Malala Yousafzai – A Child of Vision and Bravery

Saturday 1411  – 14th July 2013

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malala

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Today I have been thinking about the marvellous speech that Malala Yousafzai made at the United Nations yesterday, on her 16th Birthday.  I imagine that most people have heard of this girl from Pakistan or maybe I am being presumptuous?

In October 2012 Malala was shot in the head, at point-blank range, on a school bus by Taliban gunmen because of her campaign for girls’ rights. She lived in the Swat valley in Pakistan, an area where the Taliban had, at times, banned girls from attending school.   Her father too was an educational activist and school owner so she obviously grew up strongly believing in the rights of everyone to education.  She made her first speech about educational rights for all in 2008 at the age of  just 10 or 11.

After she was shot the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility saying that she  “is the symbol of the infidels and obscenity,” and said if she survived they would target her again. 6 days after the shooting she was flown to England to continue the treatment which had begun in Pakistan and she has now made this her home, along with her family.  She is rightly credited with putting the spotlight on girl’s education, or lack of it , throughout the world where a quarter of young women have not completed primary school.

I will not write any more but will let Malala do the talking , something she does with great poise and power that belie her tender age.

If you click on the photo of her below it will bring you to a page where you can hear a short but powerful excerpt from her speech.  At the bottom of this post is a link to the full 17-18 min speech.

Malala Yousafzai quotes (2)

I’ll leave you with these words of Malala’s –

“Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.  Education is the only solution.  Education first.”

The world needs more inspirational people like her, or maybe like all of us because can’t we all be a little bit more inspirational? 

I for one hope she is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, no-one deserves it more. 

Malala’s full UN speech can be heard here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5X70VyjU0g 

Saturday Girl signing off, see you next week.

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You can find my photography blog Photomania here 

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Hypocrisy in our Attitudes towards Sexuality and Abuse.

Saturday 1414  – 22nd June 2013

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I am going to make a lot of generalisations in this post so be prepared for that. There will also be some language of a sexual nature so please be warned of that too.

Why do we sexualise girls younger and ever younger ? Who is driving this?

I personally knew a woman who used to buy her 14-year-old daughter a glossy magazine which was supposedly aimed at 18 year olds.. ( yeah right as if they don’t know it’s being bought by girls very much younger.!  )

The magazine was full of such articles as “How to give your boyfriend the best blow-job he’s ever had” and “How to please your man in bed” .   Yes you did read me right this was the 14 yr old’s mother. What was she thinking? Or was she thinking at all? When I asked her she said “Oh it’s all harmless stuff”

Is it?

At the time I used to see this girl and her magazines a lot and continued to be disturbed by the nature of the articles many of which were weighted towards the woman (girl) doing what the man (boy) wanted to give him a good time and by the girl’s attitude towards this.

Now I am happy to give a man a good time so don’t get me wrong on that one 😉 but as a woman who believes in equality between men and women I don’t think we should still be encouraging girls to see it as their role to please men

A couple of the most recent front pages contained these words “5 Super hot sex fantasies”  “Better sex is 5 minutes away”  and “The new sex position that works every single time ” . What is a 14-year-old going to think  and feel when she reads this?  Pressure, pressure, pressure I would say.

Some years ago I worked in the same office as the Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy Service, a team dedicated to offering crisis support and information to survivors of domestic abuse. One of the senior workers used to go into schools to educate teenagers about domestic abuse; the groups were all boy and all girl groups. Part of this consisted of giving them a little quiz to do to check their attitudes to things such as – was it alright to slap someone or be slapped if they/you did something the other person didn’t like. I remember her being very down about the numbers of both boys and girls who thought this was okay and even expected. 

Some Body Shop research carried out in 2007 as part of their Stop Violence in the Home campaign found this 

“The research showed that 1 in 5 teens (21%) believe it’s ok to tell a boyfriend or girlfriend what to do, with the figure rising to more than one in four (27%) in young men. A further 1 in 10 teens think saying sorry makes it ok after they’ve hurt or forced a partner to do something. A worrying statistic considering that on average, a woman will be assaulted by her partner or ex-partner 35 times before reporting it to the police.*

In our society today we are accepting of advertising which uses sex to sell anything and everything, we seem to want our girl children to grow up as quickly as possible, buying them make up and sexy clothing, even as young as 9 or 10. 

Add in to this the fact that many people buy their young children televisions and computers for their bedrooms and give in to them spending more and more time separate from their families, even allowing them to bring meals up to their rooms. Less and less family time and more alone unsupervised time.

Then as a society we seem to put our hands up in horror at the rate of underage pregnancy and abortion in the under 16’s. 

The reason I have been thinking about this is because of the recent case of the British teacher who was having a relationship with his barely 15-year-old student and was found guilty of child abduction and having sex with a child and has been jailed for 5 1/2 yrs.

For the reasoning behind this sentence read the judges full summing up here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-23005747 

I am suggesting we need to start treating our children like children again and allowing them to be childlike and joyous; discovering life, which includes the beauty of sex, in a more natural and supportive environment if we don’t want them to think they have to engage in sexual activity before they are emotionally and physically ready to do so.

Do we teach our children enough about valuing and respecting themselves? Their bodies?  About personal responsibility?  Do we empower them in this regard? Arm them with the tools to avoid abusive relationships?  

A further point, Jeremy Forrest has been banned from future unsupervised access to children, either through work or through volunteering, for having sex with an adolescent, this is actually called Ephebophilia not paedophilia,  but another teacher Geoffrey Bettley, a former Religious Education teacher, has not been banned from working with children. 

On his computer were 143 images of children – assessed at the lowest, level one, involving nudity and/or erotic posing – alongside a further 46 images at level three which had apparently not been opened. He was cautioned by the police and placed on the Sex Offender Register for two years.  He has not been banned – I quote :-

“The National College of Teaching and Leadership professional conduct panel found that Bettley was “guilty of conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute”.

However, they ruled that the child abuse images were at the lower end of seriousness and that Bettley, who had “shown remorse and victim empathy”, did not pose a risk and therefore could continue to teach.”

Although this caution will show up on future CRB checks, so it’s highly unlikely he will ever teach again, I am absolutely aghast at this decision.

Talk about double standards! Does this seem right to you?  I would have thought the potential for harm was even higher in this case although I acknowledge that I do not know the full details in either of these cases.

Right that’s enough for this week..Saturday girl signing off.. see you next week

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Comments always welcome, I love to know what you are thinking.

Links

http://www.womensaid.org.uk/domestic-violence-press-information.asp?section=0001000100150001&itemid=881&itemTitle=The+Body+Shop+survey+shows+that+teen+attitudes+are+a+time+bomb+to+domestic+violence

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10100387/Teacher-who-had-indecent-pictures-of-children-allowed-to-stay-in-profession.html.

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You can find my photography blog Photomania here

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