2015 opened with an attack on the freedom of press.
Pictures from the headlines of the first ten days of 2015
The first month of the year there was an outpouring of anguished and biting solidarity with those gunned down at the French weekly Charlie Hebdo where 12 were killed including some of France’s best-known cartoonists, targeting the heart of press freedom and democracy.
Charlie Hebdo killing. – He drew first. – Australian cartoonist David Pope (Red colouring presenting the bloodshed by Marcus Ampe)
Among the cartoons that went viral online was one by Australia’s David Pope: a picture of a gunman with a smoking rifle standing over a body, bearing the caption “He drew first”.
“Ultimately people who carry out these attacks can’t defeat ideas through these means and they won’t succeed,”
Pope wrote, adding that he had once met a cartoonist involved in the shooting and that the attack “hit a nerve”.
Women and mutilation
In March IPS correspondent Stella Paul from India by the international advocacy organisation Women Deliver was named with 14 other journalists for their dedication to gender issues ahead of International Women’s Day 2015.
Paul, who herself is a survivor of infanticide, was honoured for her reporting on women’s rights abuses through articles on such issues as India’s ‘temple slaves’ and bonded labourers.
Paul’s dedication to women’s rights is not only shown through her journalism. When she interviews communities, she also teaches them how to report abuses to the authorities and hold them accountable for breaking the cycle of violence.
Road sign near Kapchorwa, Uganda, 2004
According Women Deliver CEO Katja Iversen, the Liberian Mae Azango deserves a Pulitzer. The daughter of Robert G.W. Azango, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia went undercover to investigate female genital mutilation in Liberia.
“After her story was published she received death threats and [she] and her daughter were forced into hiding. Mae’s bravery paid off though, as her story garnered international attention and encouraged the Liberian government to ban the licensing of institutions where this horrific practice is performed,”
A 2015 systematic review showed there is little high-quality information available on the psychological effects of FGM. Several small studies have concluded that women with FGM suffer from anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.[ Reisel and Creighton 2015, p. 50.] Feelings of shame and betrayal can develop when women leave the culture that practises FGM and learn that their condition is not the norm, but within the practising culture they may view their FGM with pride, because for them it signifies beauty, respect for tradition, chastity and hygiene.
Azango told Women Deliver,
“Speaking the truth about female genital cutting in my country has long been a dangerous thing to do. But I thought it was worth risking my life because cutting has claimed the lives of so many women and girls, some as young as two.”
Iversen said that many of the honourees had shown incredible dedication, through their work.
“For some of our journalists, simply covering topics deemed culturally taboo – like reproductive rights, domestic violence or sexual assault – can be enough to put them in danger,”
Unfortunately women’s health and wellbeing is still, for the most part, treated as ‘soft’ news, despite the fact that when women struggle to survive, so do their families, communities and nations and the West does not have much ear for the women and children their situation even when we got to see horrible pictures of exploitation and slavery. Not enough people are willing to by more expensive clothes to avoid further use of cheap labour under very bad conditions.
Nobel Peace Prize Winner Kailash Satyarthi speaking at the DPI/NGO Special Briefing: Ending Child Slavery by 2030. Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten
Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi a tireless activist against child labour, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 together with Malala Yousafzai “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education,” in March called for globalised human compassion to combat the global and persistent problems of child labour and child slavery. He wanted to see a clear language on tackling child labour in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He got the Harvard’s University Award “Humanitarian of the Year” 2015.
Making people to see
There was pure emotion in the face of Dr. Helena Ndume, more used to bringing sight to the blind than wiping away tears of her own.
The first U.N. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize was given in New York to Namibian born Dr. Helena Ndume who lived in Zambia, and Gambia where she completed secondary school, and Angola, before going to Germany to study medicine. As the head of the Ophthalmology department at Windhoek Central Hospital, Namibia’s largest hospital she is one of only six Namibian ophthalmologists.
Ndume has performed 30,000 pro bono surgeries for sufferers of eye-related illnesses in Namibia. The blind patients are filled with intra-ocular lens implants free of charge. She also encourages young girls to learn how to be independent.
