Category Archives: International

Is punishment the best way to encourage rehabilitation?

An age-old debate: how should prisoners be treated?

Should they be caged up like animals? Left to fester in cold cells? Is punishment the best way to encourage change? Or should preaching and practicing rehabilitation be the main aim of imprisonment?

The United Kingdom spends more money on public order than the United States or any other European Union countries. Nevertheless, jails are highly ineffective. With an imprisonment rate of 150 per 100,000 people and over 83,000 prisoners currently locked away in England and Wales. Since 1994, English and Welsh prisons have been overcrowded.

Arguably, the whole point of imprisonment is to lower the number of criminals in our society and rehabilitate them by punishing them and taking their freedom away. With nearly 75 percent of teenagers under 18 being reconvicted within in a year of release, it’s clear that the system’s agenda is not being achieved.

“As it stands now, justice systems are extremely expensive, do not rehabilitate, but in fact make the people that experience them worse.”- James Bell, an American lawyer and prison reform activist

It’s not just the United Kingdom that is failing at upholding the ultimate goal of the prison system. Countries across the world are not following through with their agenda either.

As a result, a growing number of prisons are embracing rehabilitation and a new form of incarceration. By giving inmates more responsibility, freedom, and comfort, prisoners are given the chance to change.

Justizzentrum Leoben, a minimum security prison in Austria, allows convicts to live in one-bed cells containing a television set and ensuite bathroom.

Halden Prison in Norway takes on a campus-style prison with two-bedroom houses where inmates can enjoy overnight visits from family and friends.

Critics of minimum security prisons believe that they could encourage and increase unruly and dangerous behaviors. Nevertheless, Halden boasts the lowest reoffending rate in Europe.

Situated on an island off the coast of Norway sits a minimum security prison home to 110 criminals name Bastøy Prison. Inmates here are encouraged to cycle along biking trails, go on walks, fish in the surrounding waters, and interact with the 69 staff members who work there.

The idea of giving prisoners a higher amount of freedom is slowly beginning to become more supported. Prisoners in UK prisons are now being encouraged to listen to radio stations such as the Prison Radio Association. Many of the shows run by the Prison Radio Association are even presented and produced by prisoners.

“Reducing reoffending is of benefit to everybody. Equipping prisoners with skills and confidence is crucial in bringing down reoffending rates. Prison radio offers a unique, innovative and effective way to communicate with prisoners and engage them in education, debate, and community,” says a spokesperson from Prison Radio Association.

An inmate from HMP Lindholme expresses his praises towards the station,  “I’ve just been introduced to NPR and the inspiration your radio station gives has been a very welcome breath of fresh air. I have now found a new lease of life and I’m now going after a dream I once had as a student at college”.

The United Kingdom prison system is focused on punishment versus rehabilitation. Nevertheless, the results of giving inmates a higher sense of responsibility and loosening our grip on prisoners looks to be the best way to fulfill the agenda of our prison system.

Featured image VIA

World Press Freedom Day: 95 journalists murdered in 2019

95 journalists were killed last year according to the International Federation of Journalists.

The IFJ concluded in their report that the most dangerous countries to practice journalism are: Afghanistan, Mexico, US, Syria, Yemen and India. 


Five journalists were killed last year in the US due to a terrorist attack at the Capital Gazette in Maryland, Virginia, a local newspaper. The suspect was said to have tried to sue the newspaper multiple years earlier. 

Nine journalists in Kabul, Afghanistan had died after going to the site of a bombing to report on the scene, according to the BBC. Another journalist, BBC reporter Ahmad Shah, was killed in one of a series of attacks in Khost Province.

Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Washington Post correspondent for Saudi Arabia, was murdered at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey last October. 

Last month, journalist Lyra Mckee, died on the streets of Londonderry reporting on a riot that had broken out. 

The IFJ told the BBC, “Increasing intolerance to reporting, populism as well as corruption and crime are now important factors.” 

2016 saw the highest amount of imprisoned journalists at 259, according to Press Advocacy Group. The number has slightly dropped to 251, which is the number of journalists who are currently in prison. 

The countries with the highest number of imprisoned journalists include: Turkey (68), China (47), Egypt (25), and Saudi Arabia and Eritrea with (16) each. 

