Tag Archives: womens rights

Tom Arms’ World Review

Mahsa Amin’s death

They are burning their headscarves and police cars in Iran. Persian women are fighting back against the mullahs’ morality police. The catalyst for their anger is the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amin. The Iranian authorities claim she died of a pre-existing heart condition. Rubbish, say her family, there was nothing wrong with her heart. She died, they claim, because she was beaten in the police van on the way to the station. Ms Amin was arrested because she was wearing her hijab or head scarf improperly. That is common offence which the morality police monitor along with the wearing of tight trousers and leggings, holding hands or kissing in public.

Iran is not the only Muslim country with morality police. Afghanistan has probably the most severe. Iran probably holds the number two slot. Others include Nigeria, Sudan and Malaysia. Then there is Saudi Arabia where the ruling family’s adoption of Islam’s strict Wahhabi sect led to the establishment of the notorious Committee for the Protection of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. Better known among Saudis as simply “The Committee.” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, however, has been circumscribing the morality police to the point of near extinction. The backlash in Iran may force the Mullahs to follow suit which can only undermine their wider claim to political legitimacy.

Another lurch to the right in Europe

Europe is taking another lurch to the right. This month two national parties with links to a fascist past have either come to power or are poised to do so.

Sweden has been known as Europe’s most tolerant country towards cultural diversity. But this month the rabid anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats emerged as the second largest party and is forming a government with the centre-right Moderates.

In a disturbing echo of Donald Trump, party leader Jimmie Akesson declared it was time to “Make Sweden Great Again.”

Georgia Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy has an equally upsetting motto which links her party to its fascist past—“God, family and fatherland.” Ms Meloni is expected to emerge as Italy’s prime minister after Sunday’s vote. Her party is Eurosceptic, anti-immigration, anti-gay, anti-abortion and has expressed doubts about NATO membership.

Italy and Sweden join Hungary, Britain, Czech Republic, Slovakia Austria and others who have lurched rightwards. There are differences between them but the one common element is the disturbing trend to portray their country as a victim.

Iceland

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Misogyny laid bare – Laura Bates and Winnie M Li at the Edinburgh Book Festival

Imagine if, in the wake of the shocking murder of a woman Police went door to door in the area telling men that they could only go out in pairs, telling them that we know that one of you is murdering women, but we don’t know who.

It would be utterly absurd, wouldn’t it? And the outrage in the Daily Mail would probably melt the polar ice caps in seconds.

After Sabina Nessa was killed last year, Police went round telling women in Camden not to go out alone. Why should women constantly have our lives restricted because of the behaviour of men?

At the Edinburgh Book Festival, Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates challenged us to think creatively about how we can get rid of the injustices faced by women.

She was talking about her book Fix the System, not the women, in which she highlights how society’s structures reinforce each other in failing to recognise and tackle that unfairness.

It tends to be the pretty, white, middle class women who hit the headlines, but, as Laura pointed out, a woman is murdered every three days in this country. We don’t hear about them. If we did, it would be impossible to ignore the pattern of behaviour and institutional bias that puts them in danger.

Apparently the top Google search about Sabina Nessa’s murder was “what was she wearing?” As a society, Laura said, we are prepared to believe that murders and rapes are isolated incidents, which happen because of something some silly woman did wrong, whether it was her attire, the amount she had to drink or who else she had ever consented to have sex with and in what circumstances.

The media reinforce these attitudes, leading to a situation where a third of jurors believe that if a woman was drunk, she was complicit in her own rape. This environment is not conducive to bringing perpetrators to justice.

She looked at the language often used when reporting about rape:

We don’t see discussions of theft described as non-consensual borrowing yet they call rape non=consensual sex.

Nobody would say to a victim of arson that because they went to s bonfire party 3 years ago they maybe they secretly enjoyed a good fire.

And then there’s the fear kicked up by the media that good men are losing their jobs because of false allegations of sexual assault. That fear, Laura said, is completely unfounded. A man is 230 times more likely to be raped himself than to be falsely accused of sexual assault.

She talked about how the Metropolitan Police were so quick to dismiss the murderer of Sarah Everard, at that time a serving officer, as one bad apple. However, we know of the awful culture of misogyny throughout its ranks.

We therefore have  media, law enforcement and justice systems all stacked against women, so you turn to politics to help and find a chronic under-representation of women in positions of power and a disproportionate number of men accused of sexual misbehaviour.

