Saturday, 6 March 2010


David Garrett is not our favourite MP. However this week he said something that we definitely agree with. Offer sterilisations to those who have difficulty coping with motherhood. Fran O'Sullivan can also see some merit in this controversial idea.

We have , in a past life spent four years as a social worker in a medium security prison. 22 years ago. It would have been good if we had been able to offer sterilisation as an option to some of the families we worked with.
In times of stress , caused by no job, no hope and no life , sex fills the many voids.

And for those on life's margins the money goes to the things that keep you in the fog , the things like smokes, alcohol and drugs, the things that make you numb enough to get through another long day of fragile relationships, no money, no love. Just simple existence.

There were many many times when the frightened women who had partners who hid their fatuous lives behind a wall of bravado and macho stomping, with three or four snot nosed glue eared kids underfoot, would quietly in abject shame, ask about the cost of sterilisation.

Shame - because they felt that it meant that by asking for a procedure that would mean they would have no more kids was somehow an acknowledgement that they were not coping as a mother. That asking for some control over their lives was somehow a bad thing.

But for so many it would have been a chance to get off the freight train to hell they were on.

So we are all for sterilisation being offered free by the state. It should come with no shame just as abortion should.

Women should be fully informed about it - and feel strong enough to make an informed choice.

It makes good economic and social sense.

Garrett has started a very important debate and one that we think is strongly linked to whanau ora.
Now most people who read this blog know who we are and know we have a background in community development and iwi development.

So its not unusual for us to get asked: "What is Whanau Ora?"

Well we think we understand what it is.

Its really about two things.

Its about shaking up government departments to work together to streamline services to those most at need. At the moment its a dog breakfast - with some good services being delivered but in an ad hoc way with no central co-ordination. - the five government cars up the driveway scenario is very real for those at the bottom of the heap.

And its also about ensuring that those who need the services have the information and the courage and support to make their own choices about their lives.

It's about using the extended whanau concept as well. But sometimes that extended whanau is far, far away when you are eking out an existence on the mean streets of South Auckland or Porirua.

So its also about the woman with her back to the wall, toddlers underfoot and a man at her side who hides his shame in a bottle, and no family near to support her. It's about her knowing that she can have access to free sterilisation and that she has the courage to make that decision and that she feel empowered making that decision.

Its really about having access to good information and good advice and having the strength, courage and support to make the choices that are best for you and those you love.


Anonymous said...

Outstanding post. Strangely, prior to this I was reading what some were saying at "The Dim Post" on this and was thinking how it was just another "intellectual" group commenting on a grouping they have had no association with, but felt they knew better than them as to what is good for them. I was wondering how the idea would be perceived by those who have the problems you so well describe.

JC said...

Its a funny thing, but if anytime in the last 30 years I had been asked if I was sterile I would have replied "No, but I've had a vasectomy".

Words are important.. if you want to offer a contraception service involving sterilisation it had better be vasectomy or tying the tubes, or something like that.

Using the word sterilisation simply buys into a Nazi association.


Maringi said...

Geez you can write girl - when you get het up about things.

Why aren't you doing more of the real stuff? You know what I'm talking about..

Anonymous said...

Brilliantly put and thanks to David Garrett for getting it out there