Connect with us

Society

OPINION: Plymouth University Tells Women not to Complain about Male-Bodied students in their Toilet – are They Serious? 

Published

on

Screenshot 2022 04 27 at 11.22.10
HH58, via Wikimedia Commons

Once again common sense and political correctness have been at a cross-roads with each other. 

The debate of allowing male-bodied people using single-sex female toilets has been ongoing but there does not seem to be an end in sight.

Plymouth University has been rightfully slammed for telling its female students not to complain about male-bodied students in their toilets.

The university erected signs in both the male and female toilets urging students to “carry on with your day” without complaining, staring or insulting any trans, non-binery or gender-questioning students.

The sign reads:

“You are welcome here.

“Do you think someone is using the ‘wrong’ bathroom?

“Please don’t challenge them, stare at them or insult them.

“Instead please respect their privacy, respect their identity, carry on with your day.

“They are using the toilets they feel safe in.

“Do not make them feel uncomfortable, instead protect them from harm.

“Trans, non-binary and gender-questioning students: you have every right to be here.”

One might think that this is a step in the right, more progressive direction towards inclusion, but in reality it is two step backwards.

To make people who do not identify as male but are male-bodied feel comfortable, we are ironically stripping the right from women of having that sense of security and comfort in a place where people feel and are most vulnerable.

It is a debate that has a simple solution which respects people of all frameworks.

There is no argument in agreeing that the statement posted by Plymouth University is outrageous. Surely a well known institute such as a university in the United Kingdom has the funds to build multiple gender neutral spaces within the university. This would eliminate many problems associated with allowing male-bodied students into female only toilets.

In an article written by the National Review in 2016, there were incidents that occurred due to a similar rule being implemented within the university.

The article stated that:

  • The University is temporarily changing its policy on gender-neutral bathrooms after two separate incidents of “voyeurism” were reported on campus September 15 and 19. Male students within the University’s Whitney Hall student residence were caught holding their cellphones over female students’ shower stalls and filming them as they showered. 
  • Transgender and unisex bathroom regulations empower terrible people. Sexual predators are diabolical, and the worst thing the law can do is to make access to women and girls in their most vulnerable and private moments easy for predators. It’s insane.

If a person identifies as female then measures should definitely be taken to ensure acceptance, but the fact remains that there is a problem with a policy as such.

How can one ensure that the male-bodied students using the ladies room are truly transgender?

How can one ensure the safety of women in such spaces?

What’s next, the eradication of single-sex changing rooms?

We as a society have a duty to protect all people. Women already take more measures to ensure their own safety and comfort in all sorts of situations, be it the workplace, public transport or any other place. The areas where we can control and maintain the safety and comfort of women are numbered. So we should not take them away.

There need to be other creative solutions and other compromises that need to come forward.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Human Rights

How historical injustices tie Britain to Nigeria’s crisis’

The UK aided Nigeria in various areas, including security and development, yet its involvement in the Biafran War has been controversial and has been criticised by some for supporting a government that was responsible for human rights abuses, and famine during the conflict.

Published

on

nigeria civil war

For almost a decade, the Nigerian military has conducted a clandestine abortion programme in the country’s northeast. Since at least 2013, its iron-fist campaign has ended more than 10,000 pregnancies. Many of its victims were kidnapped, and raped by Islamist militants. The abortions were carried out without consent and around thirty-three women and girls who were pregnant were given mysterious injections and pills by uniformed soldiers.

Among the targeted have been children, killed on suspicion of being offspring or supporters of the insurgents. But when an investigation was called for by the United Nations, the US, the UK, and Germany, the military denied such human rights abuses had occurred. 

The British government officials believe there is “chronic corruption” amongst Nigeria’s security forces and that many of the human rights accusations against them are “true.” British troops have stationed themselves in the west African former colony to help battle Boko Haram.

Nigeria is a large country situated in the West African region with many human rights challenges.

The UK aided Nigeria in various areas, including security and development, yet its involvement in the Biafran War has been controversial and has been criticised by some for supporting a government that was responsible for human rights abuses, and famine during the conflict.

The Biafran War, also known as the Nigerian Civil War, was a conflict that took place in Nigeria from 1967 to 1970. It was triggered after the eastern region of Nigeria declared itself the Independent Republic of Biafra, leading to a civil war between Biafran forces, and the Nigerian government.

The British government played a significant role in the Biafran War, as the UK was a major supplier of military equipment to the Nigerian government during the conflict. The UK also provided diplomatic support to the Nigerian government, and helped to broker the peace agreement, which put an end to the war.

