• 13Oct

    The South Australian Parliament is currently seeking submissions for the Statutes Amendment (Decriminalisation of Sex Work) Bill

    Here is a summary of some the important points in an article I have written about this.

    For the fuller article:Why the Nordic Model is the only viable alternative

    It is important to recognise that decriminalizing the buying of sex has implications on the broader community. It is important to acknowledge that prostitution is a highly gendered industry. Women are in the vast majority of those who sell their bodies for sexual purposes. Men are in the vast majority who buy women’s bodies for sexual purposes.

    The sexual objectification of women as a result sends a very strong message to our community about how we perceive men and that it is permissible for boys and men to see women as objects for sexual use and that prostitution is harmless fun.

    The buying of women’s bodies implicates that it is normal for men to have entitlement over women as sexual commodities.

    “Legalising or decriminalising the entire industry of prostitution normalises an extreme form of sexual subordination, it legitimises the existence of an underclass of women, it reinforces male dominance, and it undermines struggles for gender equality. It is time to start tackling the attitudes which say that it is acceptable to view and treat women as sexual objects by tackling the demand for commercial sexual exploitation.” http://www.turnofftheredlight.ie/learn-more/

    If we are truly serious about addressing the inequalities and oppressions that women experience in our society – sexual harassment, rape, domestic violence and child sexual abuse – then decriminalising and legitimising the buying of women’s bodies and the sexual objectification of women will only exacerbate the current inequalities that women experience.

    I would like to address a number of the issues that have been raised in the community in the ‘prostitution debate’.

    1. Prostitution is not an issue of choice.

    It is very apparent that most women who enter and are involved in prostitution do so as a result of being impoverished and marginalised. Many do not have valid alternatives available to them in regard to alternative employment. For most women involved in prostitution they perceive this to be a temporary solution to the many problems that they face.

    1. Prostitution is harmful in and of itself.

    Mary Sullivan from Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Australia in her paper:

    “An Update on Legalisation of Prostitution in Australia” has stated:

    “Attempts to treat prostitution businesses as similar to other mainstream workplaces actually obscure the intrinsic violence of prostitution. This violence is entrenched in everyday ‘work’ practices and the ‘work’ environment and results in ongoing physical and mental harm for women who must accept that in a legal system such violence has been normalised as just part of the job. “

    She argues that the assumption has been made by Victoria’s OHS strategies are that women are able to negotiate safe sex.

    “Studies have shown that male buyers in Victoria will not use condoms, with one in five men having admitted to unsafe sex.” (Louie 1998, p.23).

    “Men have also become more demanding in the type of services they want. The demand for oral sex, for instance, has been replaced by the demand for anal sex.” (Arnett-Bradshaw 1999).

    “That these risk prevention strategies are considered normal safety procedures for women in prostitution expose how the prostitution work environment is unquestionably a place of extreme and constant violence that cannot be compared to other workplaces.”

    http://www.turnofftheredlight.ie/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/What-happens-when-prostitution-becomes-work.pdf

    Meagan Tyler has also argued that the traditional forms of legalisation and decriminalization do nothing to protect women from high rates of physical and sexual violence, as well as psychological trauma.

    “Systems of legalization foster greater demand and create an expanding illegal industry surrounding them, so it is a fallacy to pretend that in localities where prostitution is legalized, all women are actually in legal forms of prostitution. In addition, rates of trauma are similar across legalized, decriminalized and criminalized systems of prostitution.” http://www.feministcurrent.com/2013/12/08/10-myths-about-prostitution-trafficking-and-the-nordic-model/

    In fact there is valid research which shows that men who men who buy sex are more likely to hold degrading views of women, have misogynist attitudes and therefore are more likely to commit sexually coercive acts and other acts of violence against women”.

     Violence is a part of prostitution.

