Author Archives: Maria Campuzano

Like a virgin: Millennials are waiting longer to have sex

New research by The Next Steps project found that millennials are waiting longer to engage in sexual activities than previous generations.

The project is a University College London study that followed 16,000 people born in 1989 and 1990 since they were 14 years old. One in eight millennials reported they were still virgins at 26 during interviews carried out in 2016.

The study also shows that young people maintain personal independence later into adulthood and are less likely to have sexual partners than older generations, as they grow older.

Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University, blames it on millennials being ambitious and motivated. She told The Washington Post: “a lot of them are afraid that they’ll get into something they can’t get out of and they won’t be able to get back to their desk and keep studying.” London is certainly a city where young people are focused on thriving.

The results support the common myth of fear of intimacy and commitment amongst young people. Susanna Abse, psychoanalytic psychotherapist of the Balint Consultance, told the Sunday Times “millennials have been brought up in a culture of hypersexuality, which has bred a fear of intimacy”.

Student health nurse at the University of Westminster, Martin Jones, says he is surprised with the results, as his own experience proves otherwise. He points out that the sample of the study is very early on in an entire generation and that “there are certainly more partners now than their parents”.

Featured image by Crew on Unsplash

Cuts to police and youth ‘linked to rising crime rates’

London’s crime rate continues to rise as the Metropolitan police struggles with numbers.

The total number of murder victims in the capital reached 63 on 6 May, overtaking New York’s murder rate, following a surge of 44% in homicides.

Harrow MP Gareth Thomas said his area has seen 173 officers taken off the streets since 2010, putting a strain on the police resources.

This follows a cut of £600m from the Met Police’s annual budget and a decline in police numbers, according to a Home Office report.

Thomas said: “The recent spike in crime can only be evidence that the Met’s capacity is greatly reduced.”

In a similar way, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners has said falling police numbers were a concern in the rise of crime rates.

The figures, released in January, show cuts to youth initiatives and a historic low of police numbers with reductions of more than 20,000 police officers across the country.

The Serious Violence Strategy launched by the government last month doesn’t make mention of that and instead puts the focus on social media activity and the role of local communities to prevent crime.

A series of shootings over the Bank Holiday weekend put a spotlight on the rising crime rates. The latest fatal victim is Rhyiem Ainsworth Barton, a 17-year-old who died of gunshot wounds in Southwark on the evening of 5 May. He was shot while playing football and died at the scene shortly after he was found.

Another incident followed the next day in Harrow, where a 15-year-old and a 13-year-old were shot in Wealdstone High Street in Harrow within minutes of each other. The two are now recovering from their injuries.

Moped crime has also seen record numbers in the capital. According to a BBC investigation, it has increased 30 times in five years with 40% of incidents happening in Camden and Islington. Transport hubs are considered hotspots for crime as people are usually distracted around these areas.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has recently announced a city hall investment of an extra £110m for the Met and a £45m youth fund to prevent more violent crimes.

 

Featured image by Paul Townsend on Flickr.

Sexual assault scandals in the #MeToo era

Sexual assault scandals have been invading the headlines, even more since the Harvey Weinstein case was brought to light by the New York Times and The New Yorker last October.

This case inspired the #MeToo movement where sexual assault victims from all over the world have come forward with their experiences, thus uncovering more cases, specially related to institutions with a high reputation, just like Weinstein’s film production company. The list below illustrates some of the ones that have faced consequences, ranging from all aspects of public life.

1. The Weinstein Company

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Harvey Weinstein, Chairman, The Weinstein Company. Image: Thomas Hawk on Flickr

The company filed for bankruptcy on 19 March following dozens of allegations against Harvey Weinstein accusing him of sexual harassment, assault and rape. He is currently under investigation in both the US and the UK.

2. Oxfam

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An Oxfam member of staff helps to carry one family’s newly received non-food items home in UN House, Juba. Credit: Anita Kattakuzhy/Oxfam (from Wikimedia Commons)

The British charity is assumed to have hidden sexual abuse allegations against staff from victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. The scandal highlighted the fact that big charities are increasingly more worried about branding and earnings than their actual mission.

