Friday, 19 August 2011

Religious Liberty in the UK at Threat

Four cases are being considered by the European Court of Human Rights regarding situations where Christians have been persecuted due to their faith. These cases are UK cases.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission had aimed to intervene to promote 'reasonable accommodation' for religion.

They have now made a U-turn on this decision; they will still intervene, but not to promote 'reasonable accommodation' for religion.

In the case of Lillian Ladele, the Equality and Human Rights Commission will support the actions of Islington Council in forcing Lillian, a registrar, to decide between losing her employing or going against her Christian beliefs in facilitating a civil partnership.

The charity Relate asked a Christian Counsellor, Gary MacFarlane, to have to make a similar decision when required to choose between keeping his job or help the sexual relationship of a same-sex couple. The Equality and Human Rights Commission will now be supporting Relate.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission do intend, however, to support Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin in their cases. They were both told they were not allowed to wear crosses in the workplace.

A consultation opened on Monday till 5th September. This consultation is asking for people's views on the approach the Commission should take in their intervention on the four cases. Although they currently state that they will not address 'reasonable accommodation', it is still asking for peoples views.

This is a prime example of an occasion that requires Christians to gather together and support each other and the equality they should receive.

The Commission's consultation can be accessed here.

On the bottom of the page there is a link to a downloadable word document that explains further and asks 3 questions that the Commission would like to know your answers to. This is a brilliant opportunity to state how we feel issues around religious liberty should be addressed as people are willing to listen!

Please, please, get involved...

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Aiding Malawi

14th July saw the Government suspend their general budget support for Malawi, this aid is suspended indefinately.

Malawi is one of the poorest counrties in the world with 72% of people on less than $2 a day.

This morning, I had the pleasure of going to the House of Lords to listen to the oral questions. One of the questions was on this issue of aid:

'Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale to ask Her Majesty's Goverment how they intend to distribute United Kingdom aid in Malawi following their suspension of general budget support for Malawi on 14 July.'

The aid was suspended due to economic mismanagement and governance, which is not really a surprise. The UK are not the only ones to react in this way. The World Bank, the EU, the African Development Bank, Germany and Norway have all suspended or ended general budget support to Malawi.

Britain cut aid to Malawi by £3m last year after the purchase of a presidential jet that cost more than £8m.

It is clear to see that the corruption is rife, and many Malawian NGOs have commented on this. The Malawi opposition has also blamed the President for this cut in aid.

While the general budget support has been withdrawn, the Government is still distibuting aid through health and education sectors and are 'committed to ensure aid reaches the poor'. They have also said that the aid has not been 'cut back, but has been re-directed'.

Only time will tell whether this is the case, but it is important to keep hastling Government bodies on this.

On a side note, in the Lords today several comments were made on the lack of interest the public have shown on issues in Parliament such as NHS reforms and the Education Bill. It is possible to write to Lords and MPs on any issue. Please do untilise this - they do try to reply too! Also, don't forget the importance of the House of Lords, while they may be seen as less important, they do vote on issues and they can make ammendments and withdraw ammendments to Bills. (a Bill that is passed becomes an Act - Law!)

(some facts taken from The Guardian)

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Love 146

Love146 is an organisation that work to eliminate child sex trafficking.

This is the story of how they got their name.


"The number pinned to her dress was 146..."

In 2002, the co-founders of Love 146 travelled to South East Asia on an exploratory trip to determine how they could serve in the fight against child sex trafficking. In one experience, a couple of our co-founders were taken undercover with investigators to a brothel, where they witnessed children being sold for sex. This was their experience. This is the story that changed our lives.

"We found ourselves standing shoulder to shoulder with predators in a small room, looking at little girls through a pane of glass. All of the girls wore red dresses with a number pinned to their dress for identification. They sat, blankly watching cartoons on TV. They were vacant, shells of what a child should be. There was no light in their eyes, no life left. Their light had been taken from them. These children...raped each night... seven, ten, fifteen times every night. They were so young. Thirteen, eleven… it was hard to tell. Sorrow covered their faces with nothingness. Except one girl. One girl who wouldn’t watch the cartoons. Her number was 146. She was looking beyond the glass. She was staring out at us, with a piercing gaze. There was still fight left in her eyes. There was still life left in this girl...
"...All of these emotions begin to wreck you. Break you. It is agony. It is aching. It is grief. It is sorrow. The reaction is intuitive, instinctive. It is visceral. It releases a wailing cry inside of you. It elicits gut-level indignation. It is unbearable. I remember wanting to break through the glass. To take her away from that place. To scoop up as many of them as I could into my arms. To take all of them away. I wanted to break through the glass to tell her to keep fighting. To not give up. To tell her that we were coming for her…"

