“Our lakes and wild rice beds will be here forever, but if there’s an oil spill, they will be destroyed, and Enbridge will not be here. They are a 50-year-old Canadian corporation, and we are a people who have lived here for 10,000 years.”—Michael Dahl, of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, on Enbridge’s proposed Sandpiper Pipeline in Minnesota (via resistkxl)
“To educate the masses politically does not mean, cannot mean, making a political speech. What it means is to try, relentlessly and passionately, to teach the masses that everything depends on them; that if we stagnate it is their responsibility, and that if we go forward it is due to them too, that there is no such thing as a demiurge, that there is no famous man who will take the responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people themselves and the magic hands are finally only the hands of the people.”—Frantz Fanon, Wretched of the Earth. (via marxwithanafro)
Mahmoud said the Israeli troops dragged him back into his house, blindfolded him and wrapped him in a blanket on the floor as they began to blow holes in the walls to use as makeshift sniper slits — what US troops in Afghanistan called “murder holes.” Then the soldiers stripped Mahmoud to his underwear, handcuffed him, slammed him against a wall and began to beat him. With an M-16 at his back, they forced him to stand in front of open windows as they hunted his fleeing neighbors, sniping directly beside him at virtually anything that moved. When they were not using him as a human shield, Mahmoud said, the soldiers left him alone in the room with an unleashed army dog who was periodically ordered to attack him.
A decade after leaving her home town of Skipton, Ruzwana Bashir finally felt able to return and testify against her abuser.
It was with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes that I read about the horrific cases of abuse and neglect revealed in the Rotherham report this week.
Much of the media coverage has focused on how men of mostly Asian descent preyed on vulnerable young white victims. The details of this abuse are awful. But what has largely been ignored is the report’s finding that sexual abuse has been systemically under-reported among Asian girls due to deeply entrenched cultural taboos – obscuring the reality that there is a similarly rampant problem of minority girls being abused by members of their own community.
I have first-hand knowledge of this problem. I’m coming forward to publicly share my own story in the hope that I can encourage others to do the same and help tear down the wall of silence that perpetuates further abuse.
I grew up in a small community of a few hundred British-Pakistanis in Skipton, less than 60 miles from Rotherham. When I was 10 a neighbour started sexually abusing me. Paralysed by shame, I said nothing.
At 18 I was fortunate enough to receive an offer to study at Oxford University. I was enthralled with the exciting new world around me and tried desperately to fit in. I replaced my traditional shalwar kameez with jeans. I bared my shoulders and cut my hair. I socialised more than I studied and became president of the Oxford Union.
An internship at Goldman Sachs led to a job in private equity in London, and after a few years I moved to the US to get my MBA from Harvard Business School. But all the while, I knew the girls I had grown up with didn’t have the same opportunities – and that my abuser was probably still preying on other children.
It was only after a decade away from Skipton that I was finally able to garner the courage to return and testify against my abuser. When I first told my mother about the abuse I’d suffered, she was absolutely devastated. The root of her anger was clear: I was heaping unbound shame on to my family by trying to bring the perpetrator to justice. In trying to stop him from exploiting more children, I was ensuring my parents and my siblings would be ostracised. She begged me not to go to the police station.
If I’d still been living in Skipton, surrounded by a community who would either blame me for the abuse or label me a liar, I’m not sure I could have rejected her demands.
Once the police began the investigation another victim came forward. Sohail described how he too had been abused almost 20 years before I was. Due to our combined testimony, the perpetrator was jailed for eight years.
Within a few weeks another young woman in the community, emboldened by the conviction, told the police that a relative had raped her for several years. It had started before Sara was in her teens. We have supported her through the process of taking this to court.
Although Sohail and I had removed a proven paedophile from the community and helped empower another woman to end her torture, we were not celebrated. On the contrary, we were shunned.
The Rotherham report cites a home affairs select committee finding that cases of Asian men grooming Asian girls did not come to light in Rotherham because victims “are often alienated and ostracised by their own families and by the whole community, if they go public with allegations of abuse”.
This was our experience exactly – and the experience of everyone I’ve since spoken to. In each situation, victims and their families faced tremendous pressure to drop their cases.
During our investigation it became clear that for three decades many other women had suffered at the hands of our abuser, but they had refused to testify against him because of the indelible stigma it would bring. I learned that the parents of at least one of the victims had known their child had been abused but had done nothing. We also discovered that the larger community had long been aware of rumours of abuse by my neighbour but had chosen to ignore them – even when Sohail had attempted to come forward several years earlier.