    “STILL, PROSTITUTION in itself means violence. All organizations working for the rights of prostituted women – whatever their opinion on prostitution is and wherever they’re located in the world – agree that prostitution is dangerous/harmful for women in prostitution. Those who want prostitution to keep existing usually speak of “harm reduction”, i.e. that it’s important to reduce the damage inflicted in prostitution.”

    http://www.kvinnofronten.nu/eng/speaking-of-prostitution.htm

     

    1. Legalising prostitution only benefits pimps, traffickers, and sex buyers.

    Mary Sullivan has successfully shown that legislation in Victoria has created a ‘prostitution culture’. In which it is the government, financial institutions and sex industry which financially benefit from prostitution industry. Their growth in profits from prostitution allows them greater economic power, gaining from the sexual exploitation of women.

    Legalisation has offered nothing for women caught up in this system of exploitation. Legitimising prostitution as work has simply worked to normalise the violence and sexual abuse that they experience on a daily basis. Victoria must not be seen as a model for other countries attempting to deal with the escalating trade in women and children for sex. Legalised prostitution is government-sanctioned abuse of women and violates their right to equality and safety.

    “Today sex trade is one of the largest and most profitable industries in the world. It includes street prostitution, brothels, “massage parlors”, strip clubs, human trafficking for sexual purposes, phone sex, child and adult pornography, mail order brides and sex tourism – just to mention a few of the most common examples.”

    It has also led to the growth of illegal activities within the prostitution industry. Illegal prostitution is more lucrative and profitable, and there is the ability to hide such illegal activities within legalised prostitution.  http://www.kvinnofronten.nu/eng/speaking-of-prostitution.htm  

     

    1. Legalising prostitution does not remove the stigma.

    It has been argued by those who support the full decimalization of the buying of women’s bodies that such legislation will remove the stigma of prostitution.

    This is not the case.

    “In the Netherlands, Germany, parts of Australia, and Nevada in the States, where prostitution is already viewed as “sex work”, women in prostitution are still just as stigmatized as they are here.

       The ones not getting stigmatized there are instead the perpetrators – pimps/brothel owners and buyers – who now have been turned into respectable “business men” and their “clients”. ”

    http://www.kvinnofronten.nu/eng/speaking-of-prostitution.htm   

     

    1. Legalisation or decriminalisation of the entire industry expands prostitution and trafficking for sexual exploitation.

    The Directorate-General for Internal Policies, Policy Department – Citizens Rights and Constitutional Affairs. Sexual Exploitation and Prostitution and Its Impact on Gender Equality Study have found:

    “The most conservative official statistics suggest that 1 in 7 prostitutes in Europe are victims of trafficking, while some Member States estimate that between 60% and 90% of those in their respective national prostitution markets have been trafficked. Moreover, the data available confirm that most trafficking in Europe is for the purposes of sexual exploitation, principally of women and girls.”p.6

    On the other hand, under Swedish legislation, also known as the Nordic model where the selling of sex has been decriminalized and the buying of sex is criminalized –

    “According to official evaluations, this seems to have effectively reduced demand and deterred traffickers.”

     

    1. Sex trafficking and prostitution regularly affects children; when legalised, even more so.

    As with sex trafficking, child prostitution occurs in all sectors of the prostitution industry.

    “ECPAT reported that Victoria has around 1,800 children used in commercial sex. This is the highest number for all Australian states and territories (ECPAT 1998, p.32). We need to ask why a state that promotes itself as having among the most advanced regulation for the prostitution industry in Australia, and possibly the world, has the largest child prostitution trade in the country?” df

     

    INTERNATIONAL STUDIES show that the most common age of entering prostitution is early adolescence, around 14 years of age. This is confirmed by the Prostitution Unit of Stockholm.

    “The basis for prostitution is sexual abuse of children. The majority of all who are bought in prostitution have suffered other forms of sexual abuse before entering prostitution, and the debut age of prostitution is often around 14 years. “ 

     

    1. Indigenous Women

     

    There are studies which suggest that Indigenous women are in higher proportions of numbers in prostitution. This can be directly linked to social and cultural disadvantage and oppression that Indigenous women experience in Australian culture. http://eprints.batchelor.edu.au/297/1/Homelessness_Report_v2_1_Print.pdf  ‘Captains’ and ‘Selly-welly’:

    “In doing so, it has revealed the extent of the atrocious life conditions experienced by this population, in particular, by women, who both endured and perpetrated violence. Women did not perceive there to be safe places for them to live and nor did they view police and police spaces as necessarily safe alternatives. This study has also revealed that women among this population were routinely subjected to sexual assault and rape from a range of perpetrators – one of the most significant findings to emerge.

