Civic Hacking: do you know what it means?

Ever heard the word ‘civic hacking’? I hadn’t. Until I came by this Ted Talk by Catherine Bracy on what it means to engage in civic hacking. Check out her talk to understand why she listed “Benjamin Franklin” right up there as one of the first and foremost proponent of this movement.

As a citizen of a country that is going into digitization with all the zeal of a new love affair, this movement for me is an inspiration and a new way of thinking about how to engage with the government, allow local government to deliver services in their shoe-string budgets and most of all, create a win-win solution to our most urgent need – finding information that informs & empowers.

You can read this page of Code for America for their definition of Civic Hacking and you can follow them on twitter here for updates on events happening in your cities.

The Amazing Bangladeshi Women series #1

#SabinaKhatun, ace forward in #Bangladesh National Women Football Team, scores 16 goals in a match in #Maldives Women’s Football Fiesta http://ow.ly/KGpe2

Sabina became the first ever Bangladeshi women football player to play for a foreign club as she went to play for Police Club, Maldives in the tournament which began on March 14 and will end on April 17, with 14 teams fighting for the title.

Read the full article here: http://www.thedailystar.net/top-news/bangladeshi-girl-scores-16-goals-match-73314

In a world where women are still fighting for equality, being a woman in a developing country is difficult. It’s difficult to get the same opportunities for education, for health care, for living standards, career choices and we are a long way off from being treated equally under the law.

Yet, as I see over and over again, there are an amazing number of my fellow country women who are creating history. They follow non-traditional paths and become trail blazers. They are my heroes. I love that they have the courage to follow their dreams and chose unconventional careers, cracking open that glass ceiling.

A series of my blog posts will now be dedicated to honouring these women, their courage, their leadership and above all the strength of their femininity.

A good life

The difficulties of reporting rape or assault

In a world where 1 out of 3 women/girls face sexual assault during their lifetime and 15 out of 16 assailants go free, this is what happens when a victim tries to report rape.

It’s poignant because they have replaced reporting ‘rape’ with reporting a ‘robbery’, goes to show how the system is biased against the victim and who makes the system? Our patriarchal society… yes, even out west, in the developed world, it IS the patriarchal society that makes the rules and bends them.

Below is a mom’s experience of what happened when her teenage daughter stood up to a bully in school. If it was not OK for the boy to ping the bra of his teachers… if it was not OK for the Mom to ‘suggest’ touching the front of the trouser of the f***head teacher…  it was certainly NOT OK for the teacher to ‘ignore’ the boy’s very inappropriate behaviour and suggest that the girl was in the wrong because she reacted in self-defence. Men like these, makes my blood boil and mother’s like these.. make me want to stand up and salute them with deep respect.

Was Bra-ced For A Different Reaction

| SURREY, ENGLAND, UK | BAD BEHAVIOR, BULLY, PARENTS

(I’m an A&E nurse. We’re not allowed our phones on us; they’re to be kept in our lockers. A call comes into hospital reception on a private line for me.)

Phone: “This is [Teacher] from [School]. There’s been an incident involving [Daughter]. We need you to come in.”

Me: “Is she ill or injured? Can it wait until my shift is over in two hours?”

Phone: “[Daughter] has struck another pupil. We’ve been trying to call you for 45 minutes. It really is very serious.”

(I go to the school and am ushered into the head’s office. I see my daughter, her head of year, a male teacher, the headmaster, a boy with blood around his nose and a red face, and his parents.)

Head: “Mrs. [My Name], how kind of you to FINALLY join us!”

Me: “Yeah, things get busy in A&E. I’ve spent the last hour administering over 40 stitches to a seven-year-old who was beaten by his mother with a metal ladle and then I had to deal with the police regarding the matter. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

(After watching him try to not act embarrassed, he tells me what has happened. The boy had twanged my daughter’s bra and she had punched him in the face twice. I got the impression they were more angry with my daughter than the boy.)

Me: “Oh. And you want to know if I’m going to press charges against him for sexually assaulting my daughter and against the school for allowing him to do it?”

(They all get jittery when I mention sexual assault and start speaking at once.)

Teacher: “I don’t think it was that serious.”

Head Of Year: “Let’s not over-react.”

Head: “I think you’re missing the point.”

(The boy’s mother then starts crying. I turn to my daughter to find out what happened.)

Daughter: “He kept pinging my bra. I asked him to stop but he didn’t, so I told Mr. [Teacher]. He told me to ‘ignore it.’ [Boy] did it again and undid my bra so I hit him. Then he stopped.”

(I turn to the teacher.)

Me: “You let him do this? Why didn’t you stop him? Come over here and let me touch the front of your trousers.”

Teacher: “What?! No!”

