Stories from Quick Reads and Citizen Media
Once the video of Ray Rice (the American football player for the Baltimore Ravens) hitting his wife went viral, Trinidadian diaspora blogger Afrobella couldn't get the incident out of her mind. “The video where he spits and hits the woman who would go on to be his wife, where he knocks her unconscious and drags her out of the elevator,” she says, “It’s enough to give you nightmares.”
She was also not impressed by the public's response, citing distasteful hashtags on Twitter that made light of a distressing situation and a general bent towards blaming the victim. The blogger, Patrice Grell-Yursik, expressed her concern for the plight of Janay, Rice's wife, and their daughter – but in her effort to understand her situation, she realised that Rice is one of many women stuck in the cycle of domestic abuse:
The more I [...] considered this story [...], the more I kept thinking about my best friend from childhood. Her name is Carys Jenkins, and she works as the manager of the independent domestic violence advisory service (IDVA) at RISE. She’s been working closely with women dealing with domestic violence for years and years. When I mentioned how sick seeing the Ray Rice video made me, she simply responded, ‘I see lots of videos.’
Jenkins shared with her the “cycle of abuse” and the psychological tactics women use to survive. The post also offered practical advice to women who may be contemplating leaving an abusive union, with the blogger noting that “one of the few good things to come out of this story is the sharing and honesty by people who have experienced domestic violence themselves [...] For anyone who’s stuck in an abusive relationship, please know there’s a way out. Please know that a healthy, loving relationship isn’t one that diminishes you as a person or threatens your health and happiness. You can break the cycle of abuse.”
Corporal punishment has, for a long time, been ingrained into the fabric of Caribbean societies, with some making the connection between the region's harsh colonial history and its modern day bent towards violence. In many cases, the recipients of such beatings are the most defenseless members of society – children.
In Trinidad and Tobago, this year alone, there have been two high-profile cases in which videos, one of a mother beating her daughter with a belt and the other of a mother repeatedly hitting a child with a shovel, went viral, prompting a national discussion on the fine line between discipline and child abuse.
Discipline, in its truest sense, is nothing more than an opportunity to teach, and judging from the findings of modern scientific research, you can't connect with children – or anyone for that matter – when they're scared, because the fight or flight instinct takes over.
In reality, though, it can be difficult for parents to walk away from old ideas, especially if the rod was not spared during their own childhood – which is why it was especially refreshing to come across this blog post by a Trinidadian father, living in the United States, detailing exactly how he came to change his mind about corporal punishment:
I used to think spanking a kid was okay – necessary, even. I come from a culture where it is accepted, even expected. I no longer think that it is any of those things.
If you think that a stronger, more physically powerful person hitting a woman is wrong under all circumstances, then you must accept that hitting a weaker, much less powerful human being is equally as wrong – if not more so.
The idea that ‘well, I got hit as a kid and I turned out okay’ is, I think, a fallacy. Because I think that if you think that hitting a kid is okay under [insert circumstances here], you, in fact, did not ‘turn out okay'.
Hitting a kid, especially a young kid, is pure laziness. It’s ‘I can’t be bothered to understand what’s driving my kid to do X so I’m going to revert to my base instinct and lash out.’ It’s lazy, and it is wrong.
I was spanked as a kid. Not often [...] but I got spanked. I love my mom, and she is my hero for how she brought us up – but on this, she was wrong [...] If I am half the parent to my children that my mother was to us, I’ll be an excellent parent. But I will never hit my kids. That’s one thing that stops with me.
Someone sure wanted people to know that he was thankful for Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé generosity. This week, a giant billboard was raised in Lomé, Togo that praised the president's action in favor of providing lunch for school children. The billboard seen below reads in french :” Thanks Daddy Faure for the children's school lunch“. Togolese citizens were taken aback by the message and its exuberance. They took to twitter to poke fun at the Billboard and create the hashtag #merciPapaFaure (Thank you Daddy Faure).
