The last two days has been heartbreakingly painful. The stories that has been coming in from girls and women about their experience with abuse, particularly with religious figures or workplace/school settings has been difficult to digest.
But with every story that gets sent to me, there is a silver lining. For many of them, they are telling me this story for the first time. After carrying something so heavy for a long, long time – they are finally building that courage to click on my DMs and with trembling hands, and soft tears running down their faces, recounting their story and typing it out to me.
This I have realised, is the superpower of @beingbravelywoman.
For many of us, these stories are plastered with shame. Shame which should have never fallen on us in the first place. And shame can consume you.
Here is an analogy to illustrate how this works. Think of shame as a demon. A demon that will whatever it takes to devour you completely. The only way to get rid of this demon, it to expose the demon to Light. And this Light is not the normal light we are familiar with. This Light is a process. A process which requires you to tell your story. Your story of what happened to you. Each time you tell someone about it by shining Light on what happened to you, the demon gets weaker and weaker. Eventually, there will come a day, where it is destroyed completely and can no longer have a hold on you.
Every woman who came forward to tell me their story for the first time, ends their DM with me with the same message.
“I feel so much lighter now.” “I feel a little relief.” “I actually feel so much better.”
And not everyone deserves to know your story. And not everyone will know how to carry your story. So choose wisely who you wish to tell. But tell someone. It doesnt have to be the whole story if you are not ready yet. It does not have to be every single detail. But whatever you can, tell.
This is why therapy is always encouraged. Because you TELL someone your story in therapy. It’s something you keep talking about. You keep exposing the demon of Shame.
So look around your circle, identify those you trust and expose shame. And if you can’t find anyone, you have @beingbravelywoman. I will be here. I will be listening. You will be safe.
I don’t think I need to go into detail to prove the highly misogynic content of the people behind OLG. That’s already all over social media here, here and go google the rest.
What I want to bring your attention to, is how we need to reframe this as a society.
Here are some facts. 1. OLG is an entertainment platform just like all the others out there. 2. They are entertaining and funny. (when they don’t speak about women) 3. They are a highly influential platform for Malay youths. 4. They objectify women in every other episode and speak about women in an extremely degrading and insulting manner.
No one force you to listen what? Don’t like, don’t listen lah!
Why do Malays get upset when The Straits Times publish articles on drugs or low income families but use a completely unrelated picture of a Malay boy? Don’t like, don’t read lah.
Why do Muslims get upset when mainstream media uses an obviously Muslim looking man or woman in a hijab to depict a terrorist? Don’t like don’t listen lah, don’t watch lah, don’t whatever lah.
If you can see the logic behind why the above statements are problematic, then you might get a slight idea of why people are livid, upset and angry over how misogyny is celebrated by such an influential & public platform which is popular amongst youths.
But there are plenty other obscene content out there. You all just hate it when Malay people are successful.
Ok, first of all…… what? Second, the largest voice calling them out are those from the Malay community and a majority, Malay youths. (Which can I just say – I am highly impressed and proud of this generation of youth) Third, the issue of misogyny is the world’s oldest prejudice. People are not angry about the profanities used. People are angry because whether you like it or not, when you own a public platform and you speak in a demeaning way about something or someone, you inevitably normalise this behaviour.
On an entirely different note, imagine if a local podcast ran by 3 Chinese men, spoke they way OLG podcasters do, about Malay women. Imagine if they said “Malay women’s breast are as big as soccer balls” “If you have lots of cash, Malay girls will come” “Malay women are barang baik” (Nice goods)
Can you imagine how ALL the Malays in Singapore, Malaysia and some say JB, will unite against this podcast channel? Against these 3 men and their podcast? How all Malay men and women will demand for the complete apology, shutdown and deletion of their existence?
Yet, when popular Malay men do it to women, the same community will now defend these men completely. Why??
It’s not OLG, It’s us
Although I wrote to OLG last year in October which I detailed here, and they replied with “thank you for your valuable feedback. We will curate our content better in the future,” it’s clear now that their response was simply a “k.thx.bye.” Because here we are again, with more people but the same feedback.
But the more important question I feel is this – if their content was so demeaning towards women, how did they become so popular? We know what it says about them but what does it say about us as a community? What does it say about our people?
Plus I know I was not the only soul in Singapore who gave them feedback prior to this furore. So why did they not heed? What or more alarmingly, who gave OLG the audacity to continue bashing women the way they did?
Easy peasy, you and me. If we in our everyday life, normalise misogyny – what’s so wrong in listening to a podcast that does the same? It’s NORMALISED! So there’s nothing jarring about a podcast which simply reflects the way we interact and treat women or men who demean women.
