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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

A glimpse into Singapore’s rainbow community

Singapore may be a cultural melting pot, but – as Tamsin Wu notes after meeting key LGBTQ community leaders – “one thing that the country lags behind is its social attitude towards LGBTQ issues and rights.” Here’s Outrage Magazine’s glimpse of Singapore’s rainbow community.

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Singapore is a cultural melting pot as seen from its people, experienced from visiting its different districts and tasted from its myriad of food choices. It exudes a cosmopolitan city bursting with personality.

The first thing I noticed was how strikingly awesome the urban planning and public transportation system were in Singapore. It was definitely light years ahead from the rowdy metropolis environment, massive vehicular traffic and unkempt public transportation dealt with back home. Cleanliness and efficiency were definitely things that Singapore upheld.

One thing that the country lags behind though is its social attitude towards LGBTQ issues and rights. Although Section 377 in the Singapore Penal Code – which criminalizes sex between men – is not really enforced against the gay community, its impact trickles down to, among others, how Singapore’s media industry blatantly prohibits positive depictions of LGBTQ stories and characters, the damaging practice of conversion therapy pushed by some of the religious and conservatives, as well as discrimination in schools and workplaces.

LITERARY REPRESENTATIONS OF LGBTQ

Censorhsip is an issue faced by the Singaporean LGBTQ community. For example, the InfoComm Media Development Authority (IMDA) sets forth media guidelines or policies that make it mandatory for Singapore’s mainstream media to edit out parts of a show – fiction or otherwise – that show LGBTQ personalities in a positive light. At times, it even spreads beyond the periphery of mainstream media, as long as a complaint has been filed regarding homosexual depiction.

A few LGBTQ-related Singapore literature

Registered Singaporean social worker Yangfa Leow shared to me some instances wherein such censorship was enforced – On TV, there was a time when a portion of Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show was cut out simply because her guest, former US President Obama, complimented her. On live theater, a kissing scene played out by two actors was demanded to be omitted from subsequent running of the shows after an audience member complained that he was caught off-guard by the inclusion of homosexuality in the story. On print, “And Tango Makes Three”, a children’s book based on a true story about two male penguins that adopted and raised a baby penguin, was banned from the National Library Board simply because a parent filed a complaint about it.

The book cover on this anthology of Singaporean LGBTQ stories was inspired by the censorship incident on the children’s book “And Tango Makes Three”

Nonetheless, suppression of LGBTQ-related information and stories does not extend its fangs and claws to the Internet and publishing industry. I’ve been able to find out about Singapore’s LGBTQ-related books and organizations through social media and online research. Consequently, aside from reaching out to certain groups advocating for equality, I have scoured out the existence of quality Singaporean queer literature.

I wouldn’t fly out from the country without getting my hands on Cyril Wong’s book, “Let Me Tell You Something About That Night”. It magnificently interweaves fantasy into contemporary Singapore. Without loudly parading itself as an LGBTQ book, since the short stories therein are mainly about human experiences told through alternate worlds or realities, its collection of “strange tales” casually yet beautifully infuses LGBTQ characters here and there. Although simple in its storylines, it makes the reader feel and contemplate about the place of LGBTQ individuals and relationships in society, given the current socio-political landscape for and against the community.

While queer literature doesn’t necessarily fall under the category of activism, having LGBTQ representations in books is still a very useful tool in educating and spreading awareness, as well as empowering the community through words and stories.

COUNSELING AND SUPPORT

At Chinatown, leading to the Oogachaga center

One of the groups in Singapore that advocates for LGBTQ rights and helps the LGBTQ community rise up is Oogachaga (OC), a community-based organization that offers professional counseling and support services to LGBTQ individuals, couples and families via hotline, email and WhatsApp, or face-to-face counseling by appointment.

Stairway to a “safe space”

According to Yangfa Leow, executive director of OC, they have established a protocol in screening and training volunteers who would like to contribute their time in providing support services to the LGBTQ community. Applicants are required to go through an interview and a period of classroom and hands-on trainings.

“Some people have observed that this process is quite rigorous, and we see that as a positive thing. There will be applicants who are not selected, or voluntarily withdraw or do not return at various stages of this process. It is only expected that not everyone who wishes to be a volunteer would be a good fit. We want to protect the integrity of the counseling services. One of the key requirements for our hotline, email and WhatsApp counseling volunteers is the need to maintain confidentiality of information and identity. It is also to protect the clients themselves, many of whom may be in vulnerable situations and turn to OC for safety and emotional support. It is also to protect the safety and identities of our volunteers, who give their spare time to support others,” Yangfa said.

Yangfa Leow courteously showed me around the center and shared about the current struggles faced by LGBTQ’s in Singapore

On the other hand, volunteers with professional qualifications in social work, counseling or psychology are selected to provide face-to-face support, intervention and follow-up on issues.

