Istanbul Convention

During the last year debate on whether we should ratify Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (also known as Istanbul Convention) has been intensified here in Croatia.

It can be stated that our society is extremely polarised when it comes to this subject and hardly anyone can argue it with cool head; to certain circles, it has become synonym for women’s right fight, gender equality and resistance; as for others, it has become synonym for disintegration of existing value system.

Opponents of Convention consider it to be a Trojan horse through which gender ideology would be sneaked viciously into the society so that nobody could tell anymore who is man and who is woman! It could sound banal, but there were actually billboards displayed with illustration of confused little girl wondering  whether she is male or female, because she was told in school that she should decide on her own on this subject. However, no such thing is written in Convention!

In country burdened with unemployment and emigration, gender has become the biggest issue. Referring to the disputable part of Convention regarding gender, what is actually identified as problem are social roles that society prescribes to a woman just because she is woman; the same is with man and these can trigger violence.

These social roles that are given to men and women can vary from one society to another, but what they share in common  is that they are limiting both men and women in their life choices, conditioning and predetermine us for specific thinking and behaviour based just on gender. Isn’t this absurd?!

We are dealing here with first international document that obligates state to act accordingly and to do everything in its power to prevent violence against women and domestic violence and to protect victim. Indeed, mechanisms of protection already exist without the Convention but, truth to be said, Convention obligates state to actually implement them de facto and to provide financial resources for them.

Especially, it obligates state to ensure that victims have access to services facilitating their recovery from violence such as housing, shelters, telephone help-lines and legal and psychological counselling, all of which should be free of charge.

It makes me sad to see that in my country there truly are certain social groups against this important document. Working on DESA’s project Victim and witnesses support, I had opportunity to give support to domestic violence victims that are predominately women.  I witnessed with my own eyes devastating consequences domestic violence does to a woman: physical injuries, mental difficulties – feelings of fear, guilt and shame, anxiety, destroyed self-confidence, depression, and at the end loss of confidence in people and institutions. Changes in behaviour patterns are inevitable, causing social relationship disintegration and work productivity. In time, less and less friends and acquaintances are around victim helping her, making escaping violent relationship even harder.  This is why we should ensure special support system for victims, and that is the „horrible” obligation  coming from Convention.

It should be pointed out that not dealing with violence against women and domestic violence, creates social climate where violence is not outspoken, is not reported to the authorities, victims continue to be silent and filled with shame – they do not report violence nor they talk to anybody about it. This creates misconception that there is no domestic violence in our local community and society making victim even more discouraged to report violence and seek for help. Reasons for not reporting could be found in feelings of shame and fear of stigmatisation, but also in insufficient family and society support. Istanbul Convention deals particularly with these problems. Women victims of gender violence and domestic violence indeed suffer and need our help, we should not allowed for them to feel as if they are all alone.

Opponents of Convention are concerned that it could  change society that we live in and Convention does have such potential – it can lead to real, not just proclaimed gender equality, it can encourage victims to report violence and seek help, it can help to numerous women and domestic violence victims suffering from long-term violence consequences, it can help to future generations to act  different: mothers not to teach their daughters to suffer in silence because this is how proper women should act; sons not to act violently towards their women because they were not obedient. Finally, Convention has power to reduce prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence.

Yet, there is positive aspect happening in Croatia as we speak.  Prime minister has decided to address Convention into Parliament for ratification, which is great improvement for this subject giving us hope that victims will indeed receive protection they need.

Bearing in mind the political power ratio in Croatian Parliament I am convinced that, once the Convention is presented, it will be ratified with waste majority of voices.

 

 

Croatian language:

ISTANBULSKA  SILVIA

U posljednjih godinu dana u Hrvatskoj se intezivirala rasprava o tome trebamo li ratificirati Konvenciju Vijeća Europe o sprečavanju i borbi protiv nasilja nad ženama i nasilja u obitelji, poznatiju kao Istanbulsku konveciju.

