A Deeper Look Into India’s COVID-19 Crisis

VACCINES/RESOURCES

Multiple vaccines have been approved in India so far. Sputnik V, Covishield and Covaxin  As of this writing, just under 9% of the population has received at least 1 dose and just under 2% are fully vaccinated. Beginning on May 1, 2021, all Indians ages 18 and over will be eligible for vaccinations at some sites.

VACCINE APARTHEID 

The US refused to export raw materials for weeks despite criticism, and only recently lifted the export ban. 

Debate is emerging over the role of wealthy nations in creating an inequitable vaccine rollout, including restrictions on exports of vaccines, raw materials used to make them, and intellectual property held by vaccine companies, and the stockpiling of vaccines, all leading to a shortage of vaccines in developing countries. Globally, around 75% of the vaccines have gone to only 10 countries. In addition to pointing out how unjust this hoarding of vaccines is, people have highlighted how it may prevent the end of the pandemic. Rapid community spread in developing countries without sufficient vaccines can lead to new mutations of the virus that may become resistant to existing vaccines. To see an end to this pandemic there must be global cooperation and accountability for wealthy nations who choose to act selfishly. 

India has chosen to curtail their exports of COVID-19 vaccines due to their own coronavirus situation worsening. This has triggered setbacks for vaccination drives in other countries, more than 70 countries from Djibouti to Britain received a total of more than 60 million doses of vaccines from India. At a time when most richer countries are criticised for hoarding vaccine doses, India stands out for sending millions to poorer countries that wealthier countries are failing to supply for. They have adopted a ‘vaccine diplomacy’, allowing foreign ambassadors to visit pharmaceutical factories in Pune and Hyderabad and providing doses to poorer countries. Wealthier countries have chosen an alternative route of ‘vaccine nationalism’ in which they prioritise the vaccination of their own citizens before giving away vaccine doses to other countries, this is despite the fact that those wealthier countries having 60 percent of the global vaccine supplies for themselves and have enough supplies to vaccinate their populations several times over. The contrast in behaviour is definitely striking. 


https://www.fairobserver.com/region/central_south_asia/heya-shah-india-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccine-news-distribution-exports-world-news-today-12879/ 

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/commentary/india-vaccine-diplomacy-serum-astra-zeneca-oxford-covax-china-14392598 


Bill gates doesn’t want to open “intellectual property” of vaccines

Bill Gates has voiced out in a recent interview that he disagrees with the idea of sharing vaccine formulas with developing nations around the world due to the complex manufacturing and quality assurance process of making sure that the vaccine is safe. He then continues to say that once developed nations are fully vaccinated, then the vaccines can be distributed to the developing nations. This is problematic, this is the main reason why the world is lagging behind on the global vaccination drive – supplies have been limited by design. The world is clearly not the developed nations priority despite the current problem being GLOBAL.. The ‘vaccine nationalism’ many wealthy countries have embraced will prolong the global pandemic, if it doesn’t end in poor countries, it won’t end in rich ones either.


https://www.wionews.com/world/will-rich-countries-share-vaccines-or-patents-380945    

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-27/vaccine-hoarding-set-to-backfire-on-rich-nations-as-india-reels 

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/covid19-vaccine-apartheid-us-coronavirus-b1837039.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-55825559


Take Action against vaccine apartheid:

EXTENDED CAUSES

A multitude of factors contributed to the increase in cases.

Rich people can flee while the middle class and lower class suffer

https://www.businessinsider.com/super-rich-fleeing-india-country-records-new-daily-global-record-2021-4


Upper class has more access to vaccines. 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/indias-covid-19-agonies-highlight-growing-rich-poor-gap-in-vaccinations-11619542171


Religious gatherings: Kumbh Mela,  (which the government encouraged), Iftar celebrations for Ramadan, Gudi Padwa, Navratri, and more

People are not wearing masks

B.1.617 Variant of covid is spreading, particularly in the province of Maharashtra and the large city of Mumbai.

The president of the Public Health Foundation of India, K. Srinath Reddy, stated himself that they had “completely let down [their] guard and assumed in January that the pandemic was over—and COVID surveillance and control took a back seat”, after the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, ignored the warnings of a new COVID variant. 

Political rallies and campaigns are still being carried out despite the devastating number of COVID-19 cases. Akhilesh Jha, the data head of the federal Department of Science and Technology wrote in Hindi on LinkedIn, “You hold rallies as people head to funerals”. 

The undertaking the project of reconstructing central Delhi, a massive project with an estimated cost of about $2.7 billion, has attracted controversy as India’s citizens have questioned the need for spending on new government structures at a time when the nation is dealing with a large number of cases. 

The Indian government has requested Twitter to take down 52 tweets criticising the government’s failure to deal with Covid-19 in India. Twitter complied, making said tweets inaccessible to the Indian population. By doing so, it downplays the severity of India’s Covid-19 situation by restricting awareness amongst the Indian population.

WHY KERALA ISN’T FACING OXYGEN CRISIS IN THE SECOND WAVE

GOVERNMENT

It was reported that when the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, was made aware of the new Covid variant, he ignored the warnings that this variant could lead to a second wave – which it did. Because of the decline in cases from September 2020 to mid-February 2021, experts and authorities believed that the worst was behind them. The president of the Public Health Foundation of India, K. Srinath Reddy, stated himself that they had “completely let down [their] guard and assumed in January that the pandemic was over—and COVID surveillance and control took a back seat”. 

To make matters worse, political rallies and campaigns are still being heavily carried out ahead of state elections in West Bengal. This is despite India recording more new cases of Covid-19 than any other country, and was done even by the leaders of the country – Prime Minister Modi and his ministers. Akhilesh Jha, the data head of the federal Department of Science and Technology wrote in Hindi on LinkedIn, “You hold rallies as people head to funerals”. He is also undertaking the project of reconstructing central Delhi, a massive project with an estimated cost of about $2.7 billion. This project has grown to be controversial as India’s citizens have questioned the need for spending on new government structures at a time when the nation is dealing with a devastating number of COVID-19 cases. 

The people of India are disappointed and angry at Prime Minister Modi and their government; they have continually acted on self-interest instead of the people. A culmination of this are hashtags such as #ResignModi and #SuperSpreaderModi trending on Twitter.

But Prime Minister Modi is problematic on Twitter for other reasons too – By censoring tweets about the Covid-19 situation in India. This was first reported by MediaNama, a website providing information and analysis on technology policy in India. The Indian government has requested Twitter to take down 52 tweets criticising the government’s failure to deal with Covid-19 in India. Twitter complied, making said tweets, which were written by Members of Parliaments, filmmakers, an actor, journalists, etc inaccessible to the Indian population. By doing so, it will downplay the severity of India’s Covid-19 situation by restricting awareness amongst the Indian population.

