Saturday, March 18, 2006

Finding my study spot and Watching Oprah

I have finally found a spot in my house where i feel comfortable and at ease to study. Its my balcony, surronded by the potted plants, a straight view of the blue sky and white fluffly clouds rolling by, Light and Easy94.6 FM(malaysian station that has more music and less blabber by DJs although the stuff that DJs say is not rubbish, its productive to keep you company yet keep you focussed on your work) playing on my radio, the wonderful recliner like chairs from Rajasthan that is comfortable yet keeps you awake and allows you to relax when you need to. Its a wondeful refreshing spot. I think i know whay i lurve this spot, its because i lurve being surrounded by nature, just like the wondeful benches at NUS, the rickety bed under a huge shady neem tree in an Indian Village and the sturdy mango tree in a temple in India. Gosh these places are amazing to be in, top it of with a dog and they would be perfect. Have a chocolate, pear, apple when you feel like and a nice glass of Ice Lemon Tea by Seaons, makes studying all the fun.

I guess i am most probably gushing about this spopt because i have begun to look through my notes and finally feel productive. Although watching The Oprah Winfrey shows on StarWorld at 1.00 pm and Discovery Travel and Living is really productive as well. I learnt a wonderful recipe of mashed pootatoes( i know it seems like its just mashing those tates but it has a lot more to it) and a nice salad by Nigella Lawson who believes in Comfort food that is easy to cook up and wonderful to eat that makes you feel good.

This week i watched the Oprah Winfrey show about Justin Berry who was lured into the Porn World at the age of 13 and this show was truly shocking to one and all. He was lured then seduced than molested. It all began with him getting a webcam to make friends and one of his friends told him that he would pay him $50 for removing his shirt. Justin apparently didn't think of it as anything as he assumed that those people were his friends. This is because these people started all this really slow by saying "you are a great guy" etc and this happened after several weeks and not immediately. These people became bolder and asked him to do other stuff with their gifts becoming more extravgant as well. These paedophiles just kept increasing and Justin was caught up in the internet world of pornography. There were 1500 people on the net that were paying him for his acts. Justin, all this while, hid his ongoings from his mother and when a schoolmate found out about Justin's videos, Justin moved to Mexico where his father lived. When his father asked about his large amount of money, his father said that he would like to help his son, Not to get him out of this but to MAXIMISE the earnings. When i heard this, my mouth just dropped and i sat in a stupor and lost about 10 mins of what Oprah was saying. I mean what is happening to Fathers these days, fathers assaulting their daughters/ stepdaughters, engaging in activites which does not befit them to be called fathers. So with his father's "help" Justin set up a website and his father would go out and get him girls. Although, Justin was caught in this horrible web and wanted to get out, he simply couldn't untill a Journalist came along and decided to help Justin. Since i was still in a mild stupor then, i missed the name of the journalist. This journalist recruitted in the FBI and Justin being a smart guy had saved all the conversations and transactions,credit card information etc on a hard disk. When the journalist went through all these and went into all the websites, he was horrified to see things that he wishes that no would ever see or ever have to go through. As Justin spoke, it was easy to see that he teared often and his voice broke and thanks to my sense i could see that it was really hard for Justin to keep his composure.

A thing to note is that Justin is now 18 and all these began 5 years ago. Justin was a honours student, class president and in all ways a top student. Today, this guy is in hiding and under the witness protection as he would be testifiying in the court when the case opens as a federal witness. All this is because he has been recieving death threats.These death threats were made by those who were in the business, either watching or enabling it. To stop him from going onto the Oprah Show he was given a million dollar book deal, which Justin bravely declined because by the time the book would have been released, Justin would have lost many children to these predators. I truely admire what this guy has done by putting his own life at risk by appearing on the show. He also said that the Child Protection Software that most parents install is a joke as it is not of much use against these activites as it only prevents the children from giving out personal information. Justin also mentioned that it is these "friends" of his who gave him excuses and ways of getting around all these softwares and parent's questions. Justin's motive of having a webcam was to make friends and the journalist also said that many of these children lured into this world are often lonely and try to make friends and when these friends ask such "favours" they feel obliged to return them as they were nice to him as well. Justin's mother only learnt about her son's secret life when Justin was in hiding and called her. Justin's mother is another person that i truely admire as she didn't shoot down her son but instead told him to tell her everything and supported him for what he had finally decided to do.

The stuff that Justin said really made an impact on me. He said that many parents believe that their children who get good grades and are all rounders will not be lured into these activities are living in a fantasy world as it is especially these children who would be drawn into them. Justin's mother herself said that there is a limit to what parents can do to monitor as by the 6th grade, children know more about computors and the internet more than parents. The important thing, i feel, to do would be to maintain a good relationship with children and to give them the feeling that they would always be there for them should they need an elder's opinion, support or simply a listening ear.

The article in Today, Friday March 17 05 was what reminded me of this. The articles is They molested kids on demand- child sex ring busted in US, Canada, UK and Australia. According to the article, " the kids in these videos are getting younger and younger and the images more violent. the youngest was less than 18 months old." What I simply do not understand: why is there a need to be a paedophile. What is it that these people derive from watching and/or torturing these children forcefully. The question that keeps me frustrated about this topic is why the need to use children. Why rip away their innocence and childhood from them? The series of Whys in my head are never ending and it simply gets me infuriated. Do children now have to be afraid of elders who would be old enough to be their parents. Is the relationship between parent and child going to be ruined in this manner due to a certain few? Justin is only one of those that had the character, courage and responsibilty to come out with the truth to enlighten the world of what is going on behind these curtains. There are thousands of children who have been caught up and manipulated in this manner. What really breaks my heart is that there are loads of people in this world who would not know of such activites, ignorant you may call as many read newspapers or tabliods for entertainement sake, i am sure there are many who have not watched this show of Oprah's so there are loads of people who are not aware of what is going on. Perhaps in the USA, a majority would have watched this and told their friends about it but what about others in the world. If you lok at the article in Today, it is about half a page vertically but it is overshadowed by the Givenchy and Samsung advertisements. Many people who do read Today may actually have skimmed through the article or even skipped it. There may also be many who would read such articles but brush them aside.

Perhaps you may be thinking why do I have to be so fired up about this when obviously I am not involved or anyone i know has been involved. Well i guess its the way i am, but i simply cannot just acknowledge what is going on and just live my life like what i am doing. This is because it really does bring up the issue of what kind of society are we building? Recently in singapore the case of the little malay girl going missing and found dead, assaulted. The suspect is the father. The minute i read about this i was thinking to myself, this man has a wife so why the need to assualt his daughter. Does he recieve the right to assualt the girl just because she isn't his biological daughter but his step daughter? I just don't understand. My brain is being boggled up by the minute.

I think I will leave it here. I really admire Oprah for her work, many may think that she is just another freaking rich celebrity but i feel that she has become and even greater celebrity for what she does: raising awareness and bringing such controversial issues to light and helping those that really need help with her Angel network. Yes, she does conduct interviews with hollywood's famous but she also maintains really good relationship with them such that they donate freely to her. For example, Eva Longoria and Tony Parker together donates $30, 000 to the Angel Network. Julia Roberts and many others went down with Oprah to the sites hit by Hurrican Katrinna. Julia went down with trucks of food and other supplies. Yea, Oprah did earn and become famous due to completely different reasons but she is using this fame of hers to get people to watch her shows, thereby increasing awareness among the Americans. It is not only the ladies who watch the show although they are a lil bit more than the guys, the guys show her just as much respect to her. I truly admire Oprah Winfrey and her work


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