— Kelly Adediha (@KellyGeek) September 11, 2014
OK, how about some fun with the hashtag #mercipapaFaure ?
The photo above has been shared widely on twitter. Adzima provides some background on the state of the affair for the Togolese children at school.
As the UN launchs its peace keeping mission with the arrival of 1,500 troops in the Central African Republic (CAR), a few observers were wondering why it took so long given the extent of the casualties. Les Cercles nationaux de Réflexion sur la Jeunesse (CNRJ) is an NGO in Bangui, CAR that strives to build the foundation for sustainable peace in the country in partnership with the University of Bangui. Here is a video that illustrates the work in process :
Hu Yong, associate professor at Peking University’s School of Journalism and Communication, explained the issue at stake regarding China's latest regulations on instant messaging tools on Chinafile. The regulations forbidden public account holders, except from registered media organizations accounts, to republish articles on current events. The result is a highly selective enforcement of law as any comment can fall under the category of “news commentary”.
Teníamos estandarte y era un honor reservado para los mejores estudiantes de todo el colegio y solo tres: el que lo llevaba y dos a cada lado, que además quisieran quedarse practicando después de clases en la cancha de basketball el izquier dos tres cuatro.
Teníamos bastoneras. Las más lindas de cada nivel eran las bastoneras. Podían mover el bastón igual que las muchachas que veíamos en la tele y usaban uniformes de enaguas cortas y voladas, hombreras militares y sombreros de circo. Y las botas. Unas botas lindísimas con tiritas y botones dorados.
El año en que el Ministerio decidió imponer por la fuerza el uniforme único, nos advirtió que al desfile iban todos de celeste y azul o no íbamos. Fuimos, pero con el uniforme de gala que ese año se diseño aun exuberante. [...] Como resultado, nos castigaron por cinco años en los que no pudimos participar en nada, solo como pelotón común y corriente y, por supuesto, vestidos de azul y de celeste.
We had standard and it was an honor reserved for the best students of the whole school, just three: the one who carried it and two by each sides, that would want to stay practicing after school in the basketball field the “left, two three four”.
We had baton twirlers. The prettiest girls of each class were the baton twirlers. They could handle the baton just as the girls we saw on TV and wore uniforms of short skirts, military shoulder pads and circus hats. And the boots. The prettiest boots with golden strips and buttons.
The year the Ministry decided to impose by force the same uniform for everybody, we were warned that for the parade we must wear the light blue and the blue, or we shouldn't go at all. We went, but in our full uniform, that that year had still a lush design. [...] As a result, we were punished for five years during which we weren't able to participate in anything, just as a regular platoon and, of course, wearing the light blue and the blue.
She ends up with a nostalgic reflection about the idea of homeland:
15 de setiembre no me despierta la noción de patria, ya ni siquiera para reclamar una independencia verdadera. Apenas me vuelve aquella sensación de tostamiento e insolación, la participación forzada y un terrible cansancio y, cada año, dedico un ratito del día feriado a imaginar en detalle el farolito ingenioso que hubiera hecho y lo lindo que se hubiera visto encendido una noche de lluvia, la víspera de la independencia de Centroamérica.
September 15 doesn't make me feel the idea of homeland, not even to claim a true independence. I just feel again that sensation of tan and sunstroke, the forced participation and a terrible fatigue and, every year, I dedicate a little moment of the holiday to imagine in detail the ingenious lantern I'd have made and how beautifully lit it would be during a rainy night, on the eve of the independence of Central America.
As the Trinidad and Tobago government, in anticipation of national elections next year, serves up a massive budget, two political bloggers take the country's leaders to task.
Afra Raymond, whose blog keeps a close eye on politics, corruption and transparency, provided some disturbing financial context:
The Minister of Finance has just met cynical expectations by announcing Trinidad & Tobago’s largest-ever budget for 2015, with estimated revenue of $60.351 Billion in support of estimated expenditure of $64.664 Billion. This expenditure is $4.313 Billion more than the expected revenue, with 2015 being the sixth consecutive year of deficit budgets with a nominal total of just under $34 Billion in excess expenditure in that period.