“Because we went in as part of an ongoing, undercover investigation on this particular brothel, we were unable to immediately respond. Evidence had to be collected in order to bring about a raid, and eventually justice on those running the brothel. It is an immensely difficult problem when an immediate response cannot address an emergency. Some time later, there was a raid on this brothel and children were rescued. But the girl who wore #146 was no longer there. We do not know what happened to her, but we will never forget her. She changed the course of all of our lives." -Rob Morris, President and Co-founder

We have taken her number so that we remember why this all started. So that we must tell her story. It is a number that was pinned to one girl, but that represents the millions enslaved. We wear her number with honor, with sorrow, and with a growing hope. Her story can be a different one for so many more.

This is a video recently released by them which is definately worth a watch.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Human Trafficking and Prostitution in Northern Ireland

Amnesty International has raised the issue of inadequate services by the Police Service in Northern Ireland (PSNI).

On average, 880 men use prostitutes a day in Northern Ireland with nearly half a million pound a day spent on prostitution. This is a very high figure. And it is happening in the UK!
It is thought that a large percentage of these women are trafficked and pimped by gangs who offer them a chance of a job, something like a nanny, but end up being advertised as ‘escorts’ for the large demand in Northern Ireland.
This is not something that should be treated lightly, and awareness must be increased.

Fashioned for Freedom

There is an event happening in London tomorrow evening to raise awareness of the issue of human trafficking.

Fashion show, music concert, designers, celebrities...

Come along and see what you can do to raise awareness!

Fashioned for Freedom


Friday, 1 July 2011

Southern Sudan Independence

So in just over a week we will see Southern Sudan become an independant state.

Southern Sudan will become one of the poorest countries with incredibly low human development indicators.

Over the next week please be praying for a peaceful independence chang-over and for a good leadership to be in place. This has the potential to be incredibly violent, but let us pray that it will be as peaceful as possible.

Also, please keep in mind what will now be Northern Sudan. There is increasing tension in the leadership there and with the split the tension could increase greatly.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

On the death of Bin Laden

So Bin Laden...
A bad guy for sure... but death?!

I know it sounds crazy to most people, but I just can't get justify his murder.

I still to this day believe he was a crazy guy with some very twisted thoughts and very disturbing actions (for example, using his wife as a human shield in the last moments of his life, and of course 9/11).

But I can't justify his killing...

Does it not make us just as bad? And who are we to decide when and if a life can be taken?

I'm aware this is a touchy subject, so please don't hesitate to comment...

Friday, 22 April 2011


'Poverty, inequality and governance are now seen to be inseparably related because without good governance,

             bad policy choices will be made,

                        the people would have neither voice nor power,

                                           and the economy may likely deteriorate.'
 (Said Adejumobi)

Friday, 8 April 2011


"Human rights education is much more than a lesson in schools or a theme for a day; it is a process to equip people with the tools they need to live lives of security and dignity"
Kofi Annan

Monday, 28 March 2011


'The harsh everyday realities of life for the majority of people on the African continent lend an urgency to African studies, a deep-felt and sincere aspiration to make scholarship relevant and not simply an activity of the ivory towers'
Abrahamsen, R

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Women, Rape and The Congo

I've just watched the BBC's 'The World's Most Dangerous Place for Women'.

This programme follows a woman going to the Congo after leaving when she was three, she visits her family and then moves on to visit the war-stricken East.

This programme has stunned me.

I've been utterly shocked at the inhumanity of some human beings.

One woman told her story of when soldiers broke into her house; she explains how her husband was attacked with a machete - they cut off his limbs, then his intestines, and he was still pleading with them until they cut out his heart - she was then forced to chew and eat his penis before being laid onto him and raped by 12 men.

Another woman's story was shared of how she was raped and impregnated with twins. When they were 3 years old she was raped again, one of the twins were murdered, and the other also raped. Children as young as 6 months have been raped in the DRC.

When a woman is raped, due to the stigma carried with rape, she is sent out of her home, unwelcome everywhere.

I don't understand how we can sit back and allow this to happen. Civil war has been in the DRC for over 10 years, and yet the UN hasn't intervened.

With such brutality, something must be done...

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Human Trafficking, EU Directive

Last week I was asked to write a briefing for a parliamentarian regarding the EU Directive for an internship application. (though it wasn't actually going to parliament)

The EU Directive was on Human Trafficking, it would bring in more regulations on human trafficking and therefore make a greater stance against it.

