Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Agnes Gereb

Hungarian is the language of love. Not French. You will fall in love with a person speaking French. You learn Hungarian after you fall in love with a person when you discover their Hungarian origin. I did. And the language and the country and the man I fell in love with still leave me speechless at times. 

Today I am using my voice in solidarity with a Hungarian woman, Agnes Gereb, who was sentenced to two years in jail for charges relating to her practice as a midwife. Hungary, led by the nationalist, Viktor Orban, has passed public policy that encourages birth. For a country that knows its population (and power) are decreasing, there are seemingly only two responses: women have to give birth and refugees have to be turned away. In this country that seeks to create a culture that values family, at least procreation, it seems the ultimate irony that they simultaneously persecute a midwife. 

Yet it is far from ironic. It is cynical. It rings true for the famously pessimistic, long-suffering Hungarians. It is worse than cynical, however. It is tyrannical. It is the establishment (patriarchy, government, medicine) exercising power. It is rape. We should not limit rape to the invasion of a body. It does not do justice to the systematic abuse of power that seeks its own existence rather than serving the people. It is illiberal. Which is exactly what Orban has articulated. He seeks to create an illiberal democracy that controls its population rather than defends its citizens. 

Times up, Orban. My Hungarian friends in Budapest, where I lived with my two children for five years, see themselves as citizens first. They are outraged at Agnes’ incarceration. Their message is clear: We see Orban’s duplicity. We stand with Agnes Gereb and demand justice for her, for all of us. Hungarians need to act with their hearts, speaking the language of love, to defeat the cynicism that defines and limits them.

#midwife #Hungary #womensrights #birth #illiberal #Orban #OBR

No comments: