The government of the United States has the power to monitor your political activities. This video offers a brief explanation of how The Federal Election Campaign Act 1974 enables the government to track you political activities.
The Current Political Climate Is Creating Serious Inequality And Putting The Lives Of Vulnerable People At Risk
It has been interesting to observe the debate on welfare spending over the last few months and how politicians have used the current economic climate to try and bring the British public onto their side of the fence. A wide range of adjectives have been used interchangeably to describe welfare recipients, from those who keep their curtains drawn on working days, to skivers v strivers and right down to scrounger. The media are part of this narrative that has been unfolding over the past few months.
As words are thrown around to describe unemployed people, it is evident that Britain is rapidly turning into a divided society in modern times more than ever before. While the current welfare changes are applauded by those in favour of less government spending, the speed with which the reforms have been implemented is being opposed by others on the left, who feel the cuts are having a catastrophic impact on many communities and have led to accelerated inequality.
The current government have presented a strong case for the reduction of the welfare budget to tackle the deficit. The bone of contention for most critics of the current policies is that the manner in which changes are being made has created an atmosphere aimed at vilifying the poor and vulnerable. Many people claim that It feels like a war is being waged on the vulnerable and the poor.
Recently three disable people applied for judicial review to challenge the decision of the Secretary for Work and Pensions to subject applicants for disability allowance claims to tests which would determine whether they were eligible to make a claim. This challenge is a clear indication that issues regarding fairness were not considered when the decision was made to subject claimants to a series of tests. There is a strong feeling that disabled people were not put at the “heart of the consultation process”.
Most people with disabilities who are heavily dependant on these payments because of their illnesses which will never get better, feel humiliated and dehumanised. The negative way in which the press and politicians have handled the debate on welfare, has resulted in an increase in the number of disabled people being physically attacked or abused verbally on the streets. Charities such as Scope which carries out polls of people with disabilities revealed recently that there has been an increase in hostility and verbal abuse towards at least two-thirds of people with disabilities in the first quarter of last year.
There is a need to handle the current debate in a more responsible way that is not divisive and will not have this nation look back years from now, in shame at the appalling way in which vulnerable members of our society have been treated.
- Charity says too many claiming disability support (abc.net.au)
- Government admits it did not consider impact of welfare changes to disabled people (liberalconspiracy.org)
- Quarter of disabled people living below poverty line (abc.net.au)
- We are building a fair welfare state | Esther McVey (guardian.co.uk)
- Welfare cuts will cost disabled people £28bn over five years (guardian.co.uk)
- Disability cuts come with a dehumanising rhetoric | Frances Ryan (guardian.co.uk)
- New welfare row as 600,000 are set to come off disability benefit (telegraph.co.uk)
Figures released by the British Crime Survey recently indicated that at least nine per cent of women and seven per cent of men have been stalked in the last year. A substantial number of victims are stalked by an ex-partner who may resort to persistent phone calls, text messages, letters and unwanted contact through social media such as twitter or Facebook. The technological age we live in has made stalking even more prevalent and complex. This complexity has resulted in harassment laws introduced in 1997 being rendered inadequate to deal with rapidly changing technology thus making it an even bigger challenge for victims and those who work with them, such as police and other agencies.
New laws that came into effect in the latter part of 2012 which made stalking a criminal offence, were welcomed by those working in law enforcement. This now allows the police to provide protection even where has been no physical violence. The fear of violence which has been included as part of the stalking law means that police and prosecutors can take action where the stalker causes the victim to fear and make changes to their lifestyle as a result of the stalking. The new legislation followed “Clare‘s law” which came into effect after years of campaigning by the family of a victim who was killed by a man who trowelled the internet for women.
The progress made through the implementation of these laws that help protect victims of stalking and domestic violence, will help plug the gaps that existed when the only law that was available was not broad enough to cater for this digital error we now live in.
- New bill would increase protection for stalking victims (q13fox.com)
- The stalking cure: how to rehabilitate a stalker (guardian.co.uk)
Since their implementation the Section 60 Stop and Search orders have been justified on the basis that their use helps keep the public safe as well as tackle crime in general. The disproportionate use of these powers is however, worrying to many campaigners who strongly feel that the use of these powers damage the relationship between communities and the police.
