Today we wait, with so much sadness as this young Filipino mother waits to be executed by firing squad. She represents the many women and mothers, who each day, leave the Philippines to find work and support their families. Although she was convicted of smuggling heroin into Indonesia, many supporters believe that she was a victim of human trafficking. Like many mothers, poverty and a lack of education made domestic work in another country an inevitable solution for her and her children. It is estimated that 100,000 women and children are part of the sex trade in the Philippines and that an estimated 4,000 people leave each day on temporary work visa's. Still more, like Mary Jane, use any means they can to get a job and get caught in situations they could never have imagined as young girls in small villages.
I wait and pray, as so many are around the world with the hope that she will not be executed. I do not believe in capitol punishment and support the United Nations efforts to make it an international human rights issue. Only 21 out of 195 countries still have the death penalty and my country is one of them.
As midwives, we work hard to protect the life of mother and baby. Nowhere is this more necessary than in the work to end human trafficking. The impact, the violence, the fear are barriers to any move to healthy, sustainable societies.
I pray that they will not kill her and she will get a fair trial. I pray that we will one day have a world where a mother will never be forced to leave her children and risk her life to earn a living; that she will never have to leave her children so they can get an education and be safe.
I pray that there is work for everyone and a way for mothers to care for their children in safe, secure way that causes no harm. I pray for the end of the death penalty in my land and around the world.
Sometimes we know a person is convicted of a crime and when they are waiting for the firing squad, we know that society is to blame; poverty, war, greed, a lack of schools and a world that has too often turned their back on women.
I shut my eyes and wait and pray.