The most shocking has been the opposition against journalists in the US. Reporters Without Borders describes the situation in the US as “problematic”. 

According to the BBC, The US has now slipped down in the RSF’s rankings for press freedom as well as Brazil and India. 

However, Russia, Venezuela, and China have worse scores for press freedom.

What is St. Patrick’s Day?


Background- Who was Patrick? 

Maewyn Succat, also known as St. Patrick, was born in Britain around 385 AD.

Until he was sixteen-years-old, he considered himself to be an atheist, or in those days, the proper term would’ve been pagan.

It wasn’t until when a group of Irish raiders took hold of his village and kidnapped Maewyn to Ireland that he was exposed to Christianity. 

According to legend, Patrick had an epiphany in the middle of the night that told him to board a ship that then took him back to Britain where he joined a monastery.

He ended up staying there for twelve years after realising his calling was to convert pagans to Christianity. 

After he was appointed as bishop, Patrick returned to Ireland. While he was in Ireland, Patrick established monasteries, churches and schools. Utilising the shamrock to teach people about the holy trinity, hence the three leaf clover.

He even returned to buy his freedom from his former master but the man decided to burn himself in his house with all his possessions instead of coming face-to-face with his former slave. 

Patrick stayed in Ireland for thirty years until he retired. He then remained in Ireland and died on March 17th AD 461, the date we now celebrate as St. Patricks Day. 

Patrick was never canonised by a Pope but his name appears on the list of Saints. 

st paddys

St. Patricks Day

The day of feast was originally included on the Catholic church’s liturgical calendar in the early 1600s.

From then on it has been considered a holy day for Catholics who are required to attend mass on the 17th of March.

St. Patrick’s Day didn’t become an official holiday until 1903 when the Bank Holiday Act of 1903 was introduced in Ireland, which initially, required all pubs to be closed.

Since the day is during the lenten prohibition, the ban from eating meat was lifted. Mass was attended in the morning and feasts carried on into the afternoon that included singing and dancing. 

The St. Patrick’s Day that we know of today is an Irish-American construct with the first St. Patrick’s Day parade taking place in 1762.

Irish soldiers serving with the English military marched through Manhattan to a local tavern.

The first official parade took place in 1848 and became the largest in the United States. 


Why do we wear green? 

The tradition of wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day began in the 7th century.

The original colour associated with St. Patrick’s Day was blue but green effectively replaced it.

This is most likely because of Ireland’s nickname, the Emerald Isle. The green stripe in the Irish glad also played a role, as well as the fact that most people associate Ireland with the colour green.


Where did green beer come from?

In 1914 an Irish-American Doctor called Thomas Hayes Curtin revealed his one-of-a-kind invention of ‘green beer’.

Similar inventions had been linked to green beer before but this is the inventor that most historians site.

However, his green beer wasn’t very safe to drink as it allegedly contained an iron powder solution that was used to whiten clothes. This was used to turn the beer into the iconic green colour.

Nowadays, bar keeps have taken to changing the colour of beer with a little help from food dye. 

Green beer is still a term used today to describe beer that’s too young.

Green beer still contains acetaldehyde, which can make the beer taste bad because it’s not yet fully fermented.

However, what you’ll be drinking on St. Patrick’s Day will most likely be normal beer with food colouring- but at your own risk. 

st partricks infographic

Who is the U.K Student Climate Network?


On March 15th, students from more than 112 countries took to the streets in one of the biggest climate protests since.


Who started the young activist climate change movement?


This demand for climate change jump-started last year, when Swedish, 16-year-old, Greta Thunberg, influenced tens of thousands of young climate change activists in countries such as the United Kingdom. Australia, France, Uganda, Colombia and Thailand.


When is the next strike?


The next strike to this cause will be held, Friday, 12th  April, 2019.



Image by: School Strike


Does the U.K have its own young activists climate change society?


In the United Kingdom, these activists have created their own network called the ‘UK Student Climate Network’.

This network is made up of under 18s who go against the government in hopes that they can protect their future.

Currently, the network has a target of £50,000 to help in their fight for climate change.

This infographic gives us the mission and demands of the UK Student Climate Network for the government that will help tackle the climate crisis and help he younger generation towards a better future.