3. Swedish Academy/Nobel Foundation

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Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy Sara Danius announces the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2017. Image: Wikimedia Commons

The Swedish Academy will not be awarding the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2018 following allegations of sexual harassment against Jean-Claude Arnault, who has close ties with the Academy. It is the first time since World War II that the price is being withheld.

4. US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 

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Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences headquarters, 8949 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California. Image: Wikimedia Commons

The US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has expelled Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski, along with Mr. Weinstein (last year). Cosby was convicted of sexual assault last month and Polanski has admitted statutory rape of a 13-year old girl in 1977.

5. Pamplona’s San Fermin Festival

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Seconds before the beginning of the San Fermín Festival in Pamplona (Spain). Town hall Square. Everybody holds his red handkerchief above his head until a firework is exploded at 12 pm; they then put it around the neck. Image: Wikimedia Commons

A Spanish court cleared five men, known as the ‘wolf pack’, of the gang rape of a teenager at the San Fermin bull-running festival in Pamplona in 2016. They were convicted on 26 April of sexual abuse, a much lesser crime. Protests have taken over the country following the decision.

6. Vatican

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Catechesis at the Palacio De Deportes with The Mass given by Cardinal George Pell Archbishop of Sydney for English speaking pilgrims.
 © Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk on Flickr

Cardinal George Pell is facing sexual assault charges in Australia. This is part of the long-established sex abuse scandal in the church, making Pell the highest-ranking Vatican official to be charged.

 

Brent Council Election: Good result for Labour

Labour has gained the three Brondesbury Park seats from the Conservatives, leaving them with only three seats in Kenton.

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Find the full results here.

Results are in for local elections and there is not much change for the Brent Council as it still holds majority Labour seats. The Lib Dems lost one seat in Mapesbury to Labour and the Conservative party kept its three seats for the Kenton ward but lost its hold on Brondesbury Park. This suggests rising crime rates in the area might be a reason for Labour’s takeover.

Councillor for Kenton Suresh Kansagra highlights the importance of having Conservative representation in the majority Labour council: “We are going to provide effective opposition and scrutinise the decisions of the council.” Reg Colwill, another Conservative councillor, says they “work very well with the labour group so we are working together and getting things done”.

It is certainly important when budget cuts are increasing as well as resident expectations. “The hardest thing is getting across to residents the gravity of where local government is in terms of its budgets and resourcing”, says Shama Tatler, Labour councillor for Fryent.

There were no wins for the Lib Dems or the Green Party, yet candidates for the latter beat Conservatives and Lib Dems in some wards. Samuel Hopkins, Green Party candidate for Kensal Green says this means there is “hunger for a Green representative” across Brent.

 

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Willesden Green was the only ward that didn’t hold elections after they were called off following the passing of Lesley Ann Jones, the ward’s longest serving Labour councillor on Monday 30 April.  A by-election will be held after the party has selected a new candidate.

These local elections are being held after anti-semitism, Windrush and Grenfell fire scandals have affected Britain’s major political parties, Conservatives and Labour. However, there has been little to no change to how local councils have been elected across the country.

Cycling in London: how is it going?

Cover photo by Roman Koester on Unsplash.

“It’s as easy as riding a bike” is a common phrase used to say that, well, something is easy. But just how easy is it to do it in London, one of the most congested cities in the world? Transport for London’s 2017 Analysis estimated that 730,000 journeys are made daily with bicycles in the capital.

The Mayor of London recently announced a commitment of an average of £169m per year over the next five years to improve London’s cycling conditions, contributing to its target of 70 per cent of Londoners living within 400m of the cycle network by 2041.

Cyclists and campaign groups, however, want more than that. Yes, appropriate infrastructure is needed, but that also requires a transition of established societal and institutional ways. A study done by the Portland State University showed that changing cycling infrastructure won’t change culture.

Having blue lanes segregated from cars and other motorised vehicles won’t do anything if people don’t know how to use them. Bruce Lynn, from the London Cycling Campaign, says the infrastructure is there but people won’t use it.

