Saw this post on AWARE’s Facebook page & decided to see what Google.com.sg turns up.
“Powerful Ads Use Real Google Searches to Show the Scope of Sexism Worldwide Simple visual for inequality By David Griner” <http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/powerful-ads-use-real-google-searches-show-scope-sexism-worldwide-153235>
So what do you think ?
I first encountered Vui Kong’s case back in 2008 & was immediately struck by the injustice
Later on, I sat in court to hear the constitutional challenge of the mandatory death penalty
With Singapore’s track record , it seemed like only a miracle could save Vui Kong
It’s thrilling to see that the miracle has indeed happened
Like could only happen in a hollywood movie
It’s also incredibly heartening and encouraging, that our lawmakers are not blind to justice, and can be persuaded. It gives hope for all the other laws that need to be changed.
The irony that homosexuality is criminalised here to uphold conservative moral values, while selling women for marriage — illegal in so many countries, including fellow ASEAN country Vietnam — is legal, and legitimised through frontpage news features.
This week, the Newpaper featured a company who imports Vietnamese women to be married to Singapore men for a fee. (http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/ive-been-asked-arrange-sham-marriages-matchmaker?page=0%2C4)
Unlike dating agencies for locals where both the men and women get a choice in who they want to date, these women are displayed and treated like goods.
“The women inside it are well-dressed. They wear lipstick and have powdered faces. Outside his shop is a signboard with the words “bride” in Chinese characters…..If a man wants to marry them, he pays the agency $6,800 in cash or cheque.”
The company had previously used a different operating model where
” matches were made mainly by taking the men to Vietnam for “viewings”….Up to eight men in each group would travel to villages in Vietnam, where the women would line up, dressed to charm.There, the men would select their brides and even have a wedding reception.Vows would be exchanged for $12,888 package that included air tickets, a health check-up for the bride, the matchmaker’s overheads and payment to middlemen.”
This practice is illegal.
“greater enforcement of immigration laws in Vietnam have made such trips risky. Says Mr Toh: “The Vietnamese authorities consider these ‘viewings’ as human trafficking and arrest those who conduct them.”
His Vietnamese brother-in-law was nabbed in 2009 and convicted for taking two men on a matchmaking trip to a village near Ho Chi Minh City. He is currently serving an eight-year jail term.
Now, Mr Toh flies the girls here on social visit passes, valid for two to four weeks. They stay with his family in a four-room flat in the Chai Chee area.
In the day, the girls meet prospective husbands. Some choose to sit in his office – the size of a two-room flat – hoping the man of their dreams will stride in.”
Why are such practices illegal? Why is it considered Human Trafficking rather than Matchmaking? The answer is that such practices put the women in very vulnerable situations where they are powerless and exploited.
“Then, he had paired a 21-year-old Vietnamese woman with a 50-year-old Singaporean man.
Barely two weeks after the man took the woman home, she came running back to the agency.
The man apparently had a drinking problem. One night before the wedding, he came home drunk and used a knife to make her sleep with him.
Says Mr Toh: “I sent her back to Vietnam. I also didn’t refund his fee, because he hid his drinking habit from me.”
If a Singaporean woman had gone to SDU for matchmaking, and got forced to have sex by her arranged date at knife point, she would have been able to report him, and he would be severely punished for rape/attempted rape. However, Mr Toh sent the Vietnamese girl home, probably traumatised, without any justice done to the rapist.
Yet this article has been published on the front page news, with no protest from anyone, and no action taken by the police against this rape. No church or mosque has come out in condemnation of this injustice
This is the state of the law and morality in Singapore
Yet, the State and churches and mosques here constantly support the criminalisation of LGBT people, in the name of upholding morality. Even though this puts us amongst the most backward countries ( http://filipspagnoli.wordpress.com/2008/10/12/human-rights-maps-15-homosexuality-laws/ )
The recent Universum 2013 survey of 6000+ Singapore undergraduates has shown that being LGBT-friendly is postively correlated with your desirability as an ideal employer.