In March 2020, Prime Minister Modi had set up a care fund to combat Covid-19 in India, urging all citizens to donate. He appealed that “This will go a long way in creating a healthier India”. Everyone donated, ranging from the rich to the poor, totalling to over 100 billion rupees. But since then, where has all the money gone? Because of the government’s lack of transparency with its people and unwillingness to spend these funds publicly, this care plan has since been renamed as the “PM does not really care”; with concerns, controversy and doubts arising as the trust and integrity of the government is being questioned.


https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/how-indias-second-wave-became-the-worst-covid-19-surge-in-the-world 

https://www.medianama.com/2021/04/223-twitter-mp-minister-censor/ 

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/pranavdixit/twitter-blocking-tweets-india?origin=thum 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-53151308 


MEDIA SENSATIONALISM

Foreign media has always had a past of inflating news in developing countries. This is no different with the Covid-19 outbreak in India, in which media outlets seemed to have disregarded journalist ethics and integrity in their coverage of it.  For example, the New York Post used a misleading image in an article on India’s Covid-19 situation. It was titled “Covid-19 surge ‘swallowing’ people in India, the footage shows people dead in streets”. An image of a woman lying unconscious on the road with someone trying to wake her up was used. However, this image was from May 2020 on a gas leak incident in Visakhapatnam. Moreover, there are no other images in the article supporting its claim that “people [are] dead in streets”. The pandemic has thus revealed the western media’s unhealthy obsession, for instance with linking India’s outbreak with funeral pyres. Media organisations such as the Washington Post and Reuters posted pictures of funeral pyres from India to highlight the severity of the pandemic, yet when the pandemic took its devastating poll on the US and other western countries, images of burials were hardly used to symbolise the outbreak.


https://www.opindia.com/2021/04/nypost-fake-news-people-dying-streets-covid-19-india-retracts-funeral-pyre-details/ 


Perhaps this is all linked to a normalisation and sensationalism of suffering in developing countries. Western media have been accused of using ‘poverty porn’ to gain traction. Images used to highlight the COVID outbreak in India often include private moments of suffering and mourning of losing a loved one or at cremations, etc. As consumers of media, we need to ask ourselves why it is necessary for graphic images of suffering to be the pushing force for action. We have become so desensitised to suffering, especially in developing countries. This is because that is all we are fed by the western medias – when all we are shown about developing countries are suffering, all we expect is suffering, making us slow to action. We would also like to disclaim that this is in no way a critique of Indian journalists who are doing everything they can to support India’s battle against COVID. But rather, this is a critique of western media in enabling ‘poverty porn’, and us as media consumers for buying into that one-sided, flawed narrative. 

We in no way mean to downplay the seriousness of the covid outbreak in India. It is devastating and needs immediate action and help. Coverage of India’s covid outbreak also requires the discussion of the role of western countries. The hoarding of vaccines has contributed to the poor distribution of vaccines in India, but western media predominantly focuses on the local government’s bad management. Again, this one-sided storytelling leaves western consumers of media feeling desensitized and isolated from the reality in India, when in reality their own easy access to vaccines, and voting decisions directly impact Indians.  

THE UNDER-APPRECIATED WARRIORS OF THE COVID-19 CRISIS IN INDIA

“I used to cremate three to five bodies everyday before the second wave and now, I am cremating more than 15 bodies a day alone”

Ashu Rai, one of the dozens of cremators trying to manage the Covid surge in New Delhi’s largest crematorium, Nigambodh Ghat

Cremators at the cremation site, work 12-hour shifts, earning only Rs 10,000 ($134.43) a month, and they rarely wear PPE kits since it causes difficulty in breathing.

We need to appreciate the countless other front-liners, including doctors, nurses, cleaners, cremators, journalists, security personnels, activists, etc.

Whether it be spreading awareness or donating, we need to be recognising their hard work and showing our support for them.

Mental health during covid resources: 

For those living in India and Indians around the world with family and friends in the country, please take care of your mental health. This is tough, but keep hope. Here are some excellent resources to help you with caring for your mental health:

https://www.vogue.in/wellness/content/verified-mental-health-helplines-and-services-pan-india-suicide-helplines-therapists-counsellors

https://www.ourdemocracy.in/Campaign/covid19mentalhealth

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1I-90ogSH3S8hZHVCZ8T6BPzh8cB9XT-ykSLgZNytpH8/edit#gid=0

https://www.instagram.com/p/CNuhnsPJrET/?igshid=1flq3bm40z7lr

How to Help

Publicly Sourced Document for Mutual Aid

Sources

The Rise of Youth Led Media Organizations

POV: It’s a regular day. You’re scrolling through Instagram casually, as most of us do, when a post comes up on your explore page. An infographic from an Instagram account you’ve never seen before, explaining an issue you’ve heard about briefly during lunch with your friends, or from somebody else’s device in a passing fleet. It’s interesting! It really is. You tap the ‘heart’ icon to like it, even going to the extent of saving the post. As a reminder, you tell yourself. 

You leave Instagram for a while but upon returning, your explore page refreshes, revealing an array of even more infographics and text-filled posts, replacing the previously filled rows of memes, fashion tips, and influencers, containing information on issues and news you’ve never heard of. You click on a few of the Instagram accounts and come to realize they just all seem to have one similarity. They are seemingly run by… teenagers?

What Is Youth-Led Media?

According to Wikipedia, “Youth-led Media is any effort created, planned, and reflected upon by young people in the form of media, such as websites, newspapers, television shows and publications.” Youth-led media organisations have been particularly prominent on Instagram and other social media apps this past year in response to injustices, the want for youth voices to be heard, or even pure boredom from lockdown. 

A common misconception, however, it that youth-led media is something that is  “new-age” or has been present only in recent years, when that’s actually far from the truth. Let’s dive into a brief summary of the beginnings of youth-led media, shall we?  

History Of Youth-Led Media. 

One of the earliest youth-led media organisations can be traced back to the 1970s in Michigan, when a left-wing teen organisation called the ‘Youth Liberation of Ann Arbor’ established itself, their first article having been published the year before in 1969, titled “How to Start a High School Underground Newspaper.” Its primary goals were for student control of education, free development of youth culture, and an end of discrimination against youth, with emphasis on equal rights for all youth, environmentalism, and for an end to the Vietnam War.

In Spring of 1971, members of the organisation successfully persuaded the Ann Arbor city council to drop it’s curfew laws. During the academic year of 1971-1972, many other student unions were started in several schools around Ann Arbor due to its influence. 

Blunt Youth Radio Project | Current

In the 1990s, the movement of youth-led media gained further attention in the United States due to the worsening media bias against youth. The first online youth-led media organisation, ‘The Tattoo’, was established in 1994 and went online in 1996 with the promise of giving youth a voice. Some other organisations early in the movement include the ‘Blunt Youth Radio Project’, ‘Nang!’, and more. 

The Importance Of Youth-Led Media. 

From current affairs, to pop culture, to politics, youth-led media gives the younger generation a chance to express their concerns, their views, and their opinions; a reflection of what the future will look like when the young grow old and eventually step into positions of power. 

Youth-led media is also important as it allows news to be more accessible and relatable to the younger generation. As it can be found on common social media apps (such as Instagram), many youth-led media sites allow for people of all walks of life to be able to read about news, without regards to social class, education level, and other factors that may prevent easy access to news. 

The rise of youth-led media today has seen results of many youth becoming more socially aware on topics that might have previously been viewed as something that was not of our concern. However, the past year has shown that many deep-rooted issues in systems and societies are still as ubiquitous as ever and will likely still be around when it’s our turn to take on roles as fully functioning, working members of society. This has created a ripple-like effect, almost like a silent collective agreement that we should educate ourselves on these wrongs and do our best to ensure they do not prevail. 

However…  

With the rise of youth-led media, and the pressure to stay actively informed, also comes a wide range of negative impacts such as harmful effects on one’s mental health, the presence of performative activism, saviour complex, and more. 

