Russian threats, “fast fashion”, abortion: words of young French-speaking people

“Hey, bastard!”

This morning I woke up to my phone signal. A notification from a stranger. Opening it, I read, “Hey you bastard, take that shameful avatar off!” A second message: “If you don’t delete this avatar, filthy liberal, we will spam your phone. We found your phone number and the name of your parents” and indeed, my personal details follow…

It’s become a weird habit. Since the war started in Ukraine, all Russians who express their support for Ukrainians and speak out against the war on social media have been subjected to such virtual attacks. Of course, there has always been anonymous hate on the internet, but the war has radicalized Russian society. I know that these are not agents of the FSB (the secret services) who write to me, but simple teenagers. They don’t know me personally, but their level of hatred towards what they consider “a foreigner” or “a traitor” is out of the ordinary. It’s like they’re trying to wage their personal war from their couch.

No matter if I’m threatened, I’ll stick to my principles and definitely won’t remove the Ukrainian flag from my avatar

The violence that the Russian state enacts is reflected in the lives of these young people and distorts their view of the world. It’s scary and sad. But no matter if I’m threatened, I’ll stick to my principles and definitely won’t remove the Ukrainian flag from my avatar.

Gleb Zayarski, 16, Avenches (VD)

Abortion, a justified debate?

In recent times, abortion has been at the heart of so much debate and concern… Should this subject really be a debate, let alone a political debate? Because let’s not forget that abortion is a very personal matter for the one considering this option: no higher order should be able to decide to inflict on her a child she does not want, in the same way that he would be unfair to forbid her to have a child.

We must not forget that whatever the belief, making the decision to have an abortion is always very painful and it is not a means of contraception for anyone.

Whatever decision is made, only the person concerned will have to bear the consequences. As to whether abortion is considered murder, the person who has to make the hard decision to abort should consider his own belief, no one else should impose it on him because no one holds the absolute truth; belief is a matter of personal sensitivity of each. Therefore, everyone should have the freedom to make the decision that concerns them according to their own belief.

It should also not be forgotten that whatever the belief, making the decision to have an abortion is always very painful and it is not a means of contraception for anyone. Let us not forget either that whatever the restrictions on this subject, abortion is always practiced, only it is illegal, which implies that it is practiced in much more dangerous conditions, which can lead to serious consequences for the patient. Prohibiting this right would thus be an injustice and a danger for so many women.

Othilie Cerf, 18 years old, Fontenais (JU)

Train travel

I love watching the sky, especially at night when the stars are twinkling. I finally breathe, I forget my end, I forget the hunger and I smile. It’s hot enough to melt, to merge with the cobblestones, people trampled on the edge of the apocalypse. I’ll be 20 in a few days. In the middle of sunny days.

In this station people are busy like a colony of ants, workers in the service of their queen. I watch people parade. It’s better than Fashion Week. There is more diversity there; people running, people limping, each passage tells a story, a continuous flow of life clinging to threads, a fresco, a veil.

We will take trains that leave, no matter where as long as we are transported, transported elsewhere, because everyone knows it is always better there. Crossing landscapes to feel alive, because in motion.

After Ukraine, Taiwan soon at war, the right to abortion flouted, climate change more and more visible, the list seems to be growing every week

Evolving in a chaotic world: after Ukraine, soon to be at war with Taiwan, the right to abortion flouted, climate change increasingly visible, the list seems to grow longer each week. This is the unveiling apokalupsis in Greek, the apocalypse, the unveiling of the flaws of our era, of our modern civilization, globally entangled in liquid manure.

At the rate we’re going, people will be drowning in their sweat before the waters rise, hoping the heat will wake us up rather than put us to sleep (big-up at Renovate Switzerland). In the meantime, I continue my journeys by hitchhiking or by train, and wish happy holidays to those who have them.

Elliot Sanchez, 19, Geneva

The damage of supply and demand

Everyone has certainly heard of the fast fashion. The tragic reality of fashion. This very rapid renewal of clothing is simultaneously destroying our planet, exploiting workers and mistreating animals. Those big brands that you order from or go to store for the most part have poor working conditions and exploitation hidden behind them. This is nothing new, you will say. But look at the clothes you wear, the label will tell you everything.

Glad there’s no call for help written on it – if you had heard of the controversy over a Chinese brand, very popular among teenagers… Look at the seams, its imperfections. Try to imagine the worker behind his machine, in stress because of the enormous consumer demand that we are.

Look at the seams, its imperfections. Try to imagine the worker behind his machine, in stress because of the enormous consumer demand that we are

Why is it me, a teenager, who feels the duty to use my voice to recall these obvious things? Especially among young people, I noticed how literally they are addicted to new things. Fashion becomes more important than its problems. I would hate to grow up and see that nothing has changed. Yet I’m afraid.

It’s so easy to go to your laptop, scroll down and succumb to all the stuff the internet wants to sell you. Nevertheless, people could just as easily take a look in the first place on sites and applications dedicated to second-hand goods, for example. There are more and more of them and even on the networks. I also hope for more pop-up, vintage or “upcycling” stores. Granted, some are expensive, but they probably cost less than a new pair of Nikes.

Clara Büchi, 18 years old, Saint-Aubin (FR)

The professional choice

From an early age, during a meeting, the question “what would you like to do later?” always comes out sooner or later in the discussion. But how to answer this question when we see in front of us so many uncertainties but also so many possibilities?

Personally, I have always had fairly specific ideas about my future profession, but I find that some of my friends feel lost when faced with this question. Lost because they are unable to project themselves for fear of becoming aware of the long and difficult course of adult life that awaits them. Lost for fear of not succeeding in their studies and that the level is too high. Or sometimes just lost not to find the job that makes them dream.

The professional choice can be frightening and can give rise to doubts about the option that best suits us. Sometimes we don’t know where we are stepping, we don’t know enough about the professions to decide whether we want to dive into these studies or not. We are afraid that such long studies will finally lead us to nothing or that in the end we will not even find a job.

The professional choice can be frightening and can lead to doubts about the option that best suits us.

But fortunately, we are very lucky in Switzerland to have many schools with many streams and gateways, accessible to all. But also to have several modes of transport to get to these establishments, which is not the case everywhere in the world.

Eva Taramarcaz, 15 years old, Fully (VS)

A bad for a good?

We are in April 2021, the results of the municipal elections have just fallen, in Neuchâtel, with a record: 58% of women elected. Being the first sensitive to gender equality, I was initially delighted by this news even if I was quickly going to become disillusioned.

Shortly after, I watch a micro-sidewalk in the city of Neuchâtel. Passers-by are questioned about their votes and many of them announce, all smiles, having, for the sake of parity, a large majority of female names. What a disappointment, what I would have liked to hear is that these candidates were elected for their qualities and their efficiency. In short, nothing had changed, Neuchâtel politics was no more or less unequal than before. In the end, the theme remains the same, but from a different angle.

The problem is that if we focus our attention on parity in a group of people, it is almost impossible to achieve an equal distribution without one party or another having been favored by sex. Therefore, the constant search for parity too often passes through discrimination or leads to it. For example, large Swiss companies listed on the stock exchange are forced to respect a gender quota in their management and executive positions. Such a law undoubtedly generates hiring or refusals linked solely to gender.

It must be recognized that these measures stem from a necessity, which is to promote women in public life and to high positions, but in practice the effects are quite different. Parity does not go in the direction of equality, on the contrary it is deeply unequal by creating a discrimination which did not exist at the base. Competence must take precedence over gender.

Basile Schläfli, 17 years old, Neuchâtel

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