Sudan’s ancient culture gets resurrected in Omdurman, every Friday, which in many developing economies is regarded as a holy day. Omdurman is the biggest city in the country and it is where the Qadiriyya Sufi faction get together. In front of the mosque that keeps the tomb of the order’s 19th Century Sufi leader,
The Sufi community in Sudan is one of the world’s biggest and it is considered to be a division of Islam, that is mystic in nature because devotees want to follow their own path to God. Each and every Sufi faction together embrace an ideology, titled dhikr, which involves total worship. The worship rituals involve prayers, dancing and spinning that go around and around to inject an energetic trance.
Clothes for the religious occasion vary from the quite regular green (trims are orange in colour) to exuberant colours, sporting technicolor layers or fabric strips. Sometimes, this whole look is completed with sunglasses, sashes embroidered with religious text and prayer beads.
How disturbed cultural ills conflict with women’s health in emerging economies
Female genital mutilation is one of the worst humanitarian issues in the world. It happens to many women around the world, mostly in developing economies with a prevailing culture that supports the idea. The surgical procedure is not legal in the United Kingdom but there are fears that some girls living in the United Kingdom might have had to go through it in their home country.
The surgical procedure is medically harmful and it is always conducted by female doctors with no medical training. Toxic materials, such as glass shards, knives, scissors, razor blades and scalpels are used to perform this surgical procedure, and it is a horrific story.
Many women suffer from shock after it is carried out (reportedly, at as young a age as 9) but they volunteer to go through with it, quite an awful lot, because of perhaps the humiliation they suffer at the hands of people in their locality.
Men refuse to take a wife unless the woman has had the surgical procedure operated on them, disturbingly, their families are wrongfully humiliated if the truth is let out and there is no cultural change in sight over this problem.
The humanitarian issues with the crisis is such that women are suffering from this distorted medical point of view that female genital mutilation is a necessary surgical procedure. It is not. There are no medical positives to it and women suffer from dysfunctional effects such as, serious pain and bleeding.
The only way to combat this illness is to have a change in cultural perceptions and an absorption of the concept that female genital mutilation is not a medical necessity at all – it should be avoided at all costs and women and families, that suffer from these atrocities, in the name of medical malpractice, must speak up and be willing to change societal tricks, as well as age-old primitive perceptions of health, for this to happen.
I grew up with so many television shows, it’s tough to pick a favourite! But off the top of my head, let’s start with Friends. Friends was, during my teenage years, and still is one of my most favourite shows. I loved it even though the canned laughter in the background took some time to get used to. It was the first show I properly watched, after practically everything on Cartoon Network, and even though I was really young, I enjoyed every aspect of the show, from the pilot episode of a runaway bride, to Italian culture in America being demonstrated in the oddest way imaginable: through infidelity.
I would tune in on the evenings, after following strict protocol set in my household by my Mom, to only watch television after finishing all of my homework, to catch up on funny antics of six goofy friends. I never argued with the protocol because it was only there to help me academically.
My Mom had such an enthusiasm for television shows herself but coming from generations before me meant that she loved shows, I never really watched reruns of, such as Charlie’s Angels.
The whole idea about Friends that appealed to me was that it was about American culture that I was a part of as a Brit, and growing up with Cartoon Network meant I had no desire to say goodbye to those traditions. Episodes upon episodes would be carved out for Thanksgiving, Christmas and even, Hanukkah in Friends. There were serious topics such as, dating thrown in but none of them were ever too much because who wants to watch that as a teen, rather than comedic antics of a bunch of friends?
Randomly, somehow, I did catch (I was busy watching Second World War tapes! Yes!) some of those geeky culture paranoia over relating to Friends, how it had broken (to me, those absurd) cultural barriers and found popularity across the world, as well as “behind the scenes” clips of making Friends and it looked surreal (and boring): the cast had to perform in an open studio (imagine that!), their fashion staple seemed to be jeans/a white tee, they had in-house salad for lunches, and it honestly made me never want to be an actor, just a film critic obsessed with #Friends, because she’s a ’90s kid.
Jeremy Hutchinson’s Case Histories: From Lady Chatterley’s Lover to Howard Marks
Jeremy Hutchinson is one of those British lawyers, whose moral compass always points in the correct direction (or you would think). Jeremy has worked on cases such as, in defence of the Lady Chatterley’s Lover trial (1960), that dragged Penguin Books into it. That case was unique: Lady Chatterley’s Lover was a book by D.H. Lawrence, that increasingly used slangs in proper linguistic structures, and this had alarmed many people in Great Britain, at the time. The controversies heightened when the book was published in an affordable and readily available format and the case went on to become a career defining one for Hutchinson.
The book, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, even by today’s standards remains controversial for too much of the words “fuck” and “cunt” in them, even though the case was won on the grounds that it demonstrated British society’s evolution. It’s hard not to agree with the public there, when you open a book and read frequent use of those words whilst you are trying to understand Chatterley’s frustrations at having to live with only love, and no sex. But given the theme of the book, wouldn’t it be quite inappropriate to skip words that make it easier to translate the frustration a woman feels, for fear of seeming obscene? In that retrospect, the book was ahead of its times and pretty clairvoyant about social change in a British landscape.
The case is covered in the book in infinitely tantalizing ways, and I think it will without a doubt, remain my most favourite out of all the numerous ones Jeremy has worked on in his distinguished career. To get a more diverse flavour of Jeremy’s law career: think about cases involving espionage and “unwanted sexual provocation”. Jeremy defended two spies (George Blake and John Vassall) in the sixties for spying in favour of the Soviet Union, and what was special about that case was actually Blake’s survival story. Blake, a former MI6 officer, was a prisoner in North Korea (1950 – 1953) and lived through a death march, partially converted to communism and spent his time spying on Russians in Berlin, and sometimes in Beirut, Lebanon.
The case history of this particular case in the book, is conflicted and less secretive than previous espionage accounts, that are more often than not, cloaked with too much of infuriating mystery, to handle. Jeremy was born in 1915, and in today’s times is regarded as a legendary criminal barrister circa ‘60s, ‘70s and ’80s. Some of his most magnificent cases are studied in the book, such as those mentioned above + Hutchinson fighting in defence of the train robber Charlie Wilson, Kempton Bunton (a thief, who had stolen a picture from the National Gallery), art faker Tom Keating and a huge cannabis importer, Howard Marks. Jeremy was never about powerfully doing what is right, he was always for liberty and freedom, for all, no matter the case or its backstory. A very riveting read for lovers of exciting courtroom dramas, with or without a moral compass, in sight!