These words are an affront to the reality lived by those most vulnerable to the effects of the virus: the poor, the uneducated, women. It is a region under a social dictatorship, where conservative and outdated religious doctrine has held back policy change that would benefit those not born into the oligarchical dynasties of the region. These words are a symptom of the long running disease that allows for pervasive sexual violence against women; for machismo to be a national character; for the removal of reproductive rights from those who most need it.
To many, the zika virus is a plague with economical, familial and personal consequences. And yet it is a beacon of hope: a force that, by showing us the political irrealities in the region, might force change for those most in need. Real change, rather than that imagined by the blind and deaf sitting at the top.