Gender Equality & its Unintended Victims

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Source: The Odyssey Online

Talking about gender equality is the in thing of the 21st century. It is also the 4th identified SDG goal by the United Nations towards attaining sustainable development across the globe. I do understand and acknowledge that the term is one that has been coined out of sheer necessity due to intense marginalization efforts targeted at women since the beginning, born out of the need to drive the momentum of equal rights for everyone, regardless of their gender.

However, it is at times interesting and a bit jarring to observe just how skewed this drive for ‘equality’ becomes in the face of certain events that takes place. For instance, on 21st of February 2017, a 71 year old man from R. Dhuvafaru became a victim of an acid attack, who is now undergoing treatment at state run Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) for the injuries he sustained.

What surprised me the most was there was nothing about this attack on social media platforms that are usually abuzz with every little thing that takes place. No one was talking about the fact that the contact lenses he was wearing melted in his right eye owing to the attack. That the attacker had been lying in wait when the victim had been on his way to the mosque for his dawn prayers. No one was going aghast over it. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration on my part to say that pin drop silence was what remained.

However, when a 50 year old woman was attacked on 24th of December 2016 with bleach in Sh. Lhaimagu during the early hours of the morning (similar to the attack on the victim mentioned above), the storm that became Twitter for instance was one to behold. Everyone was quick to condemn the attack, link it to extremism, the rise of fundamentalism and of course the fear that acid attacks on women might become an emerging trend as in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and even Afghanistan. NGOs were quick to condemn the attack while the same NGOs weren’t heard from this time around.

Another circumstance where I came across the same was a discussion I had with a fellow classmate on trafficking victims. When I asked her whether it was just females alone who are victims of trafficking in Malaysia, she didn’t particularly have a response or seemed to care. I have come across Amnesty International reports done on foreign labor in Malaysia where there are horrific accounts from trafficked victims who are male, who are exploited, beaten or worse by employers and even authorities who mostly get away with victimizing these groups of people.

While everyone focuses on women and children when it comes to victims of trafficking, perhaps for the obvious reason that they are the more vulnerable out of the three, it is still unsettling to know that just because these victims happen to be male, they are not considered as victims as much as females are. This is what I find wrong with the whole skewed machinations behind the advocation of and implementation of mechanisms that addresses gender equality.

A victim is a victim regardless of gender. Be it male or female, they are still victims under circumstances that should never have taken place, should never be. Condemnation should have the same vigor behind it, if we are going to do it at all. Otherwise we just become hypocrites who in the name of gender equality have lost sight of the bigger picture.

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Hitler and the Rise of Fascist Governments in the Modern World

hitler-european-union-nazi-creation

I recently watched Hitler, the Rise of Evil, a mini-series of sorts that depicts Hitler’s rise to power through the ranks of the National German Workers’ Party before World War II took place.

I believe that there would exist very few who haven’t come across Hitler’s name and heard of the atrocities that he committed in his attempts to wipe out the Jews from Germany. But having watched this, I believe that people have come to forget what it is that once gave Hitler his voice, what made it gain momentum, and what finally made him a force that was answerable to no one but himself, up until he took his own life, having become a name that would be splashed across the pages of history books forever.

Hitler himself wasn’t born a German. The irony behind this is there for everyone to see. Born in Austria, Hitler’s childhood is depicted to be one filled with abuse at the hands of his father. Growing up, Hitler was determined to become an artist – a dream that remains unfulfilled.

Having come to live in Germany, Hitler becomes of the mind that everything that Germans should rightfully own is being taken away by the Jews living in their midst. Even then, though not a German by nationality, somehow or the other Hitler had started to identify himself as one. Of course all this stemmed from sentiments that other Germans also held, but not with as much vigor as that held by Hitler.

Hitler was basically a nobody, who was given a place to voice his hate filled rhetoric by the circumstances he finds himself in when he joins the ranks of the National German Workers’ Party. His anger, the passion behind his words that echoed sentiments of a greater German race is one that finds its way into the hearts of the people who attend these meetings. Today, we see the same when leaders of the contemporary world use divisive and hate filled politics to drive the wedge deeper in a bid to get what they want.

As time goes on, Hitler’s audience grows in number, the rich and affluent backs him, all the while thinking that they would be able to manipulate and control him for their own needs. No one tries to stop him and his hate filled speeches that grows larger crowds than ever, until a tipping point comes where Hitler and his allies try to stage a coup which fails rather miserably. Once again, driving home the point the need for accountability that comes with the concept of free speech, an aspect that many liberals tend to have problems with.