This refusal to condemn perpetrators persists even after their conviction. Soon after our case, another convicted sex offender was released back into our community and was accepted as if nothing had happened. It was clear that the same would happen with our abuser.
Much has been made about the religious background of the offenders in the Rotherham report. But this problem isn’t about religion race: it’s about a culture where notions of shame result in the blaming of victims rather than perpetrators.
Although painful to read, the Rotherham report presents an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for leaders in the British-Pakistani community to stand up and speak out about the sexual and physical abuse in their midst. The Asian community isn’t unique in having evil-doers, and the overwhelming majority of its men and women are good people who care about protecting others.
I am and always will be proud of my Pakistani heritage, but I firmly believe community leaders must take responsibility for the fact that the taboos that prevent others from identifying perpetrators and supporting victims enable further abuse. And those taboos must be challenged.
The report also presents an opportunity to overhaul the public institutions that have failed in their responsibility to protect the defenceless – which includes everyone from the police to schools to social services.
On multiple occasions, beginning when she was 12, Sara went to her local GP and to walk-in clinics wearing her hijab to get the morning-after pill. She was never asked if she needed help. When she approached the police to share her story the CPS initially told her it would not pursue the case because there was too little evidence. It’s a testament to her resolve that she pushed back, demanding a chance to seek justice.
The system failed her, just as it has thousands of other children of all backgrounds.
We now have the chance to change that, and there are four immediate steps we should take to address this problem.
First, we need better training of social workers and police to effectively identify victims. The Rotherham report cited that one of the reasons for the widespread under-reporting of abuse among minority communities was the authorities’ focus on communicating with male leaders, who ignored the problem. Women and girls need to be included in these conversations, and government officials need to broaden the scope of their inquiries.
Second, we need mandatory reporting by people of authority when they signs of potential sexual abuse. One of the most damning parts of the Rotherham report was that schoolteachers were discouraged from reporting potential cases. For Sara, mandatory reporting by doctors serving young children could have saved her years of abuse.
Third, we need improved support for victims when they come forward. Sara’s case has been drawn out for far longer than expected, during which time she has faced pressure to withdraw her testimony. She has been passed from one counsellor to another, and struggled to get the help she needs to overcome her trauma. We need a judicial process that recognises the cost of delayed prosecutions for victims and better counselling services.
Fourth, we need a single person in each community who is accountable for ensuring these and other relevant policies are implemented. There are a lot of people with partial responsibility for this problem, but for this to be an effective, coordinated, comprehensive response, we need one individual who takes full responsibility for ensuring child sex exploitation is addressed and who can be held accountable for real change.
Some of these policies are already being implemented. But they are not being implemented everywhere, and they are not being implemented quickly enough.
The biggest risk of this terrible situation is that once the shock of this report dissipates, it will get swept under the rug, just like three previous reports in Rotherham. We cannot let that happen. We don’t need any further reports: we need system-wide change in the way we approach fighting sexual abuse against children of all backgrounds. This is not a problem in Rotherham or a problem in Oxford or a problem in Rochdale. This is a problem in the United Kingdom. And we need to tackle it together.
In the words of Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [people] to do nothing.” Let’s not be those people.
Some names have been changed to protect anonymity.
“White people are not afraid of “white genocide” they are afraid of whiteness being de-centered from the very fabric of our society and no longer being held as the standard for humanity.”—Trixstra (via theracismrepellent)
The program begins with a conversation with Kevin Gosztola, who writes for Firedoglake.com; Gosztola recounts his experiences in Ferguson, Missouri, in the days after the killing of black teen Michael Brown.
Then Sunsara Taylor of Stoppatriarchy.org speaks from Texas about the continuing closures there of clinics offering abortions; Dennis Trainor of Acronym TV asks why even left-leaning media outlets dropped his report about Taylor and the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride. Finally, UK Guardian writer Nafeez Ahmed warns that at least two U.S. universities are assisting the Pentagon in creating data-mining systems to spy on political dissidents.
Ziad al-Rifi (9 years old) was injured on Aug. 21 in an Israeli airstrike near his family home in Gaza City which killed Tariq al-Rifi, 35, his sons Omar and Muhammad, and seven-year-old Abdullah Tariq al-Rifi.
The victims were watering trees in fields the family owned when they were targeted by two missiles.