It is no secret that figures show indicate that Black or Asian people are more likely to be targeted. Recently, the brother of the late Stephen Lawrence claimed police have stopped him 25 times simply because of the colour of his skin. This is almost as if the inquiry into the death of his brother which unearthed institutional racism in the police never even happened.
Stop and search without suspicion remains an issue that many people feel strongly about and perpetuates the stereotypical views that people in general have about people from ethnic minority groups.
This video raises interesting issues regarding racial inequality in the criminal justice system. The frightfully high numbers of ethnic minority in the prison system are worrying for many legal practitioners. A young black man is more likely to be in jail than get married or go to college. Despite the apparent inequalities in the criminal justice system, very little is done about it because it does not affect a huge segment of the population in industrialised nations.
Can a man really be a feminist? This question has been asked by many people who feel that championing women’s causes is not a manly thing to do. The idea that a man can be feminist makes people uncomfortable. The preferred term in most cases tends to be “pro-feminism”. It is claimed that feminism requires that one be politically conscious and even be an activist. Critics argue that men can not remove themselves from power and privilege, so how can they fit in as feminists. In this interesting short video, Condoleezza Rice shares her experience of being raised by a father who championed the rights of women. She credits some of her success to her fathers belief that women can be also achieve great things. Most of us who were raised by fathers who felt we deserved a good education just like our brothers, can relate to the message.
The stereotypical views that the public tends to have towards young people in Britain can be largely attributed to the way they are portrayed by the press. Selective reporting adopted by most tabloids to reflect public attitudes towards young people has created a distorted picture. The isolated cases of young people involved in anti-social behaviour can be over blown to create the impression that a substantial number of them are out of control and need hard hitting measures from the criminal justice system.
The numbers of young people involved in criminal activities are usually over estimated resulting in the presence of young people in communal areas particularly in deprived communities being unsettling for people of a certain generation, who often times associate the way young people present themselves with criminality. Certain items of clothing such as hoodies designed by major sports labels and predominantly worn by youngsters fuel negative impressions of young people as dangerous.
These widely held perceptions do not correspond with reality. Most young people are not inherently criminal but tend to form peer groups – particularly where parental supervision is lacking – in a bid to provide each other with some sort of social support particularly in the crucial years when they go through the hormonal stresses of adolescence as they try to figure out their identity. The presence of rowdy youngsters on streets where there is very little investment in activities that could engage them, amplifies police suspicion of young people. This suspicion has resulted in an unnecessary heavy handed approach using stop and search powers which stereotype young people.
There is, of course, no doubt that some of the young people who remain unsupervised for long periods engage in criminal behaviour organised by gangs, vandalism and sometimes very serious crimes. They adopt patterns of behaviour aimed at gaining status and being validated within the group.
Despite all this, a recent survey by the British Crime Survey showed that overall crime levels decreased and have remained stable since 2005/6. These trends were reflected in the official crime statistics which include offences recorded by the police. The media rarely focuses on these statistics due to the fact that the public feels that the numbers do not reflect their real life experiences.
There is the assumption in some sections of society that official statistics are unreliable because in some cases there can be a failure to report an incident because of fear of reprisals. The lack of faith that individuals have for the police who are seen as inaccessible, exacerbates the situation. There may also be concern that the police may not take particular cases seriously.
While this may sound simplistic, more needs to be done by the enforcers of the law to ensure that young people engage with them and contributed towards crime prevention within their communities. Alienating them by resorting to conflict policing has led to young people particularly those from ethnic minority groups being indiscriminately targeted by police. Improving the approachability of the police who could visit institutions of learning can have a positive impact and this can be reflected in the way the public and the media perceive young people.
