The enemy within

Today was a black day for France and journalism.

The cold-blooded, unexpected and unprovoked killing of cartoonists at the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and two police officers, has stunned the nation. Such a bold attack by men who spoke fluent French and are thought to be French natives has reiterated a fear in the West – how do you deal with the enemy within?

Admittedly, I appreciate the frustration satire can evoke. As a Sikh, if one of my Guru’s was mocked in satirical animation, I would be angry. But not to the extent that I would condone revenge attacks, let alone murder!

As a journalist, I am fully in support of freedom of speech. Journalism has no bounds in creativity and producing thought-provoking material. And even if you don’t agree with what is being published, nobody deserves to be killed for satire.

The motivation of the attack has been to intimidate the media and to shackle freedom of speech. Ironically, I believe it has only strengthened journalistic prowess and determination. The mass support for Charlie Hebdo the world over is testament to this.

Journalists have long been attacked, ridiculed and hated. As such, they’re probably seen in the same light as politicians. But one thing is for sure, if there were no journalists (and I’m not saying they’re all honourable but I believe the majority are) how would we hold people to account? How would we learn about news the world over? How would we gain different perspectives of an argument? How would we educate and be provoked to think?

One thing is for sure – fear of terrorism is at its peak. Acts of terror range from mass scale, such as 9/11, which shook the world and transformed travel protocol, to amateur attacks by individuals who go on an angry rampage, such as the recent case in Canada. In between, there are calculated, well-planned acts involving sophisticated weaponry, such as the attack today.

I doubt Paris will sleep tonight in fear of the attackers who are on the run. Crucially, will they attack again? Moreover, will there be reprisal attacks on French Muslims who have nothing to do with this but may be scapegoated in this so-called jihadi war.

Yet, when I went to Paris last year I admired the multicultural mix of the city. People of all faiths, practising and non-practising, were living in solidarity. I hate to think how fear and anger from today’s events will impact the otherwise peaceful people of Paris.

Could journalism come to the rescue to prevent further social upheaval? After all, the pen is mightier than the sword.

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Will women ever receive equal footing to men?

A certain video has gone viral in the last week and been the talk of South Asians across the world. The video in question features a particular ‘Deepeh’ and his friend who have received heroic status on social media. The woman in the video, on the other hand, has been branded a slut. All three participated in the same act so why the stark contrast in how they are being judged by society?

It absolutely sickens me that the guy who filmed the intimate liaison in a hotel room decided to share it online. Allegedly the girl had no idea he was going to do this. Personally, I believe it was naïve and downright stupid of her to allow any kind of filming to go on. Let’s face it, when it comes to sexual photos or videos it’s not long before they’re leaked, be it deliberately or not.

But this chap shared the video online himself. He was gloating with pride at his actions – a shame he doesn’t realise he is possibly the scariest thing I have ever had the misfortune of witnessing!

I’m no one to judge what people get up to behind closed doors. In fact you’d be surprised at what the most innocent looking on the streets could get up to in the privacy of the bedroom. But keep it private. Why share it? And that too in the age of the internet where videos can go viral worldwide in minutes?

Apart from the stupidity of the three involved in the making of the video, the biggest shock has been the reaction of people online. Overnight, Deepeh and his mate have become idols and gained kudos. However, the woman has been identified, her identity shared and she has been slaughtered with taunts that would scar her and her family forever.

in the 21st Century, where equality is seen as a basic human right and most people in the developed Western world are literate (or at least received some sort of schooling) I am stunned at the sexist, patriarchal and chauvinist views that are rife in men AND women. And these are no different to views shared by social media users in the East.

So it seems no matter whether you’re from the developing or developed world, views and opinions on the equality of women have failed to evolve.

Will women ever be considered equal to men? Will they always be accused of dishonour and shame when there is always a man involved as well but he will escape being a social scapegoat?

I recently wrote about whether women are to blame for sexual attacks, which is commonly thought in South Asia. But this week’s viral video proves the opinion is widespread the world over, regardless of socio-economic status, education or exposure to the modern world.

For a guy to share such a video and gloat – what does that say about his upbringing? His lack of respect for women must’ve been nurtured and not nature because not all men are like that. I wonder how he would feel if his sister was exposed in such a way.

It amazes me that people will take drastic actions like sharing intimate videos online, without considering the consequences. It’s not just the three involved that have been affected. Imagine what the families of each of them must be going through.

Thankfully, a recent legislation has made it illegal for revenge porn to be shared. Hopefully, this will be a deterrent for bitter or jealous ex-lovers to expose their past partners when they were intimate.

Unless you’re a Kim Kardashian who has no route to fame other than a sex video, I’m sure no woman would want her private life branded as entertainment and to be judged by a prejudiced society.

New Year, new start…or is it?

Over the festive period there is a build-up of excitement – Christmas, holidays and the New Year. We talk of new resolutions and fresh starts, but do we actually turn a new leaf or drag the past with us?

I’m a firm believer in positivity – negative attitudes are such a turn-off. But even I find it difficult to let go of some past experiences that have hurt or angered me. I try to see the positive in every situation. I seek to find what I have gained or learnt from an experience that would otherwise be seen as upsetting or sad. But is it human nature to cling on to some aspects of the past even when you know it’s best not to?

I’m short tempered – which a lot of you reading this may have experienced the wrath of (!) but a lot of the time I lose it when I am passionate about something. Granted, that’s not the best excuse to justify my anger but I’d rather be passionate than indifferent or unenthusiastic.

This outburst often occurs when I haven’t let go of a situation that has evoked negative emotion. I think many girls are guilty of this (and many guys but they have a different way of expressing it). Us ladies fall foul of not raising concerns at the time and let them simmer at the back of our minds. Over time, these thoughts are exacerbated by other situations, which may or may not be relevant but by that point we have reached an irrational state of mind because of the overflow of simmering thoughts.

It sounds ridiculous and easily avoidable. All you have to do is speak your mind, communicate and explain your feelings rather than boiling up internally. But so many of us do it I can’t help but wonder whether its human nature.

Maybe we do it so not to hurt another person’s feelings (which is ironic because ultimately an outburst will hurt the other person anyway). Maybe we do it because we’re too lazy or afraid to have the conversation or consider the consequences. Or maybe we just ignore it thinking time will heal.

The fact is things can only change for the better if we take action. We can only turn over a new leaf if we make the effort. There can only be a new start if we communicate our feelings.

I’m hoping 2015 will be the year where I put these words into action and either let go of my thoughts with conversation, or let go of them altogether.

Who would’ve thought Disney could pen lyrics that could affect all ages!

Let it go, let it go…

Happy New Year!