9 out of 10 Top10 Ideal Employers voted by Singaporean students have been internationally recognised for their LGBT-friendliness
3 out of the 4 Pink Dot MNC sponsors (Google, Barclays, JP Morgan) have also made the local Top10 list.
Moral of the story ? Being seen as LGBT-friendly is darn good for business!
Top 10 companies that Singapore students want to work in –
1. Google (PINK DOT SPONSOR, HRC CEI 100%)
2. Singapore Airlines
3. PricewaterhouseCoopers (HRC LGBT Corporate Equality Index: 100%)
4. Ernst & Young (HRC LGBT Corporate Equality Index: 100%)
5. J.P. Morgan (PINK DOT SPONSOR, CEI: 100%)
6. Goldman Sachs (HRC LGBT Corporate Equality Index: 100%)
7. Barclays (PINK DOT SPONSOR)
8. KPMG (HRC LGBT Corporate Equality Index: 100%)
9. The Walt Disney Company (HRC LGBT Corporate Equality Index: 100%)
10. Procter & Gamble (HRC LGBT Corporate Equality Index: 90%%)
- Survey by Universum on 6,012 local students http://universumglobal.com/ideal-employer-rankings/student-surveys/singapore/
Pink Dot SG 2013 sponsors http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_Dot_SG#Pink_Dot_SG_2013
HRC Corporate Equality Index: http://www.hrc.org/corporate-equality-index#.Ud0zgvnI1yJ
Many thanks to Laura Freedman, who put together the HRC CEI references on her Facebook post. Laura is a INSEAD MBA and management consultant. She is the managing director and lead consultant of Access Education http://www.accesseducation.com.sg/about.html , http://sg.linkedin.com/in/lfreedman
If countries charge others for mining their oil & gas, why not also charge, if you’re supplying the world with oxygen?
Although meant to be sarcastic, this Indonesian official makes lots of sense, if you think about it
“It has only been one week of smoke and people are already making so much noise. What about all the oxygen that Indonesia supplies to them during the rest of the year?”
HOW KEEPING FORESTS HELP THE REST OF THE WORLD
- Supplying oxygen & fresh air to everyone
- Biodiversity, which is all mankind’s heritage. Plus, new drug discoveries are made from forest species
HOW COUNTRIES CURRENTLY PROFIT FROM THEIR FORESTS
- Deforestation for plantations (loss of biodiversity & damage to environment , even for future crops)
- Selling of timbre & other forest products
- Mining oil & gas
- Building cities
Rather than pointing fingers at countries that allow their forests to be cut down, let’s think about whether the system is fair.
We expect them to keep their forests so that we can benefit for free
Yet we pay them huge profits for deforestation, and blame them.
Most countries with huge tracks of forests are developing ones, with an obligation to improve their citizen’s lives.
If we can have a carbon credit system, what about having an oxygen/clean air debit system? Where countries who KEEP their forests get a reasonable profit/compensation so that they are not the only ones bearing the opportunity costs of deforestation?
If we can work out an international carbon credit system, I’m sure the UN & other international bodies can work out an oxygen debit system. That may be the first step to truly stopping massive deforestation.
I think the loss of Chinese dialects in Singapore is one of the saddest things to happen. It’s almost like the loss of an entire language, to me
Many of the Chinese Dialects used here are supposedly also used in China, Malaysia etc. But really, no one speaks it the way Singaporeans do (Of course, no one speaks it quite the way the Malaysians do, but that doesn’t make our dialects any less unique)
In Singapore, much of our dialects, especially Hokkien and Teochew, 2 of the most commonly used, have adopted many Malay words. It’s become so integral to our unique Hokkien/Teochew, that we don’t even feel as if we are mixing 2 different languages. In fact, I never realised the extent to which we’ve made our Dialects our very own, until I started speaking it to the locals when I went to China, or until I started to speak with some of the recent immigrants from Xiamen, Teochew etc.
And even though the Malaysians have also incorporated many Malay words into their dialects, we can always tell the difference when a Malaysian speaks any of the Dialects, including Mandarin.
The evolution of this Dialects reflects our history, at a very personal level. It reflects the journey our families’ ancestors took coming here, the friends they made here, their efforts at becoming Singaprean. I suppose the loss of these Dialects, also tells another part of our story
There’s nothing wrong with abortion counselling per se. Done well, I think it’s necessary.
