Authors: Mohammad Naciri and Jeremy Douglas*
Across Asia, places of detention have become a hotspot for outbreaks of COVID-19. Overcrowding – with some prisons in the region having occupancy levels above 500%[i]– poor infection control and a lack of access to services and information within prisons have created an environment in which the virus quickly takes hold.[ii]
To control the spread of COVID-19 and reduce prison populations, some countries in Asia have ordered theearly release of prisoners who are unlikely to pose harm to the general public and are nonviolent. This raises the question: if we can decrease incarceration rates in a crisis situation, why can’t we do it in ordinary times?
The effectiveness of incarceration to decrease crime rates and alternative sanctions to reduce the prison population has long been a source of debate, and the response to COVID-19 through early release has brought fresh attention to the issue.
Although women make up a minority of the global prison population at around 7%, their rate of imprisonment is increasing at a much higher rate than that of men.[iii]The number of women incarcerated worldwide has increased by 53%,compared to men at 20%,since 2000.[iv]Asia hasthe highest rates of women prisoners globally, with China Hong Kong and Macau SARs, Lao PDR, Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore and Viet Nam recording that women constitute anywhere from 10% to 20% of prison populations.[v]
The vast majority of women also serve sentences for non-violent offences that are based on socioeconomic issues and gender-based discrimination. An increasing number of women in Asia are incarcerated for minor drug offences, which often involve personal use or low-level trafficking of drugs. In addition, women are targeted for “morality” offences, such as failing virginity tests, engaging in prostitution or undergoing an illegal abortion. A large number of women in prison have suffered from violence – as high as 75% of incarcerated women in some countries.[vi] Based on World Health Organization (WHO) reports, women admitted to prison also tend to have higher rates of mental health issues and substance abuse problems than their male counterparts, often as a result of previous violence and abuse.[vii]
Due to the larger numbers of male prisoners, especially in overcrowded prisons, the few prison rehabilitation programmes available are often not suited for women. When women are released from prison, they face distinct difficulties when trying to reintegrate into their communities.[viii] This in turn increases the risk of poverty and chances for recidivism, starting the cycle all over again.
With COVID-19 responses showing that imprisonment might not be the only approach, the time is right to move away from a reliance on punitive measures for low-level women offenders and for all prisoners, not just because of the crisis but in the long term. Gender-responsive prison rehabilitation projects and non-custodial measures are not only effective for women prisoners but also essential to reduce the number of incarcerated men.
Imprisonment for non-violent offences is costly for the State, detrimental to prisoners and their families, and likely will not prevent reoffending. In the case of drug use and possession, health-driven services and treatment can be an alternative to incarceration. And for those who must be imprisoned, gender-sensitive facilities, coupled with rehabilitation and reintegration strategies, can help address underlying socioeconomic causes for criminal behavior.
To decrease crime and protect the population, legislative reforms to eliminate discrimination and enhance social justice are needed. In addition, a shift to a more rehabilitation-focused criminal justice system and the introduction of more non-custodial measures has proven to reduce costs related to correctional services anddecrease recidivism significantly.[ix] Likewise, a reduction in prison populations can have a positive effect on those who remain incarcerated.
While COVID-19 has caused chaos, there are lessons we can take from the pandemic and reforms that can be considered. A good place to start is by addressing deficiencies in inequality and in criminal justice systems.
* Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific
[iii]World Prison Brief, World Female Imprisonment List 4th ed. (2017).https://www.prisonstudies.org/news/world-female-imprisonment-list-fourth-edition
[vii] World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, Health in Prisons (2007)
[ix]Edward J Latessa, Shelly J. Listwan, What Works (and Doesn’t) in Reducing Recidivism (2014)
Netflix biodrama draws attention to real-life refugee-turned-Olympian
When the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, screened a film about the inspiring true story of two sisters who swam for their lives to escape war-torn Syria, one UN official hailed it as “a testament to the strength, courage, and perseverance” of the more than one hundred million people forcibly displaced s around the world. Communications chief Melissa Fleming also called the Netflix film The Swimmers, “a wakeup call” and a “hugely welcome step” for everyone to stand in solidarity with refugees.
Although Yusra and Sara Mardini were forced to flee Syria’s civil war in 2015, the biographical drama, which Netflix dropped on Wednesday, makes clear that they took their bravery and humanitarian spirit with them as Yusra went on to compete in two Olympic games.
“At a very young age, they become heroes for millions, saving people who were in peril at sea,” explained Ms. Fleming at the screening, held at UN Headquarters in New York. “And while they had to re-start from scratch, they managed to achieve their dreams through persistence and hard work”.
In illustrating the dignity, resilience, and enormous potential of these two young women, The Swimmers gives voice to all refugees.
