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When I’m exhausted, I try and stay away from news. Reading about the abysmal things humans are capable of can be very draining. But after a while, I feel the need to know what’s going on in the world around me. I know the world is a bad place, but once in a while, an article tells me of an aspect of ‘humanity’ I didn’t know about at all.

I recently read about rape videos being sold in Indian villages. While the very Idea is abhorrent, the details are even more chilling: these can be accessed by anyone, for very little money and disseminated through messaging services like Whatsapp, the raped women are clearly identifiable, and the acts brutal and horrifying.

“Al Jazeera found several videos that appeared to depict rape for sale across the state. They cost from Rs 20 to Rs 200 (30 cents to $3) and are transmitted to a customer’s mobile phone in a matter of seconds. The faces of the women are visible in these films. Their voices are clear. The attacks on them are brutal.”

And just when I was lamenting the lack of safety and dignity for women, I was hit by this piece of news: slave grooms in Hongkong— men from India and Pakistan who get married into rich families in Hong kong only to be exploited as slaves, made to work as indentured labourers, exploited, tortured, threatened with death.

“They force him to work round the clock, seven days a week – as a bonded labourer at a construction site during the day and as an indentured servant at home on evenings and his day off. They beat him and verbally abuse him at any sign of exhaustion or dissent. They take all his money, refuse him food and have even threatened to kill him. Sandhu knows what they are doing is wrong and illegal, but the endless abuse has broken him down. He battles severe depression and nightmares, too exhausted, afraid and ashamed to speak out.”

The writer in me wants to know more: more about the men and women caught in such situations, and about the men and women who commit these injustices. What drives them–does the man who makes/ sells/ buys rape videos not have a mother, a sister, a daughter? What makes them who they are?

What about the families who dupe men and enslave them in Hong kong– how does a slave-owning family function? How does someone with enough money to go to a country to target such a man, pay for him to be brought to Hong kong then begin to snatch his passport, beat him up, and force him into a life of hard labour?

There are so many more dark snippets of news: the boy who was bullied to death in Kuala lumpur, the horror of the Grefnell fire, the many terrorist attacks in the UK and around the world. Sometimes, the world is too much. Which is why, I’ve teamed up with a few kind souls to focus on the good in humanity, at least once a month.

I host the monthly We Are the World Blogfest: I’d like to invite you to join, if you haven’t as yet, to post the last Friday of each month a snippet of positive news that shows our essential, beautiful humanity.

Since a few of the cohosts are going through doldrums, myself among them, we’re looking for more co-hosts– bloggers willing to co-host a We are the World event about twice a year, visit a few blogs, make new friends. It doesn’t take much– so if want to make a positive difference, please let me know:  write at damyantiwrites dot com

Writer's Retreat

How do you react to the terrible facets of humanity? Do the lows humanity can go to surprise you? Have you seen news like this in your country/ city/ locality? Would you care to join the We Are the World Blogfest?

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Chilling – incomprehensible really.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I think all of my writing is an effort to understand this: the plumbing of depths we humans are capable of.

  • Julia Lund says:

    I used to devour the news, but these days dip in and out. I don’t have the physical, emotional or spiritual energy to survive at the moment, as I tend to absorb the weight into my soul and lament that I can’t fix it … but lament is not an all negative process. Perhaps it sings the hearts of mankind to a more compassionate existence?

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Me too, I dip in and out. I think the endless repetition of violence and the commentary on it has the potential to cause real harm to our psyche, if we aren’t self-aware.

      Hope you’re in a better place soon, Julia. I lament, and then move on to try and speak or work with light. I think too much analysis paralyses me. I need to act more, give more, love more, live more.

  • Joy Gill says:

    If you think of the world as a bad place, you will see more bad, if you think of it as a good place, then you are tuned in to see goodness. Your choice <3 Blessings Joy

  • mitchteemley says:

    God, forgive us and free us from such evil.

  • I read only those things I can possibly have some sort of effect toward, so unless I want to know who a friend did in a terrorist shooting (like Manchester) I only read “terrible” things that are local — I can vote, write, boycott, effect change. I also carefully choose my news sources, and never click on anything on FB. It is the best I can do to keep from slipping into fear.

  • msw blog says:

    What darkness. I do my best to counter it by reading the fluff pieces. You and your readers may enjoy this post.