While Raymond was not surprised at the “high-stakes election budget”, he maintained that there were a few key issues to be considered – the importance of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property law being passed, the government's exclusion of a billion dollar water recycling project in the country's accounts, continued ambiguity about the specific output of the state housing programme and the issue of campaign finance reform, to name a few.
Over at This Beach Called Life, the blogger had additional concerns, such as the intolerable traffic situation between south and north Trinidad (most corporate offices and state agencies are concentrated in the island's capital, Port of Spain, with nothing being done to alleviate the problem), as well as the government's latest controversial crime-fighting gimmick, the purchase of armoured vehicles that has been one of the hot topics of discussion on social media, with many netizens getting the sense that the concept of community policing has been traded for an approach that could potentially endanger civilians. The blogger summed up the situation this way:
Naturally, Kamla’s [Persad-Bissessar, the Prime Minister] amusing and often childish sounding chant ‘serve the people, serve the people, serve the people’ can no longer be heard as the Government buys fifty two armored vehicles to ‘blow up the people’ should they step out of line. Are we a nation on the verge of revolt?
Yes, a revolt might be near simply because when the Government [...] removes the unsustainable subsides on gasoline, water, electricity [...] all hell will break loose in paradise and whether party financiers get their contracts and the appropriate kickbacks paid will be the least of the Government’s concerns.
The Bogotá Humana female cycling team's uniform has been the target of criticism and jokes because of its unfortunate color scheme that gives the illusion of a nude body. The red and yellow uniform, to be word at the road bicycle race Giro di Toscana, contains a beige strip that goes from the waist to the groin.
Twitter users have commented on the uniform:
— NOE (@soylanoemi) septiembre 15, 2014
Interesting Colombian female cyclist uniform.
Para los uniformes de las ciclistas colombianas, le tomaron una foto a cada una o usaron una cuca genérica?
— Federica Bertorelli (@fede_bertorelli) septiembre 15, 2014
For the uniforms of the female Colombian cyclists, did they take a picture for each one or a generic pussy was used?
Asombra la reacción ante el uniforme de las ciclistas colombianas. El escándalo es mundial. No están desnudas, no sean tan morbosos.
— Elsy Rosas Crespo (@ensayista) septiembre 15, 2014
The reaction to the uniform of Colombian cyclists is astonishing. The scandal is global. They are not naked, don't be that lurid.
The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) was a commission of inquiry mandated to investigate the facts and circumstances which led to the bloody civil war in Sri Lanka. After an 18-month inquiry, the commission submitted its report to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa almost three years ago, on 15 November 2011. The Sri Lankan citizen journalism website Groundviews recently posted an infographic released by Center For Policy Alternatives, a think tank, showing the slow progress of implementing the LLRC's recommendations.
It is noteworthy how Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe in March 2013 claimed that 99% of the LLRC Action Plan had been implemented, with President Rajapaksa claiming in May 2014 that only 30% had been implemented. These discrepancies highlight the lack of clarity across the GoSL [Government of Sri Lanka] on reconciliation efforts.
At the estuary of Moche river in the northern Peruvian province of Trujillo, members of the NGO Corazones Bondadosos (Generous Hearts) fed more than 400 pelicans with fresh fish to prevent their starvation.
— Jota Rosado (@jotarosadol) septiembre 7, 2014
Collective ‘Corazones Bondadosos’ (Generous Hearts) feeds pelicans in Trujillo. Noble gesture. They ask authorities to support them.
— laindustria.pe (@weblaindustria) septiembre 1, 2014
Dead pelicans are a health hazard.
In late August, about 120 dead pelicans were buried at the beach Las Delicias, located in the same area. They were buried six feet under the sand and then covered with lime to prevent potential illnesses.