Important articles to read as a follow up after this:

  • “The Youth Can Save Us, But Gen Z’s Saviour Complex Can’t”, Dylan Follmer for Zenerations, 1st December  2020
  • “Activism In The Digital Age Of Social Distancing”, Priyasha Chakravarti for Zenerations, 10th November 2020
  • “Is Constantly Reading The News Bad For You?”, Markham Heid for TIME Magazine,

 31st January 2018

  • “The Problem Of Performative Activism”, John Metta for ALJAZEERA, 20th July 2020
  • “Genuine Social Media Activism: A Guide for Going Beyond the Hashtag”, Ashley Reid and Katie Sehl for Hootsuite, 7th July 2020

Conclusion. 

    With the rise of youth activism, is the rise of youth-led media. Youth-led media has proven to be important in the rise of social awareness and accessibility to news, and provides a creative space for youth to harness their talents and hobbies. As long as everyone involved is responsible, as are readers and people who keep up with news from youth-led media sites, it can continue to be a vital part of activism and delivering news to many. 


Sources

  1. Azar, T., By, Azar, T., Lozano-Strickland, Z., Lozano-Strickland, Z., Shaw, A., & Shaw, A. (2019, November 22). Youth Activism in the Age of Social Media. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://www.nupoliticalreview.com/2019/11/22/youth-activism-in-the-age-of-social-media/
  1. Hefner, K. (n.d.). The Evolution of Youth Empowerment at a Youth Newspaper. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://web.archive.org/web/20001003102423/http://www.youthcomm.org/Documents/Evolution.ht
  1. The Tattoo. (2020, April 05). Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://youthjournalism.org/ensuring-the-future-of-news/the-tattoo/

Casey Grace

Casey Grace Lai is a 14-year-old of Chinese, Indonesian, and Vietnamese descent currently based in Singapore. Although she enjoys a bit of everything under the sun, she’s extremely passionate about activism, Literature / History, and musical theatre. A huge fan of about any music genre out there, music is an integral part of her daily life, as are her instruments. She is highly competitive, although her proudest achievement to date is that she can sing the entirety of several Broadway musical soundtracks.

greenwashing: are companies really being eco-friendly?

Have you ever purchased an item from your favorite store’s ‘eco-collection’? Ever praised shops like H&M for having an environmentally friendly Conscious collection, or saw a click-baity promo message in your email inbox saying they’re ‘going green’? 


Greenwashing 

/ɡrēn/ˈwäSHiNG

Greenwashing is a tactic utilized by businesses in which they create the illusion that their company is environmentally friendly.

Greenwashing is essentially a form of deception, as it conveys an illusion to consumers that they are purchasing economically sound products, when in reality, that is not the case.

*Literally* Using the Color GREEN

Brands Utilizing Nature Imagery as a Social-Impact Marketing Tool

Many big brand names and major companies are marketing their products with “sustainable” guarantees and “green” badges. These logos are often placed onto products manufactured without any kind of “sustainable” regulation.

  • Nestle’s “sustainably sourced” cocoa beans
  • Blueland’s non recyclable and non compostable “100% recyclable” cleaning products
  • All MSC “sustainable fishing” labels

These labels are extremely misleading, yet influential, to the public.

  • The companies that “assess” products develop falsely advertised standards
    • MSC’s “sustainable fish stocks standard,” which ignores that fact that the fishing industry as a whole is impossibly sustainable
    • Apple’s “world’s greenest lineup of notebooks”
  • Consumers are constantly mislead by these labels of “certification,” no matter how vague they appear (also look at the company/corporation who owns the company)
    • Seventh Generation’s “eco friendly” laundry detergent bottle with a recyclable container shell. The inside is still plastic.
    • Burt’s Bees’s “natural” makeup brand packaging, even though the company was actually bought by Clorox in 2007

“Hello, I’m Paper” – Goodbye, you’re actually PLASTIC. 

Innisfree is a beauty company that focuses on creating “all natural” products, one of which recently received backlash from consumers for its misleading language. The company’s Green Tea Seed Serum packaging states “Hello, I’m Paper Bottle”.

However, it was revealed that this “paper bottle” was actually plastic covered in a thick layer of paper. The company issued an apology for their utilization of greenwashing to mislead customers. 

An Example of Greenwashing: H&M’s Conscious Connection

H&M has attempted to brand themselves as a company that prioritizes the environment and utilizes eco-friendly practices. They have even launched a clothing line called the Conscious Collection. H&M states that they use clothing in recycling bins to create their clothing for Conscious Collective. However, this information provided by H&M is misleading; the company that sends recycled clothing to H&M states that only 35% of the recycled clothing that H&M receives is actually used for their Conscious Collective. The rest remains in the bins, meaning that 65% of the waste is unaccounted for.

Volkswagen released an ad campaign to debunk the fact that diesel was bad, and that it used a certain technology where their cars emitted lesser pollutants. The truth was revealed that Volkswagen had rigged 11 million of its diesel cars with ‘defeat devices’, which is technology designed to cheat emission tests. Federal agencies made the company pay $14.7 billion to settle those allegations, turns out the cars were emitting nitrogen oxide pollutants up to 40 times the legal limit. 

The Six Sins of Greenwashing

  1. Sin of Vagueness

The eco-friendly labels on products are sometimes so vague they have virtually no meaning. A common example of this would be products labelled as “all natural”; the lack of specific information  makes this claim meaningless. 

  1. Sin of Hidden Trade-off

In an effort to divert consumers’ attention from the detrimental environmental impact of their products, companies often emphasize how their products are eco-friendly in other manners. For example, a product may be labelled as “recyclable” to defer attention from gas emissions required to make the product. 

  1. Sin of No Proof

Companies often give eco-friendly labels to their products but provide no evidence to substantiate their claims. For example, many companies in the beauty industry label their products as “all-natural” but have no certifiable sources to confirm whether this is true. 

  1. Sin of Irrelevance

Companies tend to promote their product by claiming that their product is “environmentally friendly” but in reality it misleads consumers that are looking for eco-friendly alternatives and distracts them from finding a truly greener option

  1. Sin of Fibbing

Oftentimes, companies state that their products labelled as eco-friendly are approved by certifying organizations. However, some companies lie about this in order to mislead consumers. For example, various shampoo and face scrubs state they are “certified as organic”, when in reality, this is not the case.

  1. Sin of Lesser of Two Evils 

Products that claim to be ‘green’ and are true within the category but it distracts the consumer from the greater environmental impacts of said product. For example, organic cigarettes or ‘green’ insecticides and herbicides. 

Did you know one cotton t-shirt requires 859 gallons of water to produce, which is nearly three years’ worth of drinking water?

The fashion industry is one of the most notorious culprits of greenwashing and is seen in almost every large fashion corporation. As common as greenwashing is in fashion, it is one of the hardest forms of greenwashing to identify.

Consumers rarely see clothing explicitly labelled as “eco-friendly”. Instead, companies use more subtle tactics that range from “100% cotton” labels on a t-shirt or “made from natural materials” tag on a sweater. These details are so miniscule that consumers rarely think twice about an article of clothing’s environmental soundness, which is exactly what the clothing company wants.

How to Spot Greenwashing and make Smart, Conscious Choices as Consumer

Spotting greenwashing takes a maximum of five minutes; a simple Google search about a company provides a clear indication as to whether their products are environmentally sound.

When consumers first see a label on a product claiming that it is eco-friendly, they should do deeper research on it to learn whether the company is putting on a facade or truly committed to making environmentally sound products.

