Infanticide or insurmountable economic injustice: recent cases of Bay Area infanticide by very low-income mothers

POOR correspondent - Posted on 23 June 2010

Sunday, July 25, 2004

My three pound eyelids crashed down into their exhausted eye beds…"Whoo whooooo" My baby's fever-filled scream of need shatter them open……and then they drop once again for a sweet, guilt-inducing second of pseudo-sleep

"Whoo whooo" … only to be ripped from their just-about-but-not-quite sleep state once again by his desperate cry.

And that’s how it went last week… minute after dreadful minute. Me, unable to afford child care as a working poor mother and unable to get much work done with a sick child, I continued to try to get a very difficult data entry job completed that was one of many low wage jobs I struggle to complete each week just to get enough money together to feed my child, pay utilities and buy diapers in 21st century Amerikka. Crazy things like rent and gas a distant luxury. Mothering While Poor -MWP - an impossible state of being, a frightening state of being, an insurmountable economic injustice….

I reflected on this economic injustice as I heard about the recent case of Ophelia Vanider Hill, a 31 year old immigrant from South Africa who was charged two weeks ago with manslaughter and cruelty to a child for allegedly abandoning her infant in her Palo Alto apartment which she was evicted from in April for non-payment of rent.

Ms. Hill worked over time in Bay Area hotels as a concierge still not making enough to cover the rent before there was a child. As a poor immigrant woman with no resources, family or support systems, life with a child would be almost impossible.

"Where is the family support system? If someone is pregnant, most families come together to help the new mom. When someone is isolated, they don't have any of that." said Ken Borelli of the Santa Clara County Social Services Agency.

But Ms. Hill is not alone. In just the last four weeks 3 more poor immigrant women in the Bay Area have abandoned their infants, in shopping carts, in Porta Potties in a strawberry field, in a trash bag behind a Days Inn. Aside from being very low-income immigrant women, they are all low-wage workers; maids, hotel workers, and strawberry pickers or as Okwe, the African immigrant protaginist in the shocking 2003 anti-globalization movie DirtyPrettyThings said; "We are the people you don’t see.. the ones who clean your rooms, drive your cabs and suck your (cocks)

Although the numbers of American women abandoning their children have gone down nationally since 'don't ask don't tell laws' have been instituted, like they have in California which allow women to drop their infants at emergency rooms with no questions asked, the numbers of immigrant women abandoning their children has risen.

But this really doesn’t surprise me and no I do not blame these women , I blame an increasingly impossible Apartheid-like Amerikkan economy which does NOT support poor parents, promotes low wage corporate slave work and in fact, criminalizes the marginal parent for everything they do. Unlike economies like Canada which subsidizes child care for all parents for the first two years of the childs' life.

"Whooo Whoooo.. " My tired eyes are finally permanently open.I stagger over to the crib to comfort my sick child. I love my son and I love his screams, I am overwhelmed, I am exhausted and as I give him his nose drops, I pray for all the other poor mothers out there making frightening choices that will haunt them forever based on more insurmountable injustices.


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