    The study concluded that Aboriginal women’s involvement in prostitution reflected Racial oppression and disempowerment.”

    http://www.news.com.au/national/paul-toohey-darwin/story-e6frfkp9-1226634776568

     

    For a recent article please read: Legalized Prostitution in Australia: Behind the Scenes

    and to NORMAC, Nordic Model in Australia Coalition

    The Nordic Model Australia Coalition has been established to educate, to disseminate information, promote and research Nordic Model laws on prostitution, and in particular, for

    • The decriminalisation of all prostituted persons
    • The criminalisation of the purchase of sexual services
    • The education of the community, and particular men, about the harms of prostitution and the value of women.
    • The ongoing investigation and prosecution of crimes involving trafficking and sexual exploitation of the vulnerable.
    • The rejection of any form of commercialisation or corporatisation of the sex industry.
    • The provision of holistic exit programs for prostituted persons, including sustainable long-term funding.
  • 04Jun

    I have had the pleasure and privilege of reading the ‘Freedom Fallacy: The Limits of Liberal Feminism edited by Miranda Kiraly and Meagan Tyler.

    Freedom Fallacy pic

     
    Apart from the fact that it has a large number of Australian contributors, which is pleasing in and of itself, this is an excellent book exploring the problems with liberal feminists.

     
    I have been madly making notes from the book since it came into my life.

     
    So it was very interesting, as I finished my note-taking, Destroy the Joint posted about prostitution.

     

    Their focus was on International Sex Worker’s Day and cited an article by Tilly Lawless who “asks us all to check our whorephobia”.

    That’s enough to raise the heckles.

     

    DtJ asks its readers “why do we struggle to recognise that sex workers have rights?”

     
    The robust and even aggressive discussion that followed in the post, reflected very much the chasm between liberal and radical feminism.

     
    Many of the protagonists in the discussion claimed that as sex workers their voices were the only legitimate voices to be heard. (They vehemently dismissed the voices of those who have exited prostitution and are now activists against it).

     
    Meghan Murphy writes in the Freedom Fallacy:

    “Of late, it has become standard to talk about ‘choice’ in terms of individual choice rather than collective choice”

    These alleged sex workers claimed their individual choice in their “profession”.

     
    But as Meaghan Murphy goes on to say:

    “Choice without politics or theory behind it doesn’t hold power. ‘Choice’ at the expense of others – particularly the marginalised – is not radical nor does it promote equality.”

    A liberal approach to prostitution argues that decriminalizing prostitution allows for the protection of women prostitutes, and is reflective of an “individual freedom” ideology.

     
    Caroline Norma explores this in the chapter ‘A human right to prostitute others?: Amnesty International and the privileging of the male orgasm’ in Freedom Fallacy.

    She begins the chapter with this statement from Amnesty International:

    “Sexual desire and activity are a fundamental human need. To criminalise those who are unable or unwilling to fulfil that need through more traditionally recognised means and thus purchase sex, may amount to a violation of the right to privacy and undermine the rights to free expression and health. – Amnesty International”

    I must admit to being rather astounded by this statement. It is a stunning example of a declaration of men’s rights and totally ignores women’s rights – rights

    • Not to be purchased,
    • Not to be raped,
    • Not to be harmed,
    • Not to be degraded,
    • Not to be violated.

     

    Caroline Norma goes on to tell us of how Amnesty International may have been:

    “ potentially influenced by the activism of Amnesty UK member Douglas Fox, a founder of, and business partner in, one of the UK’s largest escort agencies.”