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A hotline call, WhatsApp chat, an email or a counseling session is each counted as a service unit. According to Yangfa, back in 2013, OC served 974 service units. In 2016, the volume of service units reached 1,663 – a 71% increase in 4 years.

“Also, in terms of gender profile, we’re seeing an increase in proportion of service-users who identify as women, transgender or gender diverse – from 31.8% back in 2013 to 40.4% in 2016,” Yangfa added.

Other LGBTQ-friendly groups

When asked about the usual issues tackled, Yangfa said, “In no particular order, the top three presenting issues are sexuality or identity, relationships with partner, family, friends and psychological or mental health – diagnosed or undiagnosed.”

Aside from counseling services, OC also schedules support group sessions and offers training sessions to social service organizations, schools, healthcare institutions and private companies or corporations to talk about LGBTQ issues and how to handle conversations surrounding such matters.

OC’s top floor for group sessions, meetings or counseling

The main struggle that OC encounters is funding. “In August 2016, we were informed by our main, long-term funder that they would cease their support for us. They had been responsible for 80% of our funds for the past 8 years, and it came to a stop. So since then, we have embarked on an ongoing fund-raising drive,” Yangfa said.

Yangfa added that other challenges faced by OC include continuing to stay relevant and reaching out to those segments of the LGBTQ community that may need support, but are not yet being reached.

“For example, those who may not speak English, who may not be able to access our online publicity information, and those who may not be able to access our counseling services for whatever reasons – disability, language ability, stigma, social isolation.”

Brochures and booklets at OC

Yangfa also shared that, despite Christians being a non-dominant religious group in Singapore, they remain to be very vocal and influential in going against equality. There was even an event held called “White Dot” – an anti-LGBTQ offshoot of Singapore’s annual Pride event “Pink Dot” – that was originally headed by an Islamic religious teacher and eventually replicated by a Christian pastor.

Basically, the false notion that “if someone is pro-equality, then s/he cannot be pro-family or pro-society” is at times ridiculously drilled into the conscience of society.

EMBRACING LGBTQ CHRISTIANS

With that being said, however, all is not lost for LGBTQ’s who seek to attend a nonjudgmental, inclusive church environment.

Welcoming entrance to Free Community Church

In a country that still breeds animosity towards the LGBTQ’s, the Free Community Church (FCC) in Singapore is a breath of fresh air, especially for those who don’t want to let go of their Christian faith, albeit the off-putting religious bigotry preached by some.

Pastor Pauline Ong and Rev. Miak Siew speaking to the FCC congregation

FCC has a weekly cozy Sunday service that is open to everyone who want to join in a religious community feel, sans the abhorrence typically put by fundamentalists against LGBTQ’s and those of other faiths or beliefs. The atmosphere in FCC was light and accommodating. There were the usual leading of worship songs, sharing about the scripture and personal testimonies, as well as the ceremony of bread and wine. Afterwards, everyone was encouraged to spend more time together through lunch already prepared by FCC members.

EMPOWERING THE TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY

But even with the existence of organizations that offer a “safe space” to LGBTQ people, some of them still find themselves alone in battling the painful pangs of discrimination. One example is the dilemma of transgender folks who work in the sex industry to make money. In this case, they face both the stigma society imposes on transgender people and on sex workers. On top of having to deal with discrimination in school and even before entering the workforce, some get disowned by their families. With no one to turn to and no degree or work experience under their belt, they turn to the sex industry just to survive. Even though sex work is legal and regulated in Singapore, transgender sex workers still face the possibility of violence done to them either by a police personnel or the clients.

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Nonetheless, June Chua, co-founder of The T Project, has seen positive developments in the attitude of Singapore towards the transgender community. “Society have evolved and being transgender is no longer seen as taboo or a big deal. I do admit educating and raising awareness of the transgender community must still be ongoing but I do see more options and opportunities opening up for the transgender person in terms of employment and acceptance in Singapore.”

June Chua winning the AWARE Champion award for Gender Equality & Justice Award

The T Project offers shelter to homeless transgender people and enables them to create a better life for themselves. Apart from that, it also coordinates with other social service organizations and does workshops for government institutions, companies and schools to educate them about the transgender community.

“The first thing of how residents come in is by themselves or, alternatively, by referral from other social workers. So the moment they come in we will have to do an admissions interview, tell the residents the do’s and don’ts of living in the shelter, the requirements we expect from them, and to actually manage the expectations of what the shelter can provide. Basically, we don’t provide financial aid, we can connect you to some government agencies who can provide you with that,” explains Eztelle Kaye, shelter manager at The T Project.

