Gender choice and identification is a controversial topic. Gender vocabulary is often in the news with cases such as that of Keira Bell and Marion Millar battling through the courts as the definition of woman is debated in legal and medical terms. Boundaries around language and gender are being redrawn as the culmination of social change spanning the past century.
World War Two was a critical moment in the development of gender relations as women, 80- 90% of whom had competently served in the labour market and armed services while men were away fighting, returned to the home with a new understanding of their value and skills. This starkly contrasted to the situation pre-1918 where women were banned from serving in the Civil Service or legal fields. With many widows in the nation, large numbers of women had a need to earn income to support their families.
The rights of women were still in their infancy as it was only 20 years earlier, in 1928, that women were granted the right to vote on the same basis as men in the Representation of the People Act. As the 1960s and 1970s wore on, more women were educated to a higher level than ever before. Universities had only recently begun awarding women degrees, Cambridge awarded its first degree to a female in 1948 The Equal Pay Act in 1968 was a watershed moment for women in England where female car makers sued to address their 15% pay gap between them and their male counterparts. Prior to this it was entirely acceptable to pay women significantly less, in recognition that their role was not seen as equal to that of men. But the economic depression of the 1970s and the decline of traditional heavy industry across vast areas of the North of England, changed the landscape for both men and women.
By the 1980s, it was common for both men and women in a family unit to be working. The past century had seen important battles fought and won. Women had been given a voice at the ballot box and the right to become financially independent. The feminist models shaped by commentators and activists such as Germain Greer and Gloria Steinem brought about the notion in society that women could have it all. They could learn and earn as well as having families. No longer were women, as many were found just a century before, undereducated, unrepresented and undervalued in many spheres of society.
But in addressing this inequality a critical factor was underplayed: women are the weaker sex. As the 1970s saw medical advances allowing women to control their reproductive cycles, perhaps women felt that they finally had choice and control. Yet sadly we are reminded regularly, that women remain biologically weaker and therefore vulnerable. It must be said that this is a generalised statement, there are women with equal physical strength to men, but mostly this is not the case and amidst the equality women have won we should not forget this significant fact.
Women are vulnerable. In some situations their economic value is no protection against their vulnerability. Women need to be cautious and to protect themselves in ways men often do not even consider. The recent tragic murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa have pierced through the delusion that men and women are equal in all ways. They aren’t.
In the past decade, statistics show that 9 in 10 killers in the UK have been men meaning women are almost exclusively killed by men and rarely the converse is true. More than ⅓ of women victims were killed by a partner or ex-partner. For men this figure is 2% and in 2019 figures show 85% of convictions for violent crime were of men. In the case of rape this figure rises to 98.5%.
Women can never forget that they are the weaker sex. They remember it when out alone at night, they remember when they are in romantic relationships, they remember when they see a male showing aggression and anger. Travelling, visiting friends, alone in their home: women remember they are the weaker sex. In the days after tragic murders, police and other media reel out the precautions women can take against their vulnerability.
Amid the ongoing national debate on the role and definition of women, this vulnerability should be kept in mind. Instead of asking women to keep themselves safe to maintain their perceived equality, perhaps it’s time to remind and retrain men that women are the weaker sex and they should not forget.
A Monkeypox Outbreak has Been Detected in Europe, Canada, and Now the US
- There is a monkeypox outbreak in Europe and North America, with 8 reported cases in England, 20 in Portugal, a few in Canada, and one case in the US. What’s concerning is that the virus is possibly spreading throughout the community undetected and no one knows exactly where and how people are acquiring the infection.
- Monkeypox can cause fever, body aches, enlarged lymph nodes, and eventually painful and fluid-filled blisters called “pox” on the face and extremities. Although monkeypox can be deadly, the version of monkeypox currently in England is milder, with a fatality rate of 1%, and can usually resolve in 2-4 weeks.
- Person-to-person transmission is very uncommon, as it requires one to have close contact with bodily fluids, such as saliva or pus from lesions, and is more commonly transmitted from animals in Africa and then imported to other countries. However, 7 of the 8 cases in the UK did not involve recent travel to Africa, nor had they had contact with the 1 patient who had traveled to Nigeria. The one patient in Massachusetts hadn’t traveled to any countries that had an outbreak, but had traveled to Canada.
- Much evidence is suggesting that the disease is being transmitted through a new route, sexual contact, and particularly men who are gay or bisexual have been warned to be aware of any rashes or lesions, and to contact health service immediatley.
