Sunday, 8 July 2012

China Tweet, tweet to Boltons Cheep, cheep

At one of the meetings I attended this week, there was much talk about how we might best market our School to ensure that students in the future make our School and the University of Salford, their first choice when considering a career in nursing, social work, midwifery, social policy or counselling. The discussion was creative and ideas around using social networks were the one most people favoured. In an Emperors New Clothes moment I asked how precisely we would use Twitter to take our campaign forward. There was a pregnant pause (more of which later) and it soon became clear that the dozen people sitting in the room had no idea and had never used Twitter.

The good things to come out of this discussion was the recognition that we should be setting up a series of interactive workshops where colleagues can gain hands on experience of using such digital media to enhance our own communications with students and promote the Schools achievements more effectively than we perhaps can do now. The reach and influencing power such social media is huge.

For example, this week Sina Weibo the Chinese version of Twitter, has been used to bring to people’s attention the hidden atrocities arising from Chinas strict 1 child-policy. The discussions on Sina Weibo were around two maternity service scandals. The first followed the online posting of gruesome images of a young women who had been pinned to her hospital bed and forced to abort her 6 month old foetus. She later died. Her only crime appeared to be that she already had a child. The 1 child-policy is strictly enforced.

The second scandal, reported on Friday on Chinese television, was the operation to break up a baby-trafficking ring operating in 15 Chinese provinces, in which 802 people were arrested. Infertile couples or those wanting a male child to carry on the family line have been paying up to 80,000 yuan (£8,100) for a child. 181 babies were rescued from the gangs that made up the baby trafficking network. Courts usually give out very harsh punishments, (including the death sentence to convicted traffickers.

However, the discussions on Sina Weibo identified a range of culprits responsible for this trade: corrupt officials, the baby traffickers, and the couples who commoditise newborns. The potential for social unrest appears to be growing This week’s examples of the perverse (albeit unintended) consequences of 33 year old 1child-policy seems to have unleashed a national discussion on what is usually a very taboo subject – the challenge to the ruling Communist Party. As one Sina Weibo user tweeted yesterday ‘between killing babies and selling them, we need to ask what this policy has turned us into’.

And closer to home, I also read this week that women in London will be able to access a free emergency contraception ‘just in case kit’ during the next few summer months to prevent unwanted pregnancies. The reason for this, well it seems that wide spread and significant disruption is likely to result from the Olympic Games making it more difficult for women to access health care services during this time.

The sexual health charity British Pregnancy Advisory Service will post out the kit containing the morning after pill and condoms following a telephone consultation with one of its contraceptive nurses. The charity believes it ‘makes sense’ for women to keep an emergency pill at home and avoid ‘unnecessary difficulty and delay’.

Lead Contraceptive Nurse Tracey notes that ‘If you carry an umbrella in your bag or a spare tyre in your boot no-one would suggest you are hoping for rain or planning on a puncture. Having the morning-after-pill to hand is no different. It doesn't mean you’re planning on taking chances, it means you’re planning on protecting yourself when things don't go according to plan’. It all seems a long way from the baby traffickers in China.

And Jemima, the duck who thinks she’s a chicken, produced her first little black fluffy chick yesterday morning. By 10am there was one more chick and only 3 eggs remaining. It’s her second attempt at incubation this year. She is un-necessarily highly protective of her chicks. I have told her she doesn’t need to be. This is not China and there isn’t a 1chick-policy in place. Cello just looks bemused that something so small can be fluffier than he is.