The Boko Haram crisis in north-eastern Nigeria has internally displaced over two million people within Nigeria. Families have been separated, have lost the freedom of movement, loss of property, food insecurity, and much more.

Fifty years to the war, declassified British files now show that under former UK prime minister, Harold Wilson’s government secretly armed and backed Nigeria’s aggression against the secessionist region. The Labour government provided large quantities of weapons to the Nigerian federal government which had destroyed an attempt by the country’s eastern region of Biafra, to gain independence.

The British supplied around 40,000 more mortar bombs, 20,000 rifles, 36 million rounds of ammunition every month, 2,000 machine guns, helicopters, amongst others. 

However, while in the present, support remains in the background to curtail those abuses that have now emerged, whether that support has any meaningful impact is suspect. 

Currently, armed, and security forces continue to commit crimes off the radar of international law and in north-eastern Nigeria.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Continue Reading

Human Rights

Starvation in Somalia is no political matter

For this East African country, extreme drought and starvation are no strangers, but to surrender itself to famine is akin to branding itself a failed state. And for that, starvation and death are part of a political power grab, waging on with relentless force.

Published

on

somalia famine

For this East African country, extreme drought and starvation are no strangers, but to surrender itself to famine is akin to branding itself a failed state. And for that, starvation and death are part of a political power grab, waging on with relentless force. 

The threat of famine in Somalia has subsided, the United Nations humanitarian agency, OHCA announced in early December. But where aid from humanitarian agencies and efforts of the country’s local communities have helped keep it “outside the door”, these words of relief come with caution. Unless aid steps up, Somalia may still see famine between April and June 2023, it added. 

Earlier reports predicted it could have been hit by famine between September and December 2022. By the final month, 30,000 of its 16 million population were expected to be affected. A report by the World Food Programme in September had already reported that two of its districts, Baidoa and Buurhakaba, were in it.

But detrimental levels of starvation already grip this East African nation. As an insurgency by militant group Al Shabab blocks aid delivery to its controlled zones in southern Somalia, three million people are internally displaced. 700,000 Somalis are at risk of dying from starvation next year, said an alliance of UN aid agencies and groups. Yet, the threshold to declare famine has not been triggered.

“There is a very strong political question here about declaring famine, and the current government actually doesn’t have an interest in a famine declaration,” says Omar Mahmood, a senior analyst for Eastern Africa at Crisis Group. 

President Hasan Sheikh Mahamud, who assumed office in June 2022 following delayed elections, claimed the country had “enough food to feed our people”. His comments came as the UN urged the government to declare a famine. Instead, Mr Mahamud insisted that whilst Somalia was experiencing hunger, the government was doing its “best” to ensure food and medical supplies were reaching vulnerable communities.

Mr Mahmood says the state saw admitting to it as “interrupting their other priorities”.  

“Everything gets thrown only to famine relief once you hit that marker, and it’s a balance because that, of course, does draw more attention,” he says. 

The Somali government has made strides in grappling with its humanitarian crisis. Shortly after taking office, President Mahamud appointed his election opponent, Abdirahman Abdishakur as special envoy on drought response in May, tasked with engaging international partners on the matter. 

In December, the Office of the Special Envoy on the Humanitarian Crisis and Drought launched a collaborative effort with the Somali Independent Media Association, aiming to train more than 400 journalists on climate change and humanitarian reporting.

“Somali journalists have been left alone to deal with the crisis that has been unfolding for decades without any support and they have faced many challenges when performing their roles,” Mr Abdishakur said the purpose of the training scheme, which will run in every major city, was also to combat fake news around the drought. 

Famine and a Failed State?

His concerns mirror many in Somalia’s government, who claim the country is not a failed state. Instead, against a backdrop of political instability, their refrain is there is a functioning government, which has come a long way from the turmoil three decades of internal conflict have caused. But it defies calls from those outside the state who say emergency should be declared.

A famine is usually declared when at least 20% of a population suffers from extreme food shortage, at least 30% of children experience malnutrition and at least two people out of 10,000 die daily from starvation. By this threshold, some regions such as Bay, in southern Somalia, are already experiencing it, since nearly 50% of its residents are living with food insecurity

Why isn’t the Somali government declaring famine? 

Since famines are political, the UN cannot declare it in Somalia without an agreement from its government.

Mr Mahamud agreed that even though the risk of calling the situation in Somalia a famine is very high, such a declaration would not just affect victims but also halt the country’s development, as international aid risked being diverted from long-term developmental projects. But another reason for their reluctance is the possibility that giving into these calls could result in mass migration from its rural areas and into bigger cities. This would, they fear, trigger a shortage of resources in these cities, surging its crime rates. 