Me: “Does that seem inappropriate to you? Why don’t you go and pull on Mrs. [Head Of Year]’s bra right now. See how fun it is for her. Or on that boy’s mum’s bra. Or mine. You think just because they’re kids it’s fun?”

Head: “Mrs. [My Name]. With all due respect, [Daughter] still beat another child.”

Me: “No. She defended herself against a sexual attack from another pupil. Look at them; he’s nearly 6 feet and 11 or 12 stone. She’s 5 feet and 6 stone. He’s a foot taller than her and twice as heavy. How many times should she have let him touch her? If the person who was supposed to help and protect her in a classroom couldn’t be bothered what should she have done? He pulled her bra so hard it came undone.”

(The boy’s mum is still crying and his dad looks both angry and embarrassed. The teacher won’t make eye contact with me. I look at the headmaster.)

Me: “I’m taking her home. I think the boy has learnt his lesson. And I hope nothing like this ever happens again, not only to [Daughter], but to any other girl at this school. You wouldn’t let him do it to a member of staff so what makes you think he can do it to a girl of 15 is beyond me. I will be reporting this to the governors. And if you—” *turning to the boy* “—EVER touch my daughter again I WILL have you arrested for sexual assault. Do you understand me?”

(I was so angry I gathered my daughter’s things and left. I reported it to the Board of Governors, several of whom I know from Church (it’s a Catholic school), and was assured it would be strongly dealt with. I also reported it to OFSTED (Government-run school monitoring) and they were equally as horrified and assured me they would contact the school. My daughter was put into a different class for that subject, away from the teacher and the boy.)”

 

What if the world turned on it’s head?

It’s all your fault

An Open Letter To All Of My Friends Who Take Selfies

Arman:

Absolutely wonderful write up on ‘Selfies’ and how it’s a way of celebrating the self, specially when the self does not conform to our mainstream portrayal of beauty, brains, heart and courage :)

Originally posted on The Belle Jar:

Dear Friends Who Take Selfies,

I want you to know that I love it when you post pictures of yourself. I know selfies get a lot of bad press, but I think they’re rad. They give me a little window into your life, and you’d be amazed at how much I can get out of one little photo.

I love your pictures because I love seeing what you’re wearing – the outfits you build give me ideas about how to mix it up with my own wardrobe, and seeing you work your shit gives me courage to try clothing that I otherwise might have thought was too outlandish or revealing.

I love seeing how you do your hair and makeup. You look like a hot babe and I wish you would make YouTube tutorials explaining how you get your eyeliner just so. I want you to post pictures every time you change your…

View original 421 more words

Got body image issues? This is for you!

So at some point in time or other, we all get these body image issues. Too fat, too thin, not enough boob, too much boob, jiggling in the wrong places … you name it, either you got it or someone you know does. What doesn’t help is the media portrayal of women who just look too damn perfect! Perfect skin, hair, make-up, figure.. everything is just too perfect!

It’s enough to cause bulimia and anorexia in teenagers. It’s enough to cause any women, regardless of age, body-image issues. In fact, if we could take our mental picture of us and compare that side by side to how others see us… we would be startled at how beautiful people think we are and just how critical we are of our flaws – real or imagined.

Everyone has some feature that others envy. Trust me! Sadly, I have yet to meet a woman/girl/teenager who thought they were perfect the way they are. What does that tell us? So here’s a ted talk from someone who is PERFECT! really! she is! She’s smart, beautiful and has a rocking body. She’s been a model for 10 years now. She’s  literally admitting her privilege and pointing out both the biases and superficiality of the fashion industry (which can severely affect the body and beauty image of young girls everywhere) and the way people judge others based solely on physical appearance (RACE, gender, weight, hair color etc).

The first part to fixing a problem is letting it be known – in this case that happens to be that ‘LOOKS’ aren’t everything :)

And here’s a talk that shows the surprising impacts of low body and image confidence—from lower grade point averages to greater risk-taking with drugs and alcohol. And then shares the keys things all of us can do to disrupt this reality.

This post is related to another one I wrote on girls & images: Caught in between lies & half-truths.

25 INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS THAT WILL MAKE YOU WANT TO QUIT YOUR JOB AND TRAVEL THE WORLD

Arman:

Absolutely freaking incredible photographs by some seriously talented photographers! Well worth following on Instagram :) Btw, my wanderlust just went overboard looking at these pics :D

Originally posted on How Far From Home:

My passion lies in adventure photography. If you give me a chance, I’ll be out in the wilderness with no questions asked. I grew up in a massive city, so the thought of exploring the outdoors has always appealed to me. Today I’m traveling Europe in search of big skies and deep lakes, and I want to inspire you to do the same.

