Category Archives: Equality

Beware the March of IDS

Iain Duncan SmithIain Duncan Smith has resigned. The cuts to disability benefits which he approved are to be reversed++.

After 2138 days in office, after being directly implicated in more than 80 suicides, after more than 2380 people had died though Iain Duncan Smith’s system found them “fit for work”, while children go hungry and cold because of Iain Duncan Smith’s benefit sanctions on lone parents, after a jump in the death rate for the elderly and infirm unprecedented since World War II, Iain Duncan Smith has finally resigned – claiming at length that he did so because the new disability cuts brought in by Wednesday’s budget were “indefensible”.
Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Benefits, Disability, Poverty

Abortion and human rights at Holyrood

Vigil for Savita HalappanavarYesterday, in anticipation of abortion law being devolved to Holyrood, a familiar coalition launched.

They’re SPUC Scotland and CARE Scotland; also three religious bodies, the Catholic Church in Scotland, the Free Church of Scotland, and the Scottish Muslim Council; and two purely anti-choice groups: the Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline (ARCH), Cardinal Winning’s Pro-life initiative.

Anyone who followed the campaign to lift the ban on same-sex marriage in Scotland will know what the organisations in this coalition are about. (SPUC and CARE on same-sex marriage.)

John Deighan, who campaigned against same-sex marriage as the Parliamentary Officer for the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, became the chief executive of SPUC Scotland in April 2015. The Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, also a vicious campaigner against same-sex marriage, said then:

“John has provided dedicated and energetic service to the church in Scotland for sixteen years and we wish him well in his new role. His ability to skilfully analyse political development and track legislative changes has been immensely helpful to the Bishops’ Conference. The links between the church and the SPUC in Scotland are already strong, but they will be strengthened and renewed as a result of John’s appointment.”

Many, if not most, Catholics, Muslims, and Presbyterians fully support a woman’s right to make her own decisions about terminating or continuing her pregnancy: just as many Catholics, Muslims, and Presbyterians supported the right of same-sex couples to legally wed and receive the same rights, responsibilities, and benefits as mixed-sex couples. That the leadership of these religious bodies sees fit to campaign against human rights in Scotland, shouldn’t smear all the adherents of these religions as against human rights.
Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Equality, Women

Let this be the last: we can’t let this go on

Just over two years ago, David Cameron lost a vote on the UK taking part in bombing raids and other military action on Syria.

The plan then was for the UK to send military help to the opponents of Assad’s government. Since then (BBC, 12th March 2015):

Capitalising on the chaos in the region, Islamic State (IS) – the extremist group that grew out of al-Qaeda in Iraq – has taken control of huge swathes of territory across northern and eastern Syria, as well as neighbouring Iraq. Its many foreign fighters in Syria are now involved in a “war within a war”, battling rebels and jihadists from the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, who object to their tactics, as well as Kurdish and government forces.
In September 2014, a US-led coalition launched air strikes inside Syria in an effort to “degrade and ultimately destroy” IS, ultimately helping the Kurds repel a major assault on the northern town of Kobane.

Unnoticed in the timeline of the war, in 2012 a family fled from Damascus to survive: Abdullah, Rihan, Galip, and Aylan Shenu reached Turkey, where they were called “Kurdi” because of their ethnic background.
Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Children, Human Rights

We can’t let this go on: Aylan Kurdi

Petition the UK government to accept more refugeesA few days ago when I signed this petition the number of signatures was at less than 10,000 – as you see, the signatories have blasted past 120,000, and if David Cameron upholds his own policy on petitions (as he failed to do in the past over the NHS) Parliament now needs to consider this for a debate.

Aylan Kurdi is the small child who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea and whose photograph, dead, is on so many newspaper front pages today. Aylan was three: Galip, his five-year-old brother, and Rihan, his mother, also drowned. The only survivor was his father, Abdullah.

I hope Abdullah’s permission was obtained by each of the newspapers who chose to highlight the refugee crisis with the body of his dead child. I cannot imagine, I cannot begin to conceive, the hell of suffering and loss Abdullah Kurdi is in, to lose your children and your partner in a desperate effort to escape with them to a safe refuge.
Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Children, Human Rights, In The Media

Sex work and Amnesty

Amnesty International: In Solidarity, Uphold Human RightsOne of the commonest distortions of the resolution Amnesty International voted on this August is that Amnesty want to make sex work a human right.