“It allows the audience not only to feel compassion for those forcibly displaced but identify with them – imagine they’re in their shoes,” the UN official said at a preview screening earlier this month.
While the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and other parts of the Organization have for worked for decades to protect the lives and livelihoods of those forced to flee war, violence and persecution, Ms. Fleming acknowledged that the task is becoming “increasingly challenging as displacement is getting more and more complex”.
A human lens
The true story begins with the teenage sisters, who were competitive swimmers, escaping the Syrian conflict.
It shows their treacherous sea journey to Europe, when the engine on their boat cuts out mid-crossing and the sisters jumped into the water with two others and, swimming for several hours, guided the sinking dingy to safety, saving the lives of some 18 people onboard.
It continues to follow Yusra as she competes in the Rio 2016 Olympics. She would go on to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and in 2017, at age 19, became the youngest ever UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador.
Who is a refugee
Like many around the world, the word ‘refugee’ meant little to Yusra – until she was forced to flee her home.
“When I was living in Syria…no one educated me about it,” she said
“This movie is going to put the conversation on the table of what a refugee is, of what we want to change”.
UNHCR NY Director Ruven Menikdiwela said, the film stands as “a powerful reminder that while refugees are individuals who have fled from conflict, war or persecution and need support, they also bring with them their incredible talents and diverse skills to the communities that welcome them”.
Before altering the way people view refugees, she emphasized that they must first understand them.
“Education systems have to change…be more open, they have to teach the stories of migrants and refugees,” the UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador explained.
Yusra was confident that The Swimmers would help educate people on the potential and value of all refugees, reminding that “we have to treat everyone the same”.
Meanwhile, acclaimed Egyptian-Welsh director Sally El Hosaini hoped that the film alters “tired stereotypes of both refugees and young Arab women,” asserting that they are just regular people “who’ve had to make unimaginable choices…in search of a safer, better life”.
Advocating for refugees
Yusra’s astonishing story is not just one in a million, but one in 103 million – the current number of forcibly displaced people globally.
While not everyone can swim the 100-metre butterfly at the Olympics, Yusra continues to use her talent and success in speaking for refugees and influencing attitudes.
“The Olympic Games changed the way I think about being a refugee,” she said.
“I walked into the stadium in Rio, and I realized that I can inspire so many people. I realized that ‘refugee’ is just a word, and what you do with it is the most important thing.”
‘This is only the beginning’
Beyond swimming, Yusra’s plans to continue as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador; establish a charitable foundation on sports and education; further her studies; and perhaps, take up acting.
Despite being in the Hollywood spotlight, the young advocate has not lost sight of her calling.
“A lot still has to change for refugees,” she says. “This is not the end. This is just the beginning.”
The Art of Military Leadership: Growing from a student to a leader
How does military leadership differ between students and leaders? What are some common traits found in successful officers?
Leadership has become essential in today’s workforce. Everyone needs someone who knows how to motivate and direct teams, from sales managers to executives. How those at the top of organizations lead their subordinates also affects morale levels within the company.
Leadership is defined as the ability to influence or direct the actions of another person or group. This definition encompasses all areas of life and is essential to succeed at anything in life. Good leaders can motivate followers, inspire them, and guide them toward success.
They can build strong teams and develop relationships with diverse groups of people. Influential leaders can identify problems and opportunities. They can anticipate future events, and make sound decisions. Here is how military leadership can help students grow.
Military education places a premium on nurturing future leaders. With military education for college students, they can better learn the proven path to becoming strong leaders. Military education courses aim to foster this quality by strengthening participants’ leadership abilities in decisiveness, communication, and resilience. Many high schools and colleges offer JROTC programs that offer military education.
The Junior Reserve Officers’ Training is a great opportunity for future leaders to grow and develop skills that they can use in any career or job. This program prepares students for lifelong success by teaching them military history, protocol, and leadership skills. Students have the opportunity to explain their interest in military education when writing the JROTC essay, in addition to describing how their background has prepared them for this course of study. Regardless of students’ plans for the future, military education courses provide valuable training that will help them become better leaders in all aspects of life.
Military education encourages people to work together. Teamwork and the ability to collaborate on tasks benefit from exposure to a wide range of people. These courses teach students and military officers from all branches how to work together to solve issues. Whether they hail from the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, or the Marines.
This allows leaders from diverse branches of the military to learn from one another. This is done by complementing their unique skills and experiences. The military’s top brass can learn valuable techniques for fostering cohesion.
Working and studying with a wide range of people and various teachers also helps broaden one’s view. Students benefit from military education programs because they can learn from their colleagues’ experiences and perspectives.
