As a French citizen studying in the UK, encounters with migrants while traveling across the English Channel have become a regular experience. Whether you take the Eurostar from Calais to Dover or the boat from Ouistreham to Portsmouth, you cannot ignore the reality of their situation, especially during the pandemic. One memory will always remain with me: I arrived by car at the harbour of Ouistreham when suddenly a group of migrants started chasing after the lorry ahead of us. They tried to jump on it and, unsuccessfully, attempted to open the back door of the lorry. This shocked me and at that moment I felt privileged. I had a passport and the right to legally cross the border. Meanwhile, they were illegal immigrants attempting something incredibly dangerous to be able to lead a better life. I was unable to help them and felt embarrassed that this was happening in a European country like France. But this is the reality of the lives of many migrants attempting to cross the borders to European countries.Continue reading “European waters and migration during the pandemic”
These past few weeks, Facebook has been showing off its firepower in a battle with the Australian government. On the morning of Thursday 18th February, Australians woke up to a Facebook with no news sources. Australian and international news sources on Facebook, including certain government websites, were blocked to users in the country, as well as Australian news outlets’ profiles being blocked for international users.
This overnight wipe-out was a protest from the social media giant against the News Media Bargaining Code. This bill would require digital platforms, including social media and search engines, to pay news outlets for the news content they host on their site. This move follows attempts to revive journalism with the purpose of counteracting misinformation online and its interference in democratic processes around the world, which have ultimately led to much polarisation and the discrimination and exclusion of many groups.
This article will outline Facebook’s response and the consequences of the event’s actions, followed by policy recommendations for the United Kingdom in light of this and the growing impact of fast-spreading falsehoods online in our own country.Continue reading “Fake News Legislation: Lessons Learnt from the Facebook News Ban on Australia”
The Covid-19 crisis, which has rapidly spread across the globe, has now exceeded 50 million confirmed cases in 190 countries and more than 1.2 million deaths. This pandemic has not been selective in who it targets, but rather, has had an unprecedented effect on the lives of almost every single human being.
As the UK exits its second national lockdown, complaints have repeatedly been raised about the harmful consequences of a singular focus on the virus, with people questioning why the all-important side effects of a lockdown have not received the same attention. Though the protection of the physical health of individuals remains a priority of most governments, there are accompanying side-effects of a lockdown which can also be disastrous and need to be acknowledged. One such side effect is the impact that the pandemic has had on the mental deterioration of young adults. Based on these findings, I will consider some policy and practice recommendations which can help governments, schools and universities to better address the mental challenges facing young people today.Continue reading “A Pandemic in itself? The Mental Health Crisis of Covid-19”
For centuries, mining has been an important economic activity for the generation of wealth in Peru. Since the mid-2000s, the commodity boom – which involved the rise of metal prices at a global level – has enhanced the relevance of mining activities within the national economy, representing about 15% of the annual GDP. This has translated to an average 5.5% economic growth rate during these last two decades. Rather than facing the resource trap – whereby countries that depend on an abundance of natural resources may experience economic contraction due to international market price volatility – Peru took advantage of the favourable economic conditions. It partly used that wealth to foster sustainable development and improve living standards around mining areas. However, the socioeconomic benefits, such as “reducing poverty in half and improving income distribution” have been limited mainly because of the government’s systemic mismanagement of resources. The continuous growth of the informal economy and the rise of illicit economic activity, such as the illegal extraction and export of gold, the below-standards working conditions, and the impairing of water quality in rivers near mining areas, has demonstrated the government apparatus’ inability to adapt and respond with effective measures to ensure wealth redistribution and sustainability.Continue reading “Can mining corporations promote socio-economic development in Peru?”
When you tell people about the British tax system they don’t think it’s fair. Of course that’s true with respect to multi-nationals like Google, using legal loopholes to pay tiny taxes on their profits. But it’s also true when it comes to the balance of tax between rich, middling and poor families. Continue reading “Argue with an Academic: Andrew Harrop on the Abolition of Inheritance Tax”
The year of 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of the Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) under the auspices of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). TRIPS came into being and faced controversies since its early years. The impact of TRIPS on access to medicines and innovation has triggered international activism and resistance, especially from developing countries. Essentially, medicines that were once excluded from patent protection in many countries are now subject to patenting as required by TRIPS. Continue reading “Argue with an Academic: Yuan Qiong Hu on Access to Medication”
FGM. Three letters that have a power to send chills down any spine. It is incomprehensible that someone else could choose to excise a part of a human body, a piece of flesh, and someone’s womanhood.
Also known as female circumcision, FGM involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, ie clitoridectomy and infibulation. Mainly preponderant throughout Africa, but also in the Middle East and Asia, it also occurs on our doorstep due to the constant migrations of vulnerable populations to Europe, in particular asylum seekers and refugees. The girls at risk can be as young as the age of 5. This is not a medical procedure: it has no health benefits. Neither does it stem from any religious beliefs. The justification for this procedure is solely cultural.