The global population reached 7.3 billion in 2015. In the last 12 years, the world has added approximately one billion people, and in the next 15 years this is expected to occur again.
The United Nation’s new global and regional population estimates and projections entitled “World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision” predicts the population will reach 8.5 billion in 2030, a further 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100.
Nine per cent of the world’s population lives in the 21 “high-fertility” countries, where the average woman would have five or more children in her lifetime. Of these 21 countries, 19 are in Africa and two are in Asia.
It is estimated that over half of this population growth will occur in Africa – even if there is a substantial reduction of fertility levels which population growth is highly dependent on. Africa also has the highest adolescent birth rate: 98 out of 1,000 women.
Africa will “play a central role in shaping the size and distribution of the world’s population over the coming decades,” says the report.
The United Nations was commemorating World Humanitarian Day with “inspiring” human interest stories of survival – even as the world body describes the current refugee crisis as the worst for almost a quarter of a century.
Rioting, hooliganism and Sporting ladies
In 2015 sport came several times in the news with negative pictures of violence in sports involving crossing the line between fair competition and intentional aggressive violence. More than once a referee was attacked or bullied at football (or soccer) games. On several occasions fans but also now parents unleashed violent behaviour. Rioting or hooliganism by fans in particular is nothing new but the last few years the problem increased so much that in 2015 serious measures had to be taken.
Luckily the positive picture of winning ladies may soothe our minds.
The Women’s World Cup has shown people everywhere what women athletes are all about: skill, strength, unity and determination.
Asher-Smith (centre) at the 2013 European Junior Championships.
25 July 2015, Londoner Dina Asher-Smith ran the fastest time over 100 metres in history by a teenager when she clocked 10.99 seconds at the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games at the Olympic Park, becoming the first Briton to break the 11-second barrier.
On 28 August 2015 she set a new British record of 22.07 seconds in the 200m, finishing fifth at the World Athletics Championship in Beijing.
The Olympic heptathlon champion who returned from giving birth to her first child to land World Championship gold in Beijing in August, could receive the top award at the Sportswomen of the Year ceremony in November. In the Sunday Times/Sky Sports-backed awards Ennis-Hill finished ahead of Lizzie Armitstead and Lizzy Yarnold in second and third to be named sportswoman of the year.
Dafne Schippers after the 100m during the 2015 World Cup
Belgian boxer and the reigning WBC, IBF, WIBA- and WIBF world champion in the lightweight class Delfine Persoon got in Belgium the title of sportswoman of the year, but she was overshadowed by the Dutch sportswoman of the year Dafne Schippers who surprised may with her marvelous prestation and is the 2015 World Champion at the 200 metres, holding also the European record of 21.63 seconds at this distance.
Syria civil war and refugees
2015 unmistakably is the year where the Syrian war managed to be in the news every day and regularly presented us with the most atrocious pictures cleverly manipulated by the men from the Islamic State fighters.
2011 Anti-government demonstrations in Baniyas
Everybody has become convinced that the Arab Spring protests in 2011 could not bring peace to the region. The nationwide protests against President Bashar al-Assad‘s government turned out something were the West did not wanted to be involved with, but got the ball back in her face.
The conflict which gradually morphed from mass protests to an armed rebellion after months of military sieges has become a war with seemingly no end bringing people starving and trying to go to other countries to find a better life.
All parties involved in this civil war are guilty of severe human rights violations, with multiple massacres occurring throughout 2015. Only when too many people came to enter the European Union Europe seemed to react. Because of the considerable displacement of population and having riots against those refugees Europe pushed for some peace talks. The US, the EU big four, Russia, China and several countries from the middle east (including Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and, for the first time, Iran) in 2015 started peace talks in Vienna that are aimed at bringing an end to the conflict.
By the end of the year we could see the skeletons of hungry people (for example in Maydan, not far from Homs) who remind us of the German war camps, opposite the luxury in Damascus where nothing can be seen of the ongoing war, the same as the beach we got to see where the family of the president enjoys life, like nothing horrible happens in their country.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest prevalence (percentage of population) of hunger. One person in four there is undernourished. Currently about 842 million people, or about one in eight (12.5%) people in the world population affected, in 2015, Syria was added by the countries where not only children but also adults could not survive because of lack of food.
