…and prevention is protection.
Now-a-days, we hear a lot about violence. Violence at home, bullying at school, harassment at work or on the street. Violence is everywhere. It does not define our societies or who we are but it plays an important role in our evolution and how we decide to define ourselves.
In the past couple of years, the French government put into place important measures to fight all types of violence, creating adds to show its impact on peoples lives, opening more helplines, dedicated centres to welcome the victims, creating new jobs and training programs. Many well-known artists took it over and started campaigns around the country and in the world.
Still, I think something is missing in order, if not to eradicate violence completely, at least to change the vision of men and women on the subject and prevent violence from spreading even more. Before discussing the impact of violence, people first have to be educated on what violence is, how to spot it and how to protect themselves from it.
We tend to think that violence is only physical. Is it something we learn as kids? Or are the other forms of violence too cruel to be true?
I met women who kept telling me that in their case, it was not violence. I met kids who kept telling me that other kids were just laughing at them, no big deal. I met men who kept telling me that if their bosses were that mean towards them, it was maybe because they were not that good.
If people don’t know or understand that the relationship they are in is poison, they won’t be able to get out of it or ask for help. And it will keep destroying them. Ads or campaigns won’t have any impact on their life. They will still think violence is horrible but they will think it has nothing to do with them.
I suppose we have to educate people from a young age. Maybe school is the first place to start, as violence can take root there for many. Teaching kids about respect and differences. Teaching them about what is not allowed, about their body and about the importance of equality. Boys are not better than girls and girls are not better than boys.
But first, we have to teach kids about confidence. In most cases, it’s the lack of confidence that takes people down. Teaching kids that they are important, that they are valued and loved, that they are worth it, beautiful, enough. I think this is crucial and it can change many things in our world these days.
I don’t say that confident people can’t be touched by violence, but they’ll have the resources, the power to face it and say stop to it. Or they’ll know something is wrong in the equation and they’ll be able to talk about it, to raise their voice.
Because, at the end of the day, silence is really the enemy, silence is what allows violence to thrive.
This is an original post from our contributor in France, Marie Kleber.
The image used in this post is attributed to Cyber Magic. It holds a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.
“Are you okay?” The emails and Facebook queries began pouring in even before I knew what had happened. “Were you there?” One particularly dramatic friend asked if “what happened” made me think about moving home.
Their queries followed the terrible news that had gone viral almost as soon as it happened: in a mall bathroom in Abu Dhabi, where I live, a veiled woman had killed a Western woman—-an American teacher-—with a long kitchen knife. Adding to the horror of the attack was the fact that the victim’s children, eleven-year old twins, were apparently hanging out in the mall waiting for their mother to come back from the bathroom.
I didn’t hear the news until I got home from work that day and opened Facebook. I suppose that people were particularly worried because I am also an American teacher, and about a month ago, the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi reported that anonymous threats against American teachers had been made on a jihadi website. For a day or two after the attack, news reports tossed around the possibility that the veiled woman was somehow in league with ISIL, or some other terrorist organization.
As it happens, however, the murderer had no discernible terrorist allegiances, and what happened in that mall bathroom was just an appalling act of violence. Some of us who live here speculated about the difference between what happens in the US when an unstable person finds a weapon and what happened here:
a butcher knife is a brutal instrument, it’s true, but it creates far less mayhem than, say, a semi-automatic rifle.
According to a 2007 survey, the US ranks first in the list of number of guns owned by civilians (90 guns per 100 residents); the UAE ranks 24th (22 guns per 100).
Violent crime is incredibly rare in Abu Dhabi. Yet, despite the rarity of violence here, and despite the stability of the Gulf States, there was the chatter on Facebook; there were the emails; there were the questions about whether this attack would cause me to move home. “Home” is a bit complicated for me: I’ve lived in Abu Dhabi for almost four years, but had been in Manhattan for almost twenty years before that. So “home” is here. . . and there.
Before we moved to Abu Dhabi, my family and friends were worried about other things. “Are you going to have to, you know,” they’d ask, swirling their hands around their head as if describing the world’s biggest beehive hairdo. Their swirl implied “covering”: would I have to wear a headscarf or an abaya when I went out in public? The answer is no. I feel free to walk around alone wherever I please, dressed much the same way I would be in New York. There are no laws governing how people dress here; women are free to cover or not cover, and on the beaches you see burqas and bikinis with equal frequency.
In fact, I feel as safe walking alone in Abu Dhabi as I ever did in New York. It’s the kind of place where I leave the car doors unlocked when I run into the grocery store, and where more than once I’ve forgotten my phone in some public place, only to run back ten minutes later to find it exactly where I left it.
I share the sentiments of my local friend, Ken. In response to the news, he posted the following message on his Facebook page: “Thank you for your e-mails and messages about the American woman who was killed here on December 1st. I appreciate your concern. But please be assured that I don’t feel in any greater danger being a Westerner in Abu Dhabi than I felt being a gay man in New York City. In fact, it’s the opposite. I’m used to danger.
The only way to protect oneself completely from acts of terror or random violence is by not participating in the world. I won’t do that.”
The expressions of worry that came from my family and friends in the aftermath of this attack were real, I know. And there is no doubt that what happened is appalling and has ripped apart the lives of this woman’s family. But I can’t help but suspect that this story got as much coverage as it did (there are more than thirteen pages of hits for “American teacher slain Abu Dhabi) because the attacker is so visibly Other: a veiled woman, an exotic symbol of “the Middle East,” which to much of the West is still an undifferentiated blur of veils, oil rigs, and jihadis.