Može se slobodno reći da je društvo iznimno polarizirano kada se radi o ovoj temi i teško da itko više može pričati o Konvenciji hladne glave; jednima, ona je postala sinonim za borbu za prava žena, ravnopravnost spolova i  otpor, a za druge postala je sinonim za urušavanje postojećeg vrijednosnog sustava.

Ovi drugi vide u Istanbuslkoj konvenciji trojanskog konja kojim će se u društvo podmuklo podvaliti rodna ideologija pa tako nitko više neće znati je li muško ili žensko! Možda zvuči banalno, ali u Hrvatskoj ste zaista mogli vidjeti plakate sa ilustracijom zabrinutog djeteta koje se pita je li ono muško ili žensko jer mu je u školi rečeno da on to sam mora odlučiti, premda takvo nešto nigdje ne stoji zapisano u Konvenciji.

Tako je u državi opterećenoj nezaposlenošću i iseljavanjem rod postao najveći problem. Govoreći o spornom dijelu Konvencije koji se odnosi na rod, ono što Konvencija zapravo problematizira su uloge koje pojedino društvo zadaje ženi samo zato jer je žena, i jednako tako, muškarcu samo zato jer je muškarac, a koje mogu biti okidač nasilju.

Te uloge u svom sadržaju mogu varirati ovisno o pojedinom društvu, ali zajedničko im je da ograničavaju muškarca i ženu u životnim izborima, ukalupljuju nas i predodređuju za postupanja i razmišljanja samo na temelju našeg spola. Nije li to aspurdno!

Riječ je prvom međunarodnom dokumentu koji obavezuje državu da poduzme sve potrebne mjere kako bi  prevenirala nasilje nad ženama i obiteljsko nasilje i kako bi zaštitila žrtvu. Istina, postoje mehanizmi zaštite žrtve i bez Konvencije, međutim ona obavezuje državu da ih zaista i provodi i da osigura financijska sredstva za njih.

Posebice je obavezuje da žrtvi osigura specijalizirani sustav potpore koji uključuje skloništa za žrtve, savjetovališta te SOS telefone koji bi bili besplatni i dostupni 24 sata.

Žalosti me vidjeti  kako u mojoj zemlji zaista postoje društvene skupine koji se protive ratificiranju ovog dokumenta.

Radeći na DEŠINOM projektu Podrške žrtvama i svjedocima imala sam priliku pružati podršku i  žrtvama obiteljskog nasilja, mahom ženama. Time sam i iz prve ruke mogla vidjeti kakve razorne posljedice nasilje ostavlja na ženu: fizičke ozljede, psihičke teškoće – osjećaji straha, srama i krivnje, potištenost, tjeskoba, uništeno samopuzdanje i slika o sebi pa čak i pojava depresije te na kraju i  gubitak povjerenja u druge ljude i institucije.

Neizbježne su i promjene u  svakodnevnom ponašanju zbog kojih stradavaju socijalni odnosi i produktivnost na poslu. S vremenom žrtva ima sve manje i manje bliskih osoba koji joj mogu pomoći, a time joj je izlazak iz nasilnog odnosa znatno otežan. I to je također razlog zašto je nužno osigurati specijalizirane sustave potpore koji bi bili dostupni žrtvama i besplatni, a to je ta „strašna“ obaveza koju nam Konvencija nalaže.

Ono što je posebno važno naglasiti jest da ako se ne bavimo nasiljem nad ženama i nasiljem u obitelji,  stvaramo  takvu društvenu klimu u kojoj se o nasilju šuti, ono se ne prijavljuje, žrtve koje su ionako već ispunjene sramom nastavljaju šutjeti, ne prijavljuju nasilje niti se povjeravaju ikome, istovremeno stvarajući sliku da nasilja u našem društvu, u našoj lokalnoj zajednici  nema, da ono  ne postoji.