“The T Project is not just about giving our residents a roof over their heads – it’s about empowering them to be independent and finding a way to have a sustainable life. We wish to educate them and give them the power once they leave the shelter.”

Chanced upon university students interviewing Eztelle

Eztelle met June in the course of volunteering at the Women Care Center, “I was closer to her late sister then, the co-founder of T Project. I met June about 3 years ago when I was working as a volunteer at Women Care Center advocating about more on HIV prevention, STI prevention, how you can actually help and do regular testing. So that’s where I met June. She was the Volunteer Supervisor. From there I’ve connected with June… I believe she saw something in me that’s why she draaaagged~ me here… as the shelter manager,” Eztelle said jokingly.

After deciding to leave her corporate life, she took on the role as shelter manager of The T Project in order to give back to society. “Of course I do miss my days whereby every payday is actually a ‘boutique day’ when I just shop at LV, Prada and such,” Eztelle said with a laugh. “But yeah, I feel I have much more of a sense of job satisfaction and fulfilment because I get the chance to empower the residents here, that they can be more than what they can be if they set their minds to it.”

Bulletin at the T Project shelter

Asked about the issues faced and rights held by transgender people vis-à-vis sex reassignment surgery (SRS), June said, “To me, the issues and challenges that will arise are not from whether you have underwent SRS or not but how you represent yourself to the public. However, in Singapore after we underwent SRS, we are allowed to legally change our gender marker and are accorded legal rights as a woman under the Woman Chapter Act.”

She shared that they are currently developing a work plan with various programs that would roll out in the later part of the year. “As part of our work plan 2017, we are doing a volunteer recruitment drive on Pink Dot event day itself. Yes, we will start to welcome non-transgender or cis-gender volunteers,” June said smilingly.

June Chua at Pink Dot 2016

“The T project will try to link up the transgender community with employment opportunities. We are also doing a series of TTP (Transgender Talking Point) workshop to empower the transgender and to see what are their needs and wants so that we can support them, hopefully. We are also recruiting 4 The T Project ambassadors to help us in our outreach effort.”

NAVIGATING LGBTQ ACTIVISM IN UNIVERSITIES

“My bubble seems to be one that is generally privileged to some extent, with respect to some other trans people. The trans people I am in contact with have not dropped out of school,” shared Cassandra Thng from the Communications and Media Relations team of the Inter-University LGBT Network – an amazing pool of student bodies that fight together in upholding the well-being of the LGBTQ community in Singapore’s educational institutions, their efforts of which would hopefully reverberate throughout the country.

“Generally, the trans people around me have all been closeted throughout earlier school lives such as primary and secondary school. The earliest I’ve heard of people transitioning within my friends is during Junior College or Poly. Naturally, the gender non-conforming nature of a trans person – such as the increased femininity in a trans girl, or the increased masculinity in a trans guy, or the general lack of non-conformity in a non-binary person – has been something of a sticking point for certain people. For those of us who did not blend as well with our assigned gender roles as others, bullying and mockery definitely were issues that were faced.”

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With the intention of fighting LGBTQ discrimination, at least at the level of colleges or universities, 5 student organizations – namely Gender Collective, Kaleidoscope, Out To Care, tFreedom and The G Spot – from different educational institutions came together and founded the Inter-University LGBT Network.

“The Network was born after the leaders from the five founding groups met at a social event organized by Out To Care from Singapore Management University. We found that each group faced similar challenges as the others, and decided to set up the Network so that we can share resources and facilitate collaboration,” shared Daryl Yang, executive director and co-founder of the Network.

Photo courtesy of The G Spot from Yale-NUS College

 

 

Cassandra has observed that the younger generation nowadays cares less about gender identities and sexual orientations that fall outside the “cis-heteronormative patriarchal standards”, and that at times, “it is teachers… who are perpetrators of harsh words and disqualifying beliefs themselves that create less protected and safe-feeling environments for at-risk students”.

She added that, “School environments are also very much shaped by education policy, and one of these policies would include sexuality education. To this day, Focus On The Family (FOTF), a Singaporean splinter from the American-based FOTF anti-LGBT Christian lobby, conducts sexuality education in certain schools. Sexuality education in Singapore in general, and with FOTF in particular, tends to gloss over different sexualities and gender identities in favor of teaching about safe sex, and in FOTF’s case, gender roles and abstinence. While safe sex is an important topic, gender identity and sexualities are also important topics that should be addressed. Many students who are part of those minorities have felt that they were excluded from the conversation and that it would be better to not speak about what they experience to anyone else.”

Photo courtesy of The G Spot from Yale-NUS College

Aside from student social events, the Network provides support by initiating studies and projects that aim to study LGBTQ-related issues faced by the student community, in order to raise awareness and recommend necessary revisions to existing university policies and frameworks, as well as to create an environment wherein LGBTQ students feel safe and empowered.