But Mr Mahmood thinks the government “have to revisit this question”: “The reality is what’s happening on the ground, if that’s a famine, it must be declared as such. That will help mobilise resources as well,” he says. 

Humanitarian partners have requested $1.46 billion. However, until now they only have 43% of the funds they need. The United States have donated $707 million. But funds from elsewhere are lacking. The UK has only donated $2.3 million this year.  

When famine arrived in 2011, it killed more than  250,000 people. No early warnings, and inaction meant half of those who lost their lives, died before a famine was officially declared. But six years later, a different story emerged. International donations and governmental preparedness helped curb it in 2017.

While he reinforces the need for a stronger response, Mr Mahmood says the present government’s strategy is better than previous ones.

“The last administration wasn’t focused on the fight against Al Shabab. They were focused on domestic political opponents. The struggle against Al Shabab fell by the wayside,” he says. 

Engagement with the militant group, he cautions, is a “very risky strategy” and would have long-term consequences, but dialogue may placate tensions. 

Involvement by international actors has attracted controversy, with airstrikes in the US considered to be an unlikely tool to end violence. Under former US president Donald Trump’s administration, the USA’s counterterrorism war escalated; in his first year in office alone, President Trump conducted more airstrikes than the preceding administration had. By the end of his tenure, the number of airstrikes totaled 202, and records indicate the number of civilian fatalities ranged from six to 30, although the true figure is likely to be higher. 

As both sides vie for control, for those looking in, Somalia is no less than a hotbed of extremism. An attack in early January saw the killing of 20 people in a village in the Middle Shabelle region. In response to these attacks, its federal government, calls for more airstrikes to be carried out by the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), a combatant group of the US Defence Department to finish off Al Shabab. 

Creating a theatre for a power struggle, many others may see constant airstrikes and the consequent killings of civilians not a strategy to assuage the raging flames of violence. 

But Mr Mahmood insists the airstrikes do help “keep the pressure on the organisation”. Where previous attempts to “push” the militant group “closer to defeat” under President Trump’s administration, failed, “the same level of ground effort” to bolster its response was “femoral”, he suggests. But now, in the midst of aggression, he sees a glimmer of hope under the current Somali federal government, who he believes is “making that little bit of progress”. 

‘Putting the ball in their court’

Starvation, and politics have long been intertwined in this East African country. But this, he says, is a “crossing-cutting issue”, not a “political issue”. He goes on: “This is about how we provide for the Somali population which both they, and the government claim to serve and claim to be the legitimate actor governing them.”

He adds: I think it’s about putting the ball in their court and therefore, the response, either way, will basically be on them.”

Learning from the past, and taking steps to engage with adversaries may be in the country’s interests, he says. 

“What happened in 2011 was they did have a bit of a disastrous response and it cost them popular support as well. So, it’s important to them if they want to make the same strategic mistake or if they are an actor that actually does care about the wider population and can put aside some ideological or political issues in order to ensure Somalis get the aid they need,” says Mr Mahmood. 

Somalia’s famine in 2011 indicated that appropriate communication and negotiation with terror groups are important. During the famine, Al-Shabaab demanded monitoring access to the organisation programmes or ‘helping fees’ from them, which could be as high as $10,000, to curb the death toll. 

Some organisations gave in and paid those fees, but some did not. The result was attacks, and bans of organisations from Al-Shabaab territory. Even organisations such as UNICEF or the World Food Programme (WFP) were expelled from Al-Shabaab territory for not fulfilling the requirements. 

 More needs to be done

Approximately 7 million people are suffering in Somalia due to starvation.  

He ends on a warning that relying merely on the “immediate response” alone is not enough. Instead adaptation is a necessary precursor to beckoning in change for the good. Otherwise, he envisages a bleak picture: “The reality is these droughts will continue to happen, and the frequency between them will continue to decrease.” 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Continue Reading

Society

Why Africa is always disadvantaged at the World Cup

The African continent is bristling with talent and its potential for the sport is huge. Morocco’s spectacular run – within touching distance of the final itself – is a message to the world that Africa will most likely have a World Cup winning team in the not too distant future.

Published

on

African football 2

Is FIFA fair toward African nations in the World Cup Finals?  

Morocco made history after qualifying for the semi-finals in the FIFA World Cup (hosted in Qatar), being the first African or Arab nation to have ever done so. Previously African nations have only managed to get to the quarterfinals – Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010. But the odds had always been stacked against the African continent. Their win came after defeating some of the top teams in previous rounds.

