I always feel like I could be doing something better than college...
…like, come on, this is the prime of my life. I could be expending this energy doing something more meaningful and productive, as opposed to rotting away at classes that don’t interest me and stressing out over assignments, exams, and the like that in the long run mean nothing.
…but then I remember that this shit is basically free. I definitely wouldn’t be interested in trying to make a living for myself in the “real world.”
Amnesty International has today called on the Egyptian authorities to investigate serious allegations of torture, including forced ‘virginity tests’, inflicted by the army on women protesters arrested in Tahrir Square earlier this month.
After army officers violently cleared the square of protesters on 9 March, at least 18 women were held in military detention. Amnesty International has been told by women protesters that they were beaten, given electric shocks, subjected to strip searches while being photographed by male soldiers, then forced to submit to ‘virginity checks’ and threatened with prostitution charges.
‘Virginity tests’ are a form of torture when they are forced or coerced.
“Forcing women to have ‘virginity tests’ is utterly unacceptable. Its purpose is to degrade women because they are women,” said Amnesty International. “All members of the medical profession must refuse to take part in such so-called ‘tests’.”
20-year-old Salwa Hosseini told Amnesty International that after she was arrested and taken to a military prison in Heikstep, she was made, with the other women, to take off all her clothes to be searched by a female prison guard, in a room with two open doors and a window. During the strip search, Salwa Hosseini said male soldiers were looking into the room and taking pictures of the naked women.
The women were then subjected to ‘virginity tests’ in a different room by a man in a white coat. They were threatened that “those not found to be virgins” would be charged with prostitution.
According to information received by Amnesty International, one woman who said she was a virgin but whose test supposedly proved otherwise was beaten and given electric shocks.
“Women and girls must be able to express their views on the future of Egypt and protest against the government without being detained, tortured, or subjected to profoundly degrading and discriminatory treatment,” said Amnesty International.
“The army officers tried to further humiliate the women by allowing men to watch and photograph what was happening, with the implicit threat that the women could be at further risk of harm if the photographs were made public.”
Journalist Rasha Azeb was also detained in Tahrir Square and told Amnesty International that she was handcuffed, beaten and insulted.
Following their arrest, the 18 women were initially taken to a Cairo Museum annex where they were reportedly handcuffed, beaten with sticks and hoses, given electric shocks in the chest and legs, and called “prostitutes”.
Rasha Azeb could see and hear the other detained women being tortured by being given electric shocks throughout their detention at the museum. She was released several hours later with four other men who were also journalists, but 17 other women were transferred to the military prison in Heikstep
Testimonies of other women detained at the same time collected by the El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence are consistent with Rasha Azeb and Salwa Hosseini’s accounts of beatings, electrocution and ‘virginity tests’.
“The Egyptian authorities must halt the shocking and degrading treatment of women protesters. Women fully participated in bringing change in Egypt and should not be punished for their activism,” said Amnesty International.
“All security and army forces must be clearly instructed that torture and other ill-treatment, including forced ‘virginity tests’, will no longer be tolerated, and will be fully investigated. Those found responsible for such acts must be brought to justice and the courageous women who denounced such abuses be protected from reprisals.”
All 17 women detained in the military prison were brought before a military court on 11 March and released on 13 March. Several received one-year suspended prison sentences.
Salwa Hosseini was convicted of disorderly conduct, destroying private and public property, obstructing traffic and carrying weapons.
Amnesty International opposes the trial of civilians before military courts in Egypt, which have a track record of unfair trials and where the right to appeal is severely restricted.
In general, we’re surprised that high unemployment can exist at the same time as a skilled labor shortage. We shouldn’t be. We’ve pretty much guaranteed it.
In high schools, the vocational arts have all but vanished. We’ve elevated the importance of “higher education” to such a lofty perch that all other forms of knowledge are now labeled “alternative.” Millions of parents and kids see apprenticeships and on-the-job-training opportunities as “vocational consolation prizes,” best suited for those not cut out for a four-year degree. And still, we talk about millions of “shovel ready” jobs for a society that doesn’t encourage people to pick up a shovel.
As long as we acknowledge only degree-required white collar jobs as a valid and respectable career choices, then we can continue to justify the better pay, better benefits, better lifestyle of the already well-off at the expense of those who are not. If we start to dignify the blue collar lifestyle by acknowledging they exist or helping those who are interested get into them via our public education, it sort of screws up the whole concept that “those people” aren’t worthy of our time, interest, or a slice of the pie.
I’ve definitely had this discussion with people before. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people discuss vocational schools as the last resort of adults on a continuing-ed path, or people restarting, or as some sort of failure. Every time I’ve pointed out that vocational learning, or specialized learning in general, is nothing to denigrate. That many people can’t learn from textbooks, but learn from applied skills. It has no inherent judgment, and there’s no one way that is better or worse. They’re just different (but not opposed) learning practices.
I’ve had people even look me askance when I say I wish I had woodshop, or something more tactile, available to me, instead of it being relegated to a class only for students lumped into special education classes (in both of my public school learning experiences there was a wood shop course, but it was always a class that people were told was for the “other” kids; in high school, where I was in private school, the carpentry/wood shop program was more aesthetically than practically motivated).
In short, I hate the stigmatization of vocational training.