According to Xin Yee Teo, the Network’s Social Media Manager, Singapore universities have anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies that cover gender and sexual orientation. “However, procedure for seeking recourse via these policies remains unclear, and we are currently conducting a research project on this.”

Xin Yee further shared about the current projects of the Network, “For instance, the Harassment & Non-Discrimination Policy Research Project aims to find out how harassment is experienced by LGBTQ+ undergraduates in Singapore’s universities. It also seeks to find out if universities are equipped with the necessary resources like counsellors and student support groups to serve individuals who have been targeted for their gender or sexual orientation. Another ongoing project is the S377A Commemorative Project, which aims to analyze how the rhetoric surrounding S377A has evolved over the past 10 years since the repeal campaign in 2007, as well as its impact on LGBT discourse in Singapore. The end result of this project would be a moving exhibition across universities in the month of October, so as to coincide with the 10 year anniversary of the parliamentary debate. We also have various support projects – such as Youth Resource Development Project and Campus Support Project – which aims to provide help and support to LGBTQ+ youth in Singapore, as well as outreach projects which aims to provide inclusive platforms for networking and community-building.”

Photo courtesy of The G Spot from Yale-NUS College

One challenge faced by some LGBTQ student orgs is being officially recognized by the university, including the difficulty in setting up a group and organizing events, due to the stigma that may still be lingering “usually from more religiously conservative corners of the university”, as Daryl puts it.

“Nonetheless, people are generally respectful and it is rare to find cases of serious verbal, physical or emotional bullying based on someone’s sexual or gender identity. We have noticed encouraging shifts in attitudes towards LGBT issues in our universities since our Network was established. For instance, there are now talks at other universities or colleges to set up similar support groups, initiated by both students and faculty. There is also greater visibility of LGBT identities in the arts scene at our universities as well, most recently with groups from both NUS and Yale-NUS staging theatre performances featuring gay and transgender narratives.”

CARRYING ON THE FIGHT

Despite all the bad news concerning discrimination, it is good to know that the LGBTQ movement is still roaring proudly in Asia’s Lion City.

Heartening indeed to see that the progressive Singaporean youth is currently being active in the advocacy alongside LGBTQ-related organizations in order to raise and strengthen equality. It is hoped that the fight would continue on and fortify until Singapore reaches a place in time wherein its strength of diversity and multiculturalism includes that of human sexuality and gender expression.

A sure-footed wanderer. A shy, but strong personality. Hot-headed but cool. A critic of this propaganda-filled, often brainwashed society. A lover of nature, creativity and intellectual pursuits. Femme in all the right places. Breaking down stereotypical perspectives and narrow-mindedness. A writer with a pen name and no face. I'm a private person, but not closeted. Stay true!

Travel

Why a used car could be perfect for a backpacker in Australia

If you are giving the matter some serious thought, let’s look at why a used car makes for an ideal solution for a backpacker in Australia.

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While backpacking around Australia is one of the best ways to see the country, sometimes it can be a bit difficult to sort out transportation. Ridesharing is an option, but it is not always feasible. When you are roughing it and living out of your backpack, you may also not always have the budget for plane flights and more luxurious travel options. 

For these reasons, investing in a used car can make a lot of sense for a backpacker in Australia. If you are a little light on funds, or if you want to use your savings for other purposes during your travels, you can easily find low rates when it comes to financing a used car loan

If you are giving the matter some serious thought, let’s look at why a used car makes for an ideal solution for a backpacker in Australia.

Freedom Of Movement

One of the biggest advantages of having access to a used car as a backpacker in search of adventure is the ability to move freely at your own pace. Used cars will allow you to move around the country where you want and when you want. This makes it ideal for spending more time seeing the things that intrigue you the most and to bypass the areas that are less interesting to you.

Conversely, relying on public transportation or even plane flights places you at the mercy of the schedules set by the companies involved. You are also likely to be more confined to larger urban centres where this type of infrastructure exists. Used cars, on the other hand, will provide you with the ability to venture into areas that are less commonly explored in the country.

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Fits With A Backpacking Budget

The great reason why buying a used car is good for a backpacker is that the price is usually just right for such a travel budget. While a new model may be out of reach for a traveller with a shoestring budget, a used car can be a prudent investment. After ensuring that the used car you are thinking of buying is in good working order and not in need of major repairs, you can be confident that the investment will provide you with affordable transportation for at least the duration of your trip.

Store Your Belongings

While a car is not always the safest place to store valuable possessions, it does represent a reasonable option for keeping your things secure. It can get tiring to constantly have to watch your backpack. Lockers are usually available at hostels and major transportation hubs, but these places are a hassle to travel back and forth to constantly.