Football became an integral part of Africa after the sport had been introduced to the continent by European colonizers during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Colonisers initially used sport as a way to impose “moral codes” upon the colonised, and to inculcate a sense of obedience in them. However African nations including Egypt, Sudan and Algeria utilised the game as a means to mobilise independent movements against colonisation. Consequently, football developed into a nationally acclaimed and loved sport resulting in many African countries taking their love for football forward, and qualifying for the FIFA World Cup finals.

In May 2016, the world football governing body and FIFA’s president Gianni Infantino introduced the FIFA Forward Development Programme’ which aims to develop football and related infrastructure in poorer countries by providing funds to improve their footballing capacity.

The initiative provides support to each of FIFA’s 211 Member Associations. Each of the Member Associations receive up to $1.25m every year of which is used “$500,000 for operational costs and $750,000 for tailored projects which includes construction of facilities and other projects as planned by members and approved by FIFA”.

However, countries that show high potential are chosen based on certain eligibility criteria allowing them to be a part of the development programme. Whilst other countries mostly across Europe make use of the provided support “only 32% of funding is being utilised by Africa because 19 nations [have] failed to meet the basic requirements from FIFA to access the funds.”

Many African nations that fail to meet FIFA’s eligibility criteria have done so as a result of a lack of infrastructure at domestic level, and due to invalid documentation. This FIFA initiative not only financially supports and boosts confidence in Member Associations, but also provides facilities such as “better level playing [fields]” which has helped countries improve in their game and overall performance.

Ghanaian coach, Otto Addo, spoke about possible factors that hinder African teams from progressing further in the World Cup. He bemoaned the comparative lack of slots available to the African continent for the tournament.  “There was never a point where everybody had an equal chance at the start…It’s very, very difficult if you have five slots to get far. If you have 12 or 14 slots…the probability that a team will get further is much much higher”, he said.  Mr Addo believes that more of Africa’s 54 teams should be able to qualify and be tested at the prestigious football tournament.

Corruption has been prevalent among officials preventing African nations from displaying their full potential to FIFA.[1]  Commenting on this, Emmanuel Maradas, former FIFA official and ex-editor of African Soccer explained: “When you have money, you have mismanagement, corruption, a lack of seriousness, and a lack of planning”. Whilst other nations make sound financial decisions keeping upcoming tournaments in mind, the administrative bodies in African nations fail to do so effectively. Maradas continued, “If you go to the African federations and ask what sort of plan they have for the next World Cup they will say wait and see…the downfall of African football is the administration”.

But the money  allocated for the purpose of improving standards of the sport has a high risk of ending up as bribes and going into the pockets of corrupt football federations and agents.[2]   U.S. Atty. General Loretta Lynch found that: “FIFA executives and others corrupted the process by using bribes to influence the hosting decision”. This included allegations of secret wire transfers between Swiss and American bank accounts and South African  officials giving “a briefcase stuffed with U.S. currency in stacks of $10,000” to a representative of former FIFA Vice President, Jack Warner.

Hence, Mokoena, who was the captain of South Africa at the 2010 World Cup had criticised Africa for failing to raise the standard for football and believed there is plenty for them to work on. “We need to fix our football before we can ask for more spots at the World Cup”.

Many players from Africa have preferred to play for European clubs citing better infrastructures and opportunities as a reason.  This has been detrimental to the development of football in the African continent as a lot of talent has been lost to European countries. However, racial discrimination is one of the reasons that many go back to play for or in their home nation and that includes players of African descent but who were born in Europe. This has been possible due to the 2004 FIFA eligibility rule change which allows players to represent different teams at the youth international levels and senior international levels respectively.

Ivory Coast footballer Yaya Toure, who played for Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League Final in 2019 has also spoken up about the injustice towards African teams in the 2014 Brazil World Cup. Toure said: “When we play at the World Cup, any African will back any African team. Because we want to hear the different approach to African football. We want to hear that Africans can do well and Africans do well”.

What this year’s World Cup in Qatar surely demonstrated is that even though France defeated Morocco in the semi-final, the African continent is bristling with talent and its potential for the sport is huge, as at least 12 of the French squad’s 23 players were of African descent. And Morocco’s spectacular run – within touching distance of the final itself – is a message to the world that Africa will most likely have a World Cup winning team in the not too distant future.


All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Continue Reading

Society

Islam’s history of women’s rights rejects the Taliban’s restrictive laws

The Taliban’s ban on women entering parks could not be further from a reflection of Islam. We speak to an Islamic researcher on this.