A quick glance at a company’s website or social media indicates whether or not they prioritize green policies. 

sources


https://earth911.com/business-policy/how-to-spot-greenwashing/

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/greenwashing.asp

https://zerowastecalifornia.org/2020/01/15/is-every-green-company-greenwashing/

https://www.ecowatch.com/7-sins-of-greenwashing-and-5-ways-to-keep-it-out-of-your-life-1881898598.html

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16754919

https://www.feedough.com/what-is-greenwashing-types-examples/#:~:text=An%20example%20of%20greenwashing%20is,while%20they%20were%20actually%20increasing.

https://www.theconsciouschallenge.org/ecologicalfootprintbibleoverview/water-clothing

Earth Day 2021: Origin, Gen Z’s Take, and Future Conservation Efforts

Earth Day Origin and Aims

Earth Day takes place on April 22. It is a day intended to inspire people to act to conserve and protect the environment. The 2021 Earth Day theme is “Restore our Earth.” This theme emphasizes the damage humans have inflicted on Earth, and hopes to move them to amend that damage. 

Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin made Earth Day an official day on April 22, 1970 because he wanted the issues within the environment to be addressed in politics, or at least by the media. 

Today, Earth Day is the largest observance in the world that one billion people every year participate in, to move humans to care about the earth, and change local, national, and international policies to better protect the environment.

Step up for Earth Day 2020 | GreenbizOn major Earth Day milestone, much of planet is on lockdown | Star Tribune

Mother Earth is in critical condition.

Mother Earth is suffering from global warming and climate change, pollution, biodiversity loss, among other threats.

Chart: 2016 Marks the Warmest Year on Record | Statista

Since the first Earth Day in 1970, the global temperature has risen 1° C (1.8° F). The warmest years globally (thus far) were 2016 and 2020. There is an urgency to stay under 1.5° C, as this point marks when glaciers in the Arctic will melt and submerge people’s homes. Other climate risks include water and food scarcity, insect outbreaks, and widespread poverty. The United Nations states that we have just 9 YEARS to prevent “irreversible damage.”

This warming results from people burning fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels causes more carbon dioxide (CO2) to be emitted into the atmosphere. Thus, fossil fuel emissions today will determine the future state of the climate, leading to the earth warming anywhere from 0.2° C to 4° C in the next two decades.

An unhealthy environment devastatingly impacts everyone, especially Generation Z and the future generations, who will have to solve the problems older generations have created and ignored.

Therefore, WE NEED CLIMATE ACTION NOW.

Gen Z in the Climate Movement

Gen Z grew up with climate change, and as of 2019, 57% of Gen Z believes global warming is the greatest issue of our time, according to Amnesty International. Gen Z directly tackles climate change through spreading awareness of the issue, striking online and on the streets to pressure governments to act, and individually working to reduce their carbon footprints. 

The first Global Day of Action took place in 2005. However, in 2018, Greta Thunberg, a 15 year-old climate activist from Sweden, transformed the climate movement by creating “a global attitudinal shift,” said Time editors. She skipped school every Friday to strike for climate action (and continues to today), which led to the Fridays For Future movement. Fridays for Future Digital strikes in the same way, just online for climate action.

The first climate strike and largest day of action was on Sept. 20 of 2018. 4 million people showed. In a week of protests in 2019, from Sept. 20-26, 11 million people from 150 countries took to the streets. The first Global Climate Strike in 2021 was on March 19, with the theme #NoMoreEmptyPromises.

Global Climate Strike could make history: What you need to know - Los  Angeles Times

What climate strikes accomplish is demand that governments act to mitigate climate change, such as by declaring a climate emergency. They have had impacts, such as forcing political parties to address climate change in their campaigns for elections. They also offer agency and hope to youth.

Other organizations that organize climate strikes include School Strike for Climate, Future Coalition, Zero Hour, Extinction Rebellion, the Sunrise Movement, among many others.

Social Media’s Role and Actions Within it

Social media plays a prominent role in spreading information about the climate movement. It is the reason that people know about events and can join together to act for the climate. Along with striking, there are influential opportunities you can take part in:

  • You can lobby Congress through the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a volunteer-led organization focused on the advocacy and policy fields of environmental activism. Opportunities include calling, writing, and tweeting Congress, training for climate advocacy, and volunteering as a caller for the monthly calling campaign. 
  • Emailing officials for climate action, combined with your personal concerns about the environment, makes a difference. For example, you can send a letter to your local representatives, senators, and governor to fund research to protect and restore blue ecosystems.
  • Sign and/or create petitions that advocate to make climate change a core curriculum requirement, protect rainforests, and ban environmentally harmful products such as fireworks, single-use plastics, etc. Currently, you can sign a petition at hsi.org/SaveRalph that is working to ban cosmetic testing on animals in the US, Mexico, Brazil, and other countries.

Youth Climate Justice Activists and Organizations to Know

  • Isra Hirsi (she/her): An activist from the U.S who co-founded and is the executive director of U.S. Youth Climate Strike. She works to represent everyone and especially highlight communities most impacted by climate change, such as black and brown communities.
  • Vanessa Nakate (she/her): An activist from Uganda who founded Youth for Future Africa and the Africa-based Rise Up Movement. She raises awareness of climate change and has led various projects, such as a campaign to save Congo’s rainforest that is undergoing deforestation.
  • Jerome Foster II (he/him): An activist from the U.S who serves as the executive director of OneMillionOfUs, which unites youth coalitions between racial equality, gender equality, immigration reform, gun violence, and climate change movements, and mobilizes young people to vote in their national elections. He is also the co-editor-in-chief of the Climate Reporter, a blog speaking environmental truths.
  • Mitzi Jonelle Tan (she/her): An activist from the Philippines who is a leader and spokesperson for the Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines. She advocates and works to amplify the voices of Most Affected Peoples and Areas strikers.
  • John Paul Jose (he/him): An activist from India for Greenpeace and Fridays For Future India. He has collaborated with organizations such as the United Nations Environment Programme and often speaks to how global warming impacts forests and ecosystems in India.

EDUCATE YOURSELF AND OTHERS 

  • Learn further about the causes and effects of climate change, and what short and long-term solutions there are. FutureLearn and edX are some sites that offer (mostly free) environmental science courses.
  • Keep up with current events. You can begin by following @cnnclimate, @intersectionalenvironmentalist, and @unclimatechange on Instagram.
  • Join a youth climate group to learn, connect, and act. 

REDUCE, REUSE, AND RECYCLE

  • Reduce your consumption, and when you shop for wants, shop sustainably. Good on You is an app that rates stores or companies based on how environmentally friendly they are.
  • Use less energy (or even better, at home, switch to using renewable energy), such as by streaming on devices less. Energysage has a list of influential and efficient ways to conserve energy at home.
  • Reduce your food waste, and eat more plant-based options. There are many vegan and vegetarian blogs across the web managed by nutrition experts, such as Fresh Is Real, Planted and Picked, and Pickles ‘N Honey

DONATE to or spread the word about climate justice organizations such as The Coalition for Rainforest Nations, 350.org, and Direct Relief International. Moreover, indeginous communities from the Amazon are currently battling COVID-19 and floods that the pandemic has worsened the impacts of. Floods have destroyed crop fields, leaving families to suffer food shortages. You can donate at https://gofund.me/e980439e.