What’s wrong is just the way we’re doing it here in Sg, going by this Asiaone article
And here’s the list of what i think is wrong. Do add on if i’ve left out any.
There is mandatory pre-abortion counselling if the women are Singapore citizens or permanent residents; have passed the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE); have at least some secondary education, and have fewer than three children.
There is no counselling for foreigners, rape victims or Singaporeans with three or more children, and those who have not passed the PSLE. If they seek an abortion, they get it right away.
Those who are counselled watch an abortion-counselling video entitled Abortion – Consider With Care, which tells them about the procedure and its implications.
They are also given pamphlets to read on the topics: The Truth About Abortion and Contraceptive Methods – Which One Is Best For Me.
Judging from the above criteria
Certain types of children (those with educated, Singaporean/PR mothers who haven’t fulfilled their duty of having 3 kids) are preferred. The rest can, literally, go and die. If this is not eugenics, what is this?
One common argument is that certain families are in the position to provide better care and hence a better future for their children. Eg. Educated mothers (strange , but i wonder : if the father is a freaking genius with multiple PhDs , would they then counsel the mother if she’s got no education??)
This argument brings me to my next few points
You don’t need to be fantastically educated to be a good parent. Having money/no money doesn’t make you a good/bad parent. Surely this doesn’t need elaborating?
However, it is true that if you are well-educated, you have a much better chance of providing your child with more resources to help him/her succeed. Eg. elite pre-schools & loads of tuition.
Why aren’t our tax money and State resources more equally distributed to give every child a level playing field and a fair chance at succeeding in life? Isn’t that part of our much beloved meritocracy, where you succeed based on your merit, not on the amount of money your parents have?
Why aren’t we helping our families-in-need cope better? Why is abortion subtly encouraged as a solution? “The biggest group of abortions, 44.1 per cent, involved women with secondary, O-level or Institute of Technical Education education. Many said they could not afford to have the baby.”
They make it seem as if an increasing number of educated women are aborting their babies (Do you hear them saying “Tsk tsk, all these selfish women are more interested in making money and sacrificing their babies to do that?”)
“In 2011, 36.3 per cent of all abortions involved university or polytechnic graduates – more than double the 15.6 per cent in 2003.”
What the article doesn’t state is that the proportion of women with university or polytechnic qualification has tremendously jumped. Going by the Census2010, 74% of women 25-29yr old have poly or uni qualification, compared to 40% of 40-44yr old women. Obviously if we are having a greater proportion of educated women, there’ll be a corresponding increase in the demographics of women undergoing abortions?
Scarily, some people still believe that smart moms pass on smart genes to their babies. A belief that supposedly justified the Graduate-moms-should-have-more-babies policies in the 80s. This is way more mythical than Santa Claus, the Lochness Monster and aliens combined. I’d rather believe in Santa Claus and aliens. (Yes, I know I’m not providing very logical arguments here, but I honestly can’t be bothered to, when you can simply google “do smart moms pass smart genes to babies?” )
Granted, community help groups in Singapore do see a disproportionate proportion of dysfunctional families with too many kids and not enough education. Like, WAY to many kids. How does our policy of mandating contraceptive education (part of counselling) for those with LESS than 3 kids but NOT for those with MORE than 3 kids help? Isn’t this the best opportunity to provide contraceptive education ??!!! Often, the woman KNOWS that she has way too many kids than what the family can afford. The thing is, having too many kids is sometimes a symptom of much bigger problems —- her inability to negotiate and stand up to unreasonable demands from her husband , for example. It’s a marvelous opportunity to help the woman and her family in a holistic way, and to prevent other problems from happening. But these women are simply given the abortion, no questions asked, no counselling provided, it seems.