What Amnesty International resolved to do

develop a policy that supports the full decriminalization of all aspects of consensual sex work. The policy will also call on states to ensure that sex workers enjoy full and equal legal protection from exploitation, trafficking and violence.

I’d say this distortion from “protect the human rights of sex workers” to “sex work is a human right” was bizarre, except that I have seen similar distortions before, when Amnesty finally agreed that in a very limited set of circumstances (such as pregnancy caused by rape, especially in a war zone) they would treat access to abortion as a human right, and that they would treat healthcare – medical support of a girl or a woman who’s had an illegal abortion and needs treatment – as a human right. That got distorted too.

So, Amnesty International are taking the position that sex work should be decriminalised, in order to protect the human rights of sex workers.
Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Human Rights, Police, Poverty, Women

We can’t let this go on: Rukhsan Muhammed

On 29th November 2013, a photojournalist on a rescue boat in the Aegean Sea took the photograph below of Rukhsan Muhammed struggling to keep her child Mirwan alive. Later, the photographer sold the image to Anadolu Agency (a state-run press agency in Turkey) which licenced it to Getty Images:

Rukhsan Muhammed, one of the passengers of the boat carrying Syrian refugees to Greek Islands fights for her life after the boat sinks at Aegean Sea near the coastal city of Balikesir, in Turkey on November 29, 2013. Rukhsan Muhammed told a new aspect of her family’s dramatic escape, to Turkish authorities during her appearance in court this week. She explained that following the accident she used her suitcase as a means of life preserver to keep her 1,5 years-old child, Mirwan Muhammed, from drowning. But despite of all her efforts her son fell off the suitcase and got lost amongst the waves.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Human Rights, In The Media, War

Smearing by Mensch, 2

There’s a solid 19-point guide at the This-Is-Not-Jewish tumblr, on how to criticise Israel without being anti-Semitic. I have a quibble only over point 5: “Zionism is no more a dirty word than feminism.”

Feminism is the peaceful worldwide revolution for women’s rights and to end the patriarchy. Zionism is the movement, founded in the late 19th century, for the return of Jews to Eretz Yisrael / “the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel”.

The two are not the same. The equivalents would be the peaceful revolution to end anti-Semitism worldwide or the foundation of a matriarchal state.

The problem with founding a homeland is that in any habitable part of the world, there are people already living there. (The same tumblr also discusses this in how to support Israel without being racist.)

Deir Yassin was a village in what was Palestine. On 9th April 1948, around 120 fighters from the Irgun and Lehi groups (which were “paramilitary” or “terrorists” depending on your viewpoint) attacked the Deir Yassin village, killing over a hundred people, many of them women and children, and drove out the survivors.

In Kelvingrove Park, there is a plaque in memory of the massacre, unveiled on the 40th anniversary by the then-Lord Provost Robert Gray. At a memorial event on 7th April 2002, during Operation Defensive Shield, the STUC General Secretary Bill Spiers said:

“But in the midst of this brutal madness in Palestine there is a glimmer of hope which links April 1948 to April 2002.
“We know what happened in Deir Yassin in 1948 in part because of the eyewitness testimony of Jewish villagers, who had lived peacefully alongside their neighbours until the Zionist terrorists arrived. And more ­ the slaughter was actually stopped by courageous protesting Jews from the nearby village of Givat Shaul.”

Louise Mensch on TwitterLast Friday night Louise Mensch – former Tory MP, current Sun on Sunday columnist, and author of Sparkles, Glamour, Glitz, Passion, Desire, and Destiny, had an embarrassing incident involving a screenshot and Twitter’s auto-complete function, detailed in part 1. I am posting these as a series of debunking reports of the long blog Mensch posted on unfashionista the Saturday night after her Twitter fail.

Louise Mensch, like the Telegraph, started out seeing Jeremy Corbyn’s bid for leadership as a very good joke, since obviously Labour members and supporters would never actually elect him: and then as it became clear that he might just win, that Jeremy Corbyn could be Leader of the Opposition in September, Mensch and the Telegraph appear to be as one on this one thing: Corbyn must be stopped.

On Thursday 13th August, a follower responding to Louise Mensch’s tweet “Christ on a bike. Antisemites for Corbyn” coined the first use of the hashtag #antisemitesforcorbyn. (In the same tweet, he also coined #inbredforcorbyn and #thickasminceforcorbyn.)

Louise Mensch didn’t immediately pick up on this hashtag. Nobody did.
Continue reading

26 Comments

Filed under Equality, Politics, Religion