Time je žrtva još više obeshrabrena prijaviti nasilje i potražiti pomoć te iz istih razloga mnoge žrtve usred osjećaja sramote, straha od stigmatizacije i nedovoljne ili nikakve podrške obitelji i zajednice  na kraju odustanu od kaznenog ili prekršajnog postupka. Istanbulska konvencija usmjerena je, između ostaloga,  na rješavanje upravo ovih problema. Žene žrtve rodno uvjetovanog nasilja i žrtve obiteljskog nasilja zaista pate i trebaju našu pomoć, ne smijemo dopustiti da se osjećaju kao da su prepuštene same sebi.

Protivnici Konvencije brinu se da će ona sasvim izmijeniti društvo u kojem živimo. Istina je, ona ima taj potencijal – može uvesti stvarnu, a ne samo proklamiranu ravnopravnost spolova, može potaknuti žrtve da prijave nasilje i potraže pomoć, može pomoći brojnim ženama i žrtvama obiteljskog nasilja koje osjećaju posljedice dugotrajnog nasilja, može pomoći budućim naraštajima da odluče drugačije: majkama da ne uče svoje kćeri da šute i trpe jer tako prava žena treba raditi, sinove da ne dižu ruku na svoje žene jer nisu bile „poslušne i  podređene“  i naposljetku, može zaista smanjiti pojavnost nasilja nad ženama i nasilja u obitelji.  Unatoč tome, nada postoji. Hrvatski premijer je uputio Konvenciju na glasanje u Sabor što predstavlja velik napredak. S obzirom na odnos moći stranaka u našem parlamentu, uvjerena sam da će, kada  dođe na dnevni red,  biti usvojena.

 

Christiane Taubira 

Christiane Taubira , born 2 February 1952, Cayenne, French Guiana) is a French politician who on 15 May 2012, was appointed Minister of Justice of France in the Ayrault Government under President François Hollande. She resigned from office on 27 January 2016

Ms Taubira was the driving force behind a 21 May 2001 law that recognises the Atlantic slave trade and slavery as a crime against humanity. In 2013, she voiced her support for land reforms in France’s Caribbean territories as compensation for slavery.

As Minister of Justice, Ms Taubira formally introduced the electoral promise of François Hollande.[7] It became Law 2013-404, which legalised same-sex marriage in France.

This is what she has recently written:

> “Le féminisme est un humanisme, ce n’est pas une guerre de tranchées. Etre
> impitoyable envers un comportement sexiste n’est pas faire la guerre à
> l’autre sexe. Ce qui se joue ici est un combat sur les valeurs, sur le
> respect des droits et des libertés pour la moitié de la population. Ce
> combat peut être porté par toute personne qui se reconnaît dans ces
> valeurs, et ce quel que soit son genre”.
>
> “Le combat féministe peut entraîner avec lui tous les autres combats car
> son essence est la revendication qu’aucune différence de traitement n’est
> acceptable sur la simple base d’une différence physique ou de choix de
> vie. Si nous nous accordons sur cette valeur de base, alors tous les
> autres types de discrimination tomberont. C’est pour avoir compartimenté
> les combats que le mouvement féministe s’est affaibli. Ce qui peut assurer
> l’efficacité des luttes, c’est la possible convergence de celles-ci”.

“Feminism is a form of humanism. It is not a trench war. What is at stake is fighting for values and for the rights and freedoms for half of the world population to be respected.

The feminist struggle can take along all the other fights because it claims that nobody should be treated differently because of  a physical difference or a choice of life. This is a basic value that can be shared by all the other struggles”.

This refers to intersectional feminism.

Intersectional feminism is much more than the latest feminist buzzword. It is a decades-old term many feminists use to explain how the feminist movement can be more diverse and inclusive.

If feminism is advocating for women’s rights and equality between the sexes, intersectional feminism is the understanding of how women’s overlapping identities — including race, class, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation — impact the way they experience oppression and discrimination.

In  this movement, born in the US, the issue of equality goes beyond the mere question of genders and tends to integrate a more inclusive vision which encompasses oppression and discrimination of race, class, gender…. All the identities mentioned above.