Also, when the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore, endorse you so publicly, what do you care about people’s feedback?
And when the Senior Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social and Family Development, who heads the office for women development collaborated with you, surely you must be doing something right?
Don’t get me wrong. These are two wonderful men I’ve personally met. And we can always give them the benefit of doubt of not knowing the content of OLG prior to their “collabs.”
But this explains the audacity. When you have a continuous rise in popularity with the majority NOT calling you out, when other people of influence and authority “collaborate” (see also: endorsing – especially in the world of influencers) with you, despite the misogyny in your content, why would you give a damn?
This is why people speak out. This is why those who have influence and authority must say or do something. This reinforces a zero tolerance attitude which will be reflected to the society. We see you, MP Zainal Sapari.
But do me a favour while we are on the topic of influential people, go back and look at all the personalities, asatizahs, artists, politicians etc who collaborated with OLG. Again, we can extend the benefit of doubt to them because maybe at that time, they themselves weren’t listeners of OLG and had no idea how misogynistic the content was. But surely, they must be aware of this furore by now. Are they still choosing to remain silent?
But not being a misogynist is not enough. You must be anti-misogyny.
This starts with you. It starts from your home. It start’s with how you raise your sons. With how you treat your daughters at home.
And men, we don’t need your secret allyship when you call us on the phone and tell us how much you support women yet in your circle of boys, stay silent when they rampage through Misogyny Town. Or how you write an article on ‘feminism’ yet laugh when your boys objectify and joke about women. Or how you use your Asatizah status and quote hadith of the Prophet and his respect towards women to show you are pro women but when OLG is called out, you stay silent.
You have benefited from a system that favours you while it oppresses us, so the onus is on you – to use your hands, your voice, your heart and your soul. To do whatever it takes, despite that pressure and fear of being made fun of by your bros, to SAY and DO the right thing always.
Lastly, I am pretty damn sure you can still be successful, famous and popular, without the need to plunder on the dignity and honour of women.
Once OLG cleans up their act, I will gladly follow their podcast.
In light of the current #blacklivesmatter revolution, the world is awakened to the ugly truth that for the longest time, despite subscribing to equality of all lives, when it comes to the law, police, and justice systems – there is a hierarchy and the whiter you are, the richer you are, the straighter you are and the more connected you are – your life matters most and always. Even if you are the perpetrator of a horrible crime.
Shukri Abdi was 12 years old when she was found drowned in the River Irwell in the Lancashire town of Bury on 28 June 2019. Her schoolmates were with her when she died. Her death has been ruled as a tragic accident despite eye witnesses and statements admitting to “If you don’t get into the water, I am going to kill you.”
But here is where the story gets so dark, that you think this is a Hollywood movie. Except it is real – and innocent lives are the brunt of it.
Hazel Wood High School was originally Broad Oak Sports College. And Broad Oak Sports College was a local authority school which was run and funded by the government.
We know how it works in the movies when you need to erase an individual’s identity. (and history) But how do you escape pressure, accountability and responsibility, as a public school accused of playing a role in the murder of one of your students?
You go private.
And that is exactly what they did. Within months of Shukri’s murder, Broad Oak Sports College did not just have a rebranding exercise but they officially shut down Broad Oak Sports College, refurbished their building, renamed themselves Hazel Wood High School and re-registered themselves as a private academy. They even redesigned and change their school uniforms.
Hazel Wood High School is now run by the Oak Learning Partnership Multi Academic Trust, which also oversees Unsworth Primary School and Elms Bank. (It helps when you are connected with high friends in high places)
But what does this all mean? It means their old identity no longer exist and they are now privately run, privately funded and most importantly, free from local authority control.
Diane Taylor, who writes for The Guardian, is possibly the only journalist who covered Shukri’s story, twice. In it, she detailed how Shukri, a Muslim refugee from Somalia, was a long time victim of bullying from students in Hazel Wood High. Shukri’s mother, Zamzam Arab Ture, called on the staff of the school multiple times, to look into her daughter’s bullies but each time, they refused to take her complaints seriously. A follow up article can be found here.
Remember I said this story is dark? Well, this school has a track record for letting bullies get away with murder. Shukri is not the first death by bullying.
Caroline Bailey, a Religious Education teacher and a mother of two, was found hanged at a quarry in September 2012. Her death was ruled as a suicide. But till this day, her husband, Neal Connor, believes that his wife “was subjected to strategic bullying at her school.”