I chanced upon this comment on a public Facebook page, “ 7yrs ago wen i found out i was pregnant ,WITHOUT MY OPINION, i was refer for a abortion due to my marital statues… thinking back now i know the reason, being a unwed mother is a disadvantage in our government policy.. their policy indirectly indicating to abort or give ur unborn child for adoption.. if one wants to bring up their unborn child its gonna be a tougher obstacles when it comes to chilcare leave to housing… ect..ect btw my unborn child is now a healthy 7yrs old… im celebrating motherhood every moment of my life im glad ive make a right decision to be a mother…” (Caps mine)
Supporting legal abortions doesn’t make one Pro-Choice, not when the woman’s opinion isn’t even sought and the decision made on her behalf. This applies to every other group of women who are automatically channeled for the abortion without counselling. Women with lower education are more vulnerable to begin with, and may have been pressured by family/relatives to undergo the abortion, when she herself might not want to. Her ability and power to negotiate with her family may be non-existant. Without a proper counselling process, how do the doctors know that this is truly her wish?
Considering how abortions are, at the end of the day, medical procedures , a patient’s understanding of the possible side effects, known consequences and alternatives are important for the patient to make informed decisions. Women with lower education are at greater risk of not understanding such information, since they may lack the access or ability to fully understand publicly available information. This means that it is particularly important that these vulnerable women be provided the necessary information before undergoing the medical procedure. Ironically, these women are “spared” the mandatory counselling
I’ve not had the opportunity to find out details of what the counselling really entails, but going by anecdotal stories and by their inclusion criteria, it’s very believable that the “counselling” is really an unethical effort t guilt-tripping these women during this emotionally-trying period of their life. Really, these women need support, regardless of the choices available to them. Not more guilt, on top of what they might already be feeling.
So it seems apparent that the State is trying to persuade women to hang on to “unwanted” babies, in an attempt to up our TFR. Multiple studies have shown that women know when an environment or situation is bad for bringing up babies, so I’m not sure if it’s a good idea upping the TFR within such environments, by inducing guilt. Since many married women give up their pregnancy because they “cannot afford it”, I honestly wonder if part of the counselling package also includes financial assistance to help the mother. That would at least be a tad more sincere, and the least the State could do while they are benefitting from the TFR. I doubt so though. I’ve long been a strong proponent of comprehensive sexuality education, where we teach girls (while you still can catch them in school) contraceptive methods, and skills to negotiate for the use of contraception within a relationship. I strongly believe that prevention is better than cure , and that we should be PREVENTING women from even getting an unwanted pregnancy and having to make the painful decision of whether to keep the pregnancy. Having ineffective sexuality education increases unwanted pregnancies both within and outside of marriage, and these pregnancies are not the way to increase our TFR
- Crap #11
The most vulnerable group. A group that not only gets insufficient support and counselling, but often are pressured by both law, employers, and their need of a job to undergo abortion. Seeing as many domestic workers here are either Muslim or Catholic, I’m wondering why the religious conservatives aren’t crying bloody murder and demanding the laws be changed. I’d have thought they would, after how they hijacked ESM Goh’s walk to make their political statement. I think it might be because too many of them have maids themselves.
I have to be very honest, and say that the last few days have presented the biggest challenge to my Christian faith.
These days, I find it so increasingly impossible to identify with a group that seeks to use the law — a tool that jails & oppresses — against homosexuals it claims to “love”. First it was FCBC Pastor Lawrence Khong’s FB posts (here & here) calling for homosexual men to be jailed. Then it was Cornerstone Community’s note calling Christians to battle LGBTs. The last straw was National Council of Churches of Singapore calling for homosexual women to be jailed as well.
Since I was young, the church has preached the importance of communal worship to me, but I honestly cannot worship with such people. You know, I respect & would even defend the church’s right to believe that homosexuality is sinful in the eyes of God.
But I cannot support the use of force and violence (Cornerstone Comm church calls Christians to battle against homosexuals). I dread to think that our church might be no different from countries that seek to pass a law that executes homosexuals, if our law had originally called for execution rather than a jail term.
What holds my faith together though, are stories of how Prophets and Jesus himself, stood against the religious leaders & organisations of their day, when they believed the religious organisations sinful. I remind myself that one can still remain in God’s grace and salvation even if one rejects or speaks against the teachings and actions of the earthly institution of God.