This is also a view shared by Ms Taubira.

In Venice the first restaurant opened and managed by migrants

A boat full of birds rides the waves pointing towards Italy, the only horizon where it is hoped to land to begin a new flight. It is the painting realized on the walls of the first African restaurant in Venice opened the last 4th November.

The metaphor of the flight is not accidental. The staff who believed in the project is made largely by African migrants, arrived the last year with the hope of closing the door with the past and starting over. The founding members, Hamed Mohamad Karim, Hadi Noori, Mandana Goki Nadimi and Samah Hassan El Feky, migrants from Afghanistan, Iran and Egypt, have tried on their skin years before the drama of migration, when some of them arrived in smallest refrigerated trucks still minors.

And it was just a few years ago in one of the the minor’s center of Venice, that one of them, Hazara Hamed Mohamad Karim, had the intuition that food can unite and help to overcome prejudices. “I started organizing parties in the minor’s center, asking all the boys to prepare a dish typical of their country – he explains – and I saw that it worked for both the boys who were in the centers, both for those who came to visit us”. Hamed, a film director who can no longer return to Afghanistan because threatened by the Taliban, makes a first experiment in 2002 founding the Orient Experience in the Cannaregio district. The restaurant offers dishes that migrants have learned to cook on the journey of hope to Venice and is a great success.

Today the challenge is even greater because those working for the Africa Experience are asylum seekers, representing the thousands of people who are fleeing desperately from the black continent. “I am Ethiopian” – tells Alganesh Tadese Gebrehiwot, 30 years old, fled from Ethiopia, chef of the restaurant – “I learned to cook with my mother. In Ethiopia there is still a lot of division of roles, women cook and stay at home. I grew up helping her and I learned some of the dishes I will prepare, like some kind of bread, Ejra or the Mesir wot, a lentil soup. I would never have thought of becoming a cook, but I am finally very happy. I worked as a cleaning lady, but I could never make my dreams come true”.

Even Muhammed Sow from Guinea and Efe Agbontaen from Nigeria have fled from wars and violence on the boats full of people we see every day. In that mass there are individual human beings, individuals with the stories that can be known here, speaking in front of a good dish coming from a country of which very little is known at the end.

The dishes of the menu were chosen through a competition that involved students and professors of the Hotel Management School Barbarigo of Venice, called to judge which dishes to include in a real menu. The first classified have been theirs, accompanied in the hall by some founding members, such as Hadi Noori, among the first boys arrived from Afghanistan in those refrigerated trucks that for some were mortal: “I was 15 years – tells Noori, today 25 years – and I worked at the factory in Kabul, I wanted to study and I could not, in the end I had no other choice, I had to leave”.

At 15 he leaves from Afghanistan to reach Iran and then continue on foot to Turkey: “During these trips you’re alone – he explains – but then you meet other people who may not see again … From Turkey I went to Greece with a rubber boat, then I stopped there and tried to work but there was so much exploitation. One day I stuck with other boys in a truck full of oranges, the temperature fluctuated between zero and two degrees, but we managed. The same happens to my colleagues who are here today, when they embark and do not know if they will ever arrive. It only drives us the desire to start again, to fly again”.

We Are Alone

Loneliness. Ten letter word that arouses million fears in us. Due to our busy schedules,  we do not notice this life fact which will certainly happen to us all in one of our life stadium.

Loneliness is felt and pervaded mostly in the  old age. With less  and less tasks, life really slows down.

World as we know it changes: people face with loss of family, friends and partners, number of close people is decreasing, it gets harder to find somebody to  talk to and share feelings with, without feeling as burden to everyone around us.