Published

on

Image by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona - Taliban, Islam and women

Following the removal of troops from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover, the country has seen changes to the rights of women — something everyone had seen coming.

Since the Taliban took hold of Afghanistan, the country has seen an unceasing repression of women. It came as no surprise. Despite initially taking the reins with the promise to lessen their iron grasp on the rights of the people, the regime has walked back on its vows and is creating a state reminiscent of their 1990s rule.

Following the takeover, women and girls have been stripped of their right to education, and most recently, have been banned from going to parks. 

Human rights activists worldwide are unanimous in calling out its encroachment. Many women’s rights activists within Afghanistan are being detained. The Taliban lay a claim to the religion of Islam, but they are far from representing its true teachings.

Analyst News spoke to Reem Shraiky, a translator and researcher of Islam, on the unfolding situation in Afghanistan, and what Islam really stands for.

In banning women from parks, and subsequently, gyms and fun fairs, the Taliban cited Islam as their reason for doing so. 

But Reem tells us, “Nothing is unlawful to women alone or to men alone, and going out to work, parks, shops are not forbidden in Islam in any way or form.” 

Taking a glimpse through history also indicates that the Taliban’s claim that their actions oppressing women are inspired by Islam do not hold up.

“When female infanticide was common in Arabia, and when women were considered properties owned by men, the Holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammad came and gave women those rights that women outside the fold of Islam had to fight for until very recently. To name just a few, Islam gave women the right to inherit, to work, to elect the leaders, to take divorce, right of education, right of choice in marriage, and right of preaching their religion.”

In fact, Islam is considered one of the first religions to have given women their rights — far before the West had even begun considering them as legal people. Reem also tells us that women in Islam have been participating in recreational activities since the dawn of the religion.

“The Holy Prophet used to race with his wife, Ayesha in the presence of other people. Once he raced with her and Hazrat Ayesha won the race. The second time they both had a race, the Holy Prophet won. At this, he said ‘Ayesha we are even now’.”

History has seen the emergence of Muslim women who have gone on to shape parts of the world. Among them, Reem tells us, are people like Ayesha, wife of the Holy Prophet, Maryam al-Astrulabi, Fatima al-Fihri, Al-Shifaa Al-Adawiyyah, Rufaida Al-Aslamiyya and Lubana of Córdoba. 

“The female companion of the Holy Prophet, Al-Shifaa Al-Adawiyyah was a teacher of women. She taught them reading, writing and calligraphy, and she practiced medicine so skillfully that she was called ‘Al-Shifaa’ meaning the healer. The second caliph in Islam, Hazrat Umar appointed her as a bazar [market] inspector in the city of Medina which is equal to a minister of trading of nowadays.

“These women from Islamic history that I have mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg. This clearly shows that the advent of the liberator of women, Muhammad, brought Muslim women numerous rights. they did not sit dormant, rather they progressed in all fields of science, medicine, nursing, and religion among other domains.”

To this day, Muslim women continue to break barriers and that is because Islam is made to be an empowering religion for them. The Taliban completely and entirely fail to treat women according to the principles of Islam.

Reem says the Taliban do not represent Islam at all. “Because of Taliban and some of such ‘so called’ Muslim groups, Islam today is often viewed by many as an oppressive religion that attacks the fundamental freedoms and rights of women, and that they are inferior to men. In fact, the opposite is true as Islam is a champion of equality of women. Allah says in the Holy Quran [Islam’s Holy Book] that man and woman were created from a single soul. Islam gives same rights to women as men.”

Most importantly, she points out that in Islam, there is no compulsion. The recent protests in Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini for how she observed hijab, have brought to light that nothing can or should be forced on someone in the name of religion.

When asked if enforcing modesty in Afghanistan was the right move, Reem says, “There is an Arabic proverb that says: ‘Pressure generates blast’ meaning that pressure on people and restricting their freedoms generates an opposite reaction among them. So, nothing can be achieved by force, that is why Allah the Almighty forbade coercion and made it clear that there is no justification in enforcing the matters of faith; Allah the Almighty stated:

‘There should be no compulsion in religion.’

Holy Quran, 2:257

“Faith in Islam is to believe in something with heart and mind and to express that belief with your tongue, thus, no force on earth can bring about that change.”

The stepping stone to purifying society requires an inward transformation. Without it, we cannot expect to sow the seeds of betterment. When it comes to establishing the rights of women, the same rule applies. The paths of compulsion and absolute liberation lead us to the same destination. The world bears testament to this. 