Other Resources

Resource for coping with Eco-Anxiety: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327354#overview 

Articles: How to Stop Global Warming (NRDC), Why the Fight for Climate Justice is a Fight for Justice Itself (Landscape News)

Documentaries: How the Climate Crisis and Systemic Racism are Deeply Connected (Youtube), Environmental Racism Explained (Youtube) A Life on our Planet (Netflix), Kiss the Ground (Netflix)

Intersectionality in the Climate Movement

The climate movement has become increasingly whitewashed. However, it is necessary that BIPOC voices are centered in environmentalism, as it is often Black and Brown or low-income communities who are most affected by lack of environmental protection.

Environmental Justice

ensures that socioeconomic status, race, and location are taken into account when fighting for improved climate polices.

Indigenous people have cultivated the land for centuries, and it is in their footsteps we must follow in order to heal the land.


Sources

http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/modern/jb_modern_earthday_1.html 

https://www.epa.gov/history/epa-history-earth-day#:~:text=In%20spring%201970%2C%20Senator%20Gaylord,U.S.%20cities%2C%20and%20it%20worked

https://www.greenbiz.com/article/step-earth-day-2020

https://www.startribune.com/on-major-earth-day-milestone-much-of-planet-is-on-lockdown/569840532/

http://www.beachapedia.org/Plastic%27s_Impact_on_Climate_Change 

https://www.statista.com/chart/7744/average-global-temperature-since-1880/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/emanuelabarbiroglio/2019/12/09/generation-z-fears-climate-change-more-than-anything-else/?sh=724fc02501ba

https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/important-moments-climate-history-in-photos/

https://www.businessinsider.com/greta-thunberg-bio-climate-change-activist-2019-9

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/climate-change-generation-z-fight-cbsn-originals/

https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/climate-change-evidence-causes/question-1/

https://www.un.org/press/en/2019/ga12131.doc.htm


Written by: Jackie Vandermel

Why Do Cities Hate The Homeless?

A deep dive into Anti-Homeless / Hostile Architecture

What is Anti-Homeless Architecture?

Hostile architecture, known as anti-homeless architecture is a form of architectural design to prevent or impede crime and help maintain order. It is a trend in urban design that discourages the use of spaces in any way other than the intention of the owner or designer. This has existed all over the world in various ways, but the most harmful examples have come in the way of targeting the homeless community, an already marginalized group, many who look for a place to sleep or rest throughout the day. 

Examples of Anti-Homeless Architecture

Under-bridge spikes in Guangzhou, China
Residents have said that in the past, many people, including the homeless, used to gather under this bridge (the Huangshi highway) for shelter. However, through erecting these sharp concrete spikes, it effectively prevents the homeless from using this space for shelter, forcing them to move out.
Sectioned benches in England
Shelter England have estimated that approximately one in 200 people are homeless in England.
Rather than finding ways and pushing for policies to help the homeless, many areas in England have instead installed metal bars on the benches to section the seats or to serve as arm rest. But what this also does is it makes sleeping on the bench impossible – unless the homeless were to squeeze themselves under the metal bars, which is uncomfortable and poses a dangerous risk for them.
Slanted benches in New York City, USA
These benches have been largely criticized due to its lack of support, hindering the ability for those who are elderly, ill, disabled to rest in a comfortable position.
This thus extends to the homeless, in which the benches are go-to spots for them to rest and seek refuge. With this, many areas attempt to combat this by making these benches as uncomfortable as possible whilst still preserving its basic purposes of providing some support, albeit unsustainably. 

The Problem with Anti-Homeless Architecture

The increase in hostile designs found in public spaces shows an increasing desire to keep the public out of public spaces. One common argument is that hostile architecture aids in crime prevention, but hostile architecture often targets the homeless and indirectly harms the elderly, disabled, or ill. In California specifically, hostile architecture has gone so far as to affect almost all members of society. The removal of benches and the use of randomly timed sprinklers (that don’t actually water anything) not only interferes with the lives of homeless people, but the communities as well. When anti-homeless architecture is seen in a public place, it creates a systematic exclusion of those who are not considered members of the public.   

The Hypocrisy of Governments who Implement Hostile Architecture

Hostile architecture is one of many attempts to criminalise rough sleeping and serves to shift the problem of homelessness onto the homeless themselves – it averts our gaze from the real problem. Cities have become better at hiding poverty than dealing with the problem head on, anti-homeless architecture merely creates an illusionary solution to homelessnes, where are the real solutions like policies to help house homelessness and closing the large disparity in income. Governments should be adopting the “Housing First” approach to homelessness, getting homeless individuals into permanent housing instead of shelter surfing and shunning them away from society’s eye. The housing instability that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered is finally exposing the severity of this long-ignored social problem and can serve as an incentive for policy changes that many advocates have pushed for. 

How does this affect homeless youths?

Homeless youth are often victims of trauma, many of whom likely left their home due to familial conflict or economic conditions.  Youths who are LGBTQ+, BIPOC, parenting, or disabled are most vulnerable to homelessness, and possible exploitation or sexual harassment.

They are also particularly vulnerable to harsh exploitation, specifically in the forms of s*xual harassment or substance abuse.  Many homeless youth also struggle with mental health problems.

On a single night in 2020, 34,210 unaccompanied youth were counted as homeless. Of those, 90 percent were between the ages of 18 to 24. The remaining 10 percent (or 3,389 unaccompanied children) were under the age of 18.  50 percent of homeless youth are unsheltered. (NAEH)

Alternatives to Anti-Homeless Architecture that ACTUALLY help the homeless

Housing First”: An evidence-based practice that is not determined upon readiness or on ‘compliance’ (i.e sobriety), instead, it is a rights-based intervention that is rooted in the philosophy that everyone deserves housing and that a decent standard of living is a precondition for recovery. The philosophy is guided by the belief that people need basic necessities like food and shelter before attending to anything less critical e.g. getting a job. 

Investing in aftercare services: many individuals need support once they leave a shelter to ensure that they never face the same challenges again, investing in aftercare services that help individuals access affordable permanent housing and social support they will need. 

Selected prevention efforts: New research has propelled our thinking to make the goal of ending homelessness realistic however we are still missing the point of preventing homelessness from happening in the first place. Selected prevention efforts are mainly aimed at members of a particular group, such as school-based programs and anti-oppression strategies for individuals facing discrimination. It also includes programs aimed at individuals with low income.


Sources:

https://www.re-thinkingthefuture.com/designing-for-typologies/a2564-15-examples-of-hostile-architecture-around-the-world/

https://interestingengineering.com/15-examples-of-anti-homeless-hostile-architecture-that-you-probably-never-noticed-before#:~:text=Hostile%20architecture%2C%20otherwise%20known%20as,intended%20to%20be%20used%20for.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/feb/18/defensive-architecture-keeps-poverty-undeen-and-makes-us-more-hostile

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-02/design-crimes-how-hostile-architecture-is-hurting-our-cities/9498912

https://www.homelesshub.ca/solutions/housing-accommodation-and-supports/housing-first

https://shelterforce.org/2017/07/12/homelessness-housing-integrated-plan-new-york/ 
https://www.homelesshub.ca/solutions/prevention


Contributers:

Marinel Perez, Jeslyn, Adriana, Ester Ng, Keya Raval

Why Gen Z Loves Labels

Labels. We find them on cans of food, clothing tags, and our electronics. A label should theoretically be confined to a piece of material on a product that tells about said product, yet Gen Z still finds ways to label themselves. Gen Z likes to define themselves through style, such as finding an aesthetic like light/dark academia, cottagecore, kidcore, etc. Gen Z also likes to find things (seemingly) rooted in science, like astrology, and make decisions based on those things. While the idea of labels may seem confining, all of these labels and defining characteristics allow Gen Z to connect with others similar to them. 

