F.R.I.E.N.D.S – Reunited

If one has been lucky enough, one can with perfect honesty say that some of the best years of one’s life were spent as a student. If not high school then college or university or whatever level of tertiary education one ended up in.

I, for one, can say that my high school years, as wrought with drama as they were, were fun. The years following that, holed up in a building that only allowed me sunlight for a few minutes a day (no guys, it wasn’t prison. Just a really strict boarding school) were years of such love and happiness and stress and tears and craziness and dementia that it can only be described as astounding.

But the best thing about these kinds of experiences has to be the people that you meet.

Friends in general, come in all forms and shapes and sizes. You get those that you have never had a decent one-on-one conversation with but are undoubtedly a part of your group. Those that annoy the heck out of you but have such jaw-droppingly epic moments that they get to stay too.

Those that you go to for only a specific type of advice like adverse medical problems or sickeningly-deep mental issues. Those friends that cuddle up with you on your bed and act like your spouse because ‘you’re aren’t getting any younger and you need practice.’ Those that bring out the child in you and you can have entire conversations involving flipped fingers and stuck out tongues with.

And those friends that you have so much in common with that it only means the two of you will be at complete loggerheads, but when it comes to crying your heart out or needing that one person who is your everything, your best friend, your sibling, the one who somehow just gets you, it’s them.

Coming to terms with reality, it’s obvious that life gets in the way of being a child. You grow up and find jobs and move away and get married. And that leaves little to no time to keep in contact with your amazing people and how then will you keep those lovely deep roots watered?

That’s the great thing about amazing friends. Months you don’t see each other with just a few rays of sunlight in the form of sporadic WhatsApp group messages nurturing that friendship and yet when you get into one room, the time falls away and its laughter and teasing galore.

Ah, the beauty of it all.

Time and time again I have been proven that it’s not about the length of absence in between. Some people just can’t do long-distance conversation (ask my husband) and it’s only this hour or two that you have to rekindle the old days.

Others can chat with you daily and still meeting up has you conversing for hours.

We have been created as creatures that need companionship. It’s not okay for us to wile our days alone and sad. Being introverted is all well and good because it’s not all about partying it up and having 1000 friends on Facebook. It’s about having people that you love and trust in your life to have your back when you need them and whose you will have when they need you.

So when it comes to days of reuniting with old friends, let yourself go. Dress up in uniform and eat everything on the menu and drink funky mocktails and be merry. Share tales and talk about old times but catch up on the new. And if things are not the same, that’s okay too. People change and you’ll find new people who too will become yours.

This thing of companionship is something to be valued. Treasure it.

I know I do.

Yours in drunken happiness

Ayesha Abdullah

Me too: How Many More Women Will Be Forced to Say This???

The “Me Too” hashtag has been sweeping the world since October 2017, encouraging women to speak up if they have been sexually harassed.

“Tarana Burke’s original ‘Me, Too’ campaign, launched in 2007, aimed to provide support to survivors of sexual violence who were marginalized, poor, under-represented and without a network or community to protect them. This, in a nutshell, meant that it focused on females of colour who lacked support and resources. Alyssa’s #MeToo tweet in October more than hit a nerve — it helped launch a new solidarity among millions of women who increasingly, urgently, shared their infuriating, devastating accounts of sexual violence and harassment.” – The Guardian

So far over half a million women have tweeted ‘Me Too’.

This campaign has given many women strength as well as support to speak up for themselves, defend their rights and announce that what has happened to them IS NOT OKAY.

A huge encouragement for women worldwide has been the celebrities contributing to the #MeToo with their own stories of rape and sexual harassment. Many stories that have been concealed for years are now being exposed, such as the three allegations of rape against US President, Donald Trump, which he has denied but at this point I think we know Mr. Trump better than he knows himself. Dear America, how do you feel about having a sexist, rapist as president?

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In many countries this campaign has made a huge difference for the women, helped them start women empowerment programs and fight against sexism.

France has recently made a stand against sexist stereotypes on ads – toy trucks marketed for boys, naked women selling vacuum cleaners, the list goes on.

