Muwaji's Law

 In certain indigenous cultures in Brazil culture and tradition are sometimes valued more than life itself. Every year hundreds of indigenous children are rejected, abandoned in the forest or even buried alive for various reasons such as, being born a twin or a triplet, having a mental or physical deficiency, being born out of wedlock or just being considered to be a bearer of bad luck. Infanticide has been disguised as "cultural respect".

In 2007 a team from photogenX visited one of these indigenous tribes in the Amazon and listened to the stories of grieving mothers who had been pressured to bury their own children alive because of cultural stigmas. They listened to fathers explain that they wanted to keep their children alive but their voices had been muffled by the tribes desires to maintain respect for their cultural customs. Many parents in the tribes commit suicide rather than kill their own children. PhotogenX knew that they had to do something to amplify the cries of the families who were trying desperately to keep their families alive. They made a book with photos of the beautiful indigenous people in the tribes. The book celebrates human life and puts a face to the issue of infanticide.

A few years later Hollywood filmmaker, David Cunningham, made a documentary in cooperation with ten indigenous tribes. Many of those who act in the film were survivors of infanticide or had rescued a child. The film tells the story of Hakani, a young girl who had some developmental deficiencies and was eventually buried alive by family members after her parents, who couldn't bear to kill her, committed suicide. She was rescued by her brother and brought to YWAM missionary couple who had been living and working with a nearby tribe for over 20 years. Hakani was 5 years old at the time but only weighed 15 pounds and was only 27 inches long. Within six months of care and medical attention, Hakani (whose name means, "smile")  doubled her weight and length, started to walk, talk and interact with others. She is now 14 years old, has developed normally and has a smile that lights up the Kona YWAM campus.

The film helped bring global attention to the issue of infanticide in the Amazon basin. In spite of some opposition worldwide, the film helped to launch a national movement for the approval for a law to protect indigenous families.

 The bill 1057 known as “Muwaji Law”(named after the first mother from the Suruwaha tribe who fought for her disabled daughters life), was approved at the Human Rights Committee at the National Congress YESTERDAY in Brazil. Muwaji's Law seeks to protect indigenous children from being rejected, abandoned and buried alive. 

Visit the Hakani website to learn more
Read the Grassroots News report here

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