One popular type of label comes from astrology: zodiac signs. Zodiac signs are astrological signs that are based on constellations that mark out the path on which the sun appears to travel over the year. You determine your zodiac sign using your birthday, which shows the placement and the kind of the constellations. It’s not a new phenomenon, as astrology has been around since at least the 2nd century BC. Horoscopes–which are related to zodiac signs–are predictions made based on star patterns and movements, and many members of Gen Z rely on them to make decisions. In a study done by Fullscreen, a group of Gen Z members were surveyed. 43% said they would make a big life decision based around a horoscope or tarot card reading; 39% said in times of uncertainty and instability, they would rely on astrology; and 29% said that they believe astrology is rooted in science. 

Beginning with millennials, personalization has become increasingly popular. You can personalize your skincare, hair products, and even clothes or makeup online. Being able to “personalize” your life experiences based on something that many of us feel connected to is fascinating and intriguing. Many large brands and companies are jumping on the astrology train as well. Twitter accounts, Instagram accounts, various astrology-dedicated apps, and even large news and entertainment companies, such as BuzzFeed, have seen the impact of the increasing belief in astrology. This increasing consumption of astrology content continues to impact how Gen Z makes decisions. It is appealing to many members of Gen Z because it offers a technical, “science-based” system that gives a sense of belonging. Understanding your birth chart may offer even more insight into who you are as a person, promising to give you something you might not know otherwise. 

Another way Gen Z labels themselves is by defining their style, often characterized by the word “aesthetic”. An “aesthetic” is a particular way of looking, which can be applied to many things other than clothes. However, clothes are one big way that Gen Z expresses themselves and their personalities through. Popular clothing aesthetics include light/dark academia, cottagecore, kidcore, bohemian, etc. Particularly on TikTok, Gen Z is showing off their aesthetics and sharing with others aesthetics to inspire them. You can find required items for a particular clothing style, inspirational pictures and ideas, and even color palettes with just a simple search. Room tours are also popular, giving the watcher an insight into how other members of their generation creatively expresses themselves. 

cottagecore and dark academia, two popular aesthetics

Personality tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (which can be found on 16personalities.com ) are also popular. It determines your preference based on 4 different dichotomies (Extraversion vs. Introversion, Sensing vs. Intuition, Thinking vs. Feeling, Judging vs. Perceiving) and groups you into 1 of the 16 personality types (INTJ, INTP, ENTJ, ENTP, INFJ, INFP, ENFJ, ENFP, ISTJ, ISFJ, ESTJ, ESFJ, ISTP, ISFP, ESTP, ESFP). It gives you insights on how you respond to situations, which can be especially helpful to Gen Z as they are all trying to make sense of themselves in the large scale of the world. In addition to the MBTI test, there are also many other personality tests available on Google. 

So, why is Gen Z gravitating towards labels? The rise of individual expression and the desire to be “different” than others has led to a rise in the need to identify their interests, beliefs, style, etc. Straight TikTok vs Alt TikTok debates are consistent with that desire. Specifically in the summer of 2020, it was considered “weird” to be on straight Tiktok, categorized by dancing, lip syncing, and pov videos. Alt TikTok could be compared to the Vine-like side of TikTok, filled with chaotic humor, inside jokes, with the overwhelming absence of verified creators. Although this was seemingly a small divide that was only important on TikTok, it also brought up the idea that people with certain interests or certain looks or aesthetics were not as “cool” as those with opposite interests, looks, or aesthetics. Although these labels can sometimes be harmful, it’s important to recognize the positive side of labeling. 

Labels also help Gen Z to feel connected with each other. Finding like-minded people who share the same interests, personality traits, or humor type helps Gen Z to become an open-minded, world focused generation, compared to the previous generation of millennials who seem to be invested in themselves. Millennials question the things around them, but Gen Z communicates amongst themselves in order to find answers, create dialogue, and even organize to promote change. 

Gen Z has grown up in an environment where climate change, political hostility, and social justice movements are common and often forefront in priorities. With the overwhelming weight of the future of the earth on their shoulders, having labels to lean back on offers them a chance to connect with others. By labeling themselves into categories, they can find similar people with similar interests to help them bond, especially in a time of social distancing. It brings a sense of belonging to those who may not feel as though they belong. The internet has used labels to bring Gen Z together and unite them by a singular interest, trait, or even birthdate. 


This article was written by Zenerations writer Adriana Layton.

Voluntourism and Its Roots in Neocolonialism

Voluntourism is a rising industry among the wealthy working classes in well-developed countries. According to a Thrive Global article in 2017, it garnered an annual income of $173 billion dollars. What makes this industry profitable and how is it detrimental to society? Voluntourism is a form of tourism in which travelers participate in voluntary work, typically for charity, under the guise of evangelization under God. People typically participate in voluntourism through short-term missionary trips which are typically a few weeks long.  Volunteer program organizations promote the idea of giving back to a community through improved local conditions. The target demographic for voluntourism are high school and university students, as most seek to acquire resume fluff, self-enhancement, and adventure. Of course, these students have a sense of altruism, but it isn’t their main motivation behind volunteering in poorly developed countries. Instead, they assist  these volunteer organizations in capitalizing on their demographic’s desire to “help” countries to exist in the capitalist market; everything is to make a profit.

This is where neocolonialism comes into play. Neocolonialism is the use of economic, political, cultural, or other pressures to control or influence other countries. It especially aims to form dependencies, and is often criticized as a form of late-stage imperialism (a policy of extending a country’s power and influence through diplomacy or military force). Modern countries utilize the voluntourism industry as a way to legitimize their standing in less-developed countries. In countries like Liberia and Ethiopia, they have never experienced classic colonialism and have become neocolonial states due to their fragile economic state. As a result, these countries rely on international finance capital. This new form of colonization exploits and controls the newly independent states of Africa and other African states with feeble economies. 

The greedy voluntourism industry encourages first-world countries to spend time in less fortunate countries. Volunteers participate in “feel-good” work and activities that seem beneficial in the moment but actually result in long-term detriment for the community at hand. Some of this “feel-good” work consists of working in hospitals, teaching English to the locals, or building schools. For medical volunteering, there is little regulation and standard training required for one to volunteer. There is also usually a language barrier between the physician and the patient. A word lost in translation can cause a misunderstanding that can potentially worsen the patient’s health conditions. Despite the altruistic nature of medical volunteering, it has raised concerns about the lack of public health and preventative measures that could cause health risks. Building schools has run into the issue of funds. Who is going to pay for the materials to build the school? If the school is built, will it even be built with great care and quality considering the time constraints of short-term missionary trips? If the school is built, who will pay the teachers? How much are uniforms going to cost? Where will the uniforms be made? How much is school tuition?  

For the foreseeable future, voluntourism is here to stay. However, mindful research can ease the harmful effects that may unfold. If you wish to volunteer abroad, here are the steps you can take to ensure you are easing your effects on the voluntourism industry:

  1. Recognize your motivation.
    1. Is it to provide health services? Evangelize? Promote personal growth?
  2. Thoroughly research projects that interest you and align with your objectives
  3. Find programs that cater to your particular skill set and experience
  4. Choose a program that promotes local self-sufficiency 
  5. Contact the program managers to gain more incite and learn about potential training opportunities
  6. Ensure that the project organizer is well connected with the community and location

Works Cited

Afisi, Oseni Taiwo. “Neocolonialism.” internet encyclopedia of philosophy, iep.utm.edu/neocolon/#H4. Accessed 14 Oct. 2020.