There are bigger issues TfL and the Mayor of London have to consider to make cycling a possibility for every Londoner. Today, there is a common idea of the typical cyclist in London: young white men, environmentally-friendly and mostly liberal. This is supported by various studies that argue people who don’t identify as any of the above, feel less inclined to try cycling.

Who is cycling today

Who is cycling in london today_

Graphics by author

In TfL’s 2016 report, the fact that people are highly against changing their routines was assumed to be one of the main reasons they don’t try it. Their 2015 Attitudes towards cycling report also showed that safety concerns, fear of collisions, too much traffic, bad weather, lack of time, health reasons and lack of confidence and accessibility are some of the most common deterrents that put Londoners off using bikes.

Just last Saturday, around 4,000 riders took the streets of London for the #BikesUpKnivesDown demonstration led by the #BikeStormz movement to raise awareness to the rise of knife crime and murder rates in the city. They rode from London Bridge to Oxford Street in one of the biggest youth-led rides against knife crime, showing that the use of bikes has turned their lives around.

Current cycling network

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Central London’s cycling paths mapped by Route Plan Roll.

The current cycling network is made up of quietways and cycle superhighways for the most part. TfL defines them as “cycle routes running from outer London into and across central London. They give you safer, faster and more direct journeys into the city and could be your best and quickest way to get to work.”

Existing ones go from the City to Tottenham, Stratford to Aldgate, Barking to Tower Gateway, Oval to Pimlico, Merton to the City, and Wandsworth to Westminster. The east-west and north-south ones are the newest additions with proposed ones to go from Tower Bridge to Greenwich, Kensington Olympia to Brentford, and Swiss Cottage to the West End.

 

 

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Graphic by author

 

Safety

Safety concerns is probably what discourages people from riding the most. A study done recently by Cambridge academics found that changes in behaviour and policies is what is needed to keep the system moving, and tackle these concerns. A change in work hours, in the number of cycleways and docking stations, and in how people cycle together are factors that will contribute to that.

Another study done by Injury Prevention found that the more number of cyclists and pedestrians, the less likely motorists are to collide with them. This is partly because they are more visible, but also because the so called “safety in numbers” makes riders feel more comfortable.

14.6 per cent of casualties in Greater London while travelling were of cyclists in 2016, according to TfL. However, only eight, out of 4,424, were fatal, a decrease of 11 per cent from the year before. It certainly shows how, compared to the car, the transport mode responsible for 39.3 per cent of the casualties, cycling is less likely to get people injured. The study by Cambridge academics, however, also points out that an increase in cycling traffic also means an increased risk for cycle coalitions.

Not every rider has the same experience levels, specially in urban area conditions. ‘Bikeability’ is something most of the campaign groups advocate for, because they know that is where it starts. The London Cycling Campaign offers free ‘bikeability’ training to anyone interested and the have regular group sessions. Everyone, not only cyclists, should know how to share a public road.

How is London doing compared to the rest of the world?

 

Not good. It isn’t even on the top 20 of bike-friendly cities in the world. Infrastructure, safety and diversity (or lack of) are some of the reasons why the British capital is not considered in the 2017 Copenhagenize Design Company Index.

Tokyo, Munich, Helsinki and Oslo are new to the list because they have worked to fix issues that didn’t allow their cycling levels to grow. Closing the center to private cars, bike sharing systems, growth of network, parking facilities, and the creation of the Cycling Embassy (Tokio) and the Cycling Federation (Helsinki) are some of the things that are on place in this cities to improve the levels of cycling urbanism.

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As much as it is common thinking that more and better infrastructure will make London a top bike-friendly city, if Londoners don’t learn (or don’t want to learn) about ‘bikeability’ and cycling urbanism, the city won’t see any major changes in the years to come. The Mayor of London is committed to increase the use of bicycles in the city as it has been demonstrated that not only will it help with air pollution, but will also provide better quality public spaces.

 

Why ‘upskirting’ should be a sexual offence: explained

Cover photo: Tobias Zils

Everything you need to know about this act and what you can do to make it illegal.