Hitler returns a couple of months down the line to win seats in the parliament for their party, via which he controls the entire dynamics of politics at play until finally he is given German citizenship, which paves the way for him to force the hands of the powers that be that makes him the Chancellor of Germany.

Hitler was a maniac, a narcissist, a man who couldn’t see beyond his hatred for the Jews. A control freak that couldn’t abide by anyone who defied him, Hitler was a man that should have been stopped, had society had the foresight into what he was and what he represented.

Responsible for the murders of millions of Jews in concentration camps and otherwise out of whom many were children, the most interesting aspect of the story for me was the role played by Fritz Gerlich, a German journalist who refused to tow the line when it came to Hitler. He saw the dangers behind what Hitler represented, he wrote and tried to get the message across at great cost to himself and his wife, his sole purpose being to educate people on what they were getting themselves into. He finally paid for it with his life in one of the first concentration camps that was set up.

What was scary in the extreme for me was the way Fritz saw the disregard people showed towards anything of the nature he had to say. Few believed him. Rest couldn’t care less. The detached nature of society towards the evil that was emerging from right in their midst, that’s what I can see among us even today.

Hitler’s absolute control of the institutions once he came to power is one that we should all learn lessons from. This enabled him to promulgate the laws required, to change the constitution as he saw fit, in order to finally bring to life the plans that had always lurked deep in his psych.

We see the same happening in our own country when it comes to control of the legislative body and perhaps with Donald Trump’s ascension to the American presidency, with Republicans controlling both houses of their legislature, I believe that the potential for the same thing happening in the US is just as great. The slogan of “Make America Great Again” drips with the same sort of vile rhetoric that was used by Hitler to win the Germans over which helped him to finally execute his plans.

The rise of fascism and governments that hold strong beliefs of superiority of own people over minorities is an increasing trend in the world once again today. Donald Trump’s win in the US has actually emboldened a lot of far right movements within Europe itself. Their blatantly racist and hatred filled speeches are becoming a thing of the norm, the accepted norm once again.

Watching the series, I just couldn’t help but think to myself, when would we as humans ever learn from our pasts. When would we stop being so complacent about everything, just because we are not at the receiving end of the wrongs that is happening around us. I say this because majority of us seems to have lost our ability to identify wrong from right, what is acceptable from what is not, and we are all uncritically satisfied with our own actions or lack of, in the face of the rise of leaders who are hellbent on destroying the very fabric of democratic societies that emerged as a need to eradicate even the remotest possibility of a new Hitler rising to power from the ashes ever again.

Dhivehi – A Language on its Deathbed

Most days, there’s little to be proud about when it comes to being a Maldivian. The corruption and injustice running rampant in this small country of ours makes the country I was born and raised in a trifle bit hard to take most of the time. But then again, Maldives is home, it’s people are mine and I theirs, and there’s always that sense of belonging here that I have never found elsewhere. Though my inner free spirit lusts to travel to all corners of the earth, Maldives would always be my home.

In recent times, not a day has gone by without one local news or the other causing an uproar in the Maldivian community. The last one to hit us was the news that our language academy aka ‘Dhivehi Bahuge Academy’ had spoken out on the need to change the taxi boards affixed to every taxi as per new regulation should in fact be in the local language. An advisement that came a trifle bit too late in my opinion.

DhivehiBas

Image created by Waddey which depicts the ridiculousness of Dhivehi Bahuge Academy’s statement regarding Taxi boards

Yes, Dhivehi is our own language. Our mother tongue. A language that bears characteristics of and has evolved from a mix of Arabic, Sinhalese and Maharashtri, a language spoken in ancient India. The prospect of having our own language unique to us while is a novelty in the sense that the language is part of the definition of our race and culture, many would disagree with the fact that Dhivehi contributes in any positive way to our lives. While it also helps immensely when you need to share a gossipy tidbit with the friend next to you when you don’t want non-Dhivehi speaking individuals to know what you are talking about, there’s also the current generation and the one that will rule this country tomorrow that does not feel overly emotional at the prospect of losing our own language.