    The prostitution industry is a global industry – which makes it a powerful industry. How can anyone dismiss the power of such an industry to influence/manipulate public opinion and governments making legislation?

    And liberal feminists have swallowed this male entitlement argument and reinterpreted in terms of a woman’s right to choose.
    However there are countries which are now moving towards what is known as the ‘Nordic Model’

    “It decriminalizes the selling of sex and makes paying for sex a criminal offence. It is designed to end the demand from a minority of men who pay for sex – the demand that drives the prostitution trade and the trafficking of women into it – and to promote specialist exiting services.” Diane Martin (The Independent)

    Diane Martin talks of her reactions in being in a country where the Nordic model exists:

    “What I was unprepared for, however, was the personal impact of being in a country where access to my, or anyone else’s, body could not be legally purchased.”

    However, the Nordic Model is being vehemently challenged by the prostitution industry – and was forceably rejected by many on the Destroy the Joint post.

    “The Nordic Model, on the other hand, poses a genuine threat to the long standing ‘right’ of men to exercise sexual dominion over women through prostitution, and to profit from this dominion. It represents a legislative vehicle for abolitionists to reckon over the question of male sexual rights.
    What the liberal feminists fail to realise is that the prostitution industry focuses specifically on the most vulnerable and marginalised women in the world. Women who rarely have the option of choice.” Caroline Norma

    Meghan Murphy in Feminist Current writes about the intersection between race and class in the subjugation and prostitution of Canadian Native Women.

    “That indigenous women — the most marginalized people in Canada — are the ones funneled into this industry, groomed via sexual abuse from the time they are children, offered no options for escape, no housing, no education, no support services, are ignored when they disappear and are murdered, and are dehumanized by men want to think of and treat them as non-human should be one of the most significant aspects of this conversation. It is unacceptable that the voices, experiences, traditions, and realities of these women and girls are left out of debates and decisions around prostitution and prostitution law.”

    Liberal feminism’s defence of prostitution can only be seen in terms of neoliberal patriarchal capitalism. As the Amnesty International policy identifies men’s rights to use women in whatever way they choose is the prominent discourse of liberal feminism. Individual liberal feminism can never free women from male violence and abuse. It is only through collective action and an understanding of the political and ideological context of patriarchy, will women be free from male violence.

    “By framing a system that funnels women—particularly marginalized women—into prostitution as not only a choice that women make but as a potentially liberatory one, these groups are able to disguise the way in which pornography props up male power, placing the onus for women’s subordination on women themselves. By framing the societal pressure to self-objectify as empowerment, society is permitted to ignore the reasons women learn to seek power through sexualization and the male gaze. By focusing on women’s agency, we ignore men’s behavior.
    What is truly being defended by groups that claim to lobby for “sex-worker rights” is not, in fact, women’s human rights but the financial and sexual interests of men. This is why the discourse deliberately avoids addressing the harms caused by these men.”

    Meghan Murphy writes in truthdig

     

  • 28Apr

    ANROWS Public Lecture with Professor Liz Kelly CBE

    On Friday 13 February 2015 Professor Liz Kelly CBE delivered a lecture in Adelaide on re-visiting the continuum of sexual violence in the 21st century.

    I had the great privilege of attending this lecture by Liz Kelly earlier this year and I would highly recommend listening to this lecture.

     
    She talks of her early work and research “Surviving Sexual Violence” (I would recommend the book too.)

     

    surviving sexual violence

     
    I’m not going to pretend here that I can do any justice to her lecture or her work but wanted to highlight some of the important issues that she raised that struck me.

     
    One of the themes throughout her talk was women’s voices – the importance of listening to women’s experiences, women’s feelings and understanding women’s everyday experiences of violence.

     
    Liz Kelly’s work is conceptualising forms of violence as a continuum of violence against women. She explores the connections, for example, between sexual violence and domestic violence, asking questions about the categories we use; who decides what is abusive; what counts as abuse and the connections between them.