So why am I writing about this? Does it affect us? You and I are privileged to be in a position where it is our prerogative to speak out on behalf of those who have no voice. Freedom of speech is not a luxury – we own it. We have a power to raise awareness and protect our equals in this world. These cultures can seem worlds away from ours, which may marginalize the issue. Furthermore FGM is not always a priority and comes second to so many other forms of violence. Although strategies and conventions have focused on this cruelty, the fact remains, that according to the WHO, over 125 million girls and women in the world at this moment have been cut and numbers are perpetually increasing. Having access to this knowledge, how can we remain passive?
Before attacking this custom and banning it, it is important to understand why it prevails, as it is difficult to persuade those who uphold and carry out this practice to uproot a deeply entrenched custom overnight. It is still a sensitive topic in many countries, and one that must be addressed with prudence and diplomacy.
For the parents who submit their child to FGM, it may not be considered harmful, an assault or a violation. It is the belief that this is what must be done as a rite of passage to allow a girl to transition to womanhood (cultural and gender identity) or to prevent her from tendencies such as promiscuity or sexual deviation. It is seen as part of a “cleansing process”, to hinder bodily secretions and odours accompanied with maturity. Moreover, it is a means to ensure the purity of the female when presenting her to potential partners. These may be considered as protective measures, but the essence is that it remains a violation of human and women’s rights (it contravenes the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child), the right to life, physical integrity and health.
The social convention theory illustrates how it has become the norm to carry out this practice on girls without their consent, or their realisation of the potential future impact on their lives. This is thus the challenge: to convince not just a minority of the population, be they male or female, to break free from the social norm, but to educate the majority so that they understand the damage, and change their ideology in order to introduce a reversal of expectations. This is established through dialogue.
The United Kingdom is home to a wealth of cultures, including some for whom this practice is commonplace. The country therefore has an important role to play in eradicating this brutal act.
Educating our teachers, healthcare professionals and students at school to remain vigilant about the early signs of those at risk of an imminent procedure or to the symptoms of those who have just been cut is paramount. Signs such as a lack of integration into society, isolation from participating in physical activities, long trips to countries performing this rite and subsequent social withdrawal should be looked out for. It is imperative to provide support in the face of further complications: lasting physical effects, reluctance to seek medical attention, infection and other organ damage, as well as emotional or psychological repercussions.
Resources should be available for those who require legal guidance, and stricter measures put in place for offenders to be prosecuted. In 2003, the Female Genital Mutilation Act declared it illegal to arrange FGM outside of the UK regardless of whether it was legal in the country it takes place. However despite the criminal penalty being up to 14 years imprisonment in the UK for taking girls abroad, until this day no convictions have ensued.
We must recognise that in cultures where FGM is prevalent, avoiding the procedure can be considered as defiant, and individuals concerned are threatened with punishment. This changes the shape of their society from one of safety, to one of endangerment. However culture cannot be a means of justification for breaking the law or violating ones rights.
Abolishing female circumcision involves a multi-disciplinary approach: prosecutions, medical examinations, reporting of violence…
International governments have the manpower to support local communities to introduce educational campaigns. But we must circumvent the existing issues with these campaigns: they are mostly short term and small scale. It is time to think big: implement programmes, but monitor progress and evaluate their effects. Targeting those in power such as tribal leaders, healers, soldiers, and turning those people into role models will influence the communities who seek guidance in these leaders to follow suit. The other side of this coin however is the economic incentive for these matriarchs of society who are well paid for the procedure. Hence despite the steps taken to educate the local population, there is still a need for solutions. This is the ideal intersection for change and collaboration, partnerships and networks intertwined are key.
The access to media and other communications also enables us to propagate a message like a ripple in a pond across borders and achieve a much-required change and combat gender-based violence. There is a movement, but a more urgent effort is crucial to reach all corners of the world.
Asset-based welfare (ABW) was one of the most innovative social policy agendas of the last Labour government. US academic Michel Sherraden first coined the term ABW to refer to the idea that the individual ownership of assets is important for individual welfare. Continue reading “Argue with an Academic: Dr Rajiv Prabhakar on Asset-based Welfare”
On the morning of 12th December, President of COP21 and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius delivered a passionate speech preceding the release of the final draft of the Paris Agreement. He spoke of the need to recognise how “collective efforts are more than the sum of our individual actions”, that if nations failed to agree, “our children would neither understand nor forgive us”, and that the negotiations had produced an “ambitious and balanced” agreement that recognised the notion of climate justice. Continue reading “Ambitious Realism at the Paris Climate Talks”
On November 10th The Kings Think Tank Global Health Policy Centre hosted a public event discussing current issues of drug development, medication distribution and tiered pricing, in particular its crippling effect on developing countries’ healthcare systems. Probing questions were asked regarding who is ultimately responsible for delivering solutions; big pharmaceutical corporations, governments or international policy makers? Three panelists, each with a different expertise and approach spoke on these issues; Continue reading “Access to Medication – The Dimensions of the Problem”