Here’s the teaser from CNBC when the story about the knife attack first broke:
I wonder about the leap: that an attack in a mall bathroom by a woman with a knife might have implications for “foreigners” living anywhere in the Middle East.
It’s a strange twist, isn’t it, to think that had the Western media simply assumed that the attack was an isolated, horrifying incident—the work of one crazy woman—it might have represented a step forward?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Deborah Quinn.
Photo Credit: Daily Mail
Positive Images of Black Boys in Protest of Ferguson Tragedy
Mocha Moms, Inc. members, many of whom are the mothers of sons, are outraged by the failure to indict Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown, Ferguson grand jury case. But we realize we can’t change the decision, nor bring back Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and countless other unarmed black boys, and men who have lost their lives. We chose to take to social media and flood our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages with positive images of our sons with hashtag #blackboysmatter. This is our way of peacefully organizing via the power of social media to change the way our society views black males. At the time of this article, our social media campaign has garnered nearly 5 million impressions and that number is steadily growing.
Our sons are not thugs, robbers or murderers. They are educated, professional, philanthropic, law-abiding men who give back to their communities and families. Their precious faces should not evoke a sense of fear simply because they are black.
We are not saying that all lives are not precious and equally important, or that our girls, white or brown children don’t matter. But these children are not being gunned down like animals in the street.
We invite moms from around the world, no matter the race, to join us in solidarity and help us spread the word by sharing photos of your precious sons of any color with #blackboysmatter. But don’t stop there!
Talk to your children about equality. Share the struggles of people who are not treated fairly and are discriminated against. Raise them to understand that no matter the color of someone’s skin, they deserve the same rights as everyone.
We shudder to think that civil rights icon and scholar, W.E.B. DuBois, was accurate in his statement;
“A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect.”
This is an original post written by LaShaun Martin, National Director of Social Media, Mocha Moms, Inc. for World Moms Blog.
Growing up in Illinois, when I was in elementary school, it was commonplace for our school to have several emergency drills in case there was a tornado. We knew to hide under our desks and cover our heads with our hands and wait until the drill was over. The thought behind the drill was that we would be ready if a disaster ever struck. We followed up with fire drills as well. We prepared for what we knew could happen but hoped would never happen to us… (more…)
This post is a reflection by our editor, MamaMzungu, in Kenya on the September 21, 2013 shooting in Nairobi, when 10-15 unidentified gunmen opened fire in an upscale, downtown shopping mall, killing 62 and wounding more than 175 people.
I’ve spent the last few days fighting back (often unsuccessfully) tears. When I communicate about this tragedy to friends and family, I find myself most often saying, “there are no words.”
Sixty dead souls, children among them, nearly 200 injured and the senseless death toll keeps mounting. Ravi Ramrattan, among them, is a friend who was kind-hearted, whip-smart and had a manner that immediately put everyone at ease. They identified him by his shoes.
Unthinkably, when I describe him, I have to use the verb “was” not “is;” his bright future snatched from him, leaving a crater-sized hole in the hearts of people who loved him. Those are words. And as I type them, here I go again fighting that tightening in my throat and welling in my eyes.
Still, I need to find words. I need to find some sense or meaning out of this tragedy.
When we first heard about the shooting, we were camping in a forest with some friends. We were walking amid astounding beauty with our children, 3 four-year-olds and 3 babies. We received information in fits and starts when cell phone reception worked.
First it was 15-20 dead. Shit. That’s gotta be a terrorist attack.
Then it was 29. Holy crap. Pit in the belly. Do we know anyone?
Then it was 39. But these numbers could keep going up. Where will it stop?.
Then, 59 dead. Silence.
But it was one small detail, not the numbers, that finally made that scene at the luxury mall real: It was a children’s day at the mall. Something I might have taken my own babies to. Some of these children were now dead.
I was going to write something about numbers, how we interpret tragedy and risk through a narrow and almost tribal lens. How I’ve seen a lot of equally senseless and avoidable death from terror of poverty. And those numbers are higher than 60.
How disappointing the truth is that it pains me to my core, when the victims look like me – when I can picture myself and my children in that circumstance.
How, as much as I think of myself as part of a truly global community, the world spins off its axis more for me when my bubble of safety and comfort is exploded.
But forget all that. I’m not in the mood to be philosophical yet. I just want to be sad. I want to mourn.
All life is precious. And fleeting. And nothing is sure. I just want to hug my family extra tight. And I want to pray to a god which I have to cling to, even though such senselessness make me doubt his existence, to bring comfort to the people who are unexpectedly burying loved ones too soon.
Mama Mzungu is a World Moms Blog editor and contributor living in Kenya with her husband and two young children. You can read more about their life and recent events on her blog: Mama Mzungu This article was reposted on World Moms Blog with permission.
The image used in this post is credited to US Army Africa and holds a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.
The distraught mother presses her hands onto her daughter’s blood-soaked chest, pumping in a desperate attempt to keep her alive. She begs the girl, just fourteen years old, to “keep awake”.
Not far away, some people try to get their critically injured friend into a car so they can take him to hospital. He collapses onto the sidewalk, his life blood spilling from him.
All around, people are scrambling in a panicked attempt to escape. A pregnant woman is hurt in the stampede.
23 people are injured by gunshots, one of them just 22 months old.
A policeman sadly shakes his head at the mother, who has just suffered an unbearable loss.
The young man’s now lifeless body is covered with a blanket.
And collectively, the community starts to weep.
How can it be possible to explain the senseless act of gun violence that shattered a Toronto community just blocks away from where I live? What do you say to the two sets of parents who lost their children? How do you console their friends? How do you reassure the youth in this neighbourhood that they are safe from the gangs who have instigated this tragedy?
How do we stop this from happening? (more…)