Rarely do we young try to „walk in their shoes“. Could it be that we don`t even consider  difficulties that this life stage brings and  the fear that it awaits us too, if we are lucky enough to live to that age.  How can we help older people so that they don`t  perceive old age as waiting for the „train of death“? We cannot answer all of the questions, but we must be aware of these facts:

Old age implies  adjustment to life changes as well as potential risks this age inevitably carries. As body functions naturally decrease, health risks and development of the diseases  arise. Lack of activities, social care and nurishment  affects  their mental health. Due to all that, it can be concluded that elderly are social group that can become subject to poverty and social exclusion.

Therefore, social support is crucial in overcoming such life changes. Indeed, it is hard to accept that older people are not included in social events. Just because they are old, does not mean they are less worthy. Moreover, we could learn a lot from their life experience.

I would like to mention that we will also grow old one day. If we could look back in the past, we could see that helping each other and supporting family life, part of which of course is helping older parents, was completely natural and, foremost, vital for community support.

Today is quite different. Older people are neglected, forgotten from their children and society and  are decaying  more and more, losing their cognitive and psychophysical abilities. Maybe neglected, but it doesn`t have to be like that!

Not only young pepole are alienated from elderly, but violence againtst them is increasing.  Often they are seen as incapable for living in modern world due to their old age and decreased body and cognitive functions.  I belive that value of their knowledge and experience is priceless. No world computer server can be compared  to the amount of knowledge that is carved in every inch of their body during lifetime.

One must wonder, what kind of society have we become when law protection from one`s own children and family memeber is needed?

Recently, in Croatia new law has been adopted  according to which the most severe  punishment and high money fine  are given to those who do not support nor take care for their old, poor and sick parents.

Although I am more than happy because of this positive changes in terms of punishment, but at the same time I am disappointed to see these negative trend which  demands such punishments.

Combining  young and old, inter – generational learning  can bring nothing but positive changes in us as well as in whole society. I am certain that we don`t want to wake up one day and have no one to talk wtih to. To be aware of all knowledge we have,our  fear and wishes and not having someone to share it with. When we become older, we may not be able to participate in the same amount of activities as when we were younger. In spite of that, we do have so much to offer in maintaining quallity of our society. We must not allow  spirit of elderly people to  ever vanish from us. Without doubt we can learn a lot from each other. Old people can complete our knowledge by, for example teaching us some traditional customs through which our culutural heritage could be preserved Meanwhil, we can help them in adjusting to modern ever changing  world. Stay human no matter what.

I would like to share with you example of one lovely, retired lady – one of the first DESA`s members – Mrs Marija Veltruski.  She is a wonderful person filled with love, compassion and above all, modesty. Through all her life, along with other DESA`s members, Mrs Veltruski has worked on  preservation of her homeland`s heritage, passing her knowledge on traditional values to the youngest members through  additional  extra-curicular  activities in elementary schools, implementation of which is her credit.  All of this you can fins in her recently published book „Nurished with strings of love“. She wrote book in her 74th year with help of younger  DESA`s members.  After this, can somebody dispute the fact that older people can contribute to society helping its growth and wealth? And this is just one small example in my surrounding, but the one that fills me with love towards older people and inspires me to look at world  differently.

Local Activity France: “I allow myself to…”

This is a local activity made by women from suburban areas for this year celebration of March 8.It is about ” i allow myself to…”

 

 

                  I am self-congratulating myself

 

I allow myself the freedom not to be a mother

I give myself the right to invite a man to a drink

 

 

I give myself the right to love a woman

 

I dare to do a so-called masculine sport

 

I do not give the opportunity to do the job I love without prejudice

Original Source;  https://www.facebook.com/maylis.malossanne/posts/2015347165402607

“Vad har filmprojektet gjort och vad ska vi göra?”

Vår 3-månaderssammanfattning;

Filmprojektets andra år började i oktober 2017 med Minna, Ali och Charlotte som tillsammans planerar för det kommande året. Vi träffade vid flera tillfällen under oktober för att planera och slutföra aktiviteterna nedan. De blev en stor framgång!