     
    She also referred to the work with Jill Radford “Nothing Really Happened” : the invalidation of women’s experiences of sexual violence  which analyses women’s experiences of sexual violence and how women name “unwanted sex”. They often didn’t want to name non-consensual or coercive sexual experiences as rape. There are no clear cut lines in women’s experiences.

    “Everyday routine intimate intrusions that were so central to the idea of a continuum.”

    Whilst women claim ‘nothing really happened’ they were intimidated, they were made to feel fearful. Liz Kelly describes this as a form of terror, in which the intention is to intimidate, to make women feel afraid, telling women that they “don’t have the same right to be in this space.”

     
    And women learn to adapt – to the potential of male violence. This is the reality of women’s lives.

     
    Liz cited Swedish law in which the underlying principle is that sexual violence is a violation of women’s integrity. It is therefore not located as force.

     
    What Liz highlights is that many women’s experiences of violence are ‘everyday’, are perceived by society as ‘mundane encounters’ and yet they are the “fabric of women’s everyday lives”.

     
    Which means that when we attempt to tally up the extent of violence against women we are not counting all violence against women. Our criminal system records violence in incidents rather than the “pattern of coercive control” which Evan Stark has examined.
    There are wider concepts of harm which we need to look at from a human rights perspective.

    Liz Kelly clearly highlights that male violence against women erodes women’s agency and fundamental freedoms – it constrains every woman’s agency.

    This clip does not include question time but her response to one question was awesome:

    “What we need is a feminist revolution”

  • 12Apr

    And therefore should be locked away.

    India's Daughter
    Four Corners  on Monday night showed the documentary “India’s Daughter”.
    A film made by British filmmaker Leslee Udwin about the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey, in Delhi.
    The document provides a poignant portrayal of Jyoh Singh Pandey, through her parents’ eyes. It also shows us a clear picture of her gang rape and murder and the public outcry and response in India.
    We are shown through interviews with her parents their grief.
    We witness the massive demonstrations by the public, particularly students over her rape and murder.
    We witness the confronting statements by one of the perpetrators of her rape and murder, and the lawyers who defended him.
    It also includes experts commentating on Indian society and the patriarchal attitudes to women.
    Jyoh was a young woman, 23 years old, who had, against the odds, and at some sacrifice by her parents, just completed her medical training and was about to start her internship as a doctor.

    “She had dreams”.

    But she had the temerity to go to the movies with a male friend. And this is the excuse the perpetrators used for raping and murdering her.

    “A girl is far more responsible for rape than a man” said one of her murderers.

    Comments from the defence lawyers included:

    “Women are flowers, men are thorns.”
    “A woman is a diamond” …if she goes out where she’s not meant to be, then…”a dog would take it out.”
    “There is no place for a woman.”

    It was therefore her fault because she was a woman in a place, with a man she was not related to, where she should not have been.

    This is reminiscent of the police, following rape and murder of a young woman in Australia, warning women not to go to the park.

    Jyoh’s case received world-wide attention. Not because rape and murder of women is rare or unique. But because of the response to this incident.

    Thousands of Indians, mostly students, took to the streets. As one of the expert observers in the film commented it was evidence of:

    “Women’s generalised anger…accumulated anger…gut-wrenching pain.”

    But their public demonstrations we met aggressively by the Indian authorities – with tear gas, batons and water
    Such aggression was met with shock by some of the demonstrators. “As an educated, outspoken person” to be met by such aggression was shocking.

    But what they were challenging was a “historic tradition of patriarchy” which was “highly threatening” to the patriarchal establishment.

    And now this film has been banned in India.

    Vidyut in Women Under Seige has written about this response.

    All of this did lead to an inquiry by a judicial committee of senior judges which apparently made important recommendations for changes to criminal law.

    It was interesting when Kerry O’Brien introduced this documentary on Four Corners. He described India’s culture as

    “fundamentally patriarchal”.

    It was almost as if he was divorcing Western culture from that of India.