U.K. Student climate network (2)

Images from: School Strike

Say bye-bye to Brooklyn Nine-Nine, for now?

With it being that time of the year, when television networks line up our beloved shows only to axe them in the back, there are times when even the brightest TV heroes cannot save themselves.

And the latest one to join the list of martyred television series is the cult favourite Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Fox lists falling ratings as the reason to cancel the show and to make more space on its schedule to bring in the newer crop of shows for the fall TV season.

But they surely have underestimated the power of its Fandom.

Outraged and hurt fans took to Twitter to express their betrayal while Dan Goor, the co-creator of the show, expressed his gratitude for all the fan support.

Support for the series poured in from all directions, including celebrities like Lin-Manuel Miranda tweeting: “I ONLY WATCH LIKE 4 THINGS. THIS IS ONE OF THE THINGS #RenewB99.”

The stars of the show too voiced their sadness over show’s cancellation and gratitude for running long and strong for five seasons.

The reason why this show is such a cult favourite can be attributed to the fact that it has been dealing with social issues like homophobia, gender representation, workplace dynamics with such kindness and without evoking inappropriate jokes to amuse its audience that it quickly seeped into the hearts of its fans. And the fact that at the heart of every episode, there is the sense of helping everyone and uplifting their spirits throughout all the drama and tension just seals the deal for its viewers.

It has successfully evoked a range of feelings, from acceptance when Rosa’s father offer his daughter this wholehearted apology: “I want you to know that I accept you for who you are, and I love you very, very much.”, to pain and uncertainty when Jake and Rosa gets prison sentence and we see for the first time the scared and vulnerable side of Rosa, to absolute joy when Jake finally proposes to Amy in the precinct via a championship-wrestling belt.

But all hope’s not lost. With networks like Hulu and Netflix gaining more and more popularity and focus of viewers, there are chances that Brooklyn Nine-Nine may be picked up by one of them, giving fans a thread of hope to hang onto. And hopefully in near future the viewers will see the return of their beloved show.


Is teen-mom Kylie Jenner really the next role model?

So earlier this year Kylie Jenner, youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner sisters, gave birth to a baby girl at the age of twenty. And we all know that she isn’t any ordinary teen becoming a mom, she is a model, reality television star, socialite and social media tycoon. And with her lip kits and self-branded cosmetics business, also a multi-millionaire.

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A post shared by Kylie ✨ (@kyliejenner) on

Now she, having a baby at an age when most people are busting their backs getting degrees or working (and paying off their starter loans) might seem a little odd. Funnily though, it seemed only ‘a little’ odd, if not completely normal after a while when the news first broke in the media. And now look at us, talking about it as if nothing really major happened.

But the other day, I was at one of my friends’ house, just chatting about the news, when her mom tells me she too was a teen mom. And I look at my friend with an almost shocked and disbelieved look. I couldn’t believe that my friend, who would be twenty now, had a mother who was just eighteen years older than her. And suddenly a presumed mental image of their lives popped in my head, complete with all the society’s pressures, expectations and resentments. But then I also could see my friend sitting next to me, so happy and relaxed, and her mom so full of life and humour, I couldn’t help but wonder, what was life like for a regular person who became pregnant during their teenage years.

Did she get the same level of acceptance from the society as Kylie does today for her early pregnancy? What were the circumstances that lead to it? How did her family react to the news? Who supported her during the time and along the way? Did she feel alone? Did she feel ready? How did she manage to provide for her daughter when she herself was practically so young? Did the stress of a different (and a significantly difficult) life, make bonding with her daughter difficult? Have they reached to the point in their lives now, when they feel comfortable with their life’s story despite all the stigma attached to this bigger idea (and how)? How do they make this unique bond between them work amidst all the pressures and responsibilities?

All these questions, but the question that surprised me the most was the one that I asked myself, why did the idea of my friends’ mother being a teen mom shocked me when I felt next to normal when I heard Kylie Jenner’s news?

So, I sat down with my friend and her mom, for a day of storytelling and revelations.

“I was young when I got pregnant. And my family was very religious. My mother was understanding, but my father and the society [were] not so much. So, when they found out [about it] they demanded I marry *Margo’s dad. I knew he wasn’t ready but since that was the only option we were left with, we went for it. Eighteen years old, in love, married and with my baby on board, I was quite happy. And one of my sisters was also expecting her baby around the same time, so I was excited to have our babies grow up together.” **Lily says with a rueful smile on her face.