Matt, Darby. “Voluntourism is Neo-Colonialism.” Medium, 6 Dec. 2018, medium.com/@darbymm85/voluntourism-is-neo-colonialism-56b6a25f6924. Accessed 14 Oct. 2020.

Pariyar, Sujan. “Annual $173 Billion Worth of Volunteer Tourism Industry Is Enough to Make a Change.” Thrive Global, 16 Oct. 2017, thriveglobal.com/stories/annual-173-billion-worth-of-volunteer-tourism-industry-is-enough-to-make-a-change/. Accessed 14 Oct. 2020.

Smith, Megan, “The Cost of Volunteering: Consequences of Voluntourism” (2015). Anthropology Senior Theses. Paper 170.

Stein, Yetta Rose, “Volunteering to Colonize: a Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Impacts of Voluntourism” (2017). University Honors Theses. Paper 411. https://doi.org/10.15760/honors.410Walleigh, Rick. “6 Ways to Volunteer Abroad and Be Really Useful.” Forbes, Next Avenue, 23 Mar. 2016, http://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2016/05/23/6-ways-to-volunteer-abroad-and-be-really-useful/#517f57961bd4. Accessed 14 Oct.


Kim

Kimberly Haque is a 16-year-old, first-gen Vietnamese/Bangladeshi junior at South County High School. Kim hopes to pursue the biomedical field, however, she strives to advocate for social change through education. Kim is heavily involved in her school’s music department, taking part in its orchestra, marching band, and indoor drumline. She is excited to write and be a part of the Zenerations team.

Turkey’s Withdrawal From the Istanbul Convention — Women and LGBTQ+ People Need Our Help

What happened?

On 20 March 2021 (Saturday), Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan withdrew Turkey from the Istanbul Convention without any parliamentary debate. 

The Istanbul Convention is a human rights treaty designed to prevent gender-based violence against women and LGBTQ+ members, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators. It aims to uphold their fundamental human right through creating a life free from violence and terror.

Leaving the Convention would effectively deprive them of equal legal protections against abuse and violence they face everyday in our societies. 

Why was this decision made? | Criticisms of the Istanbul Convention

Turkey was the first country to sign the convention in 2012, when Erdoğan was the prime minister. However, some religious and conservative groups had began criticizing and protesting against the Treaty from the start, for the following reasons: 

  • They believe that the Convention harms and undermines the traditional family values as it encourages divorce.
  • It “promotes homosexuality” by advocating for the LGBTQ+ community

with the use of categories like gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. Critics see this as a threat to Turkish families. Hate speech has been on the rise in Turkey; on January 30th, the interior minister had even described LGBTQ+ people as “perverts” in a tweet. 

  • Turkey’s Family and Social Policies Minister Zehra Zumrut argued that the current judicial system is “strong enough to implement new regulations as needed” to protect women and their rights.

How does this affect women? | Statistics

The problem with Turkey’s implementation of the Istanbul Convention was that it was not even implemented correctly and effectively. 

Although the Convention was signed in 2012, thousands of women have been killed in the past decade; while their murderers are allowed to walk free and unscathed. 

Violence against women in Turkey has not been improving. Instead, rates of domestic violence and femicide have continued to rise. In fact, 2019 reported the most number of women killed in the past decade, with a devastating number of 474 women. In the next year, according to Turkey’s We Will Stop Femicide Platform, at least 300 women were killed by their male partners in 2020, with an additional 171 women found suspiciously dead. So far in 2021, 78 women have died from femicide. 

This needs to stop. How many more innocent women have to die for them to realise the problem?

CASES

Here are some recent attack cases:

  1. On March 7, a woman named Reyhan Korkmaz was violently killed by her husband in front of their four children. This was even after she had obtained a restraining order against her husband after previous violent incidents. 
  2. On March 13, a mother of three children named Husna was killed after her husband shot her five times.

Reactions:

This decision has ignited anger and shock amongst the people of Turkey, who have seen their country experiencing a sharp increase in violence and femicides. 

  1. “I don’t want to die,” – Okyanus Curebal
  1. “We can no longer talk about ‘family’…in a relationship where one side is oppressed and subject to violence,” – The Women and Democracy Association (KADEM), of which Erdogan’s daughter Sumeyye is deputy chairwoman. 
  1. “This move is a huge setback to these efforts and all the more deplorable because it compromises the protection of women in Turkey, across Europe and beyond” – Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejcinovic Buric
  1. “We live in a country that still doesn’t believe in equality between men and women. I think they are afraid of women, and of women being the equals of men and that’s why they withdrew.” – Ozum Buzoglu

Ways to help:

THERE IS BARELY ANY MEDIA COVERAGE OUTSIDE OF TURKEY REGARDING THIS ISSUE. DON’T STAY SILENT. PLEASE SPEAK UP AND SHARE THIS. THESE WOMEN AND LGBTQ+ PEOPLE NEED THEIR VOICES HEARD. THEY NEED OUR HELP.

  1. Sign this petition to enforce the Istanbul Convention in Turkey. Laws to end hateful violence needs to be implemented effectively in order to protect these innocent people and prevent more from dying. (http://chng.it/nmWNPWCjC5
  2. Donate to Purple Roof Women’s Shelter Organisation, an organisation that offers legal advice, counselling and medical support to victims of domestic abuse and survivors of sex trafficking. (https://en.morcati.org.tr/donate/
  3. Spread We Will Stop Femicide’s message of women being able to lead independent and free lives. 

Sources:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1828801/middle-east 

https://www.euronews.com/2021/03/21/protests-over-turkey-s-withdrawal-from-women-s-treaty 

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/03/20/europe/turkey-convention-violence-women-intl/index.html 

https://www.duvarenglish.com/access-to-turkish-interior-minister-suleyman-soylus-tweet-calling-lgbt-individuals-perverted-banned-in-france-news-56072 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/erdogan-turkey-istanbul-convention-femicide/2021/03/20/6f3b3736-897b-11eb-be4a-24b89f616f2c_story.html 

https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/council-of-europe-leaders-react-to-turkey-s-announced-withdrawal-from-the-istanbul-conventi-1 

https://www.kqed.org/arts/13884151/5-ways-to-support-womens-rights-campaigns-in-turkey 

https://www.kqed.org/arts/13884151/5-ways-to-support-womens-rights-campaigns-in-turkey

Two Meanings

My history teacher swivels 
her neck towards the audience,

then towards the board. We
hear only one crack in her movements.

Fitting for today’s lesson,
she says, pulling her sleeves past

her elbows. Fair lies on the board
like it’s expecting 

someone to smear it 
and rewrite it in a different font.

Fair is usually used two ways: 
an archaic word for beautiful,

an adjective to say something is just. 
The word fair has been used often in talking 

 about women. 
‘Protect your fair lady,”

where I’ve written this fair.
The problem is, Ms. Harlow continues,

we’ve forgotten ‘fair’ when it comes
to women’s rights. 

My fingers move 
to the center of my notepad.

Artist Statement

Seeing that this word is used frequently, I looked up the definition, as I knew it was a homonym, but I was not completely sure what the other definitions besides “something that is just” were. I discovered new definitions and read about some history of the word. That gave me the idea for this poem: a history teacher teaching about the history of women’s rights and the problems that still occur today. I ask myself how the definitions are so connected, yet there are still inequalities today.


