Rosa's Story demonstrates how religious dogma, social systems, and capitalism exist as part of the problem. She was my maid when we lived in officers' quarters at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, TX. She traveled an hour by bus to Juarez, Mexico to get to the border crossing. She took another length of time by public transport with a transfer to get to my quarters. She worked all day, a full eight hours doing all my cleaning and laundry and floors and windows, for $2 a day! Yes, that is what I said, two dollars a day. I was outraged so raised her pay to $10.00 a day. The commanding general called my husband into his office and ordered Don to return the fee to $2.00. I just refused.

Busloads of Mexican women and Rosa came to work for military families. They worked all day, a full eight hours doing all cleaning and laundry and floors and windows, for $2 a day! Yes, that is what I said, two dollars a day. I was outraged so I raised Rosa's pay to $10.00 a day. The commanding general called my husband into his office and ordered Don to return the fee to $2.00. I just refused.

Rosa had given birth to ten children, six of them survived. There was no drinkable water in her colonia. The Mexican government brought water trucks around the community in Juarez to fill 50-gallon barrels with drinkable water. Each day, she and the other women carried their five-gallon buckets to the water barrels on their way to catch the bus. Busloads of women maids travelled five days a week, working for different families each day. On their return home, they stopped at the water source, filled their five-gallon buckets out the 50-gallen barrel where birds, lizards, snakes, cats, rats drank, leaving behind their droppings. The barrels were contaminated. Rose used this contaminated water for her family's drinking, cooking, and laundry. Four of her babies died from diarrhoea!

Rosa didn't want any more children and asked her Roman Catholic priest for help years before I met her. He explained the rhythm method of birth control.Rosa had not been able to control her reproductive life. She asked her priest for permission not to have sex, and the priest told her she had a responsibility to meet the needs of her husband. She conceived again, Rosa aborted that baby with a dirty stick.

She asked me for contraceptives, and I got them for her. Her husband found the pills, threw them in the sewer that ran in a stream just outside their door. He raped her; she conceived.

The U.S. military, the crossing permits at the border, the politics of U.S. and Mexico, and religious dogma keep a whole class of people grateful for their lousy wages and not in control of their reproductive lives. How could the systems be so callus? Where was their compassion? Had they no shame?          

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