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Blaming the Victim

Why does the term indigenous have a negative connotation to many? This label allows the general public to believe that indigenous people are associated with backwardness, perhaps ever since the rise of colonialism, for these groups may have been seen with exoticism. In “Modernity, Cultural Reasoning, and the Institutionalization of Social Inequality: Racializing Death in a Venezuelan Cholera Epidemic”, Charles Brigg’s elaborates on how the “discourses of culture played a key role in how social inequality was connected with cholera” in Venezuela (667). As institutions worldwide integrate cultural reasoning into ideologies, social inequality continues to deepen with globalization. As noted in Brigg’s article, “Cholera has been associated with backwardness, lack of hygiene, and poverty”- characteristics associated with indigenous people. Due to the ignorance of officials during the outbreak of cholera near the impoverished Orinoco Delta, blame had been placed on “the cholera victims themselves” for their supposedly unhealthy cultural practices, while institutional officials were blind to take notice of other factors that led to the deaths of many (670).

It was hard for me to read about how public health officials claim that the indigenous women present “an absence of ‘affection for life’” (672). If these officials were to place themselves in the perspective of mothers living in unsanitary and poor environments, the would understand the strains put on their health because of the lack of necessities for life. Some have been noted to believe that “indigena mothers are incapable of learning how to protect their families from cholera or other diseases” (673). To those living in ‘modernity’, it seems that the universal norm is for mothers to naturally protect their offspring, but in poor areas it appears that mothers are indifferent to the illness or death of her children (672). Whether or not mothers suffering from social inequality externally express their grief for the lost of their child, I believe that it may be traumatizing regardless. Although these mothers may experience death frequently within their social environment, psychological and behavioral effects may become present due to the loss. Moreover, it is clearly wrong to blame the victim, and this link goes into great detail as to why victimization occurs and the psychology behind it.

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2 responses to “Blaming the Victim

  1. The truth is that death is natural for all of us, not just for the poor, therefore whoever believes that their money, fame, education, or status will liberate them from death is a complete fool. I was completely angered as well by the highest ranking so called intelligent Regional Health Official of the Delta Amacuro State when he claims that indigenous women, and indigenous people in general do not value life. This official has crap in their head, and their claims are a testament that academic and institutional prestige does not make someone a better person. The two most important concepts in service are love and compassion which the official lacks.

  2. I too, cannot believe the claims that the regional Health officials made as to the cause of the cholera outbreak and the blame being put on the indigenous lifestyle choices. Also, the idea that indigenous mothers show no affection for life, etc. is absurd. I had the opportunity to live in a rural community for a few days with a mother, her elderly father, and her nine month old son. The love for each other and the love for life and their community in that house was immense.

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