    But we know that the same goes on here in Australia.

    real for women1

    31 women killed in Australia in 2015 as counted by Real for Women

    Murder of indigenous women in Canada.

    n-ABORIGINAL-WOMEN-OTTAWA-PROTEST-OCTOBER-large

    “A groundbreaking report released by the RCMP in early 2014, says that 1,181 aboriginal women have gone missing or been murdered in Canada in the last 30 years. While aboriginal women comprise only 4.3 per cent of the Canadian population, they are three times more likely to experience violence than non-Aboriginal women. Aboriginal women also comprise 11.3 per cent of missing women and 16 per cent of female homicides in Canada.”

     from Huffington Post

    Karen Ingala Smith has also been counting murdered women in Britain.

    stop ignoring dead women

    She has also written a recent post when police described the murder of a woman as an “isolated incident”.

    “People need to understand this is an isolated incident.”

    ” We need to be angry about yet another murder of one of our community. If members of any other ‘community’ than women, were being killed by members of another ‘community’, other than men, we would not be talking about isolated incidents.”

    Patriarchal violence is everywhere.

    Can we really expect that educating men will change these ingrained misogynistic behaviour and attitudes towards women – perhaps.

    But the tragic realit for women is that as long as power and control remains in the hands of patriarchal rule – then women will continue to be oppressed – to be subjected to murder, rape, abuse, harassment and discrimination.
    This is a powerful film which highlights the personal tragedy inflicted on Jyoti Singh Pandey and her family – and the horror of patriarchy misogyny embedded within all cultures, including our own.

    smash patriarcy

  • 09Apr

     

    Well what a night of television.
    It started with the news (ABC SA). Their 3 leading news items were as follows:

     

    1. The finding of the Coroner’s report into the death of Chloe Valentine – a four year old girl whose mother and her partner were found guilty of criminal neglect and manslaughter. The report was scathing of SA’s child protection system and has called for a massive overhaul.

     
    2. The drowning of 3 Sudanese children (another child is in a serious condition) in Melbourne in a car driven by the mother which ended up in a lake. The mother is now helping the police with their inquiries.

     
    3. 250 Australian men convicted of child sex offenses traveled to the Philippines last year.

    “It comes as Filipino police continue to build a case against an Australian man, Peter Gerard Scully, who is accused of some of the worst child sex offenses in the nation’s history.”

    He is also being charged with the death of at least one child. It is understood that he was producing child pornography for sale.

     
    Then I watched Redfern Now. It was about 2 Indigenous women raped by a white middle class man. They chose different paths – one not wanting to report it to the police, fearing the shame and humiliation; the other reporting him and taking him to Court and grilled because of being a single mother, Centrelink fraud and working for cash. In a positive turn of events the man is found guilty – not a common occurrence in rape cases.

     

    redfernnow

    Deborah Mailman as Lorraine, Anthony Hayes as Daryl and Rarriwuy Hick as Robyn in Redfern Now: The Telemovie.

    Why do all of these make me angry; make me want to cry with rage and sorrow?

    We know the Child Protection system sucks. It lacks resources, funding and properly trained and experienced staff. It largely targets women – whether they are victims of male violence; living in poverty with poor resources to raise their children. And we also know that the child protection system takes a punitive approach to women, regardless of their circumstances – because well women are always to blame.
    At the same time that the SA government says it will respond to this report, funding is being cut from so many services that could help mothers, particularly single mothers.
    And yet one of the key recommendations of the Coroner’s report:

    “The State Government begin negotiations with the Commonwealth to make a child protection income management regime permanent.”

    A measure that will leave women with fewer resources, tells them they are inferior and incapable of looking after themselves, aimed at working class mothers – and assumes that child abuse is a class issue – that it is only the poor who neglect and abuse their children.
    And it is important to say – there is a difference between neglect (which often is a result of poverty) and child abuse – so often about male violence against women and children – in all classes.

     

     

    And when we turn to the tragedy of the Sudanese children – what resources do we provide to those from war-torn countries who come to Australia seeking shelter and a better way of life? How much trauma counselling is available; how much support are they given in adapting to a strange and alien environment? And importantly how do the media portray our immigrants and refugees from non-Western countries? How much racism are they subjected to?

