Natalia Ribas-Mateos, a Researcher at the University of A Coruña (ESOMI, Equipo de Sociología de las migraciones internacionales) spoke about her research about border migration.
She shared with us the story of Helena Maleno about princesses and knights.
The main theme of this story seems to be that women and especially migrant women are often treated as objects, and not as human beings.
Here is an English version of the story:
“Once upon a time in the not too distant a country called Algeria, there was a castle full of princesses.
They were of all ages and sizes.
One day walking through the desert we found the castle, a fortress where lived over a hundred princesses.
Every princess had one owner that they called patrons and who “protected” them.
The “knights” were coming to buy the castle princesses.
“They cost 300 euros for six months. I buy it and she lives with me as if she were my wife, cooking, washing for me, keeping me company and of course, having sex with. After six months I return “it”. If I have money I buy another”. Amine came from the faraway country of Mali and bought princesses to not be alone.
“If you want a girl, she costs 300 euros for six months. She lives with you as if she were your wife, cooks for you, washes for you, keeps you company, and of course, she also has sex with you. Then you returned “it”. If you have money, you can buy “it” again, if not I sell it to another man.” John came from the faraway country of Nigeria and sold princesses to do business.
“If you want me, my employer sells me for 300 euros for six months. I live with you as if I were your wife, I cook, I wash for you, I keep you company, I let you rape me, I let you beat me. Then you return me. If you have money you can buy me again, if not, I will be sold to another. ” Beauty came from the faraway country of Nigeria and was a beautiful princess for sale.
An old legend said that for centuries in the world princesses. The trading system will be responsible for keeping some old sorcerers called SOCIAL INEQUALITY, POVERTY AND BORDERS.
The three worked well together and boasted of having designed an almost perfect world where everyone occupies its rightful place.
But one day one of the princesses had been returned to her employer pregnant. The knight had consumed the time of purchase.
“They let me come and sleep with her sometimes. I can not buy “it” again but I would like to take my child when she gives birth. ” Lamine came from the faraway country of Mali and planned to cross a wide sea to bring him to paradise.
“We let him come and sleep with her sometimes. Now, as she is pregnant, it is very difficult to sell “it”. She should have aborted, but with four months pregnant, she could die as happened to another girl last year. The child really belongs to me at birth. Had he been born when “it” was purchased, it would be different, but now “it” is mine, just like her “. William came from the faraway country of Nigeria and had planned to sell the son of our princess.
“He comes and sleeps with me sometimes. He bought me and left me pregnant. I did not want an abortion because they give us twenty pills and then we have to press and die in pain, there are no doctors. We put what comes out in a plastic bag and throw away, sometimes the dogs play with it. Sometimes our boss tells us we are pregnant the devil and it should be dismissed. I did not want an abortion because I fear of it. I do not know if I have a child or a demon, but he is not mine. I do not know if it’s Lamine’s or William’s. “ Esther is a little princess of fifteen years, six months pregnant.
The princesses of the castle dream of traveling to other countries beyond the seas where a princess is said to have an invaluable price.
“Someday I’ll be somewhere else, I will pay my debt and be free. I’ll be my own boss (patron)”. “Tina is a princess abandoned because of her disease and she can no longer be sold.
After leaving the castle, I have remembered having seen princesses like these in other places, in Almería, Villaverde, Las Ramblas from Barcelona
They sell a Princess for 10 euros 15 minutes.
So this story is not over.
They say that stories are used to thinking and to transmit values. I think that sometimes, when the reality is extremely horrible, stories allow us to express things that we would not have the courage to say otherwise. Forgive my cowardness.
Women are treated as objects even in most civilized and democratic countries. We will have a better world when we will treat every woman and every person as an end and not a means to reach an end. As long as somewhere in the world someone speaks about a person’s life in terms of money and prices, we should continue fighting.
The speakers also talked about women’s rights and about citizenship as belonging and membership in a more comprehensive meaning (Liepollo Pheko), about economic citizenship, but in fact isn’t citizenship another way of leaving others outside?
Mrs. Liepollo Pheko said that we must recreate the classical concepts of what citizenship means today.
But what kind of citizenship do we need for a fair society?
How about an ethical citizenship in a Kantian meaning that every person is an end and not a mean?
How else could we define an ethical citizenship?
How can we build this kind of citizenship?
Mihaela Cosescu, participant at the Panel 1, in the second day of the Conference