Young people in the media

Young people in the media

There is nothing particularly new about negative depictions of young people in the media. Nonetheless, last week, Demos published a poll which found that 85% of young people felt their media portrayal was harming their job prospects.  Of course, the causes of youth unemployment are nothing if not complex, and, the “I blame the media” argument is fairly easy to deconstruct. However, a case can be made that today’s teenagers feel they are overly judged, criticised and ostracised by the rest of society. Disproportionate reporting on “gang violence”, “street crime”, and “teenage parents” are not exactly inspiring characterisations of young people are they? Bob Satchwell, the executive director of the Society of Editors, apparently does not think so. He argues that if young people look closer they would see “a much more balanced picture”, mentioning exam results and young Olympians. He would have a point, were it not for the fact that stories about exam success rarely stray far from stories about “grade inflation” and exams getting easier. Read young people are not doing better, instead education standards are failing us. Again, this cynicism is not helped by certain British newspapers who seem incapable of understanding that the sitting of A-Levels is a not a uniquely female pursuit. As for the stories about Olympic athletes, there is a world of difference between positive stories about a person who happens to be young and positive stories about young people. Simply put, the world of a successful teenage Olympic athlete is so far removed from that of a typical teenager; a young person cannot see a positive story about that athlete...
For Europe or Democracy? The Ukrainian Protests

For Europe or Democracy? The Ukrainian Protests

Two weeks ago the Reuters News agency showed pictures of the Independence Square in Kiev full of frost and sparkling with people. The number of participants has fallen in the last month but the Maidan protest remains strong in spite of the adverse climate. The European aspirations of the people are unlikely to be the reason. The struggles against anti-democratic rules and the 2004 Orange Revolution echo on the capital’s central square are an important part of Ukrainian recent history. Ironically in less than a decade the same setting witnesses the same actors involved. In November 2013 people protested against Mr Janukovych and his last-minute decision to back away from the EU association. These early events classified the movement as Western oriented and pro-democratic. Over a night Maidan turned into Euro-Maidan. The people in Kiev are not as passionate about the European Union as the western politicians would wish. Initially many social activists hesitated to join the protest. The campaign against Mr Janukovych took its massive shape after the 30th November when the police special units under the Ministry of Internal Affairs brutally dispersed students and female activists. Ilko Kucheriv’s, Democratic Initiatives Foundation survey shows that 70% of the people begun to protest because of the following rage. The support came from all over the country. Plenty of doctors risked taking unpaid holidays to provide so much needed medical help. A group of them from Uschhorod, Western Ukraine will face an immediate notice should they now decide to go home. The daily economic hardships overweight the abstract concept of western democracy. People at Maidan carry no clear idea of...
FGM – No Excuses!

FGM – No Excuses!

  FGM, or Female Genital Mutilation, is an issue that has been getting more and more media exposure. It is a painful practice that can have an impact on a woman’s health for her entire life. When it comes to government intervention, the issue becomes complicated. Many suggest that it is not the government’s place to interfere with such matters. I agree that often, government intervention involving cultural and religious matters can be clumsy and misplaced, or a thinly-veiled way of trying to get people to assimilate. FGM is extremely ingrained in some cultures, and we should not lecture other countries about how to deal with the issue. A gung-ho, imperialistic attitude that ignores the nuances of this practice won’t solve anything. However, when it comes to intervention within the confines of the UK, the law is clear: cutting the genitals of a young child counts as an infringement of their rights. And as traditional as it may seem, individuals in the countries where the practice originated are beginning to say there is no religious basis for the practice, which was an oft-used defence. So, why does it still happen? In countries across Africa, the Middle East and Asia (including Kenya, Yemen, Somalia, Oman, Malaysia, and diaspora communities in Europe, USA and Australia), FGM is carried out to make girls more marriageable, prove virginity, or to make the area ‘clean’. Why should a woman’s genitals have to be doctored in this way for her to be attractive or respectable? When the practice is carried out on girls living in Britain, or on British citizens who are flown abroad, it...
Should the Government stop FGM?

Should the Government stop FGM?

The issue of female circumcision has caused quite a stir in the public eye. Activists have come out calling for the government to ban the practice, otherwise known as FGM. Yet whatever your opinion is on the subject, it cannot simply follow that the government has unchecked powers, allowing it to enter the private space and make these decisions about cultural life. While it may appear gruesome to many people, it is a cultural practice that many women take part in throughout the world. Not only is the practice a personal choice for some girls, we in the West should think twice about preaching to others when we glamourise similar body mutilations such as plastic surgery. FGM is no worse than women who are so unsure of their value, they choose to transform their entire bodies, to become the “perfect woman”. Why is it, also, that the government does not protect men from circumcision? If we accept this for the male population why then should we apply this ban only to women, particularly if they choose to do it? It is not something that millions of women are forced to practice; it is something that is engrained into their culture just as much as wearing clothes in public is engrained into our culture. While I am aware that there are women in the world that are forced into female circumcision, my argument is that the women who electively choose to participate should not be stopped from doing it. What’s more, if people give the government the power to interfere with an individual’s life, then where does it stop? It...