When you have a used car at your disposal, you will be able to keep your belongings locked in the vehicle or even hidden from view in the trunk. This provides you with a more flexible means of keeping your possessions close by but does not require you to continually check in on them.

Split The Cost

Travelling with a used car also allows you to fill up the remaining spaces with fellow travellers. Beyond the benefits of meeting new people and making friends along the way, this will also allow you to cut down on the cost of fuel for your trip. By ridesharing with friends or even with trustworthy strangers, your travel budget will be able to take you further down the road.

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Used Car, New Adventures

For the reasons outlined here, consider making the investment in a used car as a backpacker. While it might seem like a bit of an investment, you will be pleasantly surprised at the many benefits that it can bring to your travel experience.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

The fears we can all face and how to overcome them

Figuring out what is causing you to feel fearful and then facing your fears is an excellent way to overcome them.

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Dealing with fear is something many people have to handle on a daily basis. Some people have such high intensity towards something they dear that it stops them doing it or causes them to feel anxious and stressed when faced with the situation. However, while it may not be something you completely get over, you can learn to deal with the fear itself. Or certainly get to a point where you are prepared to handle the situation.With that in mind, here are some of the common ways people can face their fears.

IMAGE SOURCE: PIXABAY.COM

Finding alternative ways to face the fear

Fear can manifest in many different ways, it may be that you develop anxiety because you have to go to the dentist. It could be that you that you fear career progression or you get anxious about anything to do with your finances. Figuring out what is causing you to feel fearful and then facing your fears is an excellent way to overcome them. You could also try alternative things to calm your nerves, such as twisted extracts, herbal remedies designed to calm you down or even therapy that can help you talk through the fears that you have and how best to combat them. 

Try and focus on other things instead of what you are afraid of

Let’s be honest, a real common fear for some people are bugs, insects, spiders and creepy crawlies. They aren’t exactly the most pleasant thing to be in the company of, and they can make your stress levels rise the moment you set eyes on them. Of course, you can try and rid your home of such things by using powerful bug sprays, repellents or gas bombs, there will always come a time where you will face it head on. Sometimes in situations like this, the best remedy is to focus on other things. Perhaps what you are doing at that moment, maybe focusing on how small they are, or just concentrating on your anxiety levels. Doing this can take the focus away from the fear and keep your mind occupied on something else. Focusing on other things can help in other scenarios such as your career, your home life and other factors that are causing you to feel fearful. 

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Be positive about the situation

I understand that it is easier said than done to be positive about things, but often this form of mindset can help you in all sorts of circumstances and dealing with something you are fearful of is one of them. A common fear might be the fear of heights, so going up tall buildings or getting on a plane may feel like the biggest challenge in the world. Positive thinking, such as remembering the feeling of liberation and exhilaration when you have faced a fear, can be a good way to feel you up with the right sort of emotion to face the fear. 

Let’s hope some of these tips help you to face your fears in the future. 

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

It’s 2020, time to teach teens ‘safe’ sexting

This is not about encouraging sexting behaviors, any more than sex education is about encouraging teens to have sex. It simply recognizes the reality that young people are sexually curious, and some will experiment with various behaviors with or without informed guidance, and sexting is no exception.

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Photo by Cristofer Jeschke from Unsplash.com

Preaching sexual abstinence to youth was popular for a number of decades, but research repeatedly found that such educational messages fell short in their intended goals. Simply telling youth not to have sex failed to delay the initiation of sex, prevent pregnancies, or stop the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases. Since the advent of photo- and video-sharing via phones, children have received similar fear-based messages to discourage sexting – the sending or receiving of sexually explicit or sexually suggestive images (photos or video) usually via mobile devices. Unfortunately, messages of sexting abstinence don’t seem to be reducing the prevalence of adolescents sharing nudes.

Consequently, in a new paper published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers from Florida Atlantic University and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, say that it is time to teach youth “safe” sexting.

“The truth is that adolescents have always experimented with their sexuality, and some are now doing so via sexting,” said Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D., co-author and a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice within FAU’s College for Design and Social Inquiry, and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. “We need to move beyond abstinence-only, fear-based sexting education or, worse yet, no education at all. Instead, we should give students the knowledge they need to make informed decisions when being intimate with others, something even they acknowledge is needed.”

Hinduja and co-author Justin Patchin, Ph.D., a professor of criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, acknowledge that although participating in sexting is never 100 percent “safe” (just like engaging in sex), empowering youth with strategies to reduce possible resultant harm seems prudent.

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Hinduja and Patchin collected (unpublished) data in April 2019 from a national sample of nearly 5,000 youth between the ages of 12 and 17, and found that 14 percent had sent and 23 percent had received sexually explicit images. These figures represent an increase of 13 percent for sending and 22 percent for receiving from what they previously found in 2016.