Dhivehi as Part of our Education

Some might argue that Dhivehi as a language is dying its imminent death because our education curriculum barely touches the subject as students move through their primary, secondary and high school education. From someone who has been through every stage of Dhivehi learning that the Maldivian curriculum has to offer, I have to say I was never impressed with the delivery of the language nor the teachers that came bearing the ‘goodness’ of the language.

Imagine, a sleep deprived teacher who walks in with a pinched look on their face to take a 45 minute class thrice weekly. First and foremost, the teacher alone serves as a turn off for students. Teaching a language is definitely something quite different when compared with various other subject matters. A love for the language one is teaching is a must to convey that sense of ‘I’ve got to learn this’ feeling to the students. From the moment the Dhivehi teacher walks into class everything starts going downhill. An uber bored ‘what the heck am I doing here’ voice will ask students to open to a page number, read what’s there, answer a couple of questions and then? Nothing. That’s it. There aren’t activities that would help a student learn what the language is about, to fall in love with it and see it as a language that could prove to be useful in their future. So how do we blame the current generation that has been bored to tears by teachers who couldn’t care less of the knowledge they were leaving their students with?

Lack of Proper Language Standards

I am no guru of the Dhivehi language. I barely managed to get a ‘C’ grade in both the SSC (Secondary School Certificate) exam and the HSC (Higher Secondary Certificate) exam later on. My handwriting would have definitely been on par with that of a doctor’s scribbles on a prescription if not for my father who was hellbent on working each of us to have a good handwriting when it came to Dhivehi as well as English. While I took to English like a duck to water, needless to say, Dhivehi came with its own dose of Valium pills in the mix.

What struck me most then and even now is the fact that Dhivehi lacks proper standards that are agreed upon and documented by the various ‘scholars’ of the language. While reading an article written by Hui Ali Didi might be the rage, it definitely does not instill the love a student ought to have in the language to seek more materials to read and learn from. With one teacher agreeing on one concept and the other the opposite, as students we remained confused and most of the time didn’t give it much of a thought except when it came to passing exams. Even then, unlike an English exam where one knows what is expected of them, Dhivehi exams always lay in the unknown; no one knew what was expected apart from writing essays that suited the current teacher’s accepted mode of essay writing. All in all, language standards remained the prerogative of the teacher in residence. So who do we blame for this confusion that has led everyone to correctly assume that Dhivehi as a language is not going to be viable for long if something drastic is not done to counter this effect?

The Language that Lies Stagnant

I don’t think most would disagree with me when I say that one of the most severe problems facing our language is the fact that Dhivehi as a language doesn’t seem to grow and expand to encompass and embrace the constant changing world that we live in.

If I were to be cruel, I’d have to say Dhivehi develops, if it can even be called that, at the rate it’s people develop. Our dictionary aka Radheef remains absolutely obsolete. There’s just one online version and that too no thanks to the department that was apparently ‘protecting’ the said document from going ‘viral’. Dhivehi linguists (most of them so darn proud of the fact) boasts about how rich our language really is. I fail to see the point. Perhaps because I have little or zero interest in reading most Dhivehi literature (those things just scream at me not to touch them), I really don’t see all that many words that can be used in multiple contexts. I judge a language to be rich by that. The words that ebb and flow and give meaning to the letters that you write on a page. Yes, our ancestors and current generation included are quite adept at cursing and throwing foul words around using the language; apart from that? Zilch, nada!

What Lies Ahead?

So in the end, whose responsibility is it to develop Dhivehi as a language? To make it grow and infuse it with very much needed life that could perhaps help bring it back from the throes of death. Where is the language academy’s role in all of this? Is their role limited to giving advice as to the bare minimum the law on the language asks from us, and that too when the time for the advice has come and gone? Or is their job a more vital one in terms of bringing the language to the people, to make it a highly usable one in all contexts?

One thing is dead certain, pun intended. Dhivehi as a language currently lies at the language academy, stagnant and half dead, just as the academy itself, barely breathing while the said academy ignores that and pushes on more important reforms needed to run the taxi services in this country. And as I see it, if something is not done soon enough, I don’t see it reviving and being able to keep up as the world continues to hurtle its way through tomorrow after tomorrow into the yonder.

Thoughts? Feel free to share! :)

 

And Along Came the Doctor’s Structure…

Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital

Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital

Today, I reached a new ‘high’ in the world of social media. Some might even say its an ‘achievement’ that few would attain by being as outspoken as I am with my thoughts and views on the social media.

