You’ve likely heard about Habiba’s plight by now. She is a Moroccan mother living in Spain with her 15 month old daughter, Alma. Habiba was in an abusive relationship. Her partner is currently serving a ten month jail sentence, and Habiba sought help from the IMMF – Instituto Madrileño del Menor y la Familia (Madrilean Institute for the Minor and the Family). While there, her daughter Alma was taken away due to breastfeeding on demand, (see the “Report on Maternal behavior of Habiba with her daughter, Alma.”), co-sleeping, refusing to use an artificial pacifier, and giving the toddler food from her plate, rather than purees. Apparently the shelter has a psychiatric component, and mothers are given drugs to dry up their milk supply. It’s thought that breastfeeding is “damaging,” and babies who are weaned are easier to put up for adoption, if the need arises.
I’ll admit – it seems almost too hard to believe. That major news stations are not picking the story up only adds to the skepticism. It also adds to the tragedy. CNN.com has completely ignored the issue, and today’s feature articles are on cole slaw, the top ten most expensive housing markets, and Hugh Hefner’s fiance. I can’t tell you for sure why they think Playboy bunnies are more newsworthy than the oppression of an Attachment Parenting mother, but I have a pretty good guess: their bottom line.
Though the lack of coverage is frustrating, I’m encouraged by the lawyer and doctor on the case. Nacho de la Mata is a lawyer that has received distinctions for his impressive work in defending children’s right. If you’re fluent in Spanish, you can check out an article about him here. If you’re not, feel free to use Google translate.
The doctor evaluating Habiba is Dr Ibone Olza, a child psychiatrist at a hospital in Madrid, faculty professor, writer, researcher and an activist for women’s rights. She met Habiba at the hospital, researched the case and started the campaign to help Habiba after it was clear IMMF was not going to release Alma easily.
These two professionals have highly respected careers in Spain. To perpetuate a hoax would render them professionally obsolete. It doesn’t seem a risk any one person would be willing to take – never mind two.
So do we have the whole story? Likely not, but do we ever? Though there is talk (not confirmed) of her desire to reunite with her abusive partner, which certainly wouldn’t be in the best interest of Alma, the approach the government took was a gross violation of human rights. Habiba went to a government shelter to get help. What she got instead, was government control. Habiba is now on the streets, and has only seen Alma for a total of two hours in the fourteen days they’ve been apart.
Rallies and protests are happening all around the world today. Supporters are gathering to hand letters and petitions to their Spanish Consulate. For the sake of argument, if this is a hoax, it’s one I’d be proud to be duped by: protecting the rights of mothers and babies everywhere.
What do you think? Hoax or tragedy?
If you’re interested in more information about how to help, check out the Worldwide Mothers Unite: We Are All Habiba Facebook fan page.