Filmprojektgruppen hade en fantastisk social kväll tillsammans med personal och deltagare i november. Det var ett perfekt tillfälle att träffa gamla och nya människor intresserade av filmprojektet, lära känna varandra bättre och reflektera över föregående år. Vi diskuterade olika idéer för de nya filmerna och hade en trevlig stund tillsammans på bowlingbanorna, där vi stärkte gemenskapen och glädjen.

 

 

I slutet av november hade vi en Green Screen Activity i Blackbox Örkelljunga. Vi testade hur den gröna skärmen fungerade och hur vi kunde använda denna teknik i några av våra filmer.

 

Strax före juldagen samlades vi för att dela ett fantastiskt “julbord” som utarbetats av Minna! Där talade vi om KASAM-modellen och hur det nya året skulle stödja oss för att få en bättre KASAM; ett mer förståeligt, mer meningsfullt och mer hanterbart år. De arbetade tillsammans för att planera några av våra film storyboards redo att filma i det nya året.

Under de sista dagarna av året hade vi några intensiva dagar i en fotbollsturnering som var beredd att ytterligare ansluta till projektdeltagarna. Det fanns 12 otroligt begåvade fotbollslag. Det var fantastiskt att se alla som bidrar och stöder varandra. Vi ser fram emot 2018-turneringen.

En av de första aktiviteterna för 2018 var en indiska-tema-interkulturell-kväll. Det var ett härlig kväll där vi fick uppleva den indiska kulturen, införlivat utmanande teambyggande aktiviteter som planerades av IFALLs internationella volontärer. Det finns många internationella volontärer inom IFALL för närvarande. De är från England, Australien och Turkiet. De är också tillgängliga och stödjer filmprojektet.

Slutligen gick filmprojektgruppen för att titta på The Greatest Showman för att göra starkare relationer med de unga och ge inspiration för ungdomarnas egna filmer. Det bidrog också till att göra en stark koppling mellan filmprojektet och ett annat projekt inom IFALL som baserat på cirkuslära.

Vi kommer att börja filma med 5 ensamkommande minderåriga i februari och mars. Filmgruppen kommer att träffas en gång i veckan på måndag för filmaktivitet mellan 15:00 och 16:00 i Forum Örkelljunga och förbereder sig för att träffas i sessioner. Vi planerar vår sommartur i Skåne och Sverige att dela våra filmer och det kommer att visas för en publik på minst 250 personer. Det kommer att bidra till att sprida framgången med filmprojektet och de unga människornas berättelser. Vi har skapat ett utkast till plan för hur vi kan använda filmprojektet och KASAM-metoden för ungdomsarbetare, socialarbetare, lärare och andra volontärer. Våra lokala aktiviteter har nu officiellt startat för den här terminen och vi hoppas att vi ses där! Om du är intresserad av att delta i filmprojektet och skapa din egen film – kom och hälsa på oss.

Dreaming Out Loud Public Event – Democracy in Sweden

 

Last weekend IFALL promoted the event “Democracy in Sweden”.

Integrated in the project Dreaming Out Loud, IFALL invited the local youth to discuss and debate around the Democratic process and access in Sweden.

During the event we also took the time to make an exercise on participatory budgeting.
We asked the young people present for ideas for their community and voted on the best ones. The final result from this activity will be hand out to the municipality as a result of this process.

Thank you all for coming!

 

“If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention”

I recently came across a post of Instagram;

Its amazing how true the words on a simple T-Shirt can be. This really struck a cord with me and really made me reflect on the current gender inequality that exists and shockingly how passive we can so easily become.

International Women’s Day is one day within the year, for example, when women are “allowed” to be celebrated. It is the perfect opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the women who have a positive impact on your life and inspire you everyday. In today’s society there are (thankfully) more and more women that are totally “rocking it” and not following the old fashioned and restricting societal rules. It’s so much easier nowadays for some people to break out of the mould and create a career for themselves and make life decisions for them and no one else.  It’s International days that, that can remind everyone that we shouldn’t have to compete, judge or push each other down those among us and instead we should uplift, empower, encourage and support our fellow females. But why can’t that be everyday?