It’s almost impossible to follow every epic account on Instagram, but I have trawled through countless profiles to bring you the best of ‘adventure photography,’ including landscape, wildlife, surf and outdoor lifestyle. If your blood runs thick with adventure, but your feed is filled with too many duck-faced teenagers, then have a look at the inspiring list below.

@ChrisBurkard – The man is practically a cult figure for his landscape and surf photography.

Chris Burkard | How Far From Home

@AlexStrohl – Rugged landscapes that are truly inspiring.

Alex Strohl | How Far From Home

@DavidGuenther – A lifestyle photographer that…

View original 400 more words

Part 2: Tongue in cheek retorts

This is a continuation of the previous post – Part 1: Tongue in cheek retorts. I received so many entries that had to break the post into two to accommodate them all :) Enjoy!

Btw, here’s the latest from the IT help desk, cracked me up again and with each reading it got funnier.

Dear mister Khan,

That is not exactly an issue, but a known problem.
At the moment there is nothing we can do about it.

You can press “OK” and refreshing the page ( F5 ) will be enough.

Kind regards,

Service center

  • Bengalies often ask me,, ‘Why aren’t you married? I have some perspective,, I can find you a nice guy,, ”
    My answer usually is a smile,, but I’m saying to myself,,,

    • There are Gazzilions of Bengalies exist,, Am I the last offspring of Dinosaurs, that Imma extinct soon,, therefore, I must reproduce??
    • Yeah,, I could be a offspring of the Bengali Tigers.. for sure !
  • Being complimented with words like ‘sexy’, ‘hot’ etc. from random people who behave like they are paying you the ‘biggest’ compliment ever and you should roll over in excitement/happiness/gratitude…
    • Too hot to handle – for you – move on
    • “roll eyes” & wonder if the skull houses a brain
    • “deikkhai shanti”
  • Random people who send you CV’s that are used to broker ‘arranged’ marriages
    • All the reactions listed above and then some (plus an auto-gag reflex)
  • Random people, you have never met or spoken to, sends you CV’s  then hound you to find them a job
    • Not running an employment agency here
    • No one is hiring stupid…. when someone does, I will inform you.
  • People you have never met, sends you messages titled “dear friend” and then a long-winded monologue that results in whatever else they want from you with a pathetic reason as to why you should comply with their request.
    • This ain’t a ‘dharamshala’ .. this is not a ‘charity’
    • I think I know ‘who’ my friends are.. and they are certainly not people I have never met
    • If you can’t say it simple with a compelling reason to comply, don’t bother at all
    • Using big words, only makes you seem stupider…. as if the ‘greeting’ wasn’t stupid enough
  • People who think they have grown too big for their boots
    • Better watch that ego, I might ‘accidentally’ bruise it
    • Ain’t no one shown you the ‘highway’ yet?
    • Buddy, take a hike and just keep on walking.
  • Men overdosing on testosterone
    • Where’s your cave?
    • You lose your way in the jungle?
    • So what did you hunt today?
    • someone stuck a bamboo up your ass or what?
  • Women overdosing on hormones
    • Woman, you missed your calling on the stage
    • Oh you would’ve been fantastic in ‘so & so’ hindi serial
    • What’s up with being so passive aggressive?
  • Men who live in the ‘foreign’ land and think that their passports/non-resident status are enough to draw the girls in hordes. Case in point, messages like ‘I live in USA, can we be friends?’
    • I live in Mars, I don’t think we are compatible
    • Why? They ran out of friends in the USA?
    • Got plenty of friends thank you… don’t need a weirdo from wherever you are.
  • Comments and messages that start with “I don’t want to annoy you but…”
    • Dude, you are already annoying me
    • If you don’t want to annoy, why start?
    • Move on….

Ahhhh… gotta love them… sarcastic retorts &  humor at their best :D

Being victimized, when does it end?

Why did the sexual harassment of 20 women during the Pohela Boishakh incident rattle so many people? Why are the people out in hordes, lining the street, demanding that the perpetrators be brought to justice? Why did this resonate with so many people on so many different levels?

Gender based violence, sexual harassment is a worldwide epidemic problem. It’s a human right problem. The fact that it has struck a chord with so many is a testament to how pervasive & endemic it is. Almost every single women that I know has stories. Yes, stories, not ‘a story’ but many stories of being objectified, vilified and violated… in public space and private. Where does this end? Does it ever end?

And why are we still stuck on telling women what they can wear, not wear, be, not be, do and not do? Why the hell is it still our responsibility to ‘not get raped’?

People tell me that I am brave.

I am not, it’s because I know what it is to live in fear, I can no longer accept being ‘fearful’ as my default mode of living.

