To what I consider to be my best judgment, the only way to overcome insecurity is to take risks; I decided to break the cycle of fear and talk. For the first time, I admit, as a journalist and Sudanese woman, I was living under a constant fear for almost thirty years. As a journalist who had previously worked in the conventional press, and currently the freelance social media I had experienced two kinds of insecurity whether in person or as mother or civilian and online as a virtual reproduction of myself.
As a mother from a country in which the human rights index is one of the worst in the world, security means not having my sons’ human rights violated; getting whipped if they break “curfew laws” that are not upheld by actual legislation, having their hair shaven off by government militias if they don’t fancy their trimming style of choice, or my daughter being whipped under the dress code. If this case in Khartoum the capital, how is the situation in far areas plagued with war and tribal conflicts? My heart goes out to women in areas of war and conflict who live in constant fear of losing children, parents and loved ones, who may cherish and value life more than I do.
In civilian areas exaggerated by unjustifiable wars, skirmishes, clashes, ethnic cleansing, displacement, migration, stricken by famine, planned early marriage, FGM, environmental deterioration, disasters, social segregation, discrimination etc., security could take different shapes like “unbiased development”, established infrastructure, enforcement of law, fair opportunities in employment, environmental conservation, prosperous economy, equality, fraternity, freedom of expression, of choice and social stability. It could also be presented to them as a mechanism to regain their daily routine without having planes showering barrel bombs over their heads as is the case in Darfur and Nuba Mountains in western Sudan, or elsewhere in the five continents.
As for communities like mine, considered among the luckiest ones to enjoy tranquility, security in its unspoken form could mainly mean to be able to stop thieves or unwelcome night visitors from stealing, terrifying or hurting them and hindering their daily peaceful activities. I was a witness of past midnight terrified shouting, cries of “THIEVES” and the ensuing communal collective marathon hunting, yelling or weeping. The situation has only kept on deteriorating. For example, since Khartoum grew from a small city in the late 1980s to a huge city swallowed up by the countryside, it became a rural city with 12 million non-agricultural producing citizens.
Unfortunately, this huge growth was not followed by an upgrade within the infrastructure. Can you imagine the situation in which people are living and the future relationship between them?
As the case, what does security mean on the personal and communal level? Though this question seems very easy, it is difficult to answer. Sarcastically in spite of the stagnant situation in which I live, I fail to define. Not only because the definition is governed by economic, social, political and cultural factors, but also because security is rather sensed than defined, just like love. Therefore, I borrow the Quranic interpretation because of its simplicity, comprehensiveness and it addresses the situation I live in and the general situation globally. Security in the holy book is the safety against hunger and the safety against fear(threat). “Hunger” and “fear” these two words assume the great current challenges on our dear planet; mother earth.
It could also be described as a series of well-observed previous measures that have been laid and handed down the line from one family crown to another. In general, security measures in their broad meanings are meant to be procedures that help narrow down one’s horizon in hopes of the limited possibilities offered to be satisfying enough to quell most desires to explore the vast, vacuous and uncompromising unknowns life has to offer. In short; security is doing away with some freedom in favor of the historically documented and “proven” methods of living.
On official levels, If each government complied to its commitment towards its nationals and towards the international community by implementing treaties, of which they were also signatories, to help in fighting against poverty and underinvestment, inadequate access to services and shoddy public infrastructure in rural human settlements by improving access to health services, education, creating roads to improve public transportation or link between productive and consumer centers, while ensuring a coherent mainstreaming of climate change, piloting innovative approaches to researching, and reforming policies to address the minimum of human rights. Would people move from an area to another, or desperately take to the seas in the mass exodus as in these days, in search of safety, refuge, or simply better economic conditions?
The online threat of which I was a victim is the most dangerous one; your invisible enemy is with you all time watching over you even in the bedroom, depriving you of your security and privacy. This, however, included but was not limited to harassment, sexist remarks, inappropriate requests or approaches, death threats, hijacking my social media accounts (especially Facebook and emails), etc… I admit again, this situation has pestered me and continues to pester me; a feeling that is very hard to deal with, and too oblique to measure against anything else. In the past, I used to become self-censored and even prompted me to change the way I was reporting or investigating this invisible enemy that used to play this role on behalf of me. Well, on perhaps more occasions than I’d ever like to admit, for a long time, I had been feeling something horribly wrong was in process and that no matter how much I had been trying to shift my setting or my mood, I was still struck by it. This situation has affected me consciously, economically, and professionally. But the moment I decided to transform my life; the moment I decided to write, communicate and share with my peers on World Pulse, I sighed in relief.
In our profession, danger and threats are the norms; they are inevitable, but with proper safety measures the damage can be minimized or reduced. The most important is not to stop or give up. As the saying goes; every dark cloud has its lining. First, I decided not to miss out on the opportunity to strengthen my security measures. So I started improving and enhancing my cybersecurity and began minimizing risks. I became knowledgeable about using a full-service internet security suite, strong passwords, keeping my software updated, managing my social media settings, strengthening home network, alerting my children on the advantages and disadvantages of the cyber web, securing my mobile devices, having ad-blocker installed, briefly taking the necessary measure to protect myself against identity theft, etc... Cyber-attack is inevitable, but security measures should always be enhanced.
As another solution to this situation, implementing security measure providing cyber security against suspicious or unknown and unsecured malware will be of great use. Also to be considered must be the idea of fostering a culture aware of its insecurities and how to tune them through listening to civilians by going from preserved clichés, onto raising their awareness of the surrounding environment. This could help in developing a co-existence and a securing lifestyle that provides the essential human rights, uniting people to live one against odds and ills.
Last but not least, I suggest profiting from the revolution of technology and the fact that women can easily network. This can be exploited through a formation of a Women’s International Panel from the World Pulse online community and then having partners exchange information or revise the situation of women in certain communities and raise their report to the UN.
Accelerating the establishment of cybercrime courts in countries that have not yet established them is a must.
As a current mother and future grandmother, I am not the right person to talk about the future of youth or give advice to them. They are more understanding of the requirements of their era, and more open to the others than we do. I only recommend taking care of training and educating young people regarding their rights.