And so, yes, after everything, I still believe in God & Jesus Christ.
But the Jesus Christ I love & worship is one who’d rather drink from a Samaritan woman’s jar than the Pharisee’s cup; one who would rather stand with the non-religious Humanists who have unfailingly stood by the persecuted LGBT, than a church who claims to love but seeks to jail homosexual children of God.
A couple of years ago, someone contacted me through this blog, because her friend, a 21yr old young man, was admitted to hospital for HIV-related complications. She was trying desperately to get help to save his life, but there was little to be done by that late stage. She told me he had not sought help early, despite KNOWing he was HIV positive, because he was Malaysian, and he needed to keep his job as a hairdresser in singapore . He didn’t want authorities to know his status and get deported back home, where he wouldn’t be able to face his family, and so he had refused to go to any doctors. Until he collapsed and had to be admitted into hospital, that is. 2 weeks later, he died.
Very recently, my friend told me about a friend of his, who got stopped at the immigration when he was trying to enter Singapore. This person had businesses and friends and family here, but he was a foreigner. So he cannot even come back to settle all this business. This made my friend very afraid, because my friend is a Malaysian who has been staying in Singapore for very long, with his job and friends and life here. He is afraid to go back to Malaysia to visit family, in case he cannot return. And he has planned, in the event he has to go to Malaysia to visit, to take enough money and be prepared for a scenario where he gets stopped at the immigration and is never allowed to return. The prospect of losing my friend and never seeing him again this way, saddens me. The fact that he has to live his life in fear this way, saddens me more.
In Singapore, the Immigration Act Subsection 8 includes in its list of prohibited immigrants, “any person suffering from Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus”. Apparently “authorities justified the policy as being necessary to “safeguard the public health of Singaporeans” and to “prevent the import of cases of AIDS and HIV infection into Singapore where it can”.”(http://www.afa.org.sg/act/23/frame_keepingfamily.html )
Someone ignorant, fearful and prejudiced can quite easily believe that we have no choice, but to let some HIV positive non-citizens suffer, for the sake of the greater good. After all, in the early days of the HIV epidemic, many countries reacted the same way, and enacted travel restrictions against immigrants with HIV. However, over the years, evidence has showed that travel restrictions do NOT protect the local population at all. In fact, it can be counter-productive, when migrant workers fear to go for HIV tests , or fear to go for treatment after an anonymous HIV test (as with the young man who died from lack of treatment). This increases the population’s risk, because someone who is unaware of his/her HIV status, or untreated, may not take precautions with their partner (eg to prevent their wife from becoming “suspicious”). Their higher viral load makes them more likely to spread the infection to their partner.
Articles in medical journals have denounced travel restrictions, with headlines such as “Border restrictions and HIV / AIDS: a public health policy disaster.” ,and concluding that “border restrictions based on HIV testing are counter productive and impede efforts to contain the pandemic”. Way back in 1990, the Lancet declared “HIV and travel, no rationale for restrictions.” Seldom do scientists and medical journals use such strong words, but in this case, they have chosen to. ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1978061 , http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12286989 )
Such evidence led countries like the USA and even China, to remove their travel restrictions against people who were HIV positive (http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/united-states-ends-22-year-hiv-travel-ban/story?id=9482817#.ULYmmSpXvhI , http://www.aidsmap.com/China-repeals-its-HIV-travel-ban/page/1438602/ ). The UNAIDS has listed “Eliminate travel restrictions” as one of its key 2011 Political Declaration commitments.
A strategy that’s gaining support for its effectiveness is the “test and treat” strategy, where regular testing and early detection is encouraged, so that HIV infections can be treated aggressively before symptoms appear. Data showing that it slows or reverses the HIV infection rates, have been encouraging. (http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100224/full/4631006a.html ). Both HIV testing and affordable, accessible treatment is important for this strategy to work.
In Singapore, we too have embraced HIV testing. As World AIDS Day approaches, we have set for ourselves a goal of “walking towards zero infections, zero deaths, zero stigma and discrimination” (http://www.aidswalk.sg/ ), modelled after the global goal set out by the UNAIDS.