Like many problems it took months before some reaction came under way. We may not forget that when a conflict lasts this long, when reports about the suffering it is inflicting become a relentless wave of depressing news, and when the forces at play are this complicated, many people are tempted to turn away. In Europe and the United States we also see lots of people who have an apathetic feeling with those at war.
Demonstrators in Idlib, Syria, hold banners in a protest for civilians in besieged Madaya on Tuesday, 2016 January 5.
In the besieged Syrian town of Madaya, a town of 40,000 people northwest of the capital Damascus, where life seems to go on as normal in all luxury, people are dying of starvation.
We get messages in from postings on Twitter and Facebook were is begged for help, saying they have no access to food, water or electricity for days at a time.
In one message, a man speaks to the camera, but before long he breaks down.
“What did we do? What did we do?”
“My children, they’re dying. Bring guns, bring angels, but God, help us,”
Please also find the Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=941575405896351&id=175737975813435&_rdr (I am not able to read Arabic so I have to count on the Google translation, knowing that it does not translate so correctly)
Systematic killing of Arabs took place in Iraq and is now repeating in Syria and a Syrian writes on Facebook this will be repeated in other countries in the region. In case I understand him right he calls for the Arab world to wake up from his sleep before it is too late.
And Hanna behind Daash and Naash base …
Syria will be lost as lost Andalusia and Palestine, Iraq ….
The United Nations says 42,000 people in the area are at risk of starvation. And they make up only a fraction of the 400,000 in similar situations in other towns — and millions more struggling in hard-to-reach areas — because of the country’s civil war, which is about to mark its five-year anniversary. Millions more Syrians have become refugees abroad.
Some politicians in the West the whole year tried to make use of the ungoing unrest and tried to make their citizens afraid of the coming refugees. People like Trump wanted his followers to believe the refugees are a danger for the freedom of their land and religion and a danger for the citizens. He forgets to see that the danger does not have to come from outside but may well be coming from inside. He does not understand (or want his people to believe differently) for example the terrorist attacks in Paris where not executed by refugees, but by Belgians and French living in Belgium. Several Islamic fundamentalist wanting to bring terror in Europe worked from the heart of the European Union (the quarter Molenbeek in Brussels) and from Verviers and some villages in the Kempen. They were just people from our own regions and not some who came here in escape from the war-zones.
2015 was a year that saw the rise of extreme terrorist groups and continued attacks around the world, plus more mass shootings in the U.S.A. than days in a year, but it also saw its share of triumphs and uplifting stories like Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. and the U.S. Women’s Soccer team’s victory in the World Cup.
2015, A year of a year of triumphal moments and haunting images: A little boy, washed up on the shore symbolising the plight of 60 million refugees; people in Paris, Beirut and Nairobi running from terror attacks and countries ruined in relentless battles.
Please be welcome to view a leading source of global news and information source and see also the malnourished children. In this video you may find NBC News clips from NBC Nightly News, Meet The Press, and their original series Debunker, Flashback, Nerdwatch, and Show Me, plus in the second one a UN review of the situation in the world and the need of humanitarian help.
Further background reading
- Being Charlie 1
- Being Charlie 2
- Being Charlie 3
- Being Charlie 4
- Being Charlie 5
- The 2015 Terrorist Attack at Charlie Hebdo’s Offices: Year In Review 2015
- U.N. Marks Humanitarian Day Battling Its Worst Refugee Crisis
- Grant’s Favourite Pics of 2015
- Jasmine Abdulcadira, et al, “Care of women with female genital mutilation/cutting”, Swiss Medical Weekly, 6(14), January 2011. doi:10.4414/smw.2011.13137 PMID 21213149
- Malala Yousafzai Shows What a Girl Can Do with World-Class Education
- Malala Yousafzai Announces Scholarship, Receives Honorary Doctorate in Halifax
- Editorial Exchange: Pakistan Honours Malala Yousafzai, Its Young Icon of Hope
- What 14-Year-Old Malala Yousafzai Is Teaching the World
- The Paris Attacks: Year In Review 2015