Policing women and religion out of hand

Photo taken from The Guardian website; from vantagenews.com

The policing of women’s bodies and what they decide to wear is getting out of hand in both the United States and around the world.

In the United States, we as a society are constantly criticizing what women wear, from asking in court systems what women are wearing at the time of their sexual assaults to creating sexist dress codes in our public code that prevent young girls from wearing menial articles of clothing such as spaghetti strapped tank tops in fear of “distracting” male students from receiving their education.

In France earlier this week, a Muslim woman on a beach in Nice was cited with a ticket by the police for not “wearing an outfit respecting good morals and secularism,” according to French news agency, Agence French-Presse.

She wore leggings, a tunic and a headscarf while on the beach with her children. In three photos that were posted by The Guardian, the woman is seen laying on the beach, four police officers on their way to approach her.

Photo taken from The Guardian Website; by Vantagenews.com
The woman who only gave her her first name, Siam, is seen laying on the beach in a tunic, leggings, and headscarf.

In the second photograph, the Muslim woman can be seen with her tunic partially removed and all four police officers watching her do so; and in a third photo, she’s holding the tunic out to the police officers while one officer is knelt down inspecting it.

Photo taken from The Guardian's website; from Vantagenews.com
Siam, holding out her tunic to an officer to inspect.

Nice and other various French cities have banned “burkinis,” a type of swimwear for Muslim women that correlates with Islamic dress code and other clothing that “overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks,” which refers to the attack that occurred this past summer on Bastille Day where a cargo truck drove into crowds, killing 86 people and injuring more than 300 others. The ban is said to be “necessary to protect the population,” but I do not buy this at all.

The wording of the Muslim woman’s ticket also indicates that her outfit was not respectful of good morals and feeds into the idea that Islam is an immoral religion, which it is not. Are nuns in France being asked to not wear their habits because their outfits do not “respect good morals and secularism?” Doubtful.

While I agree there are terrible people out there who use Islam to push radical ideologies (see the Syrian Civil War for more details), I disagree with France that this woman deserved to have her clothes taken off and inspected to ensure she was not a threat. This woman was at the beach with her children, not bothering anyone.

What is worse, according to The Guardian, a witness to the scene said she heard other people around the situation saying things such as “Go home,” and applauding the police for making this woman remove her clothing.

While I understand that all of this is supposed to help protect the people, it is more harmful to average citizens than anything. These rules are meant to target people who identify or “look” Muslim, and this leads to more profiling by law enforcement and stereotyping in our society. If policies like this are going to be set in place, I hope and want them to be set in place for all people and religions.In order to make sure this rule and ban is fair, nuns should not be wearing their habits and priests should not be wearing their collars.

If you are going to police one gender’s or one religion’s right to clothing, all of them should be policed.

CORRECTION: The original poster of the photos was not The Guardian. The photos were taken from vantagenews.com and were used on The Guardian’s website.
This article has been edited and updated by the original author.

This article was originally published by BG Falcon Media’s independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.

Chernobyl: Thirty Years Later

On April 26, 1986, a systems test started at reactor four at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the city of Pripyat, Ukraine near the border of Belarus. A power surge happened and after a failed attempt to enable an emergency shut down, a reactor vessel burst and caused a series of steam explosions, igniting an exposed moderator.

International Nuclear Event Scale
The International Nuclear Event Scale ranks nuclear accidents on a scale of one to seven. Chernobyl and one other nuclear accident are the only ones to have reached the seventh scale

The explosions and fires caused more than 350,000 people in both countries evacuated from their homes and resettled into different communities.

Thirty plant employees died from either in the fire or from Acute Radiation Sickness after the event was over.

Today, on April 26, 2016, the effects of the Chernobyl disaster can still be felt by the countries and the people who live in them.

The areas affected by the nuclear accident were classified into four zones: three of those zones had to be evacuated, and citizens had to be resettled elsewhere and were not allowed to return. In the fourth zone, the villages still exist and the people still live in them.

Until fairly recently, people who still lived in the fourth zone were able to seek help from medical professionals about their consistent exposure to radiation.  But the Ukrainian economy had been suffering from the war goin on in the east and from Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The country had also taken loans of billions of dollars from the United States, the United Kingdom, and the World Bank itself.

Ukraine has eliminated the school lunch program for children who live in the fourth zone, and it has caused an outraged since parents have made the argument that the school lunch was the only meal children would be able to eat during the school days and school weeks without any type of radiation in it.

According to an exclusive report by the Associated Press, nuts, berries, and mushrooms have radiation levels that are two to fives more than what is considered safe, according to Ukraine’s Institute of Agricultural Radiology.

Animals are also affected by the Chernobyl disaster. For farm animals, dairy products can still possess levels of radiation in them.

For the wildlife in the abandoned 1,600 square miles, National Geographic reveals the reality of this bittersweet environmental success.

Despite the still high levels of radiation in the area, large mammals in the area have been repopulating. After the relocation of towns and villages, the animals were given a chance to breed and raise offspring without being hunted by nearby people.

A picture of a group of Przewalski's horses.
Przewalski’s horses were on on the verge of going extinct. As part of an effort to increase the population, they were introduced into the abandoned area of Chernobyl, where they have thrived.

A study that was released Monday revealed that population of animals increased especially on the Belarus size of the exclusion zone. The study found there to be “no evidence [that] suggest … their distributions were suppressed in highly contaminated areas.”