I have had my house broken into and robbed a few years ago. I remember not being able to sleep for several nights. I no longer felt safe inside my own home.

I remember being molested at maybe 5 or 6 years old. I no longer felt safe in my own body. I remember the fear & disgust of all those groping hands of fathers, uncles, cousins and strangers.

It’s not a new story, it has happened before and it’ll continue to happen, all over the world, unless something changes.

And that something that changed for me, was me.

At some point in time, I was done with taking it – quietly. I was done with keeping silent, to keep the peace. I was done with not creating a scene for fear that it will draw attention to me or rock the family or social ties. I was done with suffering alone, so that other’s are not inconvenienced. Yes, it would’ve been inconvenient and awkward you see to explain to others why the situation has changed, why something that was seemingly normal is no longer so. I learnt to raise my voice instead, to swear to high heaven – worthy of putting a drunken sailor to shame. I learnt self-defence, to fight back and I learnt how to break bones when needed.

You see I am done with being victimized. If you mess with me, I will fight back. I will use my voice, my hands, the law, or whatever else I can get my hands on. I have had it with sermons of religion and coverings/clothing/hijab and good girl vs. bad girl arguments. Arguments that make no distinction for the 10-year-old girl who had her clothes torn off and was covered in bite marks by a bunch of rapists hiding in the faceless crowd.

Remember this fact: Worldwide 1 in 3 women face sexual violence and a very conservative estimate puts it at 1 in 6 for boys/men. It’s not ‘your’ fault. It’s not ‘their’ fault irrespective of their clothing or the lateness of the hour or anything else. No one is ‘asking’ for this. The worst part is that this victimization starts young, 7-8 or younger. Abusers target young kids because they don’t know how to react. Women are conditioned to ignore it and tacitly accept this violation by society/parents/others telling them that this shit is normal & it happens & it’s their body’s fault. Men are asked, ‘why didn’t you fight back?’, ‘can men actually be raped?’.

I am extremely over-protective about the people in my life, be that my son, the 10-year-old daughter of my neighbour, my 22-year-old cousin or my 40-year-old friends. The best way to show that you care and that you don’t support violence, is to call out the perpetrator on their behaviour and stand up for the person being victimized (men or women) wherever they be, at home or in public. Teach your daughters / sons / sisters / brothers self-defence, to keep their chin up and keep those line of communication open. Pay attention to how a child behaves around an adult, if they are not comfortable, don’t force them to be nice. This isn’t a contest on how well you have ingrained manners in your children or daughters, it’s about how well you ingrain self-respect.

If you think it only happens to certain people (men or women) because of something they did or because of the country they live in …  then read these:

In creepy Reddit megathread, thousands of women recount the first time they were perved on by a grown man: http://np.reddit.com/…/women_of_reddit_when_did_you_first_…/

1in6 was founded and the website was designed in response to a lack of resources addressing the impact of negative childhood sexual experiences on the lives of adult men, one of many under-recognized aspects of childhood sexual abuse: https://1in6.org/men/

And to the lovely people out there, who genuinely care and are horrified that people have to go through these, stand up and be heard. When we avert our eyes in the streets, in the bus, on the road, in schools, at parties, office, or at home we are allowing space for the criminals to continue their crimes.

One sided perspective = bias + prejudice

My impossible dream for this morning:

1. A world without borders

2. A world where you could travel anywhere you want, live anywhere you want.

3. A world where you meet so many different people, see so many different cultures, that you realize the richness that is inherent in each.

Blogged about this one here before :) ran across it again this morning and once again, I love her example of how watching ‘american psycho’ didn’t make her think that ALL american teenagers were psychotic serial killers, because she had been exposed to many other stories of american-ness. Yet her African authenticity was questioned when she portrayed her childhood in Nigeria as normal.

I have a Nigerian colleague in the office now. I think she’s funny, articulate, intelligent and no different from my other colleagues, regardless of their nationality or the colour of their skin. The reason we are all same is because we have many different stories of each other & the richness of our cultures. We struggle with the same issues and relate to each other on many different levels. Our perceptions are not one-sided or colour biased.

Watch any news channel and you’ll see coverage of ISIL and it’s atrocities. What we don’t see is the richness of culture & the generous spirit of the Middle East. The simple generosity and rich cultural heritage of the Arabian tribes and nations are lost in the coverage of war and strife.

I had a friend who called me from UK when he saw a flood coverage in Bangladesh. He was worried that I was drowning in the flood. I didn’t even know that there was an ongoing flood in my country. He’s coming down here for a visit and I hope by the time he goes back, he’ll know many more stories of my country. Stories that dispel the myth of Bangladesh being a country of disasters and calamities or atrocities against women.

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