The number of sexual harassment crimes committed against women appears to be rising alarmingly. Whilst crime is endemic to the human condition, those  related to sexual harassment are the most heinous and, unfortunately, the ones least punished.  

louis galvez I8gQVrDcXzY unsplash edited
According to WHO, 1 in 3 women are victims of sexual and physical violence.

A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared 1 in 3 women, approximately 736 million, are victims of physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence by a non-partner; a figure that has remained largely unchanged over the past decade. Violence such as sexual harassment, in all aspects, can have long-term effects on a woman’s health and well-being, even after it has stopped. It has implications for society as a whole and comes at a high cost, affecting the overall development of a country. We need to address social and economic equalities if we want to see an end to them. 

Muslim women, like all other women, have the right to freedom of religion. They also have the right to be treated equally and to be free from discrimination or harassment based on their religion, gender, or perceptions of their nationality or ethnicity. These rights are protected by a host of laws. They help protect Muslim women’s equal participation in society, whether at work, school, government offices, or public places.

But outside of these normative measures, new ways to protect women in communal spaces emerge. There is an emergence of women-only parks in otherwise conservative countries. It enables women to walk, jog, and partake in other physical activities without covering their heads, bringing them an array of health benefits. Women-only parks are becoming much more common in Muslim countries, like Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. In the absence of men and boys, they offer women a safe space for recreational activities. The opening of these parks is a chance for women to express themselves freely and can also help in tackling medical risks that may arise in the next generation. These spaces help minimise sexual harrasment by allowing women to be able to go to places where they can walk around uncovered, do sports and get involved in other physical activities. While it is true they isolate women, they offer them freedoms they did not previously have.

A recent study illustrated how in Pakistan 96% of girls experienced street harassment. Similarly, according to a recent survey conducted by the nonprofit Stop Street Harassment, 81% of women in the United States have experienced some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime. A public space was the most common location for harassment. But some of these women-only parks have seen criticism. For example, the new park in Tehran, called Mothers’ Paradise is considered controversial.

Some women, specifically feminists, are viewing it as an insult and argued that these parks can lead to dangerous situations. Many women are critical on this initiative and argued that it will further take gender segregation to the next level. Some are also being critical on how it will lead to situations that will make it difficult for men and women to interact in normal situations. Similarly, some conservative women are also viewing it as a way of creating confusion among women. They argue that women will only become perplexed if such parks will allow headscarves to be removed because they may begin to question the necessity of always covering up in public, hence it is viewed as a continuation of what they claim is pervasive discrimination against women. 

Therefore, instead of such initiatives, there is a need for change within culture and society to bring an overall impact. Reviewing the contemporary examples of countries that otherwise proclaim to stand up for women’s rights, for instance UK, in an effort to bring about change, eleven families together have formed Killed Women, an activism campaigning group run by the families of women who were killed by men. Various organisations including Refuge, the Domestic Abuse Charity, Southall Black Sisters and Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse (AAFDA) as well as MPs are endorsing the efforts made by this group. The group is fighting for a wide range of policies, from stricter gun purchase laws to better educating people about domestic abuse and coercive control. 

We will always see cases of sexual harassment, but we can minimise these by recognising the need for safe spaces and by bringing an overall change in society and culture.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

+ posts

I am a student from Ontario, Canada, and an aspiring journalist. I enjoy reading, writing and learning about the world around us - the issues with it and how we can make it a better place.

Continue Reading

Religion

OPINION: Jesus ‘trans’ debate signals decline of religious values in Britain

Faith in a high power is no longer at the centre of people’s lives, and the number of people identifying with ‘no religion’ continues to increase. Religion is a rule book but what use are those rules that are rewritten at one’s own convenience?

Published

on

jesus christianity scaled

Faith in a high power is no longer at the centre of people’s lives, and the number of people identifying with ‘no religion’ continues to increase.

A 2021 consensus in the UK revealed Christianity’s declining influence. Christians are now a minority in England and Wales, latest data from the Office of National Statistics suggests. Atheism is on the rise and an unprecedented 5.5 million people have stopped identifying as Christian in those two nations of the UK.

It is no wonder then that respect for religion has also taken a backseat. But a backseat, not a total abandonment. Despite the steep decline, a lingering association remains.

Jesus was trans, claimed post-doctoral researcher Joshua Heath in a guest sermon. While Dr Michael Banner, dean of Trinity College, Cambridge defended his assertion. Echoed in the halls of what was founded as the training college of 16th century Catholic priests, it seems to be a feeble attempt to sustain Christian values in a society increasingly mired in ultra-liberal worldviews.

