| DIANCE ABBOTT RECEIVES 107 ABUSIVE TWEETS A DAY
In 2017, the New Statesman tracked 26,688 abusive tweets sent to women MPs, finding that Diane Abbott received half of them. In fact, she receives the most online abuse of any MP in Westminster. Excluding Diane Abbott, black and Asian women MPs also receive 35 per cent more abusive tweets than their white counterparts. These findings are now being spotlighted by the nonprofit Women and Girls in Politics aiming to highlight the barriers that prevent women and girls becoming interested in and active in politics.
The abuse targeted at Diane Abbott exemplifies why it is so difficult for women to be in the public eye, and why it is especially difficult if you also come from a black, Asian or other minority ethnic background. The discrimination black and Asian MPs receive are examples of intersectional discrimination, which means to discriminate an individual on the basis of their multiple identities. The abuse they receive highlights how much more there is to do to make the political arena a less toxic workplace for women, and despite reports of this beginning several years ago, little has changed. And as thousands of people continue to display solidarity with Diane Abbott in the most recent burst of online support, we must also urge for stricter measures that prevent such online abuse from happening in the first place.
I think the online abuse I get makes younger women of colour very hesitant about entering the public debate and going into politics. And after all, why should you have to pay that price for being in the public space?– Diane Abbott, Amnesty International interview, July 2017
| TWIN DISASTERS LEAVE INDIA IN JEOPARDY
Floods from the overflowing Brahmaputra River—in the Assam region of India, as well as neighbouring Nepal and Bangladesh—are leaving millions displaced and at increased risk of COVID during a time where India is becoming a hotspot for the virus, with over one million cases passed last week.
With a population of over 30 million people, Assam has so far been one of India’s least affected regions for Covid-19 cases, with just under 20,000 reported.
However, recent reports have shown that in Kamrup, one of Assam’s Metropolitan districts, the number of cases increased by 26% in just two days last week. With the monsoon season likely to run until October, and the nature of disaster relief work leaving little room for social distancing, both the immediate health and long-term livelihoods of those in Assam, Nepal and Bangladesh, is under significant threat.
There are no social distancing norms; no other protocols in the relief camps.This is really creating another disaster in the community.– Tirtha Prasad Saikia, Director, the North-East Affected Area Development Society (NEADS), a local NGO responding to the disaster.
| ETHIOPIA GOES OFFLINE
The deadly shooting of a popular anti-government protester sparks national unrest, and in response, the state shuts down the country’s internet for weeks.
If only this was dystopian fiction.Instead, it’s a reality for Ethiopians, who have been
mostly without internet since 30th June. The shutdown is in direct response to protests caused by the killing of Hachalu Hundessa, seen by many as the leading voice for the repressed Oromo people of Ethiopia.
During the global COVID-19 pandemic, this shutdown is dangerous. Ethiopia serves a crucial role in Africa’s continent-wide response because the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (ACDCP) is located in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa. Whilst the internet is reduced, the crucial flow of life-saving information out of ACDCP cannot take place.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for ‘his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation’. Despite this, politically motivated internet shutdowns have intensified under his leadership; the internet was offline for ten days after the country’s army chief was killed last year, and the country has previously restricted the internet to prevent cheating in school exams.
The current shutdown, limiting citizens’ ability to work, access information about COVID-19 or take part in political protests, seems far closer to authoritarianism than peaceful cooperation.
| DFID-FCO MERGER “RUSHED AND IMPULSIVE”
Last week, the International Development Committee (IDC), a cross-party House of Commons select committee, released its final report on the Effectiveness of UK Aid, assessing the recent merger of the Department for International Development (DfID), and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). In the report, which was highly critical of the move, the Committee said the merger was likely to be “disruptive” and “incredibly costly”. The report also raised serious concerns over the lack of consultation ahead of the merger, the future plans for DfID staff, and how the new department will help towards meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
“Our evidence shows DfiD has a glowing reputation overseas, its expertise envied and its aid programmes delivering a lifeline for many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. It is deeply disappointing that the government failed to recognise these strengths as it made its impulsive move to have the FCO swallow up DfiD.” Sarah Champion MP, Chair, IDC
| SPOTLIGHT ON…JOHN LEWIS
Civil rights icon and leader, John Lewis, passed away from pancreatic cancer last week. Since then, black leaders and racial justice leaders have paused their activism to reflect on his life, legacy and what he represented.
We will go to jail if this is the price we must pay for love, brotherhood, and true peace.– John Lewis, August, 1963
Lewis was instrumental in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, leading over 600 protesters across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, in Selma Alabama. This was a pivotal moment that highlighted racism in America as marchers were tear-gassed and bludgeoned by police following a peaceful protest.
Lewis also placed the right to vote at the heart of his mission and consistently addressed abuses of justice and rights when he saw them, including on poverty, police brutality and laws against same-sex marriage.
We commemorate and celebrate John Lewis for the world he helped to build.