The Eiffel Tower lit up to honor women’s rights (the French equivalent of the Time’s Up movement) with the message “Maintenant on Agit” (“Now we act”) launched by the Foundation of Women. This movement was aimed to raise funds for associations helping pursue cases before justice, “so that no woman ever has to say #MeToo.”

To this, I say: Well done, women of France. This world is in need of more people who stand up for our rights.

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So this shows that the #MeToo movement has made quite the positive effect in some countries.

But what about the countries who simply don’t give a damn about the rights of women?

Russia, for instance, ignoring the women who cry rape, using the stories of these women who speak up as a source of entertainment instead of dealing with it as a problem and calling these men out on their disgusting behavior.

Let us take Leonid Slutsky, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the Russian parliament’s lower house, as an example. I’m having a difficult time understanding how this man is getting away with three allegations of sexual harassment and unwanted advances. Not one but three! Lets not forget that one of these women even had recorded proof but still none of this was accepted. Why? Firstly, because he denied it and labeled these women as political attackers when they had first made their allegations anonymously. Later, when their identities were made known, the reason why they were not heard was because they were NON- RUSSIAN. Yes, non-Russian. The three women who had come forward were distrusted because one of them was Georgian, another worked for a foreign news organization and a third one for an anti-Kremlin one.

But let’s look at the fact that these women were ignored because he is a man and that alone is enough for their allegations to fall on deaf ears. It has reached a point that even other females were against the three Slutsky accusers. How is this possible? How can they not have the decency to stand for their kind because no one else will?

How can a situation like this be warped so horribly that it has now become the women’s fault and nothing they say will give them the right to put this power abuser down?

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Oksana Pushkina, a female lawmaker, who tried to stand up for these women was advised against this. Why? Because fighting sexual harassment would decrease the already low birthrates. Is this actually a reason for allowing rape to continue? Maybe we should take out sometime to look at their sense of morality AND humanity.

The women are not respected, they are abused and made to feel bad when they are the ones taken advantage of.

To such an extent that they’re afraid to speak up when they are wronged in this manner because they feel embarrassed and at fault. Why is it like this when men should feel ashamed for violating the rights of another? So what if this ‘another’ is of the opposite sex? Why does it matter that it’s a woman? Why are women considered so low that it’s okay to strip her of her clothes and her dignity? Is it because we don’t have the physical strength to fight for ourselves and these so-called ‘men’ want to feel powerful so they go to the only place they can force that power? If so, that is not power. That is cheap. It is weakness. It is cowardice and the only ones that should hide in shame are these awful, craven men.

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Farida Rustamova, the Journalist who recorded her encounter with Slutksy was later told by Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, who wasn’t convinced of these allegations, “You feel it’s dangerous to work in parliament? If so, change your job.”

No Farida, you should NOT change your job.

In no environment should a woman feel unsafe, insecure and feel as if she is surrounded by predators. We are humans and it is time to act like it.

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Harvey Weinstein, Leonid Slutsky, Donald Trump, the #MeToo movement stands up against men like you. The women of Russia will win against men like you as well as every other country that chooses to ignore the rights of women, those women will win against you.

Sexism is archaic in a world that is recognizing the rights of women and this world has no place for these animalistic behaviors anymore.

This is Hafsa Umar, fighting for women’s rights at Change for the 22nd on The News-Our Perspective.

Sources :

www.news24.com

www.bloomberg.com

www.theguardian.com

STRUGGLING TOWARDS A BETTER 22nd CENTURY

Ayesha Abdullah

Everybody wants to change and save the world. And looking at the state that our world is in now, I can say that it sure needs saving.

But even if out of the seven billion people just one billion are striving towards this goal, that’s still six billion that are suffering in pain or perhaps even worse, living in ignorance.

I am Ayesha Abdullah and as a woman in her early twenties whose choices of today may affect the lives of others tomorrow, I place fingertips to keypad and write: I may have been living in leisure and safety, content with closing my eyes to what this world is, silently throwing up a prayer once in a while and crying useless tears when hearing sad stories, but no more.

