Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bad Dads

You know, fathers aren't coming off very well in the NYT Magazine piece on women's rights abroad. In particular, they appear to be spending money on hookers and booze instead of feeding or educating their damn kids:
If poor families spent only as much on educating their children as they do on beer and prostitutes, there would be a breakthrough in the prospects of poor countries. Girls, since they are the ones kept home from school now, would be the biggest beneficiaries. ...

[W]hen the men’s crops flourish, the household spends more money on alcohol and tobacco. When the women have a good crop, the households spend more money on food. “When women command greater power, child health and nutrition improves.”
For another example of bad fathering, note that the girl star of Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire remains in the slums (at least until her father can sell her):
[H]er family's shack was demolished by city municipal workers and later rebuilt in the same spot, next to an open sewer and piles of garbage. She remains in the slums because her father, despite Boyle's offers for a new home, isn't sure he wants to leave. He also was caught in an undercover sting by a British newspaper where he allegedly agreed to sell her for adoption to a wealthy Dubai family for the equivalent of $290,000; he denies the allegation.
Another depressing data point: An Afghan girl on her way to school was badly injured in an acid attack and thousands were collected to pay for surgery. Although there was sufficient money to send her and a female chaperone to the U.S. for the procedure, her father refused:
[A]t 17, Shamsia was of marrying age. As an unmarried girl, her reputation had to be preserved at all costs. Traveling to the United States, with all its possibilities for corruption, was out of the question. So if she stayed, according to her father, she wouldn’t be able to marry because of her injuries; but if she left to go to the U.S. and have her injuries repaired, she wouldn’t be able to marry either. ...

“I want to help your daughter get medical care,” I said. “People have given me a lot of money for this purpose.”

“Why not just buy me a house,” Ali said. “Buy me a big house in Kabul.”

“The money is for your daughter,” I told him.

I was reduced to pleading. I suddenly felt like a parody of a wealthy Westerner, forcing charity onto an unwilling third-world subject.

“Just give the money to me,” Ali said.

Even Shamsia had changed her mind.

“We want to live in Kabul,” she said.

And so it had come to this. The Taliban, or someone who thought like them, had thrown acid in the faces of a number of girls, and a number of readers in the United States and other countries, filled with generosity, had given their money to take care of one of those girls and the school. And now the girl’s family, for reasons I could barely comprehend, was telling me, in effect, that they wanted something else.

I offered a compromise: What if we brought your daughter to Kabul and had doctors check her there?

Ali said nothing.

And if she needs surgery, I continued, would you consider allowing us to bring her to one of the better hospitals in India, an hour’s plane flight over the Himalayas?

“I will think about this,” Ali said.

I pressed some more.

“O.K.,” he said finally. “But you will need to put us up in Kabul.”
I'm not holding my breath on this one. The girl's eyes were so badly burned she can no longer see well enough to read. And yet priority one for dad is turning some of the funds people gave for his daughter's medical care to a new house. (It is possible that the girl is not being pressured by Pops to say she'd rather be blind in a big house in Kabul than healed in her home town, but I'm surpassingly skeptical.)
blog comments powered by Disqus