Officers’ adaptability to different situations and their ability to forecast their own strategies’ outcomes are bolstered by this. Military education students benefit from working with military commanders from other branches. This is because they are exposed to new perspectives and problem-solving methods.
Military education provides military leaders with supplementary critical thinking training and writing skills. This is done through its emphasis on situational analysis and problem resolution. Due to the importance of this skill in the Department of Defense and the armed forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines). It must be practiced frequently to maintain mental acuity and readiness.
Leaders in the armed forces can benefit from military education. This is because it instructs them in the methods of strategic thinking that will help them solve the complex problems they face and make sound decisions. Many facets of their critical thinking will benefit from this.
Demonstrate leadership by serving those under you. Respect your devotees and look out for them. Keep them safe. Your wants will be considered secondary. Of course, you should prioritize your safety and well-being alongside that of your unit, its objective, and its followers.
One of the most fundamental human wants is the yearning to be recognized.
Neither at work nor home do most people feel they are valued, acknowledged, or recognized. The silent misery of their existence is palpable.
Recognizing and rewarding your team is a great way to boost morale and motivation.
If you want to be a good leader, whether, in charge of a small group or an entire army, you need a plan.
You don’t have to be an Apple-level visionary to have some plan for your team or division. Have a mental picture of how you’d like your unit or subsection to develop over the next few years.
It would help if you communicated that goal to your followers and, more crucially, demonstrated how they contribute to that vision. Demonstrate the impact that their work and contributions are having on your goals.
The art of military leadership has been practiced since ancient times. While some aspects of military leadership have remained unchanged. Other leadership attributes have changed significantly throughout history. As societies have evolved, so too have the expectations placed upon their leaders. Consequently, the role of military leaders has expanded beyond its original purpose. It now includes political, economic, diplomatic, technological, social, cultural, and psychological domains.
International Relations Degree: Jobs You Can Pursue with It
If you are interested in working in an international environment or company, you have probably thought about pursuing an international relations degree. Doing this opens many career doors, not only in world affairs or government. There are many rewarding careers you can pursue with an international relations degree, as you study a lot of distinct fields.
As a student, you are probably already looking for career opportunities, as you want to know what jobs you can apply to with this degree. Well, you should know that there are many and you have plenty of opportunities to choose from, depending on your goals, values, and what you like. So, what are the jobs you can pursue with an international relations degree? Find out below.
If you love politics and want to be active in this field, then maybe you could consider a job as a political consultant. What would be your responsibilities and tasks? Well, you are responsible for the image of a politician. This means you run campaigns to promote them and do press releases that endorse the image of the candidate. You have a lot of work, especially during campaign time that precedes the voting. You are kind of a PR, but for a politician. And this means you will interact with a lot of people and organizations, but companies too that can support your campaign and legislative changes.
If you decide to get an international relations degree, you will get the education you need to be an excellent political consultant. You will be introduced to a wide diversity of fields that prepare you for this, such as business, sales, public relations, and of course, politics. As a college student, you will learn about foreign policy, human rights, international finance, global democratization, and many more. And, of course, you will have to complete many assignments and write essays on these topics too. Studying international relations might feel challenging at times so you can use an essay maker to polish your writing skills and expand your knowledge. Writing skills are crucial, no matter the job you choose to pursue with your international relations degree.
With an international relations degree, you can get a job in the federal government as an intelligence specialist. This is a great opportunity to work for a state security agency, especially if you have always dreamed of doing this. National security is crucial for every country and these agencies, whether they are federal or military, are always searching for the best professionals to take this job. Your main duties would be collecting and analyzing information that is crucial for national security.
This means that you will work and take care of highly classified documents and files. But you also need to keep an eye on everything, as identifying the threats to national security is the main job. Getting an education and earning your international relations degree is not enough for being an intelligence specialist. You will need to undergo highly specialized training that will prepare you for handling sensitive documents and situations.
International Marketing Specialist
The world is changing at a fast pace and we need to adapt to it. Companies and businesses around the world are looking to increase their revenue and profits and many of them extend to other countries too. International organizations should always adapt to the culture of every country they are present in but promote a unified business model and view across the whole organization too. So, with an international relations degree, you can take a job as an international marketing specialist. Your responsibilities would be to take care of the marketing strategy, but also identify the main points and tactics you can use in every country.
You might focus on a specific country, but your main duty would be to find effective ways to increase the brand awareness of the company you work for. You will need to predict changes in marketing trends, identify risks, and, of course, find innovative and creative ways to promote the organization’s products and services among its target audience.
An international relations degree opens a lot of career doors and it comes with so many opportunities of working in the government or international environment. Depending on what you like doing and what your career goals are, you can work for a federal institution, international company or organization, or politician, but also in the economics and law domain. Keep an open mind for the opportunities that lie ahead.
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