Hafsa Umar and I have created this website, not for others, but first for ourselves. When, over a casual WhatsApp conversation, we threw around the idea of starting a site worth bringing home, I felt something in me change.

Could I now go to sleep at night having done something worth feeling good about? Sure being a teacher and moulding children’s lives is a beautiful thing. I’m changing lives but that’s just a handful in front of me. Sure being a wife and running a happy home is also admirable. But what about something more?

I want to open people’s eyes to the realities of this world. Grab their chins and turn their faces towards this thing called life. And while I’ll rant and rave about prejudices and stereotypes, ongoing racism and war, children dying and depression, I will also ramble and complain about dirty houses and pms’ing, how men will never understand women and ask why summer is so hot. Because a good page-turner doesn’t just cater for one group.

It caters to the world.

We’ll ask you to speak, and we’ll beg you to listen. Sit up and don’t fall in the trap that we fell into. Know what is happening out there. Know the lies that you are being fed, the ideas that are being threaded through your nerves and wake up! Take notice. Open your eyes to what is happening around you and help us do something.

Because without our reader’s support, we’ll just be another failed blog post.

After this I hope that when I ask myself about something more, I can think: this. This right here.

‘Change for the 22nd’ is my something more.

Hafsa Umar

Once upon a time, in a world far away, there lived an evil witch. She took pleasure in the pain of the poor villagers that lived around her. She trapped them in her underground cells and laughed evilly when they groaned and screamed, begging for mercy. She wanted something from them, but they were not ready to give it so they held firm and didn’t give in.

A life of misery is what they lived, everyday praying and hoping for someone, anyone, that would defeat this witch and set them free. But there was no one.

Well, there were a few. A few who would try their best! They would call others to help free the villagers and stop this reign of terror but the others couldn’t join them, wouldn’t join them. They would just watch from their windows as the brave few marched towards the castle every day and crawled back every evening, drowning in their failure.

This went on for years until the brave ones too got tired and one by one stayed home to watch from their windows as those who still went on died in their efforts. Until one morning, no one marched onwards. There was silence and the echoes of the witch’s evil laughs from her castle were heard in the now dead streets. The once-brave and the cowards both, fearing that they’d be next on the witch’s list and now there was nothing they could do about it.

This world? Is it fictional?

No.

This world? It is our world.

Our witches or evil villains are disguised as the government, opinionated men with guns and The Hitlers and the Trumps. Disguised as those that all and sundry fear to stand up against.

We are the coward onlookers. We look at the brave ones risking their lives, patching up the wounded at refugee camps, creating awareness with their words or at least donating to causes hoping that it will make even a little bit of a difference. They call for us to stand with them but we are terrified and we are leaving them out there to die. But it is fine as long as we are safe, right?

Wrong.

My name is Hafsa Umar and I want to make a difference.

With social media at our fingertips we have access to information. We are connected to people throughout the world. Making a difference lies on the tips of our fingers if we known how to use it.

My name is Hafsa Umar and I want to speak about these evil villains. I want to create an awareness. I want to scream and i want to shout that Humanity is being lost along with the lives of the innocent. I want to help the needy, I want to help the poor. I want to voice my opinions and I want your help. I want you to be heard too and I want us to be a team in creating a better world for the generations to come.

My name is Hafsa Umar and I’m struggling in my attempt to keep up with life, hobbies, studying and work, which is expected from a professional procrastinator. I come from a crazy family, full of laughs and embarrassing situations. We work well together and they inspire me to be better, to sympathize and do good. I hope you feel the same way about them when I get to tell you some stories.

As far as introductions go, I think that went well.

I hope to see you on our next post.

Until then,

Working for a better future

Hafsa Umar

“This world we’re living in is not something I want to bring a generation into and we as the current generation need to ensure that we do not make it worse like how the previous generations did for us. We need to start making a decent world so that maybe when we die, our kids have a incorrupt world to live in.”

-Ayesha Abdullah