What I found out today was that my thoughts which I share freely on twitter, and on Facebook to the limited audience of my friends has a ‘huge’ impact in shaping the policies that govern this country. Now who’d have thought huh? I definitely wouldn’t have. And didn’t. Until I received messages from two different individuals regarding my Facebook post that went together with the Haveeru news article on the implementation of the new job structure for doctors and just how disappointed most of them were about it.

Don’t get me wrong. Doctors are all the rage and all that. And at some point or the other we all owe our wellbeing and lives to one of them brilliant people. And there are those few doctors who continue to serve the public to the best of their ability all throughout their life that earns my wholehearted appreciation and gratitude.

My point of contention when it comes to doctors in this country begins with the fact that most of them just manipulate the system in place to achieve their personal financial goals in life. The government spends tons of money on their education, most of them requiring 5 to 6 years to complete their M.B.B.S and another 4 years to get specialized in an area of interest to them. And just like many of the public servants who study at the expense of the state and sign a bond agreement that they’d serve in the public sector at least for the specified duration of time, doctors too follow the majority and try and evade the system in place that SHOULD hold them accountable.

What one should realize when it comes to the public service is that it is pointless working in the sector thinking you’d attain financial security of the kind the rich and elite enjoy. Public service is not about how much money you earn. Rather it is about your contribution towards the betterment of your country. Towards keeping the machine that is the government working so that the public who receive essential services from it don’t have to resort to corruption and whatnot in order to get them. And I think the quote which I will write below taken from a report of a Commission to Enquire into Matters Affecting the Integrity of the Public Service in 1955 in the Malaysian government sums my thoughts up best.

“The fundamental principle of employment in the civil establishments is that a man devotes the whole of his working life to the public service in return for emoluments which are proportionate to his status and with a pension to provide for his old age. He can never acquire wealth but he is not exposed to unemployment or to the other risks of commercial life.”

I know better than most on exactly what I’m talking about when it comes to the public service. I have devoted more than 8 years of my life serving in the mechanics that govern the system. I also know the extent of corruption and mismanagement that has riddled one of the largest sectors in the public service of this country to date, a sector that has been pretty much neglected to wither and decay away on its own, regardless of the governments that have come and gone in the past couple of years. The issue that not all doctors are treated the same, of course owing to the ‘connections’ some have within the top layer of the government in place is one of the major issues faced by not just doctors but almost all public servants who come back from their studies. When the time comes to give back to the state, most of them, especially the ones who become specialized in various sub specialities tend to work in a way that maximizes their profits while the public who needs their service are practically leeched dry from the private clinics where these doctors see the maximum number of patients.

I’ve heard this tale many a time. It is impossible to get an appointment at IGMH, it is impossible to get the medicines required under the health insurance scheme ‘Aasandha’ etc. Nasheed’s government tried to implement the health insurance policy for everyone which ‘guaranteed’ that no one would have to pay out of their own pockets for medical expenses. Turned out that the National Social Protection Agency couldn’t keep up with the payments and one by one most of the private clinics that sees the bulk of patients visiting specialist doctors dropped out of the scheme rendering Aasandha mostly ineffective, unless you’re willing to wait around for more than a week to see your doctor at the government hospital.

My ire arises from this. I’ve heard from many within the sector, just how notoriously some of these specialists work the system so that they see only around 5-10 patients at the hospital during their O.P.D hours and then go on to see 20 or so patients at the clinics from whom they charge an amount equivalent to MVR 300.00 from most clinics. And specialists like those in cardiology, the last time I took my father in law to see one, I was charged MVR 400.00 to see him. That is bloody expensive when you take into account just how much of a hand to mouth existence most people live in.

If doctors cannot survive with their take home pays higher than most public servants except of course the parliament who are in a league of their own, what are those who receive a take home pay of mostly MVR 5,000.00 to do to survive? Are they to wait eons in a queue to see a specialist doctor at the hospital while their ailment continues to escalate and bother them because doctors just don’t have enough time to see patients at the hospital in which they are supposed to serve when they come back from their studies? If everyone suddenly gives up on the country saying that nothing will ever be put to rights here, who on earth is going to come and put our affairs in order? Who can we count on but ourselves to know the flaws in our systems and propose ways to correct them and try and try even though it seems like a fight we’d never win? Sometimes I wonder whether investing in foreign doctors would yield better service for the people than investing in educating Maldivians who at best are so far removed from their ability to empathize, that most of them hardly care about their patients much less the system that does everyone wrong.