The Ministry stated that Mohammad al-Ma’sawani, 22, suffered a very serious injury in an Israeli bombardment near al-Fairouz towers, northwest of Gaza City.
He succumbed to his serious injuries despite all efforts to save his life.
Also, an elderly woman, identified as Widad Abu Zeid died at an Egyptian hospital of wounds suffered after the army bombarded her family home in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Several family members, including children were killed in the Israeli attack.
We’re all supposed to be impressed with the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder parachuted into Ferguson MO the other day to wrap his arms around the local top black cop and get briefed on the pending federal investigation into the police killing of Michael Brown. But we shouldn’t be.
Sarah Algherbawi is a Palestinian citizen who was born in Saudi Arabia in 1991 and now lives in the Gaza Strip. She finished her BBA degree in Business Administration at the Islamic University of Gaza, and now works as a media project coordinator.
The killing and bombing is finally done. Yet I don’t think we in Gaza will feel like the war is truly over for a long period of time, if we ever can.
The killing is over but the pain of the missing dead is not.
The killing is over but the injures are not healed.
The killing is over but the houses are no longer standing.
The killing is over but our souls are not yet cured.
This is the third war I have witnessed in the last five years of my life. I wish I had never had to experience this, but it just happened, and all I can do now is to deal with the pain…once again.
My first experience with war was in my last year of high school, the year that is critical to anyone’s future. It wasn’t easy to go back to school and study again, it wasn’t easy to throw all the pains and bad memories behind my back and continue life normally. It took so long…but I did it, and I passed that year with satisfactory results.
The second war, I was a university student; I faced the same dilemma of not being able to get back to university and study. It needs an awakened brain to do so, and mine was not! It was full of dark thoughts and the constant question, ‘how could I survive again?’
This third war has been the most difficult. Now, I’m an employee. I have to deal with things faster to best do my job. I grew up, and realized that every time it only gets more and more difficult to accept and deal with such situations. This time, I think it will take too long for me to get back to life.
It takes too long to get used to the city’s new face, to not feel guilt every time we laugh, to not fear the sound of a door slamming…to dream of things other than death!
I write this, and I didn’t experience the loss of any loved ones, thanks to god, and I’m in a good health…but I can’t stop thinking of those who lost. Some lost everything and everyone, others lost their beauty, their vision, the ability to hear, and parts of themselves that can never be returned. They lost a life that they will never have again.
The war is over but to the survivors it has merely begun. I was jailed in my house for 50 days, it feels strange to deal with people again, to carry out the routine work we used to do…the simplest aspects of life are the most difficult now.
I didn’t experience death. But now, I have the belief that many things can be more painful than death.
For someone who is homeless, who lost the ability to walk, to hold a pen, to see the light, to hear the voices, to live with their love…for those and others, death would be mercy.
All we can do, all we have to do, is to try to continue, to heal our injuries, to heal our souls, our brains, and hearts…to heal the broken…and try to live, once again!
On the whole we have a severely underdeveloped conceptual understanding of violence. Failure to differentiate between oppressive violence, passive and active force, and resistance is common. They all get lumped together and treated as equal. This is a great disservice to the oppressed and our oppressors know it. They purposefully conflate oppressive violence with resistance in an effort (quite effectively) to decouple the oppressed’s natural right to self defense from the conditions which incubate militancy.
In part this decoupling is possible because we cannot always see the slow moving violence of the oppressor that’s right in front of us. It has been so thoroughly normalized that it takes on the camouflage of everyday reality.
Take homelessness as an example:
Aside from the fact that we can literally see it everyday, somebody, somewhere advocated for, funded, and made laws whose direct consequences proliferate poverty under the conditions of capitalism. This is perfectly legal, and since legality is the measure by which we have come to derive the moral value of what rules govern our lives, few see the inhumanity of institutionalized poverty and homelessness BECAUSE it is legal. It must be made obvious then that mass murder does not always require bullets — many do it efficiently with pens.
Certainly this isn’t new. From the constitution, with its “peculiar” dealing with slavery onward, injustices in America have been institutionalized.
We have to understand that this is where the violence is initiated. Reactions to it, forcibly defending ourselves from it by taking homes or food for our survival, no matter legality, by any means necessary, is the reinstatement OF morality in a system that is bankrupt of it. We cannot conveniently start the conversation at the point of self defense or resistance and call that the initiation of violence. Such is playing the oppressor’s game. It gives them the power to control the narrative and define our fight.