The UK had decided to opt-out of the Directive, even after the coalition government had said that fighting human trafficking would be of great importance.

This meant that the UK were saying 'no' to placing an increase of difficulties on traffickers. They were showing a lenient stance toward human trafficking. This would have been a grave problem with the Olympics arriving in 2012.

Thankfully, due to increased pressure from civil society groups, the UK have decided to opt-in to the EU Directive. Requiring the UK to place a tougher stance against human trafficking, to provide adequate support for those that have been trafficked (especially children), and to provide better training for those dealing with trafficking situations (police, prosecutors, care workers).

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Church and the oppressed

So I'm currently sat in the National Library of Wales doing some research for an essay on the causes of the Rwandan genocide and I've come across a fascinating piece. 

It is a piece by a missioner in Rwanda. 

One passage I think is incredibly vital:

"The Church in Rwanda failed to plead their cause perhaps because, in the Anglican Church at least, the leadership was exclusively Hutu. It raises the issue as to whether the Church should speak up for any group treated unjustly or only when the Church's interests are threatened? In our own context, if a Muslim minority is being discriminated against and treated unjustly, do we protest on their behalf or remain silent because we see Muslims as in competition with us for the religious allegiance of our people?"

"There has been a failure to see that abuse of human beings, created in the image of God, is a very serious issue that the Church cannot ignore if it is to be true to its Lord"

This is such an important thing to remember; as human rights abuses are seen on a global scale, the Church must act, even against those "in competition with us".

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Forgotten Oppressed

The oppressed and persecuted are much more than just statistics;
they are real people with individual faces, voices, hopes and dreams.

No one should be forgotten. (HART UK)

We have a responsibility as human beings to remember the oppressed and the persecuted.

In the midst of the current crises around the world, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, we must remember those facing oppression and persecution.
We need to remember also that there is conflict elsewhere that isn't being reported on our news.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has been in a state of conflict for several years now and there have been over 5.5million deaths since 1998 and there have been thousands of mass rapes.
There is so much going on that we are unaware of all over the world, in countries that are currently on our TVs and in countries that aren't. We must be responsible to not forget those oppressed and persecuted. The 'real people with individual faces, voices, hopes and dreams'.

Thursday, 17 February 2011


At the moment in one of my modules we've been looking at the issue of corruption in Africa, with a specific focus on Kenya.

It has been shocking to see the amount of corruption in Kenya, it seems to be inherent in the culture and society.

Transparency International, an organisation that inquires into issues around corruption in states, ranked Kenya 154 with Somalia (the most corrupt) at 178 and Denmark (the least corrupt) at 1 in its 2010 Corruption Perception Index. 

This result shows the high level to which corruption is present in Kenya. 

There have been several 'big' scandals in Kenya in the recent years, and the violence around the 2008 elections seemed to have stemmed from issues surrounding corruption - specifically the corruption of the leaders. 

One thing that has been on my mind though is who is to blame for this?

Is it the fault of the people of Africa? 
Is it a 'natural' thing? 
I don't think so. 

After doing some reading on the topic, I am inclined to think that we, the West, are to blame. 

During the Colonial years (which were shockingly not that long ago!) we ruled African countries in a form that was bound to lead to corruption. In order to increase control over the countries we gave increased power to specific individuals, and financed them in a manner to do what we willed. 

This, in my opinion, increased a culture of bribery and elitism. 

When we abandoned the colonial countries, due to a lack of finance, we left them with a changed society that wasn't natural to their culture and wasn't complete - with institutions not built up properly, unable to withstand the years. We didn't leave the colonized countries in a position to continue the way we wanted them to; we changed the society, and abandoned it.

We shouldn't have colonized Africa in the first place, but if we were going to, we should have done so properly.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Southern Sudan

The emergence of a new country.

In the shadow of the events in Egypt, the Wiki Leaks trials, university fees and police protests, we have in our world a new country. Born out of civil war.

Nearly 99% of voters were in favor of the split.

After 6 years of civil war the people of Sudan have what they wanted. Over 3million people voted for the split.

They are due to declare formal separation on the 9th July.

On Monday night as the votes were revealed there was much celebration. Many young people have grown up during civil war, so this news is one of pure joy.

Now to the building of a new nation!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011


The events in Egypt at the moment are of much interest to a lot of people.

Although I didn't have (and still don't) a vast knowledge on Egypt and its political state, my interest in the situation there has not been removed.

I have several concerns:

Firstly, the things we aren't hearing about.