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28 November 2019 – today’s press releases (part 2)

And here are the rest…

  • Lib Dems: Johnson’s comments show he is no champion of women’s rights
  • Sarah Wollaston: Number of GP practices falls to record low as winter crisis approaches
  • Lib Dems won’t let your future melt away
  • Tory threat to Channel 4 is attempt to cover up Johnson’s cowardice

Lib Dems: Johnson’s comments show he is no champion of women’s rights

Responding to Boris Johnson’s comments on single mothers, Liberal Democrat Equalities Spokesperson Christine Jardine, said:

So many of us in this country know the reality of the sacrifice and effort made by single parents. But yet again these comments show Boris Johnson is

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Wera Hobhouse presents Bill to outlaw upskirting

Lib Dem MP for Bath, Wera Hobhouse, has introduced a Bill which would make upskirting illegal in England. It is high time that the disgusting practice of secretly taking a photo up a woman’s skirt without consent and, sometimes, publishing it on the internet,

A couple of weeks ago, Wera asked a Government Minister if the Government would legislate on this. The answer was reasonably positive, so we need to push the Government to support Wera’s Bill.  You would hope that nobody would try to defend the practice which has been illegal in Scotland for almost a decade.

From the Bath Chronicle:

Wera Hobhouse presented her private member’s bill to make the practice illegal in the wake of a public campaign calling for a change in the law.

If passed into law, her bill would make upskirting a criminal offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

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Lynne Featherstone calls on UK Government to support Women’s Health Fund to replace funds lost by Trump’s abortion gag rule

I have felt sick to the stomach virtually every day this week as new pronouncements come from the new US President. Already he’s damaged our planet by authorising new pipelines, promised to reinstate torture and proclaimed that he’s going to build that wall no matter what.

For me, though, the worst was the distasteful image of a man who has gloated about sexually assaulting women sitting, surrounded by men, signing an executive order which will ensure that vulnerable women lose their lives. He has reinstated the “global gag rule” on abortion which means that no US funds can go to organisations which provide abortion services. No US money pays for abortion services, but no organisation can receive funds for its other programmes.

The impact of this on Africa is highlighted by this Washington Post article:

In Kenya, public health experts raised immediate concerns about the new policy. Women here often resort to dangerous methods to end their pregnancies, including drinking battery acid and using wire coat hangers. In parts of rural Kenya, young women have hired local healers to stomp on their stomachs until the pregnancy is deemed over.

“Trump’s policy means even fewer services will be offered,” said Chimaraoke Izugbara, a researcher at the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) in Nairobi. “Some women will not be reached, and providers may not be available to offer services. I think we are headed to a major disaster.”

Nearly 8,000 women in Kenya die every year from complications caused by pregnancy and childbirth. At least a fifth of those deaths are caused by self-induced abortions, according to Izugbara.

However, Dutch trade and development minister Lilianne Ploumen has a solution:

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Two reports highlight ongoing need for feminism

Two reports today show that feminism’s work is far from done.

A worrying analysis from the Children’s Society says that 1 in 7 girls are unhappy with more than 1 in 3 being particularly anxious over their appearance.  Given the massive media pressure on what constitutes beauty, it’s hardly surprising that body image remains such a strong trigger of unhappiness.

Girls suffer significantly more unhappiness than boys and this feeds into greater rates of mental ill health.

It’s not difficult to see why if you look at the SRE Now tag on Twitter and read Laura Bates’ and Sarah Green’s recent Telegraph article which highlights the issues of sexual harassment girls face in school. Even in primary school, damaging attitudes about gender roles and consent are prevalent. Green and Bates say:

The evidence is not just anecdotal. A recent BBC Freedom of Information request revealed that 5,500 alleged sexual offences, including 600 rapes, were reported to police as having taken place in schools over three years. That’s an average of almost exactly one rape per school day. Meanwhile, a YouGov survey for the End Violence Against Women coalition revealed that almost one in three 16-18 year old girls experienced unwanted sexual touching at school.

Against this backdrop, we desperately need to educate children about concepts like consent, respect and healthy relationships. But at present, there is no requirement for schools to teach anything apart from the basic biology of sex.

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Opinion: Abortion reform – handing power back to women

Despite being in the 21st century, we appear to value the approval of medical professionals, and their control over women’s bodies, more than we do women’s autonomy.

Last week it came to light in a Telegraph report that some abortion clinics – up to one in five – were performing abortions illegally. Doctors were pre-signing forms to permit abortions before they had seen the patient’s medical information. Why are so many good doctors not following the law?

Under the 1967 Abortion Act, termination of pregnancy is legal up to 24 weeks, as long as two doctors approve it. Not one, two.  …

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