The authors do want youth to understand that those who sext open themselves up to possible significant and long-term consequences, such as humiliation, extortion, victimization, school sanction, reputational damage, and even criminal charges. But they also want youth who are going to do it anyway to exercise wisdom and discretion to prevent avoidable fallout.

“This is not about encouraging sexting behaviors, any more than sex education is about encouraging teens to have sex,” said Hinduja. “It simply recognizes the reality that young people are sexually curious, and some will experiment with various behaviors with or without informed guidance, and sexting is no exception.”

Simply telling youth not to have sex failed to delay the initiation of sex, prevent pregnancies, or stop the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases.
Photo by Jack Sharp from Unsplash.com

Hinduja and Patchin provide suggested themes encapsulated in 10 specific, actionable messages that adults can share with adolescents in certain formal or informal contexts after weighing their developmental and sexual maturity.

  1. If someone sends you a sext, do not send it to — or show — anyone else. This could be considered nonconsensual sharing of pornography, and there are laws prohibiting it and which outline serious penalties (especially if the image portrays a minor).
  2. If you send someone a sext, make sure you know and fully trust them. “Catfishing”– where someone sets up a fictitious profile or pretends to be someone else to lure you into a fraudulent romantic relationship (and, often, to send sexts) — happens more often than you think. You can, of course, never really know if they will share it with others or post it online, but do not send photos or video to people you do not know well.
  3. Do not send images to someone who you are not certain would like to see it (make sure you receive textual consent that they are interested). Sending unsolicited explicit images to others could also lead to criminal charges.
  4. Consider boudoir pictures. Boudoir is a genre of photography that involves suggestion rather than explicitness. Instead of nudes, send photos that strategically cover the most private of private parts. They can still be intimate and flirty but lack the obvious nudity that could get you in trouble.
  5. Never include your face. Of course, this is so that images are not immediately identifiable as yours but also because certain social media sites have sophisticated facial recognition algorithms that automatically tag you in any pictures you would want to stay private.
  6. Make sure the images do not include tattoos, birthmarks, scars, or other features that could connect them to you. In addition, remove all jewelry before sharing. Also, consider your surroundings. Bedroom pictures could, for example, include wall art or furniture that others recognize.
  7. Turn your device’s location services off for all of your social media apps, make sure your photos are not automatically tagged with your location or username, and delete any meta-data digitally attached to the image.
  8. If you are being pressured or threatened to send nude photos, collect evidence when possible. Having digital evidence (such as screenshots of text messages) of any maliciousness or threats of sextortion will help law enforcement in their investigation and prosecution (if necessary) and social media sites in their flagging and deletion of accounts.
  9. Use apps that provide the capability for sent images to be automatically and securely deleted after a certain amount of time. You can never guarantee that a screenshot was not taken, nor that another device was not used to capture the image without you being notified, but using specialized apps can decrease the chance of distribution.
  10. Be sure to promptly delete any explicit photos or videos from your device. This applies to images you take of yourself and images received from someone else. Having images stored on your device increases the likelihood that someone — a parent, the police, a hacker — will find them. Possessing nude images of minors may have criminal implications. In 2015, for example, a North Carolina teen was charged with possessing child pornography, although the image on his phone was of himself.
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Health & Wellness

Having less sex linked to earlier menopause

Women who reported engaging in sexual activity weekly were 28% less likely to have experienced menopause at any given age than women who engaged in sexual activity less than monthly.

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Photo by Joe deSousa from Unsplash.com

Women who engage in sexual activity weekly or monthly have a lower risk of entering menopause early relative to those who report having some form of sex less than monthly, according to a new UCL study.

The researchers observed that women, who reported engaging in sexual activity weekly, were 28% less likely to have experienced menopause at any given age than women who engaged in sexual activity less than monthly. Sexual activity includes sexual intercourse, oral sex, sexual touching and caressing or self-stimulation.

The research, published in Royal Society Open Science, is based on data from the USA’s Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN). It’s the largest, most diverse and most representative longitudinal cohort study available to research aspects of the menopause transition.

First author on the study, PhD candidate Megan Arnot (UCL Anthropology), said: “The findings of our study suggest that if a woman is not having sex, and there is no chance of pregnancy, then the body ‘chooses’ not to invest in ovulation, as it would be pointless. There may be a biological energetic trade-off between investing energy into ovulation and investing elsewhere, such as keeping active by looking after grandchildren.

“The idea that women cease fertility in order to invest more time in their family is known as the Grandmother Hypothesis, which predicts that the menopause originally evolved in humans to reduce reproductive conflict between different generations of females, and allow women to increase their inclusive fitness through investing in their grandchildren.”

