One of the reasons for my negative outlook lately is that I now spend an unhealthy amount of time on Twitter, where I follow many people in different parts of the world that are underreported in the mainstream UK and US media. Consequently, my daily news diet is filled with stories of violence, repression, misogyny and suffering, leaving my almost permanently enraged.
Here, for example, are some of the items that touched a nerve with me this morning as I walked home from taking the kids to school.
In Saudi Arabia, a 90-year old man buys a 15-year old girl for $17,500, because he's not getting enough sex from his 80-year old wife. This wasn't his first teenage bride: “Around 18 months ago, he married a Yemeni girl who was also 15 years old... She stayed with him for about one month before fleeing and seeking help from a village dignitary.”
Also in Saudi Arabia, a baby in the care of a teenage maid from Sri Lanka, one of the thousands of South Asian migrants workers on whose near-slavery exploitation the Saudi economy is based, dies. The police conduct no autopsy and beat a "confession" from the girl, who will now be executed.
In Kenya, 429,362 Somali refugees live in tents in Dadaab camp, with 11,00 arriving already this month, fleeing al-Qaeda-linked jihadist militias in Somalia, who now attack the camp with grenades in revenge for al-Shabab setbacks at the hands of Kenyan troops. In camps within Somalia, government soldiers armed with AK-47s rape women.
In Syria, children displaced by the Assad government's brutality try and dig air raid shelters in the sand with the hands, hoping to protect their younger siblings from aerial bombardments from regime's planes.
In India, rape victims are subjected to humiliating finger tests on the "laxity" of their vaginas to see if they are "habituated" to sexual intercourse. "Spiritual" leaders say rape victims, such as the Delhi bus gang rape victim, are equally guilty of the crime as their attackers. "If the girl had chanted hymns to Goddess Saraswati and to Guru Diksha then she wouldn't have entered the bus." A home minister of an Indian state, on the other hand, blames nobody; it is the conjunction of the stars that is responsible for rapes. “As the year 2012 was leaving, inauspicious phase emerged owing to the stars that seem to have led to the higher incidences of molestations and rape. This is really unfortunate”.
So, yes, Bob is upset.