HLTC05 Wk5.Farmer.docx

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Health Studies
Rhan- Ju Song

HLTC05 Week 5 - Farmer 2005 - On Suffering and Structural Violence o Is there a hierarchy suffering system? Are some forms of violence more noxious than others? o Through what mechanisms do social forces ranging from poverty to racism become embodied as individual experience? o Farmer's research focuses on how political and economic forces have structured risk for AIDS, TB, most forms of extreme suffering like hunger, torture, rape o 1991: Human Suffering Index examined by international health and population experts, observed various human welfare measures; Haiti was in top 4 and only country located in Western hemisphere o LE less than 50 yrs at birth o 2/10 infants die before age 1 o TB, AIDS leading cause of adult death - diarrheal disease, measles and tetanus among undernourished children o sufferers share the experience of occupying the bottom rung of the social ladder in inegalitarian societies Acephie Joseph's Story o Kay - village that is of settlement of refugees, largely of displaced farmers who blame their poverty on a large dam miles away which brought neither electricity nor water o Joseph's home was drowned, along with their belongings and crops o contracted AIDS from soldier and was only forced to have sexual relations with him to help her family financially, soon after the soldier died and she went to Port-au-Prince to serve as a maid o after having another partner who was also a "water refugee", after multiple infections she was diagnosed with AIDS o villagers suggested she was victim of sorcery, others recalling her liason with the solider and her work as a servant in the city -- these 2 now considered to be risk factors for AIDS Chouchou Louis' Story o U.S policy maintained that Haitian asylum seekers were "economic refugees", refugees sezied by the U.S Coast Guard on the high seas were returned to Haiti o the US created the modern Haitian army, and the power was controlled by the US o even with a Haitian majority elected government official-- great persecution occurred and acts of biolence on Haitians o to avoid jail, local attaches needed to be kept happy (soldiers and their lackeys) o murdered and violently beaten by attaches  Acephie Joseph's story is not uncommon, as many women diagnosed with AIDS have escaped to the city from harshest poverty, in the city they work as domestic and none managed to find the financial security -- poverty had forced them into unfavorable unions  like Chouchou Louis, international human rights groups estimate that more than 3,000 Haitians were killed in the year after the September 1991 coup that overthrew Haiti's first democratically elected govt, almost all were civilians like Chouchou who fell into hands of the military/paramilitary forces  AIDS and political violence are 2 leading causes of death among young adults, both stories a consequence of human agency; when the Joseph's home was flooded there was human decision behind it and when the Haitian army was endowed with money and unfettered power, human decisions were behind that also  Chouchou and Joseph were victims of structural violence, they were at risk of such a fate long before their destinies were altered, the social and economic forces that helped to shape the AIDS epidemic are the same forces leading to Chouchou's repression and death  Reasons why suffering of structural violence are looked over: 1) EXOTICIZATION of suffering (Acephie and Chouchou) distances us from it, since they are geographically or culturally remote 2) ANONYMITY of victims and the huge load of suffering which translated into numbers and figures -- gives little voice to victims 3) DYNAMICS & DISTRIBUTION of suffering are still poorly understood, to explain embodied suffering of more than one case study requires many minds and resources  LIBERATION THEOLOGY: uses social analysis to explain and deplore human suffering. Its key texts hones in on the suffering but also to the forces that promote suffering  Analysis of AIDS and political violence must be: 1) GEOGRAPHICALLY BROAD - world is increasingly interconnected, extreme suffering is not shy from actions of the powerful 2) HISTORICALLY DEEP 3) SIMULTANEOUS CONSIDERATION of various social "axes" like gender, ethnicity/race, SES, group/individual vulnerability  to understand relationship between structural violence and human rights, it is necessary to avoid reductionistic analyses, avoid economic reductionism The Axis of Gender o Acephie and Chouchou shared a similar social status and both died after contact with the Haitian military o gender helps explain why Acephie died of AIDS and Chouchou from torture, GENDE
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