And I think to myself, well that’s a good start. Mostly everyone’s happy and there are no mean blames thrown here, like that would ever be in case of Kylie and her family, them celebrating this change instead of being worried about future.

Kylie Jenner at her Babyshower, November 2017

“But life works in unexpected ways,” continues Lily, “and shortly after a year of marriage, me and Margo’s dad separated. He wanted different things in life, [things] that no longer included room for his family. So, baby Margo and I went back to living with my mom. Suddenly single and with complete responsibility of my little baby but no real work experience, I felt like I had somehow further failed in life.”

I can see that on outside, Lily looks relaxed as she goes down the memory lane, though a pained expression plagues her face, as if she could almost physically feel all the stings and stigma of her past again.

“But my mother was there with me, supporting me still, and pushing me to not give up hope in life just yet. So, I studied to become a teacher, and later started teaching at this place called ‘Kumon’. See Kumon is a kind of an after-school in Brazil, where kids go to improve their English and Portuguese skills. But my earnings from [working] there weren’t enough to support my family. So, in year 2008 I decided to move to UK to make a better earning and life for us.”

So many twists and turns in such short time, I feel my own heart sinking a little for all the problems Margo’s mom had to face in her youth. Social stigma and financial security, now that’s something Kylie Jenner would never have to worry about. After all, she is a celebrity worth millions.

Reality television star, Owner of self-branded cosmetics, Multi-millionaire

“Coming to UK was not that hard, we came through our EU citizenship. But after that things again got tricky to manage. No job, money or even a proper place to live, the only thing I felt like I had was a little piece of my family here, in this foreign country. My sister and her husband were already [settled] here, so Margo and I simply moved in the same house as them. Getting a roof over our heads felt like a huge blessing I received after such a long time. Shortly after that I picked up job as a nanny, and since I already had teaching experience I was good at looking after children.” says Lily, looking proud of the bravery her younger self showed at the time.

But now a troubled, and sad look came upon Margo’s face.

“Ever since then mom has been working as nanny. In our first year here, mom worked so many hours that I barely got to see.” says Margo. “Sometimes I felt really bad, I was young you know, and I missed my mom so much. We never had enough time to spend together. But it got better with time, and I think I too adjusted with my new life.”

I see Lily exchange a subtle look of deep understanding with her daughter. And Margo continues, “It’s similar in the present, she is working until late but since I’m older now so I don’t really mind anymore.”

“But during the time when she worked a lot and I was young too, it was difficult. But then it all got better once we started travelling together. We went on our first vacation to Brazil in 2010, which was great! But we really started bond when we travel more after 2014, and we visited Spain, Italy, Scotland and many places around England. Travel became our thing, it became the activity which truly brought us together.”

“And I think the best moment [between me and mom] was in Spain, where we just played cards by the beach. In that moment, I could feel all our worries and responsibilities drifting in the back of our minds, and we could just focus on spending our time with each other.” says a glowing Margo, looking happy to relive that moment.

“I guess in hindsight, I think we got lucky a lot of times. I know it’s [life after teen pregnancy] not all the same for everyone, but I feel quite blessed and content with how my life turned out. I am happy now, with only a few regrets, but who doesn’t have some [regrets in life] anyway.” says a broadly smiling Lily.

Margo and I were still sitting in Lily’s living room, but Lily took her leave to prep some tea for everyone after sharing her life’s story. And I can’t help but think to myself, even though they feel comfortable in their lives, look so happy now, and boldly accept their story, but overcoming all of that pain and struggle must take a lot of hard work and constant effort every single day. We all know by now that not everyone who walks down this path gets a happily ever after. Society makes that possibility perfectly clear and unforgettable, but only for the ordinary people. The rich and famous have the privilege and means to break free of the social boundaries that most of the world has to live in.

So, my only hope is that girls out there who are now in a similar position, transitioning into teen moms, don’t go into this life naively thinking it would all be rainbows because of what they see of celebrity lives on social media.


(Names of *daughter and **mom have been changed to maintain their privacy and anonymity)


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