After months of campaigning from different sides, Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath, tabled a parliamentary bill to make ‘upskirting’ a criminal offence. Having cross-party support, it is to be debated on 11 May. But what exactly are MPs debating?

What is ‘upskirting’?

‘Upskirting’ is the act of photographing someone’s groin area beneath their skirt (also applies to dresses) without their consent. It is often performed in public places where it is hard to spot offenders.

A recent Freedom of Information request done by the Press Association revealed that only 34 percent of police forces in England are keeping records as it is not classified as a sexual offence. Only 11 out of 78 offenders pursued were charged since 2015.

A 10 year old girl was involved in one of these cases, but it couldn’t be taken forward because of insufficient evidence, as reported by Avon and Somerset Police.

Similar cases have led to girls wearing shorts to school underneath their skirts to protect themselves from being exposed. Dr. Mary Bousted, president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) told The Daily Telegraph: “Social media just provides a new vehicle, another way girls can be harassed.”

What is being done about it?

Campaigners are working towards amending the Voyeurism (Offences) Bill 2017-19 currently passing through Parliament. Clearer laws are needed regarding image-based sex abuse, especially when it involves minors.

Gina Martin became a lead campaigner for upskirting becoming a sexual offence after her own experience at the British Summer Time music festival in London’s Hyde Park. Making the offender delete the picture was the only thing the police could do, and her case was closed because there was no legal way to prosecute.

Martin says: “So many cases can’t be prosecuted because there is no specific offence to prosecute it under.”

The Fawcett Society’s sex discrimination law review (SDLR) panel has called to make it an offence on their Final Report published in January. Chief Executive Sam Smethers told The Guardian “technology meant women are experiencing sexual harassment in new ways and that legislation needs to respond”.

What is a sexual offence then?

A sexual offence happens when there is no consent from any of the parties involved in any kind sexual experience. It can be touching, groping, grabbing, unwanted sexual remarks, penetrating, etc.

This is outlined in the Sexual Offences Act introduced in 2003 for England and Wales, which the Ministry of Justice insists covers upskirting already. The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) say upskirting can be prosecuted under Section 67 of the Act regarding voyeurism or the criminal offence of public nuisance for outraging public decency.

However, the former only applies in private spaces where the victim is “in a place which would reasonably be expected to provide privacy” and they’re in the bathroom, their groin or breasts are covered only with underwear or exposed and/or they’re performing a sexual act that is not of the public kind.

Similarly, the victim is completely disregarded when it is prosecuted for outraging public decency as this revolves around the public and its accepted standards of decency and there must be at least two witnesses of the act.

Gina Martin is working with MPs from all major political parties, law authorities, police high commissioners, academics, and has 98,000 signees on her petition to change the law.

“There is a big gap in the law and it has to be a sexual offence because the law sets precedent of what is right and wrong in society. It would also means victims have anonymity and persecutors are prosecuted as sex offenders as they should be.”

Upskirting infographic

Graphics by author

How can you help?

You can write to your local MP and sign Gina’s petition on Care2.

You can raise awareness by sharing on social media and telling your friends and family about it, like ITV presenter Holly Willoughby.

You can start your own campaign, like Anna Dovgalyuk, a Russian student trying to make it illegal worldwide. The caption on the video reads: “This video is ‘dedicated’ to all who love to peek under skirts. On the behalf all women who became your victims – here, look! And stay away from us.”

If you’ve been a victim of upskirting, don’t be afraid to tell the authorities. Even if they can’t prosecute the offender, they can make them delete the picture from their phone.

If that makes you uncomfortable, Safeline provides specialist services to support people affected by sexual abuse. They recognise upskirting as a type of abuse.

If you’re not comfortable talking about it but still want to share your story, Martin is building the first data base for upskirting cases.

Artist Ylenia Molinari talks – ‘my need to fix emotions on a canvas’

She’s an artist: illustrator, graphic designer, painter, fashion and shoe designer. But she doesn’t work in the industry. At 26, she’s currently a supervisor in Press coffee and has worked in hospitality for three years, since she moved to London after completing her studies in Italy.