A painting of Jesus, one constructed many years after the existence of Jesus himself, is the genesis of this suggestion. Jean Malouel’s Painting ‘Large Round Pieta’ depicts the wound that Jesus suffered on the right side of his chest and presents the figure without any garments.

Henri Maccheroni’s 1990 work “Christs” was also included as supporting evidence of this confronting claim. A shocking portrayal of a revered and holy man, which brings into question the lengths people are permitted to go to express their opinions. Given that beneath scholarly entanglement, and the grandeur of academic voice, it is little more than a fickle of imagination. There is no evidence that Jesus may have been trans, in the gospels, early accounts and any other sources. Rather, it is an absurdity to think that a few paintings made centuries after the existence of Jesus can prompt the questioning of his gender and are somehow linked to surgeries performed today to achieve the trans body. Not only this, Mr Heath’s ideas declare that an open wound is a valid claim to the female body. It is a ludicrous thought and one that inadvertently perhaps, but emphatically associates wounds with women.

Jesus was believed to be a Syrian before the Renaissance period’s artistry shaped him into a European. A Caucasian countenance of blond hair and blue eyes, and later many suggested that he was in fact of African appearance. The founder of Christianity, who passed away so long ago, has been revived in art form, to fit the model of each phase of society.

It is no surprise then that this debate has surged in an era of extremities, where free speech has no consideration for ethics, and traditional thought is without fail viewed as incorrect. With social movements at the forefront of imposing new perceptions on society, it seems there are many who want religion to hop onto the bandwagon.

A decade ago, these claims would have faced obloquy, and blasphemy charges levelled against them immediately in an attempt to preserve Jesus’ sanctity. Yet we bounce from one extreme to the next, questioning the identity of a figure who is no longer alive to tell his life’s tale nor file charges against those who might wrongly identify him.

And this malaise of secularism seeps further. Those who contest the novel interpretation of this holy figure’s identity are left to protest merely by categorising Trinity College’s session as an act of “heresy”. It gives precedence to one thought and not the other, wrapped by the guise of pluralism.

It is a thought that even those who hold authority may not challenge. It was only four years ago that a similar debate found its way in when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby was asked at a Church service what gender God was. His response, the oft heard “neither male nor female”, met criticism by those who did not like that gendered language was used to describe God. Yet, today the once great and esteemed Church of England exercises silence on the developments at Trinity College, leaving the followers of Christ in tears and distress.

In Islam depictions of prophets are prohibited. And for good reason. Today’s debate on Jesus’ gender, reflective of moral degradation, is a prime example that imagery serves only to distract from and disrespect estimable religious doctrines.

Religion is a rule book but what use are those rules that are rewritten at one’s own convenience?

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Continue Reading

Human Rights

Opinion: Enforcement is no answer to Iran’s anti-hijab protests

As the memory of Mahsa Amini’s death fades, and the world’s eyes no longer draw on Iran, its complicity in the growing rift between it and the world of the West cannot be evaded.

Published

on

iran protest

The United Nations launched a fact-finding investigation into human rights abuses committed in Iran. It closes a gap where previously no international courts nor national jurisdictions addressed these crimes. But fears abound that Iran may not cooperate with this historic precedent.

When outrage sparked at the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, an Iranian woman who was arrested by the so-called morality police for violating the country’s strict hijab laws in September. Amidst the protests that were sparked, one more cry was also notable: How can we take the West’s condemnation seriously, when it is also guilty of human rights abuses?

As the Iranian government sought to crackdown on protests that erupted in response to the young woman’s death, directing legal action on those voices of dissent, the West was not slow to speak out against Iran’s rampant authoritarianism. The UK issued sanctions on Iran’s morality police to send out a message: “We will hold you to account for your repression of women and girls,” said then Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly. His statement echoed those of many others; that no one should dictate how Iranian women and girls should dress.

But some Muslims were left wondering where these voices were when Switzerland implemented its burqa bans. Or when France gripped ever tighter on its repression of Muslim women’s hijabs. Or even when Hindutva extremists burned mosques in India.

But as the memory of Amini’s death fades, and the world’s eyes no longer draw on Iran, its complicity in the growing rift between it and the world of the West cannot be evaded.

France was the first country to impose hijab bans in 2011 and the act, “Law of 2010-1192: Act prohibiting concealment of the face in public space” was introduced to prevent women from mainly wearing the niqab (a covering for the entire body and face except for the eyes). Following France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, China, and Bulgaria also introduced such laws.