Egypt has had its internet removed and phone communication to the West (where I am now, not a comment on West-East relations). This fact immediately makes me wonder 'what is there to hide?!’ has an article/blog regarding Egypt and the lack of internet access. One this article/blog there are several links to photographs of people that have been killed. I am unsure as to the legitimacy of the source, but it does make me question what is happening in Egypt at the moment.

I do also question our 'sheltering' of the events in Egypt due to the BBC and other British organisations. The Al-Jazeera web page seems to show much more of the events, giving a clearer understanding.

Secondly, the effects that change will have between the West, MENA (Middle East and North Africa), and Egypt's relations with Israel. Again, I do not have an in depth understanding of Egyptian politics and its history, but I do understand that Egypt is a key player in MENA. Egypt has had a profound role with regards to relations with Israel and Palestine and this role has been one of peace keeping; this is an asset to international relations as a whole and I would be concerned to see this change. Also, Egypt has had a strong factor in supporting peace and relations between the West and MENA. I think that this is so vital to have in the global climate; please note I am not implying that I agree with all decisions and actions that are made by the West in MENA.

However, Egypt is fighting for democracy, a 'right' that we take for granted in the West. We enjoy a freedom to elect our representatives for government and often we can take it for granted, with so many not taking advantage of the opportunity/ability to vote. The ‘right’ to democracy is an admirable one and I cannot agree with the notion that a people cannot vote on who should be their sovereign, who should lead their state in government.

While Mubarak’s position in Egypt has been one that has seen positive effects on the international level, it is clear to see that the people of Egypt have not been happy with his leadership. Although I am concerned about the possible changes in both a regional and international level that a change of leadership in Egypt could see, I think that the ability to elect a political leader is highly important.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

The Best

" When I contemplate the natural dignity of man; when I feel (for nature has not been kind enough to me to blunt my feelings) for the honour and happiness of its character, I become irritated at the attempt to govern mankind by force and fraud, as if they were all knaves and fools, and can scarcely avoid the disgust at those who are imposed upon. "
- Thomas Paine

Issues surrounding the hurt, the injustice, the impoverishment of another rarely doesn't strike a chord; as human beings we feel.

Human rights as a movement encourages justice, equality, provision, freedom.

However the idea of human rights can be abused. Lawyers use the idea of human rights to undermine laws as well as argue their client's freedom (whether rightly or wrongly, for both the prosecution and the defendant). The idea of human rights is used to win an argument, to abuse rights, and to demand a questionable right. Basic human rights are not just the right to food and shelter, it's the right to the best food, the best housing, the best car, a computer, a phone, designer clothing. Whatever the individual wants at the time, they demand as a basic human right.

While these 'basic' human rights are being claimed, across the street there are those in hunger, without substantial clothing, without a roof over their heads.

While we can demand the best, we are seemingly unaware of those without even the worst.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


"Naomi Ruth, Naomi Ruth, grow up big and tell the truth"

My dad used to say this when I was little. A short rhyme that has stuck with me ever since.

"Grow up big"
Why my dad chose to say "grow up big" is beyond me.
Did he want me to grow up fat? Did he want me to grow up tall? Or maybe big in character? Was I to 'fill a room' when I entered it? Or was it simply to make the rhyme?

I guess it probably was added with the intention to make the rhyme. I, however, have used it in terms of character. Not to be 'small' and insignificant, but to be 'big', to be noticed, to be important. Not to hide away when I have something to share, not to cower in conflict, not to allow myself to be looked over.

"Tell the truth"
This, quite simply, reminds me of the importance to be truthful. It seems to have been added/included as the main focus point. So why the emphasis on truth?

Truth not Lies
When thinking about truth, lying comes to mind. The damage that can be done when lies are spoken. I think about English lessons and the idea of a 'web of lies'.
"O' what a tangled web we weave,
when first we practice to deceive"
(Sir Walter Scott)
A quote I'm sure we have all come across at least once in our lives; in English lessons, in reading, in a film, in a song.
The damage that can be done by lies is immense; one small word spoken, one small action made, can have major repercussions. For example, thinking about the financial scandals in government - one seemingly small lie, one major outcome.

To be truthful is to be honourable.
Worthy of respect.
Is respect not something we all long for?
'Respect my privacy'. 'Respect my wishes'.
What makes someone worthy of respect?
Is not truthfulness a respectful virtue?
How much more do we want to be honoured?

'I am the truth'
Maybe "tell the truth" was spoken in a sense of prophetic language.
Jesus says "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6)
Did my dad add this in the hope that I would share the good news of Jesus Christ?
The Truth that Jesus is, is the only truth. Therefore is it not the Truth that should be spoken.
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