There are so many women that have given me little bits of wisdom and life advice that have contributed to who I am as a women today. And i’m proud of it! But we can’t be proud of it everyday.

If a woman is too confident is misconstrued for “cockiness”.

If a women is too beautiful by societies standards its okay that she is constantly worried about my safety. “The other day I took a 15 minute walk and in that time I got honked at twice and a guy got out of his car at a red light to ask me if I needed a ride. It just makes me scared sometimes.”

If a women is too independent she is viewed she will single forever, like the world will end if she doesn’t get married by the time she’s 32.

It’s such a shame when you read, watch society unfold in the real world as well as on social media.  I’ve seen some of the bravest, strongest and most determined people be easily diminished within seconds just because “She’s a women.” and sometimes its women to women. (don’t blame men all the time!)

Every person has a story to tell or a great piece of advice no matter who they and who they identify as.  It’s so special when we learn from each other and we can learn so much from reading other’s ideas. Some of my favourite life mottos or quotes have come from things i’ve seen online and what other people have posted. Just like the photo above. We need to stop pushing each other down and open our eyes the world around us. Pay attention to what really matters.

I hope this has encouraged you to think about the women in your life and how they have changed you or impacted your live! Maybe remind them or let them know!

“When women support each other, incredible things happen!”

The Consequences of Discrimination

I’ve been fortunate enough not to have been discriminated in a professional environment because of my gender. There may have been a few minor cases where I had been in a general environment but I hadn’t noticed or it wasn’t significant enough; which is still definitely not acceptable but I guess it comes down to how I feel at the end of the day, in this case, I was fine. But on the other hand,  I have had a life time of discrimination of my skin colour, ethnicity and height.

Really…? Height? Yes… because I am 152cm at 19 years of age, I get discriminated. Not so much nowadays as my body has developed

and fitted into a ‘woman’s’ body, but as a child, I was always the size smaller than my actual age; and would face bullying in school mostly. Comparing my height to my skin colour and ethnicity, is a whole different level. I had learnt to accept my height, and I now look back and think, there was nothing to accept. I never had an issue with my height, but was led to believe so.

I am not black. I am brown. This is something that has always disturbed me as people have chosen to put me in the same category as other skin types. I am proud of my skin colour and I would still be proud if I were darker. The reason I raise this point is to demonstrate the level of ignorance that I have experienced. It is not just about the colour, it’s also about my identity. There are different tones of dark skin which helps identify someones ethnicity. For example, my ethnicity is Indian, my type of colour is significantly different compared to someone from Africa. Often, I have witnessed individuals labelling people of darker skin colours as one group. This perspective can lead to dangerous generalisations and stereotypes about particular communities.

Throughout school I was bullied horrendously. I understand that it’s a norm in an environment like school, nothing is perfect and there will always be cases where there’s some sort of bulling; even outside of school, in workplaces or just your personal social environment. But with things that an individual has no control of? Such as skin colour and where you come from? Even if it was possible to change these two things, why should we? You are who you are and you should NEVER let another individual who is (lets not forget) just like you…. make you feel like you should change. It seemed that I had become immune to the bulling at some stage where I just didn’t care what they said. Not in the sense of thinking ‘just ignore them and don’t care what they think’. It was more, ‘why bother?’ I gave up; I DID care what they thought and said. The thought to stand up for myself was always terrifying as I’d get shut down straight away. I had accepted the lies they told me and started to believe the negativity. I resented my skin colour and had always wished I had white skin through most of childhood and sometimes even to this day. At times I still even feel ashamed to be Indian because of the words that were said towards Indians and the unreasonable expectations they thought I would and should have.

It used to hurt in the beginning. But thankfully for age, maturity and the support from people that did care and accept me, I eventually could feel that I really just did NOT care what others thought and said; I could accept who I was and I still can today.

It has been a journey that I shouldn’t have had to go through.

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