Female Genital Cutting

This week I came across this topic when I watched a documentary on the German television station ZDF. This documentary was about Female Genital Cutting in the world but especially in African countries. 

On one hand I was always interested in this topic but on the other hand I was also really afraid of what it would bring and do to me. Because as a women no matter what age having to deal with this issue is not really easy.
I read the book “Desert Flower” by Waris Dirie who got cut when she was just five years old. After the book was released a movie which shares the same name as the book title was published in 2008.

So what is Female Genital Cutting? A synonym to this name is also Female Genital Mutilation, in short FGM. It involves the partial but unfortunately mostly the total removal of the genital organs where there is no medical intention behind it.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) FGM is being practiced in 28 countries in the Middle East and Africa. The countries who are being considered to proceed this procedure are countries with a high degree of Islamic orientation, for example Somalia, Ethiopia and Mali. More further the WHO had estimated as of 2013 140 million female around our globe had to experience it. And out of this about 101 million just in Africa.

FGM rate in Africa

Nahid Toubia a Sudanese journalist from The New England Journal of Medicine” wrote in her article that FGM is applied on females at the age of 4  or during the beginning of their puberty. But she also declared that FGM is conducted on infants and also adults.

So many people who never dealt with this topic might ask themselves why people are doing this.

What is the reason for FGM?

In his paper “Ending Footbinding and Infibulations: A Convention Account” Gerry Mackie explains that the reasons for this are not really anchored in the Islamic religion, but more in the view of some societies were FGM is being practices. Women who have been cut are considered to be more aesthetic, honorable and decently. But more important for the people who believe in this procedure, FGM is a kind of cultural identity. With this outsiders take the control over the women’s sexuality especially by reducing their sexual desire and promoting chastity and fidelity among the people.

Many independent and dependent organizations such as the WHO, the United Nation, unicef, the Economic Commission for Africa and many more have been trying to stop FGM. But as you can see it is still a big problem in this world. But here I ask myself is it really a problem of the world, or is this a problem for the Western world?

Accept cultural differences?

FGM does not take place in Western countries. But I feel like that this is an bigger issue for Western countries than it is for Non-Western countries. We have seen that no matter how awful these procedures sound like, it is still supported by the people who do it. The legal restrictions in the countries were FGM is being proceeded have abolished it from their law, but it should be considered that most African countries still have many nations or ethnicities that do not live by the rules of the countries law.

I think that the effort many organizations are doing is important for us as humans to get an better understanding of what is going on. I think that it would be fair to give the people affected the opportunity to choose for theirselves if they want to be cut.
But is this our duty to play the world police?

Keep it simple and stupid

This week I was helped to discover that my interest is in data visualization. So with this post I want to give my readers and interesting insight of the topic of data visualization. Of course not the topic as in general, but more like something that caught my interest during this week.

I tipped over a quote of Grace Dobush, who said:

“What’s the big deal? Everybody’s doing it, right? If you put [Infographic] in a blog post title, people are going to click on it, because they straight up can’t get enough of that crap. Flowcharts for determining what recipe you should make for dinner tonight! Venn diagrams for nerdy jokes! Pie charts for statistics that don’t actually make any sense! I have just one question—are you trying to make Edward Tufte cry?”

For me personally data visualization has always been a tool that enables us as humans to get an better understanding of complexity by just simply visualizing it.

So where is the problem here?

According to the “Gurdian UK” data visualization tools like “Wordle” had been designed as an academic exercise that had turned into a common way of showing word frequencies over the past years.
Furthermore, it claims that during the past years the supply of data visualization tools that were free has not been that much as it is now. And compared to what we are being offered nowadays is more “fancier” and also more diverse. As a result of this people have been tending to make data visualization look less and less nicer.

But we still want to keep on using data visualization tools. Ian Lurie is on the opinion that more people want to easily follow a story that is being told visually then being told verbally. And it is nothing wrong with that. But it is important to not get excited and overzealous about what data visualization tools offer to us.

