Sunday, 14 October 2012

targetting young women

here's another story of a young person who is now dead, believed to have committed suicide, as a result of internet bullying.  if you haven't heard the full story of amanda todd, it's best you hear it directly from her:

it's an incredibly sad story, and there are several things that bother me about it.

the initial problem started when someone convinced her to go topless during a chat using a webcam.  a year later, the same man threatened to send a topless photo of her to everyone she knew, unless she agreed to further demands.  he had accessed her personal information and also knew how to contact the important people in her life.  he did end up sending the photos around, and continued to stalk her even after she moved cities and schools.

what i don't understand is why the police didn't look for this man.  from the video, it appears the police were the ones to notify her that the photograph had been circulated.  it was taken when she was in 7th grade, and i don't know how old she would have been, but it clearly appears she would be underage.  that in itself is a crime.  then using the photo to coerce her into doing other sexual acts would be another crime.  i would think circulation of the photo without her consent would be a crime as well.

that initial circulation, according to her own words in the video, affected her badly, leading to anxiety.  how is it that the authorities were unable to find out who this guy was and have him brought to justice?  it doesn't make sense to me.  even if they didn't do it at the point the photo was first circulated, surely it would have been done at this point:

She changed schools and found a new group of friends in an effort to leave behind the bullies. Then the man created a Facebook profile, using her uncensored photo as his profile picture. "Cried every night, lost all my friends and respect people had for me... again... then nobody liked me," she wrote in the video.

on top of that, her reaction to the circulation of the photograph is likely to have been the result of feeling shamed.  that shame comes from the people around - she talks about people losing respect for her.  it's appalling that shaming a young person in this way would take precedence over shaming the person who did it to her.  if she had supportive people around her, particularly from her peers, the feelings of shame would have been a lot less.  clearly, all the young people around her were judging her for what she did.

and where would they have learned to do that?  from the adults in their lives, who either had the same reaction or who didn't bother to correct the reaction of their young ones.  it's possible some might not have known this shaming was going on, which suggests to me that they weren't involved enough in the lives of their young ones to know about they way their kids were mistreating others.

then there was the further incident of a group of young girls from her old school beating up this young woman, for the crime of having sex with the boyfriend of one of them.  while she chose not to press charges, i believe those kids could have been tried for the crime, with use of witness statements from the teachers who came over to see what happened, from the 50 or so witnesses from the new school, and from some of the members of the group from the old school.  ms todd need not have had to testify at all.  the fact that nothing was done, the total lack of consequences for the physical violence, empowers the bullies and add to the culture which allows bullying to keep happening.

while i'm talking about young women being bullied, let me also mention malala yousafzai, the young pakistani woman fighting for her life after being shot by a member of the taliban.  what has been done to her is appalling, and it is heartening to see the outpouring of support from around the world.  i really do wish her all the best, and hope she survives and continues to be an inspiration to young women in pakistan and around the world.

one of her "crimes" was to be seen to align herself with the very western powers who are responsible for invasion and occupation of afghanistan, and for the drone attacks in northern pakistan.  that would have been motivation enough for those who killed her.  but that they think there is any kind of religious justification for the attempted murder of a young woman, effectively still a child.  even if they believed she had committed a crime, there is no room for vigilante justice without any kind of trial.

i can only hope that the outpouring of support and prayers around the world will lead to some kind of cultural change in the places where it's most needed.


Larry said...

The Taliban didn't attempt to kill Malala Yousafzai because of the attacks against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The reason the Taliban shot, Malala Yousafzai was because she was a girl who wanted an education, and she spoke up for girls getting an education.

He's hoping the Pakistani Government will be more stronger in their language against the Taliban.

stargazer said...

@ larry, i've been reading around the various statements attributed to the taliban regarding this shooting, and there hasn't been any overt mention of education by them. which is not to say they are the most honest people in the world & we should take them at their word, but there are certainly undertones of siding with the enemy.

re the pakistani government, the language has been particularly strong from what i have read.

Larry said...

Every report I have read, has said they shot her because she wouldn't stop writing about girls getting an education.

I now hear, thankfully that that the Government of Pakistan will move her somewhere else for further education.

stargazer said...

yes, but are those words direct quotes from the taliban, or a journalists opinion/interpretation of what happened? i have to say i've been looking at non-western media.

Larry said...

Not sure if that's a different quote, they normally seem to release press statements when they attack someone.

Larry said...

These were found with google search on their front page.

From Pakistan's Nation newspaper

Malala was shot in the former Taliban stronghold of Swat last Tuesday in retaliation for her campaign for the right to education.

