On Tuesday February 22 Christchurch, New Zealand was rocked by a shallow 6.3 magnitude earthquake, the second large quake the city has felt in the space of six months. Unlike the first quake which claimed no fatalities, the residents of Christchurch have not been so lucky this time around with the death toll currently standing at 147, with predictions that it will rise to around 220 or more. General turmoil has ensued, and the rest of New Zealand (and it seems the rest of the world) has only been able to look on in horror as the city famed for its gardens and heritage architecture now appears more like a war zone with piles of rubble appearing out of the shrouds of dust where buildings once stood.
Two sex workers looking for business in the Christchurch suburb of Phillipstown.
Robyn Edie / The Southland Times
During this terrible time various stories have emerged concerning girls in Christchurch. Most notable are the prostitutes of Manchester St (which Christchurch is also famed for) who were forced to head out to work just the day after the great shake to earn their living, tottering through debris on sky-high heels, despite the threat of falling masonry from the now precarious buildings which shadow them. Although it seems like a blatant disregard for their own safety and a naive belief that the people of Christchurch will access their services during this dark time I think that this really serves to highlight the desperation being felt by people all over the city as their jobs and livelihoods are threatened.
Other reporters have focused on the psychological impact the quake has had on children. After the first large Christchurch earthquake in September 2010, it was reported that some youngsters around the region were expressing signs of trauma - bedwetting, refusal to sleep in their own beds, refusal to go to school, diving under their desks at the slightest tremor and acting up at school. No doubt this has been exacerbated and psychologists are weighing in on the long-term impacts this unsettling event could hold for young people.
One slight positive about the quake is the wake-up call that it has provided for the rest of New Zealand. Stores selling hard hats, whistles, water containers and medical supplies have been constantly out of stock since the quake as people rush to create or update their emergency kits, and the scout motto BE PREPARED suddenly has greater resonance.
Donations can be made to the Christchurch Earthquake Relief Fund through the Red Cross New Zealand Website.
-Ashley E. Remer
Girl Museum Inc.