Today, the plant and the exploded reactor still stand. Ukraine is making a $2.25 billion shelter to put over the reactor for a long period of time so the government can start working on removing the structure and the radioactive waste inside of it.

The final death toll from the nuclear disaster runs between the number of 9,000 to 90,000. The World health Organization predicts that in due time, people will die from Chernobyl related cancers and leukemia, which is a similar result from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

With the growing push for cleaner energy and a push to stay awat from nuclear energy and waste, Chernobyl is a lesson in the importance of clean energy and waste and the lengths we must go to protect humans from tragic accidents.

The UK, Northern Ireland and Reproductive Rights

In the center of the picture, a woman holds a piece of cardboard that says, "I have this pill I am taking now!" Behind her, other protestors hold similar signs with prochoice words and slogans.

The topic of abortion is often touchy in the United States, as we talked about in my Ethnicity and Social Movements class last week. In my recitation on Friday, my teaching assistant shared a story about a woman in Indiana who was sentenced to 20 years in feticide.

According to NBC News, she “is the first woman in the U.S. to be charged, convicted, and sentenced on a feticide charge.”

Earlier in the week, I heard something similar that I thought my teaching assistant has been referring to but instead it took place in Northern Ireland.

According to the BBC, a woman in Belfast bought drugs online to terminate her pregnancy. In Northern Ireland, as there is absolutely no abortion access for women.

At the time the Belfast woman terminated her pregnancy, she was 19 years old. Now almost twy years later at 21, she has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Some people who read this at first might be confused. In public education in the United States, I was taught Ireland was part of the U.K. Some other students who were in American public education may also tell you that.

However, some students who were educated in the U.S., may be able to tell you that the land we know is Ireland is split into two separate locations: the Republic of Ireland, which is the sovereign nation mainstream American might be most exposed to; and Norther Ireland, which could potentially be less heard of outside of history or geography classes, is part of the U.K.

In 1967, the U.K. legalized abortions and registered practicioners and regulated the practice through the National Health Service.

So why does Northern Ireland not follow this law the same way England, Scotland, and Wales do?

It’s because the law never applied to the country to begin with. In Northern Ireland, abortion is illegal unless it is “to save the life of the mother” or carrying the pregnancy to term would put the women in danger either physically or mentally.

Even though this law is in place, the woman is still guilty of her miscarriage under The Offences against the Person Act 1981, which is a list of crimes that can be considered offenses of violence on a person.

Another story by the BBC about this situation says that women who live in Northern Ireland travel to other countries in the United Kingdom in order to receive legal and safe abortions.

In England, Scotland and Wales, women can legally have an abortion up to 24 weeks (168 days). After that, abortion can be legal beyond that limit in cases where the mother’s health is  being threatened or if there is a substantial risk the baby will have serious disabilities.

It is interesting that two similar situations are happening in what are supposed to be two of the most developed countries in the world are still fighting over what women should do about their own bodies.

The difference in these two stories is that the procedure was available to the woman in Belfast, but since she personally did have the resources to access it on her own, she had to use other resources that are otherwise seen as taboo to other societies.

The woman in Indiana claims to have given birth to a stillborn, but prosecutors are insisting the baby was alive when she gave birth and she neglected to get help. But activists are on her side, saying the conviction is “punishment for having a miscarraige and then seeking medical care…something that no woman should worry would lead to jail time.

Reproductive rights are more than just wanting to terminate pregnancies and wanting contraception. It is also about giving medical and psychological support to women whose pregnancies are physically tolling or traumatic experiences.

I’m curious as to see how these to stories, which is are opposite sides of a body of water play out. I hope to keep you updated.

 

Ireland Celebrates Centennial of the Easter Uprising

A photo of Ireland's president, Michael Higgins after he lays down a wreath in Dublin for the anniversary of the Easter Rising

In some countries, such as Australia the Republic of Ireland, celebrate Easter on the Monday after Easter Sunday, which is called exactly what you think it is–Easter Monday.

This Easter Monday, the Irish have more to celebrate than the arrival of the Easter Bunny and the resurrection of Jesus.

This year, the Irish celebrated their 100 year anniversary of the Easter Rising.

The Easter Rising was a rebellion created by Irish republicans to overthrow Great Britain’s rule and establish themselves on their own, paving the way for Ireland to declare their independence and become a republic on Easter Monday in 1949.

A thousand Irish citizens took over prominent buildings in the city center that day, sparking a fight that lasted throughout the rest of Easter Week and ended on the 29 of April. Presently, almost 500 people were killed and thousands were injured, most of the casualties being civilians.

Thousands of people took to the streets in Dublin to remember the rebellion, starting with a military parade by the Irish Army, followed by the Irish Air Corps participating in a flyover. A member of the military read from the 1916 Proclamation during a reenactment of the creation of the declaration during the revolt.

The most notable thing about this rebellion outside of historical significance to the Irish Republic is the timing of it all.

The rebellion came at a time when Great Britain and the rest of the United Kingdom were so focused on the war against Germany. They were putting all their time and resources into taking out Germany that they were completely unaware of the Irish’s plans.

And lots of Dublin citizens in the present day see the uprising as an act of treason, since (whether they liked it or not), Ireland was indeed with Britain fighting against German forces as well.

But the Irish are celebrating this Easter Week, 100 years later, knowing that without the Easter Rising, their road to independence would have been longer.