There are many reasons that so many European and other countries claim to have banned hijabs or niqabs. The most well-known one is for security reasons considering a veil will prevent police from identifying the person, arguing that such people can commit crimes without being identified.

But that is not the only reasoning behind the laws, as when France was banning niqabs the government campaign used the term “the Republic is lived with an uncovered face.”  Similarly, the right-wing Switzerland party that proposed the hijab ban organizes “resistance against the claims to power of political Islam in Switzerland.”

So where does this Islamophobia come from? Why is the forced hijab seen as worse than hijab bans? Well, the responsibility for this, along with Islamophobia lies on so-called Islamic countries as well.

Along with Iran, Afghanistan under the rule of Taliban imposes strict dress code laws on women and men. Women are forced to cover their faces and every part of their bodies. Women cannot travel without a male companion. The country is also accused of gender-based discrimination and partaking in child-marriage, forced marriage, and sexual exploitation of women. 

All these laws are implemented under the name of Islam.

Saudi Arabia is another such Islamic country that usurped women’s rights after the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Finally in 2015, it granted women the right to vote and run as candidate in election, in 2018 women were finally allowed to drive, and in 2019 the male guardianship laws were eased. However, even after these basic rights were slowly granted to women, the problems have not been eradicated as women are forced to wear full clothing as well as face veils even now.

There are many other Islamic countries that impose such harsh laws and force the hijab or niqab, so in the West’s eyes this garment has become a sign of discrimination. Wanting to be saviours of women’s rights, they ban the hijab altogether, not knowing, or ignoring the fact, that it can be worn willingly as well.

But is this the battle that the majority of Muslims should be fighting in the first place? When so much power is given to the West that their opinion becomes a reason for debate, the people are distracted from the real issues.

Another problem is the belief that the West is omnipotent, it can solve all problems, even if it does not have that power anymore. A Prospect article that was written back in 2010 explained how the reason that the West was considered to be powerful was not that “its people are biologically superior, its culture better, or its leaders wiser, but simply because of geography.”

The 2020 Munich Security Conference discussed the power that the West once held and if it still holds it. Most people attending the conference agreed that the West was not all-powerful anymore. Michael Barnett, a professor of international affairs and political science at George Washington University said; “The West’s influence was partially dependent on its material wealth and its moral purpose, both of which are in decline, and so the West has ceased to be the soft power that it once was.”

Instead of fighting a battle about opinions, the world should focus on helping the victims. Whenever women’s bodies are controlled, there is an outrage for a while and then all is forgotten. Despite the online outrage as well as the thousands pouring out into the streets of Iran, very little comes to change as authorities are quick to silence and punish dissent

One example is Iran’s protest in 2018 against the morality police. Despite a report being released that showed that 49% of the population was against forced hijab, the bans were never removed. As a result, Mahsa Amini had to die at the hands of the so-called morality police in 2022.

These protests have been repeated many times, the first one being in 1979 when the hijab imposition was first passed by religious fundamentalists. Again, we saw protests in 2014, when there were a series of acid attacks against women who were deemed to be wearing inappropriate clothes. Each time, the attention that these protests garnered was used as a political tool and nothing was done for the women in Iran.

Dilshad Ali, Content Editor at Haute Hijab explained this point by stating; “If there are ever any political tensions or issues afoot in any country that hones in on Muslims, targeting the hijab is low-hanging fruit because it’s such a visible way to know one is Muslim. “

Adding, “People take the hijab and use it to misrepresent a thousand different political things, when really, at its heart, it’s not anything scary or oppressive, but rather something private between a woman and Allah and her visible declaration that “I am Muslim.”

The hijab is something that a Muslim woman should wear to feel safe, and respected, and as a sign of being Muslim. But, when the same garment is forcefully used and acts as a way to control women, it becomes something to detest. According to Iranian poet and journalist Asieh Amini due to forced veils, the hijab became a symbol of oppression, as women “can’t stand this domination and want their rights.”

The forced hijab in Iran is non-discriminatory when it comes to the religion of the women being forced to veil themselves. Regardless of religion or cultural differences, every woman is the victim of the morality police. These laws trace back to when the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini said women should observe Islamic dress codes in 1979 after the Islamic revolution but due to protests, he backtracked only for the hijab becoming part of the law in 1983. In fact, before the revolution, Muslim women used to wear hijab as their own choice.

By merely pointing the finger at the West, once again the outrage will end without any real changes taking place in countries that are to blame, and the women that are killed in India, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and all other countries will remain without justice. All because the world is busy playing the blame game and forgetting why these protests started in the first place.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Continue Reading

Recent Comments

Articles