What tickled my funny bone today is the fact that apparently one of my Facebook ‘friends’ thought my posts on the issue, which I have to say were quite a few, were found to be ‘important’ enough to be discussed at a meeting held at the health ministry regarding the doctor’s new job structure. Rather than focus on the issue at hand, I bet now I have a “Hate” club of doctors who would practically find ways to murder me if they could get away with it.

My Facebook just like all my other social networking accounts, is my own. The opinions I express there are solely mine, they don’t in anyway reflect the place I work at nor can they impose their values and views on me. In other words, the Civil Service Commission doesn’t do my thinking for me. I’m not that senile yet, to not be able to think on my own. My parents spent a ton of money on my education just so that I’d turn into someone who doesn’t require anyone else to spoon feed thoughts and brainwash me into submission.

The fact that a fellow doctor went and blasted at my elder sister who herself is one, because of my opinions, shows just how professional a doctor the person is. If the ego in some of these doctors in the system lets them entertain the opinion that Maldivian doctors are such a special and privileged bunch, I have as much right to hold an opinion that veers in the opposite direction. What today’s actions prove is that I did hit somewhere it hurts when I said that most doctors of this country are not in sector to serve the public but rather themselves.

The point is that most people in this country just don’t bother commenting on any of the stuff that happens in this society because, either they have their connections that will see them through a tight spot, or they are just so fed up of the system that never changes regardless. I guess I always end up being the person who expresses the opinions held by many, which most just don’t want to come out with.

And to whoever it was that took screenshots of my Facebook statuses on the issue regarding the Maldivian doctors community, please do the needful and share this too so that you’d all have something to be righteously indignant about in the next meeting. And on that note, thank you for making me feel so important. You have no idea just how wonderfully wrong you are in assuming I have anything to do at the policy level where I work. Next time, get your facts straight before giving attitude to my family. If you have something to say, you’re most welcome to share your thoughts on your own accounts and even here by commenting if you may. And in the meantime, don’t kill anyone.

Ta!

Kasauti Hour at Civil Service Commission

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If you all have been following the news today and yesterday, you would know what I am talking about. Though I’d be the last person to advocate for Fahmy on this issue, the latest news reports on the issue has left me wondering whether locking up the doors and throwing away the key is the best way to tackle the issue of Fahmy resuming work at CSC after being on leave.

For one thing, when Supreme Court came up with their verdict, everyone sat on their arses and let him report to work. He was paid his salary, not just for the days he reported to work but the entire period he was away from work; the days between Parliament sacking him and Supreme Court’s verdict.

What we are witnessing today is a total turnaround to these events. While the issue of who the President of CSC is has been settled, the issue of whether Fahmy is a member or not still remains to be resolved. When the Parliament appointed Ms. Reenee as the 5th member of CSC to the position supposed to have been vacated by Fahmy, Supreme Court stopped the swearing in process which effectively bars Reenee from reporting to work. While the President Dr. Waheed has said that he will decide what is to be done with Fahmy in three days time, we are left wondering whether Waheed resides on Pluto on which each day is equivalent to 6 days here on Earth.

Now the question I am struggling with is whether ‘suspending’ Fahmy & preventing him from returning to work by the actions of CSC is the right way to go. What sort of message is all this under the table behaviour driving home? Is this sort of deep ‘under the cover’ power struggle what CSC wants the public to witness? As far as my limited knowledge on CS Act goes, all employment issues related to CSC members will be governed by the Parliament. Yes, Parliament had its say, but then none of this has been resolved and that creates the sense that there is something fishy going on, something that we aren’t privy to that is working behind the scenes. Perhaps a position that CSC should have assumed from the very start of this affair which we are seeing too late might be the reason for this weird feeling that things just don’t add up!

In my opinion what Waheed needs to do is grow a pair or two, buck up and decide once and for all what is to be done so that we can all be done with this drama and move on. This is not healthy for this country and its largest workforce where discontentment practically reeks from all civil servants at large. If not Waheed, then the Attorney General needs to decide what is to be done so that CSC can end this episode of Kasauti and move forward with their designated jobs in creating an effective, efficient and professional civil service capable of serving the public.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a firm believer that Fahmy should be sacked for what he did and has done to many a female employee at the workplace and am someone who would always advocate for it knowing all that I know. But this is not how it should be. Or is it? What do you think?