     
    It is astounding that the Federal Government can make it illegal for Australians to travel to Syria – out of our fear of “home-grown terrorists” – and we have no laws that prevent convicted child sexual abusers from traveling to South East Asia where extreme poverty puts children at risk of rape and murder – by Australian men.

     

    In all of these cases it is really quite simply the paternalistic, imperialist, patriarchal culture which creates these situations – and provides no avenues to challenge this ideology.

    I doubt that any proposed changes to the Child Protection system will really make children safer. It is far more likely to become more punitive to women in vulnerable situations.
    Our current ethos is racist.

    If this Sudanese mother is found responsible for the deaths of her children it surely must speak to our failure.

     

    And why is it not a national emergency that Australian child sexual offenders are granted the freedom to travel oversees to sexually abuse children?

     

    And women continue to be raped – and when they are Indigenous women – they have very little hope of the judicial system providing justice.

    But we are so grateful to Deborah Mailman (and the writers) for her portrayal of a strong Indigenous woman who takes the system on and wins!

  • 28Feb

    “”I thought you might like to hear a man’s voice,”

    Senator Barry O’Sullivan’s voice boomed during a fiery Senate estimates hearing on Tuesday morning.”

    Sarah Whyte,The Age
    Australian Human Rights Commission president, Professor Gillian Triggs has been the subject of harassment, abuse, and bullying.

    “The Human Rights Commission recently completed a report on children being held in immigration detention in Australia.
    The Forgotten Children report examines the treatment of children under both the current Government and the former Labor Government. It makes a number of recommendations designed to improve the welfare and protect the human rights of children.” Senator Penny Wong, Mamamia

    There has been almost a hysterical response to the report with claims of political bias. All aimed at intimidation and silencing.

     

    Professor Triggs was not the only subjected to the misogynistic behaviour of the Liberal Party Senators at the Senate estimates hearing. Both Senator Penny Wong and Sarah Hanson-Young were also bullied and shouted at. They even made a bit of a joke about possibility of being accused of sexism. Because after all, they are real men – and real men are sexist, misogynistic – and they don’t care about being perceived in this way.

    “Macdonald joked with fellow senator Barry O’Sullivan about the damn ladies taking up all the panel speaking time.
    Because if there’s one problem with the current state of parliamentary politics in Australia it’s that women are given too much airtime, of course. Remember the kind of free reign Juilia Gillard was given over the airwaves? Despicable!”  Max Chalmers, New Matilda

     

    But what can we expect from this Liberal government. We all remember the treatment that our first female Prime Minister was subjected to by the Liberal government when in opposition.

    ditch the witch

    It would seem that these men just don’t like women expressing their opinions; having their say; or even, dare we say it, opposing their viewpoints. It is pure misogyny and patriarchy at work here.

    “The speed with which supposedly adult men have feverishly rushed to turn into braying schoolboys has been astonishing; they are no longer even bothering to conceal the enjoyment they take from making it known to their female colleagues just how little they respect their presence in public life, telling them instead to “settle down” (as O’Sullivan pompously did to Senator Penny Wong) and quipping with each other to be careful what they say lest they be “accused of sexism”, presumably by the silly biddies who overreact to everything and can’t take a joke.” Clementine Ford, The Age

    blue ties snakePhoto: Andrew Dyson – blue ties

    “Appointing himself Minister for Women after the LNP’s election to government wasn’t an example of his total lack of self-awareness. Rather, it served as a deliberate and final f… you to the woman who had unapologetically called out his misogyny in Parliament, and who received great fanfare from the countless Australian women who had identified so strongly with the moment.”  Clementine Ford, The Age

    And the saddest part of this is that the Human Rights Commission’s report is highlighting the dreadful inhumane treatment of refugees by the Australian government (on both sides of politics).

    “She was something far less: a woman defending powerless children with the truth. And it is for that Gillian Triggs is being punished.” Richard Flanagan

    detention

    Read those statistics again. 233 assaults against children; 33 incidents of reported sexual assault; 128 children who harmed themselves.

