25 August 2010

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/ Please.

Wednesday August 18, 2010
Let’s stop tip-toeing around

Pregnancy for a young girl is a lonely, frightening and confusing experience and help is hard to come by. We need comprehensive solutions to this problem, not criminalise it.

I ALWAYS get a little worried when people start talking about death penalties. It often spells a poverty of ideas, which of course, comes from not really understanding what the problem is all about.

The hysteria surrounding the issue of abandoned babies seems to have made people lose their minds. Instead of asking why people, especially young people, get pregnant and then abandon their babies, all sorts of ideas come floating by.

First was to marry them off regardless of their age. Never mind that we have just triumphantly announced the lifting of our reservation to the clause on the minimum age of marriage being 18 in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, now we were officially promoting sex among children by simply making it legal.

Who cares if under-aged sex and pregnancy have long-term consequences for the unfortunate girls? Has anyone noticed that the parents who abuse their kids are almost always very young and clearly unable to cope with the responsibilities of parenthood?

Long have we called for comprehensive sex education in our schools but to no avail, despite the rise in teen pregnancies and in sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

What do we get instead? Abstinence education! But haven’t we had this all along? Again, the central message is abstain until you get married. Or, in other words, if you want to have sex, get married. Even if you’re 14.

Since most people don’t think young kids should be having sex (unless they are married) and therefore should not be given any advice on contraception, no wonder then that teen pregnancies abound.

Hormones don’t wait for marriage certificates. And since our society stigmatises out-of-wedlock pregnancies, what choice do young girls have but to get rid of their unwanted babies?

For this, we want them killed? What sort of stone age society are we? What if the girls got pregnant because they were raped, perhaps by their own fathers or brothers?

Marrying them off is no solution for any number of reasons.

Nobody seems to have noticed that, in most states, Muslim babies are not recognised as legitimate if they are born less than six months after their mother got married, even if they married the baby’s biological father.

Given that many young girls are not likely to realise that they are pregnant until they are well along, or may wait a long time before they inform anyone, the chances are that even if they are forced to get married they would be past the three-month mark. Therefore, their babies would be considered illegitimate anyway. Bit of a waste of nasi minyak, if you ask me.

If only our dear leaders would take a deep breath and go talk to the only people who matter, the young pregnant girls themselves, they might actually learn that these girls did not have sex just because they are little sex bombs nor did they purposely get pregnant.

Pregnancy for a young girl is a lonely, frightening and confusing experience, and help is hard to come by. What more when the papers are full of young unmarried mothers being whipped for having illicit sex.

To tackle this problem, we need comprehensive solutions. Let’s stop tip-toeing around the fact that our kids are woefully ignorant about sex and the reproductive system and the consequences of having unprotected sex.

So grit our teeth and immediately put in place sex education, with a gender perspective and emphasising boys learning to respect girls.

In the meantime, yes let’s have baby hatches and let’s publicise them so that pregnant girls know where to send their babies to. Better yet, let’s have homes for girls to have their babies safely, where they can keep up with schoolwork and where they can learn mothering skills should they want to keep the babies.

Otherwise, talk to them about adoption and set up safe procedures for the babies to be adopted. Then set up a system where the girls can continue school afterwards.

Finally, adults themselves must set good examples. Every day we see adults trivialising marriage as if its only purpose is to have legal sex.

What happened to responsibility, care and, gosh, love? What happened to planning for the future, for your kids’ education and all that? When we see lawmakers breaking laws just to get another wife, how does this set an example for our young?

If we want to encourage good parenting, let’s start with ourselves, shall we?

11 August 2010

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/ Please.
Wednesday August 4, 2010
Policies must be well thought out

While bullet points may pick out the salient benefits, to explain a new policy one needs to know the research and thinking that goes behind them.

WHEN I was in Sixth Form, I had a wonderful history teacher who taught us not only about history but how to think and write about it. Every week we had to submit an essay on one subject and a plan on another.

The plan was her magic formula. Essentially, she taught us how to organise our facts and thoughts, and logically come to our conclusions. Her students have been known to pass their exams just by writing out their plans because those so clearly laid out what they knew and how they meant to answer the question.

Her training has stood me in good stead until today. I still try to write a plan when I need to prepare a major paper because it helps me to take an argument logically from start to finish. I wish everybody had studied under my teacher. If they had, we may not be constantly subjected to the sort of fuzzy, half-formed and illogical thinking that we are assailed with today.

When I read pronouncements by our leaders today, more and more I start to wonder what the process of thinking is behind them. And, increasingly, I start to believe that our leaders practise what I call “bullet-point policymaking”.

My theory is this. A politician says to his or her staffers that he or she needs some exciting thing to announce. They go off to research what would be new and innovative to address any particular situation, for example, the deplorable state of our schools or teen pregnancies.

They might actually write a whole paper on the subject along with recommendations on what to do and present this to their boss.

But he or she doesn’t have time to read it and orders the staffers to give him or her talking points in bullet form. These will be what he or she then announces at a press conference.

Now, this may seem an efficient way of doing things; but it is also deficient in many ways. For a start, while bullet points may pick out the salient benefits of whatever new policy, they cannot give you all the research and thinking that goes behind them.

And if you don’t know exactly what led anyone to arrive at this particular policy recommendation, then not only can’t you explain it properly, you also cannot truly “own” it.

What is more, “bullet-point policymaking” is not going to also give you an idea of the points that people are likely to make against the policy, and how you are supposed to respond to these.

Hence, if there is any criticism of any new policy, the standard response is to accuse the other side of politicising the issue. Or, equally poorly, backpedal immediately.

When was the last time we heard an Education Minister talk about education with true passion? Or anyone defend the position of women in the face of much male-dominated derision? How many leaders do we have who can say, “This is what I really believe in because …” and stand their ground on principle?

Instead they rely on what their staffers tell them to say. Now if you have professional and dedicated staffers who are keen to do the best by their bosses, you might actually get good papers backing up your bullet points.

If you don’t, then the points you get may not be worth much anyway. But unless you read yourself, or at least insist on a full briefing on the subject, including pros and cons, how would you know if the policy you are about to announce is sound at all?

This is why we get announcements that exams should be scrapped because we have become too exam-oriented, without the accompanying well-thought-out alternative.

Then, when everyone has not wholeheartedly praised the idea, there’s the belated attempt at consulting people on what exactly the policy should be. Shouldn’t they have done all the consulting and surveying before announcing it?

Is it any wonder then that, increasingly, people are starting to feel that their leaders don’t know what they are doing? That announcements are made because there is some public relations quota to be filled? Do their KPI report forms have a column for how many policies are announced each year? Better none at all rather than too many silly ones.

What is obvious to any intelligent person in the street, and maybe not to our leaders, is that problems often have multiple causes, and solutions cannot come only from one source.

Thus, an issue like teen pregnancies would involve several ministries and not just one. Would it not be fantastic if a major joint policy an­­nouncement on this were to come from the relevant ministers at the same time?

But then, why share the limelight?