In the Amazon (and elsewhere in the world) tribes of people will often kill children that suffer from birth defects and sometimes consider twins to be bad luck (so one of them has to go). In one case brought up in this article the tribal leaders decided a girl had to be killed due to her small size and inability to speak. The parents were ordered to do it. They could not so killed themselves in stead. The girl’s brother was ordered to do it. He was 15 at the time. He knocked her unconscious and proceeded to bury her alive. However, she woke up before the deed was done and he couldn’t go through with it. The grandfather then shot the girl with an arrow. She lived still. No one left to kill her she was abandoned in the jungle. One of her brothers would sneak her food and so she survived still. She was discovered by outsiders who took her for treatment. She was found to have a treatable condition and was eventually brought back to be reintroduced to the tribe. She was now strong, healthy, and clearly normal. But the tribe still rejected her and she was adopted by outsiders. The government is trying to pass a law that makes it illegal for the natives to kill their children. They are meeting with resistance though by those who say the values of outsiders, Western Values, should not be imposed on the natives. This same concept is being played out in other parts of the world, not just Amazonia.
The couple that helped and adopted the little girl were said to be, “…advocating for Western values to the detriment of those held by the Suruwaha. By removing Hakani, the Suzukis ‘stood in the way of the realization of a cultural practice filled with meaning,’ Almeida wrote. Bringing her back once she was healthy resulted in a ‘big mistake.’ That was the ‘introduction in the Suruwaha’s symbolic universe of a possible resolution to a problem, in their lives, by means other than those under their control by traditional practices.’ In other words, according to Almeida’s report, the Suzukis had done irreparable damage to the Suruwaha way of life by showing that certain physical disabilities didn’t necessitate killing”
They were to blame, having done something terrible in saving her life and possibly damaging the tribe forever. What they introduced into the Suruwaha’s “symbolic universe” was truth. The truth that twins aren’t unlucky, the truth that diseases can be cured. The truth that they aren’t required to kill of their children anymore.
I say “anymore” because in a tribal state I do understand how such a practice came into being. Limited resources and small gene diversity, as well as the realities of a hunter/gatherer lifestyle make caring for those who can’t care for themselves more than difficult. To make the practice more palatable psychologically it is wrapped up in the spiritual beliefs of the tribe. As a side note there is evidence that Neanderthals actually cared for those who could not care for themselves. Bones were discovered with an injury that would have debilitated the individual. The healing showed that the injury was old and that the person lived. That suggested to the researchers that the person was cared for many years after the injury. But, Neanderthals aside, the Suruwaha culture didn’t permit it. The parents, obviously, were willing to do what they could to keep the child alive and faced with having to kill it, they decided they would rather die than be the ones to do it.
A government doesn’t have to be big government to be oppressive.
The tribe came first. They couldn’t afford the bad luck and hardship such a child might bring to them. The individual rights of the parents weren’t honored, nor that of the child. Scaled up, or down to just a handful of people – communism still kills.
My final observation is one that seems obvious but not one I had when I started reading about this – we do it too. The article talks about the imposition of so-called Western Values but we do it too. The Center for Disease Control keeps statistics on abortion. According to their surveillance system on legal induced abortions between 1970 and 2014 there were nearly 44.5 million legal induced abortions. Keep in mind that states are NOT required by law to report their statistics to the CDC so all the information they have is what is voluntarily handed over. We have no way of knowing if this number is accurate and if not, how many more abortions are unreported.
The west can call the practice of the Suruwaha “barbaric” and “backwards” only by ignoring their own violation of human rights.
In a thousand years of existence the Suruwaha will not have killed 44.5 million of their own but America has.
American women fight for the right to kill their children.