Why am I speaking about this? The #blacklivesmatter movement has naturally surfaced the lives of plenty of BIPOC, who never got justice for their deaths, because the perpetrators involved have been white, rich, connected and/or protected by the system. In the case of the students, staff and governing bodies of Hazel Wood High School – most likely, a combination of all the above.
Additionally, when I followed the hashtag #justiceforShukriAbdi, I realised that although her hashtag is trending, it has all the wrong information. The Instagram and Twitter posts are still using the old school’s name and contact information. The only action call was a petition. People were sharing wrong information and sending emails and calling up a school which no longer exist. Plus the more I researched, the more I found out how “slick” the people involved were at covering up their tracks.
When you own the system, you rule the system. That means you can manipulate it however you want. I found out things like how their previously all white members of the school’s local governing body, was recently ( feb 2020) changed to include 3 Muslim members. However, the members who “left” the board, are trustees of the Oak Learning Partnership which oversees the school.
And let’s not forget the Bury Police Station who is a part of Greater Manchester Police who pathetically concluded that her death was simply an accident, despite the eyewitnesses and students involved.
I’ve been speaking about people in positions of power, authority & influence and who in society must hold them accountable. The burden of responsibility are highest on leaders themselves – this is why they are appointed as leaders.
But if they fail to hold themselves accountable, then we are the last level of defence for the vulnerable in our communities.
Shukri Abdi, Caroline Bailey and their families deserve justice. If we want the authorities to act, we need the right information, we nee to pressure, we need names, we need contact details and we need faces.
Starting with these ones.
Bernadette Euston Garner – The Chairperson of The Oak Learning Partnership Multi Academy Trust Also goes by the name Bernie Garner. Linkedin
Daniel Brown – Director (Vice Chairperson) of The Oak Learning Partership Multi Academy Trust. Currently looking for a job on LinkedIn. Does a murder investigation have anything to do with it Dan?
Simon Toft – Second to Daniel in The Oak Learning Partnership Multi Academy Trust Linkedin Fun fact: Franchise owner of multiple Mcdonald restaurants in the UK Previously worked in the newspaper industry as Group Commercial Director and Assistant MD for (drumroll) The Guardian.
Trustees of The Oak Learning Partnership Tip: Remember the names of these Trustees. You will need to do a comparative analysis with them later.
Elaine Parkinson – CEO of Oak Learning Partnership which oversees Hazel Wood High School, Unsworth Primary School & Elms Bank Linkedin
Hazel Wood High School Governance Details Fun fact: The latest governors includes 3 Muslims who started their term on 11 February 2020. If you look at who the original members are under the ‘Historic’ category, you will see that it was an all white member team, who if you scroll back up, you will see they are familiar names. So they never “left”. They just manipulated the system and added 3 token Muslims while they continue sitting right at the top as Trustees & Chairpersons.
Paul Greenhalgh – Headteacher & Principal of Hazel Wood High School & Broad Oaks Sports College Also new logo of Hazel Wood High School on his screen
Current School Uniform of Hazel Wood High School& Address
This section is continuously being updated to reflect the latest developments of Shukri Abdi’s case.
Demand accountability from the Greater Manchester Police AND the Mayor of Greater Manchester – ANDY BURNHAM By contacting Andy Burnham, you will be hitting two stones because he is also the Commissioner of Police & Crime!
Email: email@example.com Twitter: @Mayorof GM Churchgate House Oxford Street Manchester M1 6EU
Continue to email MP JAMES DALYfor answers, member of parliament for that constituency. (also thank him – you will see why below) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 0207 219 3000 Twitter: @JamesDalyMP
Demand justice and accountability from the evil that sits on The Oak Learning Partnership Trust Board The Oak Learning Partnership Trust Ripon Avenue Whitefield Manchester M45 8PJ Email: email@example.com UK Telephone Number: 0161 766 1597
Last Updated : 11 June 2020
New Developments ( 11 June 2020)
MP James Daly letter to Mayor Andy Burnham on Shukri’s case
9 hours ago, MP James Daly wrote to Mayor Andy Burnham. This letter was posted on his Twitter account. This letter is excellent and demands answers and justice. If you intend to write a letter to Mayor Andy Burnham, or any of those listed in the action call above, feel free to copy phrases/sentences and words from the letter below.
For the latest updates, follow the official Justice4Shukri campaign team here! This team have been supporting the family of Shukri Abdi and working alongside the legal team representing Shukri Abdi, led by Attiq Malik. www.fb.com/Justice4Shukri
All the information above has been to the best of my knowledge and Google’s. If you are an organiser or activist from the UK, a family member of Shukri or Caroline, a student or parent of the school who wants justice -and you have further information to support their families or to amplify this case – please contact me so I can update my information above.