So here are some advises for everybody they should consider when working with data visualization:


In recent times 3D animations and pictures have become more and more popular. They are associated with a high degree of fanciness and we love to use them. But we have to be careful when using them. Fanciness does not always lead to fancy story telling. 3D data visualization can create more work, because more data or information is needed, since you now have another axis that has to be filled up with the right information.

Colors and Data Visualization

Some of us might feel, the more colors the better. Well when it comes do basic data stick with a basic amount of colors. Too many colors for the certain data set will only lead to confusion and nobody wants that. Keep it simple and stupid actually fits in here perfectly.

And here I have another example:

fina destination

The information based in this picture is based on the data given at this website.

1. The term destiny is here not clearly defined.
2. The circles represent the amount of fatal accidents. Using the USA as an example this picture states a number of 2613 fatal accidents. But do we know how many flights were flying to the USA? In fact do we know how many flights were operating in general? This picture might lead to misjudgment for example thinking the USA is a dangerous place to fly to.
3. Do the dots stand for the certain city or the country itself? (see Europe)

After this week I have learnt some more on data visualization and I hope you have, too. It is always good to put yourself in the position of a listener who does not want to be shocked with a chart that contains all colors of a beautiful rainbow.

80,2 million, not 81,7 million

After reading the advices at C – Webwork for the 5th of July I saw Hans Roslings Tweet from the 1st of June 2013:

“Germany has 1.5 Million fewer people than reported and hence higher CO2 emission per person than reported”.

What does that mean, I asked myself shortly after I read his tweet. I clicked on the link next to it, which showed an article by the New York Times.

So after this I read some more about this topic, I saw that the claims were confirmed by several media instisutions and also the German Federal Statistical Office.

It I started to ask myself what kind of consequences this will have? Continue reading

How Hans Rosling helped me

During the last BusApps class I realized that  I was not that interested in the topic of Gender Wage Gap as I thought I was. I had a talk with Mr. Bruce who had then told me that I should work on a topic that I would be more interested in. Since, I am a person who likes numbers. I am not an expert in mathematics nor am I a pro when it comes to solve for x and y. But I just like numbers, because the tell you more than you think!

I was amazed by the TED Talks presentation by a  Swedish professor for International Health named Hans Rosling, that deals with the global development on family development.

After I watched his presentation I decided to do some research about him: And that is what I came up with:

Hans Roslings’s career

Hans Rosling studied Medicine in India where he license to practice medicine. five years after he got his license he went to the north of Mozambique where he continued practicing.

During his time in Mozambique and also other African countries he explored a disease that would cause paralysis. For this he was given a Ph. D. from his former university in India. Hans Rosling spend a lot of time in Africa where he did many researches concerning common and local diseases, but also researches that dealt with economic developments in the agricultural and health sectors in Latin America, Africa and Asia. During his career he also studied Statistics for one semester.

Why am I interested?

I have to say that I am amazed by his work. Hans Rosling is a person who studies Medicine. Usually we would think of him as a doctor who spends his time in a hospital and helps to save life. But he actually went out of his box and was able to explore a new disease. He also did a lot of work on the topic of economic and health development in developing countries. It is really interesting for me to see what he has done with his life and how he took a different path than people who “just” study medicine.

I hope that I can find an interesting topic that he had dealt with, which enables me to go more into detail.


Carnival in Berlin

Carnival Masqueraders in Trinidad and Tobago

Carnival Masqueraders in Trinidad and Tobago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This weekend or better said this Sunday I spend my time at the *”Karnival der Kulturen”* in Berlin. The weather was beautiful and my friends and I had a lot of fun watching many cultural groups performing. At the “ring road” 77 associations from Berlin used this day to present a part of their culture to the audience. During the Carnival I was reminded how diversed Berlin is. It was a colorful event with a positive energy among the people.
My friends and I later participated at the last association which is named “Escobar”. It is an association that represents islands of the Carribean like Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, St. Lucia, Jamaica and many more. There, they played their local music which is called “Soca”. We all had a great time dancing and enjoying the atmosphere.