From Aljazeera

Yousafzai had come to public attention at the age of 11, when she publically criticised the Pakistani Taliban for its violent action against girls' schools in the area which was then under its control, and became the first recipient of Pakistan's National Peace Award for Youth.

From world time magazine

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for a hideous attack on a young schoolgirl they deemed "an infidel" for championing her right to go to school

stargazer said...

sorry, haven't had time to get back to this. see none of those bits you've put in your comments is a quote from, say, a taliban press release, or from someone who claims to be a spokesperson for them. they are, as i said in my previous comments, journalistic interpretations or opinions until substantiated either by comments from the shooter (once they arrest him) or the organisation he claims to represent. the al-jazeera quote is speaks to her history rather than the reason for the shooting.

as an example, the al-jazeera link i gave has this:

In an official statement, the group's spokesman Ehsan ullah Ehsan said: "The Pakistani Taliban successfully targeted Malala Yousafzai in Mingora. Although she was young and a girl and Taliban does not believe in attacking women but whomsoever leads any campaign against Islam and Shariah is ordered to be killed by Shariah. It is not merely allowed to kill such a person but it is obligatory in Islam."

now, you can see they don't mention education in that bit at all. they may have mentioned it in the full press release, and if you are able to find that, please do share it cos i'd be interested to see the full thing. but based on this clip, they are claiming a breach of shariah. but what breach? although the taliban have been notorious for denying education to women, i have yet to see them provide any credible reasoning based on shariah to support that position. so what is the breach they are claiming here? speculation that it is the issue of ms yousafzai speaking out about education of woman, rather then the fact that she was speaking out via a western media source - well it's only speculation.

but as i say, i'm happy to be corrected on this, if you can provide statements that come directly from them. and let me reiterate, regardless of what the reason was, this is a completely reprehensible act of violence and i totally condemn it.

Larry said...

If It wasn't so late I would do some research, although I feel uneasy trying to find official Taliban quotes.

I guess the media had put two and two together, with Malala's speaking out against the Taliban and for girl's education.

I still say this is the most likely reason why she was targeted.

Seems like she is going to recover, but not fully, we can hope she will be safe.

stargazer said...

well, the problem with putting 2 & 2 together is that the connection is often not what you think it is. this a war-torn region suffering from extreme poverty, not just from recent earthquakes but from bomb attacks by foreign drones. in light of that, you have a young girl being used by the very western powers who are attacking, and using her words (perhaps indirectly) to justify those attacks. to put it more accurately, she's being used to create a climate where the targets of those bombs are portrayed as less than human, to create a culture where there is less protest against the drone attacks and plenty of innocent lives being lost.

which is not to say that this any reason to kill her, nor is it any reason for to stop fighting for the rights of women & girls to get an education. what it means, at least in my mind, is that if you're serious about getting the female population an education, then stop committing senseless violence against them for a start.

but if we accept the 2+2 framing that you've provided, then we could come to the conclusion that she would have been attacked regardless of the context of war on that population. and that the bombing is irrelevant to the issue, and so there doesn't need to be any accountability by those perpetrating the violence for the effect they are having and the damage they cause. because they are then portrayed as liberators rather than aggressors. and that's why i'm rather suspicious of this particular framing, and am not prepared to accept it at face value. i want better answers, and that can only come from a better understanding of the situation.

it's great that she's going to recover, and i wish her all the best for the future.

Carlist said...

"but if we accept the 2+2 framing that you've provided, then we could come to the conclusion that she would have been attacked regardless of the context of war on that population."

Given that the Taliban was attacking young women in Afghanistan long before US forces set foot in the country eg during the 1990s, this doesnt seem like a particularly surprising interpretation.

I find it quite sadly contemptible that the men who killed her admitted they didnt believe in attacking women, but decided to go ahead and attack her anvway.

Larry said...


I believe even if the west werent in Afghanistan or Pakistan, that Malala still would've been attacked for speaking out.

I believe when the Tailban, put a poison gas bomb at a girls school, they did so, because they didn't want girls to get an education.


I believe the Tailban are using the West as an excuse to committee these awful crimes.

If the West and all other countries were to leave tomorrow, I fail to believe that woman would be given have the same rights as men.

I would also believe that the Taliban will still continue their attacks.

Yes Western countries have a habit of going into other countries, in some cases their motives are pure and in some not so.

I don't think think this is a case of framing, but Im certainly not going to look for official Tailban webpages to see their motives.

Scott L Vannatter said...

From Scott
I was led to your post about Amanda Todd while surfing the net and cleaning up my follows. Know I see the reason for my meanderings. I have written a post on my own blog that links back to this post and tells of my own outrage at bullies in our system and the apathy and whatever which keeps it going. Thank you for writing something that prompted such a response out of me.