The Action For AIDS Be Positive video is very supportive and a good step toward eliminating stigma. It also encourages HIV testing, presumably for early treatment, so that people with HIV can live healthy, productive, happy lives, like anyone who has a well-managed chronic disease, so that we can move towards zero deaths.
Unfortunately, with the travel restrictions still enforced, not on the basis of evidence, compassion or effectiveness, but on the basis of ignorance, the truth is that many will be tested, not for treatment, but for deportation, or for a life of hiding and fear.
With a prejudice-driven policy of not subsidising HIV medications the way medications for other chronic diseases are subsidised, treatment after testing becomes compromised.
As long as such policies remain, AFA’s call to HIV testing and early treatment, no matter how compassionately done, will sadly continue to be seen as opportunities to pin the scarlet letter onto people living with HIV.
The audience cheers and laughs as the boy repeatedly throws himself on the girl, trying to hug her, no matter how hard she tries to push him away.
“how cute!” most of the Facebook comments went.
When this was posted on Facebook, someone commented “that little girl is being such a b***tch about it… hehehe”
Following which I commented that “Boys need to be taught the right values at this young age to respect the rights n wishes of others. If the girl says No, she means No. Get lost n don’t force yourself on her. And girls should stop being called bitches for saying No to a guy.”
The commenter was apologetic and said they were joking and being light-hearted about it. In fact, “the boy wasn’t being forceful too. If anything it was the girl applying force onto the boy. He was trying to show affection here and not trying to molest her. I think the lesson is perspective.”
This is a very common form of socialization we put our children through, that makes them think it’s ok to harass a woman, even when they are older. It’s important to instill the right values as children, even though it looks cute now, because it affects how we view the world and treat others as adults
In the adult world, in the workplace for example, you get male colleagues who start of genuinely trying to be nice and affectionate and genuinely trying to get his female colleague to date him
If she says No repeatedly, and he continues his behavior repeatedly, no matter whether he uses force at all, that’s disrespectful, and that’s workplace sexual harassment
And colleagues tend to blame the VICTIM, some by calling her a bitch, some by calling him cute and persistent, some by calling her oversensitive for something they see as light hearted n a big joke. Some, like the commenter, fault her for being “forceful” in her rejection, even though sexual harassment victims are often doubted and questioned “Why didn’t you say No? Why didn’t you be clearer? Why didn’t you report?”
The commenter is spot on, though, that it’s about perspective. Whose perspective do we take seriously, whose perspective do we dismiss?
To the victim, it’s not a joke. Many women feel very stressed n even quit their job, because of the stress
Of course this can happen the other way round where the woman is persistent (in which case we don’t call it cute but desperate if she’s ugly, slutty if she’s pretty).
Point is, we don’t want our sons n daughters to grow up victims or harassers. So childhood is when to teach them.
It starts with situations like what we see in the video. We tell our sons and daughters that it’s not right, not without permission, not with her saying No. Like how we tell them that it’s not right to try and take away another child’s toy repeatedly, after the owner says No. We do not encourage them to “keep trying until you succeed” at something that’s disrespectful.
Before you go on about how I should chill, because they are just kids, and no one would ever applaud adults doing something like that, here’s another video that’s being celebrated (by some). It attempts to garner sympathy for guys who’ve ever been turned down by a hot chick, despite all the many (silly) things that he’s done for her. How? By gathering the bros with the divine call “Someone has to destroy her, before she grows stronger and decimates all of mankind. Someone hold her, shove a sharp stake through her heart. Watch her turn to ash. Then we can live life again, free from tyranny”
This video reflects a culture which celebrates a man’s persistence in doing things for a girl, to pursue a girl, and admires him more if he persists in the face of rejection. It’s a culture fueled by movies that always rewards the man’s effort by giving him the girl. And demonises any girl who chooses to remain unmoved by his efforts, making it appropriate for her to be punished —- in another words, sending the message that a woman who rejects you deserves to be blamed, harassed, assaulted.
If you’ve experienced or are experiencing sexual harassment, or know someone being harassed, or think that you might have been guilty of harassment, or would simply like to know more, here’s a site to check out http://shout.org.sg/