  • While living in NYC, I was shocked so often by the news–even things that had happened to people I knew. We live in a world with so much evil, but we also live in a world with so much good. This post reminds me that we need to be part of that force for good in the world. Each of us has the responsibility to daily bring more joy, light, and happiness to those around us through small acts of service, whether that as simple as a smile, holding a door for someone, or being a listening ear.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Each of us has the responsibility to daily bring more joy, light, and happiness to those around us through small acts of service, whether that as simple as a smile, holding a door for someone, or being a listening ear.

      So much this.

  • Shalzmojo says:

    Rape videos being sold is such a horrific and deprave act which further accentuates the terrible mentality of human race today! The buyer and seller – both!! Not to mention the one who committed it in the first place and the one who filmed it – what kind of people are these and who is their GOD? Do they have one?

  • Eli Ert says:

    Great initiative! We need to focus on the positive things in life also …Its horrifying what is going on -I’m so emotional and find it very hard when I start to think of the terrible human tragedies and what other humans are capable of putting others through… Then I just want to go and sit in the forest, look at a tree or something – and breathe…. 🙂

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Yeah. Looking at a tree helps, in most cases. The horrors humans are capable of make me long for long walks to lonely places.

  • Like you, I am so horrified by the evil in our world that I can’t always handle reading about it. I try to pray. I try to do my best to treat everyone I come across with respect and love, but that is all I really know how to do. Sure, I can (and do) give money to organizations that help victims and who try to stop these things from happening, but like you, I just don’t understand the inhumanity, the evil, the screwed-up minds that do these things.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I think the endless cycle of negative news is a trap. The WATWB is an effort to break that cycle–find things to be hopeful about without ignoring that there’s still a lot of work to be done.

  • WhatsApp and Facebook have turned into a fear and rumour feeding machine in India. Anything displayed on it is labeled true and entertaining. I have seen so many people watching and passing porn videos and rape videos and erotic dance videos to each other publicly. Even senior citizens are a part of this watching teen porn. Simply disgusting and downright hypocrisy in a land where they consider cow as a mother and a woman a goddess.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      This is terrible, and the scary part is there’s no way of preventing or policing this. Freedom of expression is supreme, but alongwith all the positivity, the internet also magnifies all that is evil in human nature.

  • That is depressing. I don’t even know how to handle it.

  • Jeff Japp says:

    Media feeds on fear and sensationalism. Because “news” sites get paid from advertisers based on the number of clicks, you should expect click-bait. There has always been shocking news and cruelness. Just imagine if the internet was around during the Spanish Inquisition. You can bet there would be plenty of heretic torture videos floating around, and rather than gathering in the village square to watch a beheading or burning, people would feed their morbid curiosities from home. Anyway, a long was of saying I avoid the news. I scan the headlines and that’s about it.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      You’re right, Jeff. The news does amplify negativity to make big bucks. Which is why there isn’t much of good news on prime time.

  • Dan Antion says:

    Sometimes, we have to look away. Sometimes, we have to look for the good. The worst part about these stories, is clearly that they happen. But, the sensational nature of “news” today seems to glorify these events at the expense of the kind of events that balance them. I wonder, to what degree does the constant attention by the media on negative stories provide some twisted justification for events like this? Is there a global “well, everybody’s doing it” scenario operating just below the surface? I will be back on the 30th with a good news story. We need more.

    • Peter Nena says:

      ‘Is there a global “well, everybody’s doing it” scenario operating just below the surface?’

      I have asked this very question. That there are undertones of “it’s not happening just here, it’s also happening there.”

      • Dan Antion says:

        It’s a scary thought, Peter.

        • simonfalk28 says:

          Peter and Dan, I too, in sadder moments, have wondered similar thoughts. I guess that makes it even more important for us to chip away, in our own small ways, to note the little beautiful things and help create an atmosphere that is more life-giving.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I know, Dan, I feel the same, sometimes. News does have a vicious effect, doesn’t it.

  • pjlazos says:

    I’ve read about the house slaves before, but not the rape videos. I have no idea how people live with themselves.?

  • macjam47 says:

    Sometimes the overload gets to much and I have to take a break from it. I don’t understand the dark side of humanity. Love and hugs, dear friend.

  • The news can be quite draining that it’s only wise for ones sanity to tune it off in order to recuperate. Sometimes I despair at what humans can do, it simply leaves one speechless.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      News can be so draining. The WATWB was set up just to introduce a positive strand into our news cycle.

  • Peter Nena says:

    Just yesterday I was reading about a 12-year old boy who stabbed his 11-year old girlfriend to death. I was left speechless.
    With the human world increasingly becoming such a terrible place, we need #WATWB to uplift souls and restore some hope. Thank you Damyanti.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      In a dark world, we need light. I’m glad the WATWB has shown us a few lighted lamps.