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During ovulation, the woman’s immune function is impaired, making the body more susceptible to disease. Given a pregnancy is unlikely due to a lack of sexual activity, then it would not be beneficial to allocate energy to a costly process, especially if there is the option to invest resources into existing kin.

The research is based on data collected from 2,936 women, recruited as the baseline cohort for the SWAN study in 1996/1997.

The mean age at first interview was 45 years old. Non-Hispanic Caucasian women were most represented in the sample (48%), and the majority of women were educated to above a high school level. On average they had two children, were mostly married or in a relationship (78%), and living with their partner (68%).

The women were asked to respond to several questions, including whether they had engaged in sex with their partner in the past six months, the frequency of sex including whether they engaged in sexual intercourse, oral sex, sexual touching or caressing in the last six months and whether they had engaged in self-stimulation in the past six months. The most frequent pattern of sexual activity was weekly (64%).

None of the women had yet entered menopause, but 46% were in early peri-menopause (starting to experience menopause symptoms, such as changes in period cycle and hot flashes) and 54% were pre-menopausal (having regular cycles and showing no symptoms of peri-menopause or menopause).

Interviews were carried out over a ten-year follow-up period, during which 1,324 (45%) of the 2,936 women experienced a natural menopause at an average age of 52.

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By modelling the relationship between sexual frequency and the age of natural menopause, women of any age who had sex weekly had a hazard ratio of 0.72, whereas women of any age who had sex monthly had a hazard ratio of 0.81.

This provided a likelihood whereby women of any age who had sex weekly were 28% less likely to experience the menopause compared to those who had sex less than monthly. Likewise, those who had sex monthly were 19% less likely to experience menopause at any given age compared to those who had sex less than monthly.

The researchers controlled for characteristics including oestrogen level, education, BMI, race, smoking habits, age at first occurrence of menstruation, age at first interview and overall health.

The study also tested whether living with a male partner affected menopause as a proxy to test whether exposure to male pheromones delayed menopause. The researchers found no correlation, regardless of whether the male was present in the household or not. Last author, Professor Ruth Mace (UCL Anthropology), added: “The menopause is, of course, an inevitability for women, and there is no behavioural intervention that will prevent reproductive cessation. Nonetheless, these results are an initial indication that menopause timing may be adaptive in response to the likelihood of becoming pregnant.”

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Factors to consider in hiring a personal injury lawyer

If you don’t trust a lawyer from the get-go, then it’s most likely that they are not the right people to represent your case. With your gut feeling and the above tips, finding the best personal injury will be a walk in the park.

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Hiring a personal injury lawyer is one of the most important decisions you can make after being involved in an automobile accident, workplace-related injury, a slip-and-fall, or an animal bite. When choosing a lawyer, you want to make sure that they’ll have your best interests at heart and that they’ll work diligently while using a proactive approach to investigate all the facts in your case. With so many law firms tightly concentrated within major cities, it can be an uphill task to find the right lawyer to work with. 

To help you out and make the process less daunting for you, below are factors you need to consider in hiring a personal injury lawyer.

Reputation

It’s very important that when looking for a personal injury lawyer, you consider getting a lawyer with a solid reputation. If it’s your first time hiring a personal injury lawyer, consider asking for referrals from past clients and looking at some reviews on their website as well as from other online sources and asking around from friends or family members. You want to work with a lawyer who garners respect from their peers, judges, insurance companies, and clients alike. One thing to note is that the quality of services offered by a lawyer will be determined by how exceptional they are in their line of work. Personal injury lawyers who have a good reputation will have distinct characteristics such as competence, commitment to quality, accountability, and loyalty, to mention but a few.

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Experience

An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to analyze your case and provide you with reliable insights and counsel that will be beneficial in your case. Before hiring a personal injury lawyer, it’s imperative to ensure that they have enough experience in handling your case. Personal injury cases are complex and in addition to this, they are very demanding. For this reason and more, it’s also important to ask all the right questions when determining your prospective lawyer’s experience. Ask them whether they’ve taken on similar cases in the past and how successful they were. Additionally, you also want to take their focus on practice into account since personal injury law is broad with various subcategories. For instance, medical malpractice laws are different from those that involve animal bites and work-related injuries. Your personal injury lawyer should, therefore, have a lot of experience specializing in the particular area of personal injury law your case falls under. Additionally, it’s also important that the lawyer in question has trial experiences. You don’t want your lawyer to use your case to refine their skills. They need to know what they are doing and have the acumen it takes to find you the best settlement.

Cost

Before hiring a personal injury lawyer, it’s important to consider how much they charge for their services. Some personal injury lawyers charge a specific fee to their clients depending on the services rendered. On the other hand, you have a personal injury lawyer who works on a contingency basis, which means that you’ll only pay them if they win your case. These lawyers come highly recommended because they are highly motivated and you can expect them to work on your case in the best possible way.

