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Something about the world seems rotten to me today. In a country where child prostitution is common place, where murderers and drug kingpins can bribe their way out of prison, where rape and crimes against women get less punishment than petty crime, 2 reformed, repentant young men were murdered last night.

990082-6d5ec12a-9d4c-11e4-8f33-8e666e0016f7Australian opinions are fiercely divided about Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the infamous Bali Nine ring leaders. I understand the arguments for the death penalty and in this case, I understand that people are annoyed that these young men broke a law in a country where they knew the consequences and flaunted the rules.

What I don’t understand is the lack of compassion and the complete failure to see that these men had been completely rehabilitated and weren’t asking for a pardon for their crimes, they were simply asking for their lives. Lives which they would have spent behind the bars of one of the world’s worst prisons.

Waking up this morning to the confirmed reports that Myuran and Andrew had been executed I sat in silence and wondered, where do we draw the line on appropriate punishment for crime? When do we cross the line between keeping the streets safe and playing God? As jails get so crowded that the death penalty has become a way to make room, have we given up on the very reason the system was created in the first place?

Prisons came about because there is a need to remove dangerous people from the general population. They are there to keep the “good” people safe from the “bad” ones. The ultimate goal of a jail term is to rehabilitate and reform law breakers. The current system rarely works.

Somehow though, in the case of the Bali Nine ring leaders it worked! The corrupt and inhumane Indonesian prison system actually worked. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said this morning, “Indonesia has not just robbed two young men of their lives but robbed itself of two examples of the strengths of its justice system”.

To the families of Myuran and Andrew I put my voice with countless others in Australia and around the world and say that I did and always will stand for mercy.

While the world burns in Baltimore and shakes to its core in Nepal I hope the human race can rise above and thrive while its people and planet seem intent on destroying themselves. But who really stands a chance in a world where being sorry still has you facing the firing squad?

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little white lie

Belle Gibson has got to be one of the most hated women in Australia right now. Not only did she lie about  having cancer, she defrauded thousands of people and splashed herself all over social media spending the money she claimed to be raising for charity on lavish holidays for her “healing”. It’s not just that she has insulted every person struggling through an illness battle or that she took us all for fools for so long. The most incredulous, infuriating thing Belle Gibson is doing is still lying.

Belle-Gibson-860x450Gibson launched a global business, including a top-rating app and cookbook, off the claims that she was a young mother healing herself naturally from terminal brain cancer.

The thing that annoys me most about this story, other than the fact that it’s become such a big story, giving this disturbed young woman more publicity than she ever deserved, is that she blames it all on a troubled childhood. “As a child, she says her mother changed her name five times for reasons she doesn’t comprehend.” Reports Clair Weaver of The Australian Women’s Weekly.

Gibson isn’t the first person to use their upbringing or mental illness as an excuse for bad behavior. How many sports people have we heard use the terms bi-polar and attention deficit disorder as an excuse to drink and take drunks in the last few years? It’s like a broken record playing over and over.

Stories like Belle Gibson make me angry, not because she lied and continues to lie, it makes me angry because I and many other people survived equally or worse troubled childhoods and didn’t turn out to be lying, manipulative sociopaths.

It’s widely accepted in society that children from broken and abusive homes will have a tougher time maintaining healthy relationships and holding steady employment as they grow up. Let me tell you something. I have had both for the majority of my adult life. I have friends from “healthy” and “normal” families however who are a complete mess! No childhood is an excuse to be a grownup douche bag.

Reading this story over and over today left me wondering, is this a woman a victim of society, or is society a victim of her? Obviously there are no winners in this story. Although she may have been riding the wave of fame and fortune, she has certainly neither in her corner now, and she’s dragging her young son down on the sinking ship with her.

Maybe Gibson isn’t so much a product of a tough upbringing, but a product of her own feelings of desperation and insignificance. A woman who felt so invisible she built herself up by tempting fate and lying about having a terminal illness.

I wouldn’t ever make an excuse for her actions and I think she should be prosecuted for fraud and made to pay back every penny but the woman is obviously unstable and needs help.

Maybe what started as a little white lie should have been seen as a big red flag!

hands off!

It was one of those blustery, rainy days in Sydney this morning and I was lucky to get the last seat on the bus on my way to work. It was in the middle of the very back seat. The windows were fogged up and after the next 2 stops the isle was packed with passengers. I had to take a few deep breaths to ward off the impending panic attack and claustrophobia.

About 30 minutes in to my journey I noticed the male passenger beside me was sitting uncomfortably close. It’s true, the bus was packed, but there was plenty of room on the back seat and I had intentionally made sure there was no contact with the men on either side of me when I sat down. Yet, despite numerous shuffles and rearrangements, Mr Friendly was once again sitting right against me.

It’s not the first time a male passenger has tried to cop a feel on the bus. A few years ago a young man had me pinned me against the window of the bus while he groped around my legs and up my side. He then got off at my stop and started following me home. Thank goodness I ran in to one of my husband’s friends who walked me to my front door.

After both experiences I was left humiliated and angry. Humiliated that any strange man would feel the right to treat me this way and angry that I didn’t make a scene and say something at the intrusion.

I’m not a beautiful woman, I think I am attractive enough to blend in to the crowd. Not so pretty or ugly that I attract attention, just pleasant enough to forget. So it always surprises me when these things happen. “Why me?” I think. There are much prettier and skinnier girls. Plain Jane syndrome is supposed to come with benefits!

Sitting there this morning with this strange man’s hand against me I couldn’t help but think, why is it still the woman left feeling guilty after this sort of violation? With all the education around our right to speak up and demand respect, are we still programmed to believe somehow we deserve it? With all the perks of feminism and rights in our hands, are we now just “empowered” victims?

It’s a frightening statistic but 1 in 5 women will be raped in their lifetime. Someone you know has suffered sexual assault at some point in their lives.

I know women close to me who have been raped, physically and verbally assaulted and beaten by their partners or other men in their lives. None have been reported to police and none of the men in question have ever spent one night in prison to pay for it. In fact, over 50% of sexual assaults go unreported every year. Most of these women know their attacker but will never tell.

Mr Friendly on the bus was small fries but it’s all part of the same pie. As long as men feel entitled to treat women as objects that is what we will remain. It’s no longer about empowering women but educating and holding the men in our society accountable, ALL the men, even the rich entitled ones.

Enough teaching women how to take care of themselves on the dark walk home, it’s time to teach men to KEEP THEIR HANDS OFF and stay on their side of the damn seat!

“Here’s a hot tip… Stop telling girls how to dress and start teaching boys NOT TO F*!KING RAPE!”

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