Displaying items by tag: society
Lockdown, confinement, violence, and isolation is the daily reality for hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities around the world. Many are locked in sheds, cages, or tethered to trees and are forced to eat, sleep, urinate, and defecate in the same tiny area, sometimes for years at a time. Why? Simply because they have a psychosocial disability (mental health condition). This inhumane practice called ‘shackling’ occurs because of the widespread stigma surrounding mental health, and a lack of access to adequate support services, both for those with disabilities and for their families. Hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children - some as young as ten - have been shackled at least once in their lives in over sixty countries. In 2020 #BreakTheChains published a ground-breaking report exposing the global scale of chaining, and in Kenya, achieved a ruling which found that this practice was inhumane and held the people responsible to account.
Over 220,000 people live in cramped subdivided flats in Hong Kong. These units are found across rooftop houses, space capsules, cubicles, and loft spaces, and are sometimes not even bigger than a single bed space. Tens of thousands of families live in the city's darkest places. There are 110,000 subdivided flats in dilapidated buildings. Most are rented by singles or couples, but occupants also include single parents and their children, and three-generation households. Housing shortage drives people into tiny spaces with as many as 40 occupants. The most notorious are ‘cage homes’, also known as ‘coffin homes’, where partitioned boxlike units are stacked from floor to ceiling, separated by thin wooden boards or wire mesh. Beijing wants the local government to rid the city of these tiny units by 2049. John Lee Ka-chiu, who has been sworn in as the city’s leader, has pledged to resolve Hong Kong’s housing woes.
Price increases are making it tougher for households to make ends meet, and unlicensed lenders offer loans to the desperate at astronomical interest rates. Last year the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) researched 3,363 people. One in forty were borrowing from unlicensed lenders. CSJ thinks there are about a million people in England doing this. ‘Overwhelmingly, people borrow when they're desperate. For everyday costs of living, like a gas or electricity bill, or a pram, and then they get exploited by those seeking to extort them for as much money as they can get out of them, offering arbitrary terms, little to no paperwork and an extortionate repayment rate.’ ‘It's just endless,’ one victim said: 'I went from a £150 loan to owing £6,000 in months'. The CSJ report highlights separate data from 1,252 victims, questioned last year by the Illegal Money Lending Team, which prosecutes loan sharks in England. The figures suggest the borrowers are among the poorest in society.
Joe Biden's first formal State of the Union speech came as only 40.6% of Americans are happy with his job performance. After describing his foreign policies on the invasion of Ukraine, Mr Biden confronted a host of domestic troubles dogging his presidency, from the enduring pandemic to soaring consumer prices, a wave of violent crime, and inflation hitting a 40-year high even though the jobless rate has sunk to 4%. The president sought to empathise with hard-pressed working families, saying ‘I get it.’ He promised a plan for ‘building a better America’ by boosting domestic production of cars and semiconductors, as well as rebuilding the nation’s roads and bridges. Republican response to the speech portrayed a presidency reflecting the late '70s ‘when runaway inflation hammered families, a violent crime wave crushed cities, and the Soviet army was trying to redraw the world map’.
A legacy of brokenness endures from the days of Ceausescu’s regime. Every kind of social evil came to fill the moral space left after Communism ended. People struggle with substance abuse, prostitution, human trafficking, and abuse of children. Deep corruption led to economic instability and widespread unemployment. Membership in the EU has helped push Romania further along the path of economic progress and stability. Pray for leadership that has wisdom to follow the right path, and integrity to establish right policies. Romania is one of the world’s most Christian nations by percentage, but it is difficult to see this in society. Communism’s atheistic worldview persists. Weak faith, hypocrisy, and slandering other denominations cause problems for all Christian groups. Christ is not glorified and the Church is not built up. Church members and clergy mix faith with folk religious practices or the occult. Churches neglect poor people.
Many homeless people sleep outside in doorways, parks, bus shelters, or other unsuitable places. They often have complex physical and mental health needs with root causes that are complex - relationship breakdown, mental health issues, addiction or childhood trauma. These are not issues that can be tackled quickly; people will often need help and support for many years to ensure they never end up back on the streets. The Salvation Army warns that people risk dying on the streets this winter as the cold weather continues to bite, even though new government figures for England and Wales show a slight decrease in deaths of homeless people. When it is very cold, the Salvation Army works with local councils to keep people as safe as possible, putting the homeless up in communal spaces in Lifehouses and operating a number of night shelters run in partnership with local churches.
Police reported ‘significant increases’ in stalking in England and Wales during the pandemic; over 80,000 incidents were recorded last year. However arrests struggled to keep up - growing at half the rate of the rise in offences. Chris has been stalked for six years by a man she met briefly in a team meeting at a previous job. He has inundated her with messages ever since, and contacted colleagues about her over 2,000 times despite them both leaving the company. She made around fifty separate calls to the police during the pandemic. One visit the man made to the offices of her current employer was even captured on CCTV while current colleagues have recorded obscene calls he has made asking to speak to her. Despite her passing this evidence to the police and reporting at least fifty incidents, the man has never been charged. She is one of many feeling let down by the police.
Communism was Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ answer to corruption and greed. They vowed it would eliminate ‘the exploitation of one part of society by the other’ to create a utopian paradise on earth. In reality however, it was what Richard Wurmbrand (who spent fourteen years in prisons for his faith) called the ‘principal enemy.’ After being ransomed out of Romania and arriving in the West, Richard spoke about Communism’s effects on Christians and Christianity: ‘I cannot agree with evangelists and mission directors when they say today’s principal enemy is the materialism of the West. Today the principal enemy is Communism. Capitalism might have its evils, but it gives to the church the liberty to work for the salvation of souls. Communism uproots religion. The missionary energies must be concentrated upon the Communist lands.’ He wrote this in 1969, but Communism still continues to threaten and oppress God’s people globally.
Ioannis Dekas, a father of four sons, became concerned after he found one of his boys had accessed pornography. He said this was a wake-up call for him and his wife, making them confront the potential danger to their son and the impact on them all as a family. Mr Dekas wants the government to put in place the age verification requirements set out in part three of the Digital Economy Act - a law that was passed in 2017 but not acted on. Mr Dekas is seeking a High Court hearing to consider whether the government should tighten youngsters' access to pornography. He wants the government to implement proof of age in order to gain access. New research suggests the majority of 16- and 17-year-olds in the UK have recently seen porn. The government is currently preparing a new Online Harms Bill, which is expected to be put before Parliament later this year.
Government proposals to ban all forms of conversion therapy for LGBT people could ‘restrict individual freedom’ and ‘criminalise Christians and common church activities’, said Peter Lynas, director of the Evangelical Alliance. A public petition to make the practice illegal in the UK, which gained more than 250,000 signatures, was debated in the House of Commons last week. The equalities minister said that the Government was committed to outlawing the ‘abhorrent’ practice, and would shortly be bringing forward plans to do so. Mr Lynas argues that, while electro-shock treatment and corrective rape should be ended, the lack of a clear definition of conversion therapy by the Government was challenging: ‘Many lobbying for change are seeking an expansive definition that we could not support.’ Current proposals could restrict individual freedom and impinge on essential religious liberty, potentially criminalising Christians and common church activities.