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Harassment, gender pay gap and mental health: young Bermondsey journalists report

In April we spoke to some Year 8 students studying journalism at Bermondsey’s Compass School. Below you can read some of their reporting – and who knows, this may not be the last time you see their work in the News.

Pink tax, gender pay gap; the current problems of our ‘modern’ society

By Greta Pezzolato and Leslie Brigette Castillo-Caicedo

More than 100 years ago, women were treated as inferior and suffered great inequalities. Today our environment has improved and we have achieved many rights for women; for example, the ability to vote. However, we are not at full parity.

Data shows that the gender pay gap in the UK causes an overall wage difference of 23 per cent. This often means that women are paid much less than men even though they are in the same job.

Despite the gender pay gap and many other factors, many people, including women and young girls, believe that feminism is not necessary. Many other women think that this is sad and concerning as sexism and disparity affects us all.

Indeed, in 2018 YouGov found out that only 34 per cent of women in the UK consider themselves feminist.

Many people have started to see feminism in a negative light as they think that parity has been achieved. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in 2011: “Men are getting a raw deal. Feminists are now amongst the most obnoxious bigots.”

People often think that just because women can drive and vote, parity is achieved. However, women still face many barriers.

Often, women have to pay much more than men for the same products such as shampoos, deodorants, razors and earplugs. This is called the pink tax. This huge economic inequality often happens because of the colours of the product and the packaging. Products designed for women are often pink or purple, these colours cost more than black or blue, which are the colours that we often see on men’s product packaging. Pink tax products can have a difference of just 50p or as much as £15.

However, not everyone thinks that feminism is not useful anymore. In her interview with us, M said: “Of course we still need it. Many people believe that we have parity but this is not true because there are still many cases in which it is not totally achieved”.

Prejudice is constantly present in politics. Indeed, women politics are really rare as people often think that they are too weak and emotional to make important decisions for the country. In the British government, only 34 per cent of MPs are females; whereas, only 35 per cent are councillors. There have been changes since the 1918 Act (when women got the vote) but there is still room for improvements as the seats in the British Parliament are mainly occupied by men.

Many women are still unable to identify themselves as feminists. This is due to the negative connotation that some people have of today’s feminism. People have been led to believe that feminism means that women are superior to men, rather than equal to them. One of the best ways to improve things is to further educate ourselves, to see with our own eyes that feminism still matters.

What should be done to change our society? From closing the gender pay gap to encouraging women to become more active in politics. Because our environment can defeat stereotypes, biases, and bigotry by teaching and educating ourselves.

How mental health problems and self-harm have been triggered by lockdown

By Lottie O’Hara

Bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear are triggering mental health conditions or recreating existing ones during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many people may be facing increased levels of alcohol and drug use, insomnia, and anxiety during the lockdown.

More than 42 per cent of people surveyed by the US Census Bureau reported symptoms of anxiety or depression in December, an increase from eleven per cent the previous year.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused exceptionally challenging and worrying times for all of us. The effects of social distancing, lockdown, the loss of loved ones to the virus and the over-consumption of stress-inducing media reports is taking a huge toll on our mental health and wellbeing, one survey by Mind, a mental health charity, explains. It also says that the people suffering from the bad mental health toll will continue to have lasting effects long after lockdown is over.

In the survey we learn about Anna. She is seventeen and lives at home in Northamptonshire with her parents. Anna was diagnosed with OCD aged eleven, and spent time in a psychiatric hospital three years ago to manage her eating disorder. Despite not leaving the house to exercise during the pandemic, Anna was incredibly worried about catching coronavirus and passing it on to her family. While she wasn’t that concerned about this at the start of lockdown, she felt her worsening OCD symptoms were making her overthink it, and that the constant stream of negative global news increased her anxiety.

Two other interviewees also discussed their mental health and personal experiences. One person said that they had a negative yet positive experience. “It was both negative and positive, negative as I hated home-schooling but positive as I got to stay home the whole time!”

The other person explained that they had a positive experience as they were able to occupy their mind. They both explained that one of their family members had fallen ill and were being taken care of, this then had a big impact on their mental health during the lockdown.

One of the people I interviewed explained how before the pandemic they had already had difficulties with their mental health which they had help with at the time. The same person then had distant relations die due to Covid-19 which had affected them negatively.

They both then explained how most people’s mental health would have been affected due to a lack of social interactions and that they feared for the future generation. “I worried for my children being indoors and not being able to socialise, and I worry that in the future the next generation may suffer will mental health.”

Some people use social media to talk about their mental health. They use certain phrases or words to seek help, or to get attention from others who are going through the same thing as them. One of the phrases which is commonly used is, ‘the shower is going to sting’/’the shower tonight will sting’; this explains self-harm and how hot water stings open wounds. Some people also show short videos/cropped photos of their self-harm to raise awareness.

People share their stories on social media, and show how much they’ve improved from a few months ago/a few years ago. Some people also use certain apps, or games which keep track of their self-harm; they aim for a certain amount of days/time. If they continue to self-harm then they change and update the app. This app is called Calm Harm.

Young girls speak out about their experiences of sexual harassment

By Tye Hulbert

Young girls have finally started to speak out about their personal experiences with sexual harassment and being approached by older boys and men on the streets of their local areas.

So many young girls from the age range of eleven to eighteen are targeted and approached by  sexual predators, almost every day, in their local areas. Every young girl spoken to for this article said they felt somewhat ‘scared’ or ‘uncomfortable’ walking the streets in fear of it happening again. “I still think about it and can picture it so clearly in my mind, from the day it happened,” said one of the interviewees, who asked not to be identified. Her words vividly summarise the long-term effects these events have on some women’s everyday lives.

According to a survey by UN Women UK, 97 per cent of women aged eighteem to 24 say they have experienced some form of sexual harassment. It is difficult to find data on girls aged eleven to eighteen as not many of them speak up about it. However, from what the interviewees of this article have stated, it is clearly a problem.

From name-calling to being whistled at to rape, hundreds of thousands of girls are affected long term in so many different ways from sexual harassment.


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