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – it is just dreadful what we are hearing and reading about … I hadn’t realised about the videos – or even perhaps the men in Hong Kong … and with our disasters here … terrorist or just horrible (fire enveloping a tower block, wild fires spreading across Portugal) I feel for all … and donate what I can – but the main thing for me is to look after me just now … sometimes life happens … I love the WATWB … but for the moment I have other more necessary things to do for me … with thoughts – Hilary

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      The world is too much for us at the moment, Hilary. Thanks for standing with us to celebrate the WATWB.

  • simonfalk28 says:

    Damyanti, I can resonate with almost every word of yours. It is sickening and abhorrent to read, view on TV, or the net, some of these inhuman things. It is tempting, especially when we are feeling low, to take some space. I’ve certainly done that myself at times. In recent weeks, however, the acts of violence and inhumanity have convinced me even more that our We Are The World #WATWB blogfest is necessary. On a happier note, during a recent day-off, I walked through a wooded park on a sunny afternoon. The walk rekindled creativity that is now on wordpress. As with all my posts, it has a shout out for #WATWB. I’m still fine to co-host on the months that I’ve committed to. Look after yourself, 🙂

  • I have managed to filter out a good bit of the tragic news, not completely block it out, but certainly not let myself get caught up in the endless loop.

  • eduzmi says:

    Sometimes I don’t click on a link if the headline promises a story on warped humanity. Some news are just too moving. I wonder what drives this dark souls and how they find gratification in other humans’ suffering. A good research topic, I think.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      The horrific does draw us in, doesn’t it? I end up writing about it, sooner or later.

  • arlene says:

    I update myself with the local news, no matter how shocking they are.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      yes, me too. I try and follow local news and sometimes that depresses me. Recently there was a footage of a young Burmese woman jumping to her death—she was too depressed as a household help in Singapore. It haunted me for days.

  • ccyager says:

    I wish I had some answers. I don’t. One day I think these people who abuse others feel deeply powerless and aren’t aware of it, so they seek power over others in order to feel comfortable in the world. Another day, it’s because they need to control in order to not feel so out of control in their lives. These people are like black holes of neediness. To love them is to fall into their black holes. So I confess, as much as I want to spread positivity, love, compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness, when I see these people I run, as fast as I can, in the opposite direction. The only thing I can do to be positive and compassionate is to commit to my intent to do no harm in this life. It takes the positive intent of one person and another person and another and another and on and on to change the world. WATWB is a good place to start.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I see such people on social media, too- and I’ve realised that engaging with them is futile in terms of changing minds. I have to try and focus on the good, and on tilting the balance towards that good.

  • Birgit says:

    It is difficult when one reads such horrible atrocities and it is beyond disgusting but one must keep the faith. Not too long ago, there was a world war to stop madmen who have shaped history and the future but it also showed how many brave souls were there including their own countrymen. The bravery stopped them in their tracks and helped develop views that will never take hold to that degree again. We must realize that for the ugliness we see, there is much beauty that we don’t or fail to see. Roses may have thorns but remember, thorns have roses.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      We must realize that for the ugliness we see, there is much beauty that we don’t or fail to see: yes, that’s what we’re trying to do with the We are the World Blogfest— focus on the good things.

  • That’s an interesting question. I remember when first arriving in Asia the need around us was so overwhelming we distributed all our wages to everyone who appeared to have a need and were short of enough to deal with our own needs at times. Then after some time we realized some of the people we were helping really didn’t need that help and we felt abused and went to the other extreme not wanting to help anyone. Fortunately we learned to be discriminating and continue helping. The point of this is its possible to become hardened to news, or in your blog about needs to be addressed which these days is news. I know the illustrations you gave were different and horrific but the principle is the same. There is a need to fix poverty, abuse, discrimination etc. and this is the bulk of our news today. But when we hear it day by day and realize we are only one in 7 billion people it is so overwhelming we can become hardened to that news. However in history there are single souls who’ve made a difference. There are the Gandhis and Mandelas for example. They changed society! So necessary changes in society can start with one. Perhaps you, perhaps me.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      “the illustrations you gave were different and horrific but the principle is the same. There is a need to fix poverty, abuse, discrimination etc. and this is the bulk of our news today.”

      Only too true. and it is equally true that the individual can make a difference.

  • arealwookie says:

    The only way that I know how to effectively counter evil in our world is with love, acceptance, and forgiveness. Positive change to our respective societies starts within the heart of each one of us.

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