- Monkeypox is closely related to smallpox but isn’t as transmissible between people. The smallpox vaccine, which was approved in 2019 by the FDA, is about 85% effective, and after the world eradicated smallpox, countries stopped vaccinating children, and so now there’s a growing population of people who don’t have immunity to monkeypox, which means an outbreak could now involve dozens of people instead of just 1-2 cases. This virus can become more transmissible and there is a possible chance of a global threat, like COVID-19.
Digital Authoritarianism – A Growing Challenge to The World Press Freedom
Press and electronic media have been an active source of propagation of the discourse be it political, social, or religious. They make it easier for a piece of information to reach the common masses and thus it is crucial for the governments to control them to keep insuring the creation of “us” and “them” division in the society. But this control has become a challenge for a free and independent press. Digital authoritarianism, cyber surveillance, and monitoring of political and social activities of people through media have made it difficult for the people of the present age and time to have freely expressed their opinion and easier for the governments to control the information.
While China has been controlling the influx of information and the regulation of ideologies in the country through a great fire, Other countries are joining in too with their measure to increase cyber-surveillance. Internet shutdowns are one of the tools for asserting digital authoritarianism and according to a survey conducted by a non-profit digital rights organization Access now, the year 2021 experienced 182 events of Internet shutdowns around the world.
The shutdowns measures were taken to contribute to the growing political tensions in the respective regions for example, during the coup in Maynmar, and to influence the geopolitical situation in Eastern Europe, specifically Russia. Similarly, while Africa experienced an epidemic of coups in the year 2021, the number of internet shutdowns reached 19.
India which claims to be the “world’s largest democracy” imposed an internet shutdown more than a hundred times in the year 2021 and more than half of them were on the already repressed people of Jammu and Kashmir.
While Russia became the only country in Europe to impose an internet shutdown in 2021, in the year 2022, the Russia and Ukraine war has forced other EU countries to ban the access to Russia Today, Sputnik other information sites regulated by Russia calling it a measure against “the war propaganda.” Similarly, since the beginning of the conflict, Russia has imposed new internet laws in the country to monitor the spread of news restricting the use of global applications like Instagram and Facebook.
The more recent rerouting of the internet traffic of occupied Ukrainian regions to be redirected through Russian cyber routes. Netblocks, an internet observatory, noted that: “Connectivity on the network has been routed via Russia’s internet instead of Ukrainian telecoms infrastructure and is hence likely now subject to Russian internet regulations, surveillance, and censorship.”
However, while countries around the world are being exposed to exerting digital dominance, and being accused to collect user data for their own benefit, it is becoming a challenge for them to create “democracy-affirming technologies” to combat the digital authoritarianism that has been challenging the world’s press freedom around the world.
Russia Looks to Brazil for Support to Prevent Expulsion from IMF
The Kremlin has requested Brazil’s support in the International Monetary Fund, G20 group, and World Bank to help it counter crippling sanctions from invading Ukraine. Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov wrote to Brazil’s Economy Minister Paulo Guedes claiming that, “behind the scenes work is underway in the IMF and World Bank to limit or even expel Russia from the decision-making process”. Siluanov then went on to request support from Brazil “to prevent political accusations and discrimination attempts in international financial institutions”.
Russia is facing immense backlash for its actions against Ukraine, especially from the US and its allies. According to Siluanov, Russia is facing financial difficulties and economic turbulence due to international sanctions which have frozen almost half of the Kremlin’s international reserves and foreign trade transactions. The Russian minister added that the US is attempting to isolate Moscow from the international community.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stated last week that the US will not participate in any G20 meetings in which Russia is present, citing the Ukraine wa as the reason. Brazilian Foreign Minister Carlos Franca has previously stated that Brazil opposes the expulsion of Russia from the G20 group. Franca further explained that, “The most important thing at this time is to have all international forums, the G20, WTO, FAO, functioning fully, and for that all countries need to be present, including Russia”.
As reports of Russian war crimes make headlines and the economic consequences of the Ukraine War begin to pile up, more countries appear to be standing against the Kremlin’s involvement in international affairs. The US is the main proponent for Russia’s expulsion, however this could partly be due to the personal benefit the White House would receive from the removal of Moscow’s influence from global politics and economics. Russia’s actions in Ukraine warrant severe consequences and Moscow’s removal from international financial groups could serve as a warning for other countries against initiating offensive military action.
Israeli forces raid Al-Aqsa Mosque injuring over 150 Palestinians
Violence has yet once again flared up in the month of Ramadan as Israeli police force entered the Mosque and detained hundreds of Palestinians
In a tragic occurrence of events, similar to last year, conflict has erupted in the month of Ramadan between Israeli forces and Palestinians.