 

WNOL: How would you define your art?

An extension of my soul. I put my feeling on my art, even though it might not mean anything to someone else, each of my drawings and paintings is an emotion that I’ve felt with the need to fix it on a canvas.

 

WNOL: Who is Ylenia Molinari?

(laughs) She’s an artist… I guess. I haven’t found my way yet. I do many things: I do paintings, tattoos… I mean I do tattoos on me, I’ve never tried doing it on people because I don’t trust myself. So if I do it on myself is fine. I like things that are artistic or creative, but I don’t know what to do. I mean I can do everything, but it’s like doing nothing.

 

WNOL: Do you think you art sends a message? Do you want it to send a message?

Not actually. It’s more like expressing myself and my feelings. It’s why I’ve never done exhibitions. People ask me ‘why didn’t you do an exhibition’, because I don’t want to show it, it’s something that’s for myself. Even when they ask me for commissions, I just draw what’s in my mind.

 

WNOL: You seem to have a very strong position over nudity on Instagram, what do you think about it?

I’m very open about this. I like modeling, I do nude modeling but I don’t like to share it because I know that many people message me about it and not in an artistic way. I’m very upset that they see me just for my naked body, like a sexual object. I’ve never posted before because my friend, she posted a drawing of a girl showing her nipple and they censored it. So if they remove a drawing, I cannot post a picture obviously. I don’t understand why it is allowed for men to show their nipples. If men’s aren’t sexual then women’s shouldn’t be either.

 

WNOL: Your profile picture on your Instagram account says ‘ask me about my crippling anxiety’, what’s that about?

It’s weird, but this friend, she’s a photographer and she asked me to pose for her. And I connected that photoshoot with my anxiety. Usually when I do modeling I don’t look happy. Or when I take a picture of myself I’m never really happy because I’ve got anxiety and I don’t feel like smiling in my pictures, even though I’m a pretty happy person. (laughs)

 

WNOL: Why did you shave your head?

I think the first time was after a mental breakdown, instead of cutting myself to do something bad to my body, I just shaved my head. I knew I wouldn’t like myself without hair but I’m now used to it and I actually like it. The second time was a month ago after another mental breakdown because I lost my best friend. He died on Christmas day. Now I’m getting over it. They first thought it was a suicide. I was super upset because he was supposed to be my best friend and he didn’t tell me anything. But after a month we found out it wasn’t a suicide, it was an accident where he fell down from a building.

 

WNOL: What about your tattoos?

I think I can’t count them now, definitely have more than 25. I haven’t done them all, but most of them. For example this one says ‘nothing is going to hurt you baby’, it’s from a song and I got it done on the palm of my hand. It is one of the most painful places to get a tattoo and that’s why I did it there. Most of them have meanings, probably all of them.

View this post on Instagram

Nothing’s gonna hurt you baby

A post shared by Ylenia (@___cute_but_psycho___) on

 

WNOL: Do you think there should me more conversation going on around mental health?

Yeah. In my previous workplace, I told my manager I was having a panic attack and she just told me ‘yeah, yeah, go out for a smoke’. And it’s like no, I’m having a panic attack, I don’t need a smoke. People don’t understand anxiety either. They’re all ‘just chill out’ and it’s like no, it’s not about that. Yeah I relax, I go to bed at 9 pm but don’t go to sleep until 2 am. I spend hours trying to sleep. For many people it’s hard to talk about it. I found out a few months ago that I am bipolar and it’s hard to understand. My flatmate is bipolar too and she takes medicine but I don’t want to.

 

WNOL: What kind of work do you see yourself doing in the future?

Something creative for sure. I’m not even looking for a creative job at the moment because I met this guy who’s an artist, he’s a painter. He was doing it as a job and he started to not enjoy it because he had to do commissions. After a while he left his job and started to work as a kitchen porter, I would never work as that but (laughs). He does that for four days a week and he’s got three days that he can actually paint and he told me he’s much happier. So maybe finding a creative job is not my way, maybe I can just do a normal job and in my free time do my art.

Cover image: Ylenia Molinari