By: Jackie Vandermel

From One Woman to Another, I Know You May be Feeling Scared Right Now

here is a list of apps, toolkits, tips, and self-defense tactics to hopefully ease your mind when leaving the house – even though we shouldn’t have to.

first, it shouldn’t be our responsibility to stay safe – the priority should be on men educating themselves to respect us.

Sarah Everard: new CCTV footage of missing woman emerges | London | The  Guardian
photo of Sarah Everard

However, – we know that now, in this particular time, women may still be hesitant to leave their homes, especially with the tragic passing of Sarah Everard, the staggering statistic of 97%, and the countless attacks on women that we hear about on the news.

To reiterate: this piece does not serve to place the burden on women to be safe nor make it the norm to have to defend ourselves from violent men. Simply, we are taking into consideration how women may not know of self-defense or helpful apps, and to assuage them on their feelings of fear and discomfort.

However, with men not being held accountable for their actions, women are living in constant fear and sometimes self defense tactics, safety apps, and kits help to alleviate that sense of fear.

SAFETY APPS TO DOWNLOAD

These apps are quick and easy to use with many features, such as:

  • Activation of the SOS alarm by touch or voice.
  • Automatic recording and live streaming of your surroundings (audio and video) to your chosen contacts.
  • Send preset messages and your live GPS locations to your chosen contacts who can track you in real-time.
  • Fake call feature to get you out of unpleasant or threatening situations.
  • And more!

Self Defense Tactics

girl wearing karate gi sitting on pink puzzle mat

Focus on your attacker’s vulnerable areas: Eyes, nose, throat, and groin for maximum impact. Don’t aim for the chest and knees. Use all your force and aggression – Make it known that you are powerful.

Consider taking up Muay Thai, Krav Maga, Jiu-jitsu, Judo or Taekwondo classes.

Use your voice. Be loud to intimidate the attacker and create attention in case anyone is nearby.

Carry protection such as pepper spray, a personal safety alarm, or any other self-defense tools.

TOOLKITS + PRODUCTS

Self Defense Accessories

@invisawear Safety devices disguised as everyday accessories. Double clicking the back of the charm will send preset messages and your live location to your chosen contacts.

Self Defense Keychains

@staysafeladies

@she_defense

@safebabeselfdefense

@fabulyssboutique

In the near future, hopefully these precautionary measures don’t have to exist – but right now, they unfortunately may have to be utilized until then.

Instead of constantly blaming the victim for not defending themselves properly, let’s look at the men who choose to project violence onto them. Where is the rationality in blaming the victims for the unprecedented violence THEY face?

In addition, it is not just women who have to fear being assaulted. LGBTQ+ individuals and those whose genders are marginalized face the same risks of violence towards them; women of color and trans women statistically face more violence. We must stop leaving the perpetrators of violence blameless, and collectively protect those who have a higher risk of being victims. Our activism must be intersectional.

ONLY advising women to stay safe is problematic as it transfers the responsibility for a woman’s safety solely on the woman, leaving men blameless when they choose to assault women. When did it become the woman’s job to do all the preventing and protecting? We shouldn’t have to be taught to defend ourselves against those who choose to assault us.

AT THE END OF THE DAY, victims SHOULDN’T BE BLAMED for their trauma caused by predators.

Instead of focusing only on how women can protect themselves, we need to also be targeting the root cause – the predators – because as long as they are allowed to continue, preventative methods will only shift the possibility of assault from one victim to another. This is more damaging than helpful as it facilitates female victim-blaming which can stand in the way of justice and aggravate a survivor’s trauma. The only way sexual assault will completely stop, is when there are no longer any sexual assaulters; women cannot stop it just by having the ‘right tools’. change the conversation from prevention to education.

This reinforces to men the basic morals of respect for women and their boundaries, including the importance of consent and the gravity of sexual harassment. We also need to improve the justice system with the implementation of legal punishments so that potential assaulters are made aware of the severity of their actions.

One key argument against the victims of sexual assault is that they “did not defend themselves properly”. This is one of many examples of harmful victim blaming.

Yet women resort to putting keys in between their fingers for self-defense and tucking their hair in their clothes so that it can’t be grabbed or pulled as auto-pilot measures taken when preparing for a walk alone.

Shocking Statistics

A recent survey from UN Women UK reports that among women aged 18-24, 97% said they had been sexually harassed while 80% of women of all ages said they had experienced sexual harassment in public spaces and 96% of women choosing to not report with the belief that reporting will change nothing.

A YouGov survey carried out by UN Women UK found that only 4% of women report incidents of sexual harassment.

Grass-root organization, Our Streets Now, found that 72% of pupils who did report public sexual harassment received a negative response from their school, with the majority of participants saying that no real action was taken, while 47% chose to not report incidents because they were afraid of not being believed or taken seriously.

Grassroot Organizations

  • Our Streets Now @ourstreetsnow
  • EROC (End Rape on Campus) @endrapeoncampus
  • SafeBae @safe_bae
  • New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault @nycalliance
  • Island Sexual Health @islandsexualhealth
  • PAVE @paveinfo
  • National Women’s Law Center @nationalwomenslawcenter

#notallmen is nothing but a distraction.

We shouldn’t be terrified of every man we see, but it says a lot about how society has failed to make women feel safer. There are more than enough men who make all women afraid of walking alone at night, because the media has shown us what men are capable of. This is not just an isolated, one-time incident; it is a global issue.

The #notallmen conversation is essentially a disrespectful distraction from the discussion women are trying to have on sexual assault. This rhetoric is a diversion of the conversation on sexual assault that lacks empathy towards the reality that women are unable to trust and feel safe around every man they meet.

By forcing women and victims to acknowledge the #notallmen issue, it seriously damages and derails the movement. Even the fact that #notallmen was trending higher than #saraheverard shows how it prioritizes the feelings of men over a woman’s murder.

As a guy, what can you do to make women feel safer?

Women often see all strange men as a threat when they’re walking alone. We know not all men are rapists, but it is hard to decipher who is a danger and who isn’t on an unfamiliar street. Here are a few things you should do to make women feel safer:

  • Take the time and effort to educate yourself and learn about the constant struggle and fear women go through in order to protect themselves from men.
  • Offer to walk your female friends home. If they say no, don’t push them and give them their space.
  • Keep a distance when walking behind someone, try to walk in front of them or cross to the other side. If you are unable to do this, phone a friend and casually talk to them to make the woman feel safer.
  • When in public transport, if the only seat left is next to a woman, make sure to ask if someone is sitting there and whether or not it’s ok for you to sit.
  • Listen to women when they tell you they feel uncomfortable around someone (even if they are your friend), and believe them when they tell you about their experience with sexual assault.
  • Do not blindly protect your friends who have sexually assaulted a girl, hold them accountable and responsible for their actions.

Self Defense Resources

Healthline article on self defense moves with video demonstrations
https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/self-defense-tips-escape#8-moves-to-try

Article on 15 self defense techniques
https://www.ideahacks.com/self-defense-techniques/

Active Self Protection Youtube Channel- tons of videos on self defense techniques/tactics 
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsE_m2z1NrvF2ImeNWh84mw

List of online self defense classes 
https://www.verywellfit.com/best-online-self-defense-classes-5075581

List of self defense tips + tactics based on different scenarios (also has tips on self defense for) 
https://www.washingtonian.com/2016/11/07/17-self-defense-tips-that-will-make-you-safer/


Contributers: Esther Ng, Elisabeth Hoole, Jeslyn Goh, Sophia Delrosario, Keya Raval