Monday, 11 July 2016 13:00

Good Reads - From European Saviour Complex to #MaybeHeDoesn’tHitYou

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Refugees in Riace
Photo: piervincenzocanale (flickr); Licence: CC BY 2.0

Our editor Nicoletta Enria points you in the direction of a few articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about refugees who revive a small Italian village in Calabria, the growing trend of “voluntourism” and how European countries deal with non-physical abuse. 

Nicoletta, Baby and Legs editor


A non-conventional Refugee story

The other day I had a rather depressing conversation, or more precisely argument with some people I went to school with about the refugee crisis and more specifically refugees in Italy. This really reminded me of the importance of fair representation of refugees, reminding people that they are not just a mass of displaced people making their way through Europe but are humans coming from a variety of cultures, countries, religions and social backgrounds. This article and photo reportage by Al-Jazeera’s Thomas Bruckner really fit this criteria by representing refugees as humans and casting a light on the positive impact they have had on some societies. In this reportage he casts a light on the story of the mayor of the village of Riace, Domenico Lucano who saw the presence of refugees in Italy as an opportunity to save the shrinking community of Riace and thus started the ‘refugees welcome’ project. I found this article particularly important in standing against the majority of articles about refugees that focus on depicting refugees as a mass of people on rickety boats and the societal problems they cause in society. The photographs show the community of Riace which is not ‘hosting’ refugees but rather incorporates them, reminding us that refugees are humans seeking safety. This really made me think of the importance to keep stories like this circulating to fight against prejudice and diminutive stereotypes. When reporting on a phenomenon like the refugee crisis today, it is of vital importance to keep the bigger picture in mind

The European Saviour Complex

Summer is here, and images of people’s fantastic holidays or internships begin to plague social media. But I couldn’t help but notice that increasingly more young Europeans are opting for volunteering programmes abroad. As images as those mocked by the White Saviour Barbie Instagram account, which I highly recommend a visit and read this article about it by Quartz’s Lily Kuo, begin to take over my Facebook and Twitter accounts I can’t help but notice a growing trend of “voluntourism”. I found this article by American media publishing corporation Medium’s Courtney Martin particularly enlightening about coming to terms with this ‘voluntourism’ that like America, has too been taking Europe by storm. Martin speaks of this as the reductive seduction of other’s people’s problems and how these desires and delusions are fuelled by an ‘industry’ offering jobs and internship opportunities and cultural propaganda all under the patronising notion of ‘saving the world’. Not saying that one cannot and should not volunteer abroad but to be aware of the implications this may have and the patronising nature this may have when not done mindfully and respectfully. She enlightens the reader with a plethora of American examples on this trend of the saviour complex, which got me thinking, this surely isn’t just an American trend?  ‘Voluntourism’ also points to a European Saviour Complex of young people moving abroad in attempts to solve other country’s presumably ‘easily solvable’ problems in at attempt ‘save the world’. This can be extremely condescending, patronising but most importantly useless. Nothing wrong with volunteering abroad and travelling whilst you are there, it is all in the attitude and the manner in which you do it. A more aware and conscious volunteering abroad, supporting local communities and helping them grow through collaboration rather than condescension.  

non physical abuse
Photo: Jane Fox (flickr); Licence: CC BY-ND 2.0


Myth-busting: What is non-physical abuse?

On the European Young Feminists’ blog, a feminist platform for fellow transnational European journalists, I came across this really interesting article by Svetla Baeva that lays out the problems of how specifically Bulgaria, alongside other European countries deal with episodes of cyberstalking. She beautifully weaves her intimate account of experiences with cyberstalking with more general information about European-wide problems with aggression on women, be it physical, emotional or threats, not taken seriously enough by authorities. I thought it was really informative on what is being done to change attitudes towards cyberstalking Europe-wide but also a piece that had a lot of impact on me. These are problems that girls all over Europe, and beyond, are suffering from and we need to have a serious conversation about how we can take concrete action to ensure we put an end to this. It really got me thinking as to how often these problems are shoved under the rug because they are not deemed to be real instances of abuse, and how sad and dangerous it is that this opinion towards non-physical abuse is the status quo.

Similarly, something that I have been following very closely is the trending twitter hashtag - #MaybeHeDoesn’tHitYou. This hashtag has been raising awareness for non-physical domestic abuse, with many victims of abuse tweeting about experience of psychological, financial, sexual and emotional abuse. This article by the Independent’s Rachael Revesz displays a selection of these tweets, to really cast a light on the gravity of this problem that is so underestimated. I found it really inspiring and beautiful to see so many people come forward with their experiences of non-physical abuse and show that wherever you are in Europe, or the world, you are not alone.

Last modified on Wednesday, 07 September 2016 07:57
Nicoletta Enria

Nicoletta Enria is Italian, originally from La Spezia, grew up in Rome, London and Frankfurt. She graduated from University College London, studying Language and Cullture and now works as Project Assistant and Social Media Assistant at the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO). Follow her on twitter: @NicolettaEnria or her blog.

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