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What The Fuck Is Going On In Politics: The Weekly Rundown

A cyclone in Australia, rape culture in India, the killing of an army leader in Yemen, and more. Here’s everything you need to know.

By Julie Ngalle

Trigger warning: this article contains content about rape and sexual assault on minors that some readers might find upsetting.

National Politics: 

Why did Derek Mackay hand in his resignation? 

It seems the scandal surrounding Prince Andrews’ links to Jeffrey Epstein did not serve as a lesson to all influential men in the UK. Indeed, this week, it was announced that Derek Mackay, financial secretary for the SNP, was resigning from his position following accusations that the 42 year-old Scottish official had been sending inappropriate messages to a 16 year-old boy over the course of several months. This rumour was more or less confirmed after the he apologised to his party, the boy and his family, as well as the nation in a statement where he took “full responsibility for [his] actions.” 

International Politics: 

What consequences will the cyclone have on Australia? 

Australia has been making headlines for months now, and their misery seems far from being over. After months of trying to tame the fires that cost many their homes, and millions of  animals their lives, the country is now preparing for the arrival of cyclone Damien. Now, some might think this could be good news as the strength of this cyclone means it is going to cause storms, and therefore lots of rain. However, with a considerable amount of the land having burnt down, the soil is very hard and will not therefore not  absorb much of the water, which could lead to severe flooding in various parts of the country. 

This has already been the case in certain areas around Sydney where the intensity of the rain has caused flooding in the past, notably in areas not used to this much rain. Just like for the fires, the outbreak of cyclones at this time of year is something Australians are aware of as it is quite common. But once more, the violence and consequences of those outbreaks are amplified due to climate change that human activity is known to have accelerated and intensified in the last decades. This also comes after it had been reported last month that heavy hail storms were breaking out, with reports of hail reaching the size of a baseball. Once again, Australia’s anomalous weather conditions remind us of the emergency that is climate change. 

Who did the US army kill in Yemen last month? 

On the 6th of February, the White House confirmed the death of Qassim al-Rimi in a military operation that took place earlier in January. The country had been tracing him for several months, as he was the leader of the Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda, the terrorist organisation most well-known for planning and perpetrating the famous and devastating 9/11 attack that killed just under 3000 people. This news comes just three months after the government announced the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in another US-led military intervention, which yet again, reduces these terrorist groups’ power and influence both in the Middle East and internationally. However, the threat of retaliation by Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State if the organisations decide to seek revenge remains a great concern, which will only increase if more of their leaders and members are killed. 

Is rape culture in India really lessening? 

India is infamous for widespread sexual misconduct and is considered one of the most dangerous countries for women, with New Delhi having been known as the “international capital of rape” for years. Despite the government passing laws making rape, child molestation and domestic abuse more and more heavily punishable, it seems mentalities have yet to adjust to these changes. 

On the 6th of February, the world was made aware of the rape of a 5 year-old girl by a 25 year-old man in the vicinity of the US Embassy in New Delhi. This assault highlights one of India’s biggest and most persistent issue: sexual violence perpetrated against women and children in the form of gang rape, child molestation, and domestic abuse.

Despite the introduction of more progressive and severe governmental measures when it comes to women’s and children’s rights and protection in recent years, it has been found that the police and justice system still tend to turn a blind eye to the issue, with women being shamed and held responsible for the attacks and aggressors rarely being arrested and prosecuted.  

What law was passed by the Finnish government? 

Once again, we end the rundown on a positive note. Whilst on the one hand, India struggles to protect women’s rights, on the 5th of February, Finland’s female-led government announced their gender equality policy plan. This policy, which set to come into effect from the beginning of next year, allows both parents to take the same amount of parental leave, regardless of their gender or whether they are a biological parent to their child. As explained in their statement, “both parents would receive an equal quota of 164 daily allowance days” and “the total amount of families’ daily allowance days would increase from the current 11.5 months to more than 14 months.” With the implementation of this law, Finland yet again sets an example in the fight for gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights. It acknowledges that gender equality goes both ways and should enable men and fathers to have access to the same rights and privileges as women, in the few cases where they don’t.

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