Israeli forces raided the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem with the responding medics reporting that at least 158 Palestinians were injured and hundreds detained.
According to the Islamic endowment that is responsible for the site, Israeli forces entered the premises before dawn as thousands of worshippers were gathered at the mosque.
Many videos circulating online depict the ensuing conflict with Palestinians throwing rocks and police firing tear gas and stun grenades.
Palestinian Red Crescent stated that Israeli forces even obstructed the arrival of ambulances and paramedics to the scene in order to tend the wounded and those trapped in the Mosque.
According to Israeli Foreign Ministry who issued a statement on twitter saying, “Israeli police entered Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to disperse violent rioters desecrating the site and endangering the public. The mosque has now reopened for prayers. Israel continues to ensure freedom of worship in Jerusalem.”
However, Palestinian cameraman Rami al-Khatib, first hand witness to the raid, said “They [Israeli forces] brutally emptied the compound. They were attacking the mosque staff, normal people, elders, young people. There were many injured people, they fired rubber bullets inside Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. They were beating everyone, even the paramedics, they hit them”.
Jordan, who has custodianship over the holy site, in conjunction with Palestinian Authority, issued a joint statement warning Israel of “a dangerous and condemnable escalation that threatens to explode the situation”.
The clashes come at an important time for all three major faiths. Muslims are celebrating the month of Ramadan while the Jews are celebrating the Passover which began on Friday and is a weeklong Jewish holiday and the Christians celebrate their holy week which culminates on Easter Sunday. The collective holidays are expected to bring tens of thousands of followers into Jerusalem’s old city, which is sacred to all three faiths.
Heavy Rainfall and Flooding Hits South Africa’s Coastal Province Leading to 259 Dead
- South Africa has been experiencing unusually heavy rainfall that has led to severe flooding in the eastern coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal. Many South Africans have posted photos on social media showing major destruction in the form of collapsed roads and bridges, as well as homes that have been destroyed by mudslides. The city’s power stations have been flooded resulting in loss of power as well as water for residents.
- Mayor Mxolisi of eThekwini has stated that there are efforts being made to restore the water and electricity supply. Orders were given for residents to stay at home unless they live in a low-lying area or their home is at risk of collapsing.
- The flood has killed 45 people in the last few days and emergency services have been working to save as many as possible. It has been reported that many people have been sitting on rooftops of buildings awaiting rescue.
- Mayor Kaunda also stated that there is communication with the South African National Defence Force in relation to assisting the city. Rescue teams are cut off from being able to work with each other since major areas of the city are fully flooded.
- The floods coincide with South Africa’s La Niña period, which is a global phenomenon in which there is more rainfall than usual. Scientists have also warned that the La Niña period is even more agitated by global warming. Studies show that the region has been hit by a multitude of cyclones and storms in the past six weeks with 230 reported deaths. Dr. Izdine Pinto from the University of Cape Town stresses that scientific resources need to be refined in order to understand the effects of climate change and “to prepare vulnerable people and infrastructure to better cope with them.”
16 Injured During Brooklyn Subway Shooting
- Multiple people have been shot and injured after a man opened fire in a subway station on Tuesday morning, April 12th 2022. The shooting took place at 36th Street subway station in Brooklyn around 8:24 a.m. The shooter was said to have worn a gas mask and construction vest and proceeded to open a canister of smoke within the area before shooting people around the platform as well as inside the train car.
- As of now, 16 people are injured with 10 wounded due to gunshot wounds. The Fire Department has stated that five of the victims are critically injured, but none have experienced any life-threatening injuries. Others with gunshot wounds are currently being treated at NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn where they are said to be in stable condition. As of now, there are no fatalities reported.
- After the shooter fired into the train car as it was moving away from the platform, the train then made a stop at the next station on 25th street. From there, multiple injured people were able to exit the train and receive help from other subway riders as they waited for more help to arrive.
- As of now, the shooter is still on the loose. New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell spoke to the public at a conference saying, “We are determining what the motive is, and we will find that out as the investigation continues.” NYPD has stated that they will not rule anything out yet without a proper investigation. This includes not ruling out the possibility of terrorism. As of now, the suspect has not been identified and another briefing will take place later as more information is uncovered.
- The subway shooting is one of many shootings that have occurred recently in New York. NYPD has reported 322 shooting incidents with 360 people shot in this year alone in the city. Shootings have increased by about 8.4% from 2020 to 2021, which is a great contrast to 2018 and 2019 in which crime rates had hit an all-time low. It appears that the pandemic and lockdowns have deeply affected the crime rate of the city, sending the numbers up once again.
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