whoever you want to be…

Trial By Timeline – Are You A Criminal?

It’s a Saturday night in the UK.

I’m browsing my Facebook and Twitter timelines.

There’s mentions of ‘Wine o’Clock’, fireworks and bonfires, people discussing faith and politics, promoting charity events, watching television and films.

All very innocent.

Or is it?

Whilst browsing, my husband called me over to his computer, to look at a website he’d found built by Amnesty International. It’s called Trial By Timeline, and the idea is it scans your Facebook Timeline (with your permission of course), and then illustrates for you how many crimes you have committed in what countries and what the punishment for those crimes are.

We were disturbed by his results – he was guilty of four crimes in 11 countries – for which he was ‘beaten’, ‘tortured’ and ‘imprisoned’. One of these crimes was being a ‘migrant’ – moving house from one part of the country to another. A second crime was enjoying a bottle of beer after climbing Mount Snowdon – drinking alcohol is a crime.

Horrified, and I’ll admit slightly amused by the pettiness of some of these ‘crimes’, I decided to have a go.

As the page scans your timeline, it flashes up the names of groups or pages that you’ve liked, or states ‘investigating sexual activity’. More uncomfortably, it flashes up statements like ‘Interrogating John Smith’.

All of a sudden, I had a glimpse of what it must be like to live in fear of doing or saying something that could get your friends and family hauled in for questioning.

Then my results were ready – and all of a sudden I felt sick to the stomach. I was no longer a mixture of amused and horrified. I was simply horrified.

I had committed four crimes in 52 countries.

My first crime – liking a page called ‘Gin O’Clock’ – as with my husband’s experience, drinking alcohol would be punishable by imprisonment in three countries.

Secondly, in five countries, I was guilty of blasphemy, as I have no religion stated on my profile. This is punishable by torture.

Thirdly, simply having a Facebook profile, and peacefully exercising my righ to freedom of expression is punishable by torture in Myanmar

Lastly (this was actually the first crime, but it’s the one that has sickened me to the stomach) – my gender is listed as ‘Female’.

In 40 countries, this is treated as a criminal offence by the state.

My punishment?

‘Beaten’.

WHAT? Say that again?

In 40 countries, I would be treated as a criminal, purely because, by chance, I was born female.

I live in the UK. Women won the right to vote in 1917 (see the comments below for more information on this as, 1917 was only the start of the fight for votes for women in the UK) We go out to work, get paid, go to school, own property, dress and believe as we like. The gender divide still has a long way to go here, pay is not equal yet; toys are branded for ‘girls’ and ‘boys’; but I’m not routinely beaten just for being me.

We have movements like The Everyday Sexism Project, government organisations like the ‘Equal Opportunities Commission’ that stand up and evaluate and fight for my right to be treated the same as any man, and if no-one else does I can stand up for myself, argue my case, and there will be no punishment for this.

If I had been born in one of the 40 countries listed, for example Afghanistan or Portugal (yes, Portugal!), I would have to battle every single day and risk injury and persecution for both myself and my family.

This is happening now.

So what can we do?

The Trial by Timeline site has a link labelled ‘Take Action’ – there are three options:

  1. Connect. Join the conversation online through Twitter, Facebook & Pinterest.
  2. Donate. Donations allow Amnesty International to fight on your behalf across the Globe.
  3. Join. Become a member of Amnesty International.

I’ve chosen option number 1 – the more we talk and raise awareness, the easier it becomes to argue the case and spread the word quietly and peacefully.

Take the Trial – find out how you’ve become a criminal just for being you. Share the results. Change the world.

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About Stellian's Stories

I'm married with two children (1 boy & 1 girl). I live and work in the Black Country in the West Midlands

11 comments on “Trial By Timeline – Are You A Criminal?

  1. Marina Schulz Tork
    November 3, 2012

    Sorry???? I’m portuguese and a girl, and I haven’t ever been sexualy discriminated! Racialy, a little, yes, but I have never been discriminated for being a girl! Nobody gets beaten or thrown in jail for being female! But I will admit that men here are paid higher wages than men in most jobs, but beaten!!!! Never!!!

  2. Marina Schulz Tork
    November 3, 2012

    Sorry if I’m a little histerical but!!!!!!!!!

  3. Marina Schulz Tork
    November 3, 2012

    I guess I’m being hyper defensive about my country, and I know it’s what the website says, but I guarentee you it’s wrong! Women here (apart from the wage thing mentioned above) have equal rights to men in everything!!!!

    • Stellian's Stories
      November 3, 2012

      I dont think you’re being hyper defensive at all. I’d probably react the same if a similar allegation was made about the UK. i also acknowledge that my personal, individual experience is not reflective of the wider experience.

      The list of countries came directly from the Amnesty International data, there were 40 countries listed and Portugal was one – I didn’t look any deeper into any of the specific countries listed, the wider point being that the freedoms I consider to be the norm, are actually in the minority if you look at a global picture.

      Please consider the article in the context of global freedoms and human rights rather than a ‘finger point’ at any one country.

    • Keris
      November 4, 2012

      I just googled, Marina, and found this link http://www.theportugalnews.com/news/view/1126-3 which mentions how domestic violence is a significant problem in Portugal, perhaps that’s what the Timeline refers to? Although of course it’s a significant problem in the UK too.

      • Stellian's Stories
        November 4, 2012

        Thanks Keris, that would make sense. I’ll have a look at that article.

      • Marina Schulz Tork
        November 12, 2012

        ~Maybe…. I don’t really know about that one, I’m only 16. But there was a big campaign a few years back to stop domestic violence, so maybe you’re right.
        *After reading your link*
        Wow! I never knew it was such an issue here :o! I still disapprove of “us” being put in that list, but………. I think you know what I mean…

  4. mallymon
    November 3, 2012

    Sorry but as a graduate of sociology and women’s studies, I have to point out that women in the UK weren’t allowed to vote on equal terms with men until 1928 (Representation of the People Act 1928). Some women were allowed to vote in 1918, not 1917, but they were over the age of 30 and were either a member or married to a member of the Local Government Register. Women over the age of 21 didn’t actually get to vote until 1929. The fact that women are undervalued and treated like second class citizens worldwide is the basis of the ongoing struggle for many feminists.

    • Stellian's Stories
      November 4, 2012

      That’s fascinating, and something I wasn’t aware of.

      Thank you so much for sharing it.

  5. bodhimoments
    November 3, 2012

    I am too scared to run that App. I, too, am female, I too, have no religion listed. I have not mentioned alcohol, I think, mainly because I do not drink, bu who knows what I have done! :s

    • Stellian's Stories
      November 4, 2012

      It’s very disturbing watching something analysing everything you’ve ever done on Facebook, and then ‘judging’ you – and I have a fairly benign timeline, as I’m quite careful what I post.

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