Another week, another collection of articles I have found interesting enough to pass on.
- The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, says Australians need to get over their obsession with boat people. I’m a little annoyed about the human trafficking reference though, that’s quite different to people smuggling and confuses the conversation.
- A fascinating article in The New Yorker about a plagiarist.
- So apparently women are guilty of sexually harassing men when they look good in their clothes. Say what?! Make sure you read the comments, they’re even better than the article.
Blog of the week
- Brain Pickings is like an online museum of super cool and artsy stuff.
Time for the second round of what I’m reading. This is already becoming difficult as I started this post on Tuesday, the day after posting the first in this series, and I already had four articles to share. I will try to limit the number of articles posted here, those who want to see more of what I’m reading can follow me on Twitter, where I frequently share the articles I enjoy. This past week has included…
- This has been quite a busy week, so I’m still on the same book as last week, ‘The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla’. It’s getting to that exciting part where I have to force myself to put it down so I can get some sleep.
- My flatmate alerted me to this beautiful article from Poetry Magazine about the Island of Lampedusa, which many African asylum seekers travel to, by boat, as a way into Europe. The author manages to represent the perspectives and positions of all involved in a very honest and respectful manner. Also, the author references The Leopard, one of my favourite books, several times, as well as Dr Who, one of my favourite shows! It is quite a long article, but I strongly encourage you to read to the end.
- This is an interesting post by author Jennifer Weiner on whether or not the New York Times book reviewers are sexist. Here is a response on Salon.com.
- Can you be feminist and care about fashion? Ms Magazine explores.
- Beautiful illustrations of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale on The Guardian (sample shown above).
- Add some spice to your cooking with some help from Monica Bhide. I have tried any of these yet, but have every intention of doing so some time in the next year.
- And here is an article from last year by my favourite Guardian angry man, Charlie Brooker, on aspect ratio. As he says ‘There are only two kinds of people in this world: those who don’t have any problem with watching things that are randomly stretched or squashed, and decent human beings who still have standards’.
Blog/site of the week
- A little while ago I discovered the work of photographer Joel Robison. It’s a lot of fun and very creative. Check out his work on Flickr.
- Downtown from behind is a tumblr with a fabulous photographic series of cyclists from behind on various New York streets.
I love visual representations about how stupidly paranoid we all are when it comes to asylum seekers. I stole this from a friend who posted this on Facebook via this link.
I am so excited that SBS has done this and I can’t wait to see it! One of the reasons, in my opinion, behind the fear and distrust of asylum seekers in Australia is a lack of the human element in the story. I hope that after watching this show many people will think about and see the story of asylum seekers a little differently. I by no means expect people to change their minds completely and call for an increase in our numbers, but I hope it will decrease the hysteria and xenophobia directed towards one of the most vulnerable groups in our society. Perhaps it may also lead to some more considered and intelligent discussion about asylum seekers in government, the media, the workplace, and around the dinner table.
Now, how to get it onto the commercial stations…
I am now officially unemployed (or funemployed to steal a phrase from a friend)! Yesterday was my last day of work. I had been at this job for just under 16 months, which in my five and a half years working as a social worker is a record for me. For someone as restless as I am this is a testament to my wonderful team and the passion I have for the humanitarian need and human rights of asylum seekers.
One of the benefits of working with such a wonderful close knit team as I have, is the perfectly tailored farewell gifts I received. A bottle of red wine, and a voucher for a photographic day trip in Cambodia with Nathan Horton Photography. This includes a half day workshop and then an afternoon putting our new skills into practice. I have bought a beautiful new camera to take with me so I can document my travels and improve my skill. But what I loved the most about this gift, and what touched me with the realisation that my colleagues really do understand me, is the ethical photography component of this course.
While I do not expect that people who don’t know me will bother reading this blog, I am very aware of the public nature of blogs. In this age where everything is public, one has to be very careful of what photos they post online. I have been wondering for a while if it is OK for me to take photos of strangers and post them online. If I photograph interesting people and situations during my travels, am I exploiting them, particularly if I am photographing children or vulnerable persons? Do I need to obtain consent before photographing strangers, and if I do, are they really able to provide informed consent?
I had never voiced these concerns to my colleagues but they have been plaguing me for some time. So either I am very transparent, or they just know me extremely well. Actually, it doesn’t hurt that the individual responsible for this amazing gift is one of my best friends of nearly ten years.
UNHCR have recently released their latest figures on international asylum seeker trends in industrialised countries. The report includes 44 industrialised countries. I will keep saying the words industrialised countries as this is highly significant. I have very briefly summarised the report and focused on the Australian figures for those who may be interested.
By the way, did I mention that these figures are for industrialised countries only? If the rest of the world were included the percentages would be very different (i.e. much much much lower).
- Australia ranked 15th in the asylum seeker receiving countries, the US ranked first (most were Chinese and Mexican)
- In 2009 and 2010 Australian received only 2% (that’s right, 2%!) of asylum seeker applications. This is up from 1% in 2006, 2007, and 2008
- The top five destination countries (industrialised countries) are the US (15%), France (13%), Germany (12%), Sweden (9%), and Canada (6%)
- When the number of arrivals is viewed as a percentage of national population the top five are Cyrpus, Malta, Sweden, Lichtenstein, and Norway
- When viewed in terms of GDP per capita the top five are the US, France, the UK, Sweden, and Canada
- In 2009 the top nine countries of origin were (in order) Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Russian Federation, China, Serbia, Nigeria, Iran, and Pakistan
- In 2010 the top ten countries of origine were (in order) Serbia, Afghanistan, China, Iraq, Russian Federation, Somalia, Iran, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Sri Lanka (which ranked 13th in 2009)
So we panic about our 2% and lock up asylum seekers so they can’t hurt us. Here is what UNHCR have to say about that:
“The relatively small number of people coming to Australia – coming largely from the most troubled and conflict-ridden regions of the world – again demonstrates the vital importance and relevance of the Refugee Convention and asylum as the principal means of protecting people who are fleeing persecution and serious human rights violations” UNHCR Regional Representative Richard Towle said today.
“In Australia, the challenge is to maintain fair, humane and expeditious processing of all asylum claimants, irrespective of their method of entry. The current approach to mandatory detention – which involves often long periods in isolated locations and crowded conditions – is a challenge that needs particular attention.”
“Experience shows that people held in such conditions frequently experience high levels of personal stress, including self-harm.”
“UNHCR believes there are ways of managing the legitimate security concerns of States while, at the same time, providing more flexible, community-based arrangements for people in Australia while their asylum claims are being processed.”
Those who would like to read the report can find it here: http://www.unhcr.org/4d8c5b109.html
Here is the article about Australia’s intake http://unhcr.org.au/unhcr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=202&catid=46&Itemid=92