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Personality

Before you select a particular injury lawyer, it’s important to ensure that the two of you get along. Their overall personality should be likable and they also need to be people you can get comfortable with. Consider hiring a lawyer who’ll be willing to take your calls whenever you need them; one who will not blow you off whenever you need help. Avoid lawyers who are out looking for a quick fix in your case so that they can move to the next client. Lawyers with the best attributes have good communication skills and will deliver the best services.

Credentials

The best personal injury lawyers will be willing to show you their certifications and other credentials. Actually, these are among the first things you will see hanging on their walls. A fancy office and sleek suits are not enough to represent your case in a court of law. A personal injury lawyer needs to have the lawyer qualifications it takes to represent your case. This includes holding a practice license in addition to pre-law and law school certifications. They should have passed the bar exam to continue to hold their practice license.

Finally, it’s important that you also trust your gut feeling. While it’s a good idea to ask around and talk to referees, you should always trust your gut feeling when making the final decision. If you don’t trust a lawyer from the get-go, then it’s most likely that they are not the right people to represent your case. With your gut feeling and the above tips, finding the best personal injury will be a walk in the park.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

How does foreign exchange market work?

If you haven’t heard of Forex trading before, you might be wondering how the foreign exchange market works.

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The foreign exchange market or Forex trading operates through online brokerages. These brokerages, trade international currencies and operate comparably to stock market exchanges. The foreign exchange market offers a large amount of liquidity compared to the stock market and this attracts some investors to this form of trading.

If you haven’t heard of Forex trading before, you might be wondering how the foreign exchange market works.

The Basics – Baby Steps

Foreign exchange markets are essentially markets that operate the same way that stock market exchanges do, but they are traded in international foreign currencies. Geopolitical circumstances can make currency values fluctuate, so you’ll want to pay attention to the news and global ongoings. The online currency is generally traded on online platforms or through online brokerages which may charge commission rates/fixed fees. Foreign currency exchanges may carry a higher amount of risk than national stock trading, but this volatility may be something to be taken advantage of.

With a Forex broker, you’re able to set up automatic transactions or have them alert you when currencies hit a certain value. Foreign currency exchange can be confusing, so set up with a platform that offers a demo account that will allow you to trade “dummy” money to get a feel for the markets.

Getting Started On A Platform

Many platforms will only require you to invest an initial amount of 100$ or less in order to start trading. As mentioned previously, you will likely want to find a platform that offers a demo option so you can learn the ropes without losing any money. You can track how other traders are trading via a platform, and investigate the historical value of different currencies. The professionals from forextrading-online.com mention that you should also seek a Forex broker who is searching for clientele who also meet your demographic. Investing a large sum of money into a trading exchange you’re just getting into maybe too risky if you don’t want to lose your investment.

If you haven’t heard of Forex trading before, you might be wondering how the foreign exchange market works.

Never Stop Learning

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Research an excessive amount about what currencies you should be investing in prior to involving yourself in trade. Always keep up with the news regarding the currencies that you’re trading in, and attempt to develop a personal strategy. Pay attention to previous changes in the currency market and its history to see if you think any event will have a major impact on value.

The great thing about the foreign exchange market is that you’re able to buy and sell quickly due to the large volume found on the market. Once you develop a consistent and profitable flow, there’s no real reason to divert from these strategies. Gauge your win and loss percentage and ensure you’re staying above a profitable amount. If not, reassess and review where you should make your next move. You do not necessarily need to generate a profit every trade that you may, but you want your overall rates of trades to represent “wins”.

What You Need To Know

You’ll also want to look into your local regulation regarding profits made from the foreign exchange market. Just like the stock market exchange, there are taxes associated with Forex trading. Speak to a taxation lawyer if you’re worried about what taxes you’ll be expected to pay.

Also, don’t just settle on any Forex trading platform, do some shopping around. Find a platform with commission rates you find tolerable, and initial fees that won’t put too much of a dent into your finances. If you’re using this on a regular basis, you won’t want to feel like it’s a headache when you’re trading currencies. You might want to keep in mind some trading platforms may charge you an inactivity fee with use, so cancel any accounts with platforms you don’t think you’ll continue to use in the future.

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As you can see, there’s a lot of information to take in when it comes to the foreign exchange market. You won’t learn everything all at once, but if you keep researching you’ll get a handle of the ins and outs of Forex trading. Remember the initial costs of utilizing a Forex trading platform through a broker and ensure you review your investment goals prior to placing money into your online account. Trialing demo trading on platforms is really going to help you get a grasp on how to adjust to Forex trading. Make sure you’re constantly researching and learning in order to develop a better understanding at all times and be aware of taxation laws within your region. After some time and strategy enhancement, you’ll develop a better understanding of how foreign exchange markets operate.

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