- High expectations for our youth can help fight crime (stltoday.com)
- Youngsters still ‘feel unsafe in custody’ (morningstaronline.co.uk)
- Youth organisations benefit from £50m seized by Scots police from criminals (dailyrecord.co.uk)
- Today’s News: Warning from Northumbria’s new Police and Crime Commissioner over cuts (journallive.co.uk)
Over the years, numerous studies have revealed that secondary victimisation tends to be high among women, particularly those who are victims of sexual violence. This comes as no surprise at a time when recent statistic in India indicated that a woman is raped every 20 minutes. These frightfully high numbers are not just confined to India. In industrialised countries, sexual violence is much more common than people think. The numbers are equally high with rates in the UK indicating that at least 23% of women and 3% of men experience sexual violence as adults. This according statistics by the charity Rape Crisis.
The recent case of a young Indian woman who was sexually assaulted and eventually committed suicide because of the inappropriate reaction towards her after she reported the matter to police, shine a spotlight on a massive problem that victims of sexual assault face in many parts of the world. The insensitive way in which cases are handled by law enforcement officials often leads to survivors of sexual violence having feelings of re-victimisation which may replicate the rape itself.
The events in India have no doubt sparked a big debate about the institutionalised hyper-masculine attitudes that are endemic in some criminal justice departments, – in rich as well as poor countries – which lean towards “victim blaming“, and exacerbate the situation for women whose psychological well being has been affected. A good number of institutions are dominated by male values which create a climate that may intimidate victims.
The current problems are not just a law and order issue. Tackling endemic stereotypical views against victims of rape which permeate society and infiltrate institutions that provide public services is necessary. Many critics have argued that laws need to be backed up by leaders within law enforcement who model the right behaviour, a culture which reinforces the message that attitudes need to change and a criminal justice system which will prosecute unlawful acts. Institutional practices that place the needs of the organisation above the needs of the victim, get in the way of securing justice for victims.
Furthermore, numerous studies have shown that the use of victims advocates serves to ensure victims are treated with dignity. Safeguarding the interests of victims through the use of advocates has been known to empower victims traumatised by post-rape experiences. While it is fair to say that great strides have been made in some countries to provide support for victims, more still needs to be done in order to deal with the existing gaps. The importance of victims advocates can not be under estimated. Victims advocates often serve as a liaison between the victim and a variety of justice system departments. They help minimise the physical, psychological and emotional effects of the crime on the victim and help effect changes socially by educating the community.
Because attitudes which focus on victim blaming are intricately woven into the fabric of most patriarchal societies around the world, there is a mammoth task that lies ahead for women’s rights activists. There is a need to arrive at a concrete solution, that will bring about much needed collective understanding of the impact that “hyper-masculine” attitudes have on victims, who often regard it as not worthwhile to pursue cases because of a lack of support.
- Sex, violence and punishment (thehindu.com)
- VIGIL: Surrey residents to gather in honour of gang-rape victim in India (vancouverdesi.com)
- Sheila joins march demanding justice for gang-rape victim (thehindu.com)
- Court may suspend tainted lawmakers (thehimalayantimes.com)
- (Don’t) Rush To Judge Me (erikachristakis.wordpress.com)
- Rethinking damaging gender stereotypes (todayonline.com)
- Nearly 99 out of 100 sexual offences go unpunished, official figures reveal (metro.co.uk)
This video offers an interesting view as to why we must never be fatigued by issues regarding poverty. One of the panelists suggests that the key theme of the discussion should centre on the fact that poverty is linked to the grabbing of resources. In most countries only 1% of the population enjoy 80% of the resources extracted from mineral resource rich countries.
Large corporations continue to extract resources and engage in tax evasions schemes. Efforts by international organisations such transparency international to highlight the scale of this problem are ignored. The myth perpetuated by the middle class in developing countries – Africa in particular – that African is rising, is not really reflected in the daily struggles of the average person at street level.
In short “inequality is being created in the heart of affluence”.
- The impact of globalization on the Nigerian economy (udini.proquest.com)
- A Gross Deception – Seeing Through Inequality Across Poverty Industry Pastiche Politics (drndark.com)
- Inequality and Poverty America Style – In Richness and in Health by Graham Peebles (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
- NGO Report: Inequality at Highest in 20 Years (commondreams.org)
- Documentary-makers join forces to expose the evil of global poverty (guardian.co.uk)