    Children, fleeing for their lives, fleeing from torture, violence and war. And the Australian government locks them up in detention.

     

    “For all their cant about families, this is a government with no pity and much contempt for the families of the poor and the powerless. In this government’s new Australia the strong can be needlessly and endlessly rewarded, and the weak endlessly attacked and punished.”  Richard Flanagan

    Their racist and misogynistic policies are not confined to those from outside Australia. If you have any doubts that our politicians’ policies and behaviour to asylum seekers is not racist, we need only look at their treatment of and policies in relation to our First Nation people.

     

    I would recommend this moving article about the impact on the Northern Territory Intervention byThe Northern Territory Emergency Response: Why Australia Will Not Recover from The Intervention”

     I have also written about this in a previous blog post.

     

    cropped-GmarMcGrady

    The biggest challenge for Australians is that this misogyny and racism has become the norm in political discourse today. Both major political parties are responsible for the appalling treatment of asylum seekers and our First Nations peoples.

    And as Clementine Ford has stated:
    “… the bonds of patriarchy often bind tighter than those of political allegiance or loyalty. Some men simply do not want women working alongside them; it makes them feel their naturally ordained spaces are being suddenly invaded by people whose existence they don’t really understand, other than within the realm of being mothers and wives. And so they make jibes and jeer, the bravado and entitlement growing alongside the gang of merry men willing to join them in it.”

    So whilst our media is excited and hyped up about the potential de-throning of Tony Abbott as Prime Minister – patriarchal in-fighting for power and control – they continue to use this power and control to oppress, intimidate, harm and abuse women, the dispossessed, asylum seekers, our Indigenous people.

    CartoonAIM

    http://theaimn.com/immigration-detention-try-living-life-changing-effects/ Robyn Oyenini The Aim Network

    See also:

    https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/istandwithgilliantriggs?source=feed_text&story_id=10203976645202136&pnref=story

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/106908392834476/?fref=nf – Stop Offshore Processing of Asylum Seekers

    https://www.facebook.com/CombinedRefugeeActionGroup

  • 24Feb

    margaret atwood fear

    First off let me say that I hate the term ‘family violence’, and am even beginning to lament our use of ‘domestic violence’. It makes it all nicely neatly packaged as a personal problem within families – nobody really to blame.

    It is MALE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN.

    This is the problem. This is why women are being killed, beaten, raped, imprisoned, violated, controlled, constrained – are scared, are unable to live freely.

    Because of MALE VIOLENCE!!!

    And it is not only male violence in the home – it is male violence in the street, in the workplace, in public places. Women are not safe from male violence anywhere.
    So when QandA announce they are doing a programme on ‘family violence’ we are supposed to be grateful that at last the issue is getting some national coverage on the ABC.

    qandapic
    Well we had the controversy even before the programme aired. Women were rightly annoyed that the composition of the panel was majority male – 3 male guests, 2 female guests and of course, Tony Jones hosting. The complaints about the makeup of the panel were responded to by the oft cited reason –

    “We have to engage the men in addressing family violence”.
    It speaks volumes that in order to engage men, it is other men who have to speak. Women’s voices are not valid.
    The unequal representation of women on the panel says it all really about how we evaluate women’s voices –how women’s voices are not heard; are viewed as being less valuable, less important, less knowledgeable; how we manage to silence women.
    And let’s talk about knowledge. I do not want to hear from men about male violence against women. Women are the experts here. We are the ones who live with violence, the threat of violence every day of our lives. And if men are not willing to sit down quietly, shut up and listen to what that means for women; listen to our experiences of violence; listen to what we have learnt about men and violence – then nothing will change.
    The panel appeared to acknowledge that male violence was about power and control – whilst the men enacted their power and control over the discussion.
    Clem Ford has written about this in Daily Life:

    “Gender inequality is one of the key drivers of men’s violence against women. Limiting the access women have to both participate in and lead discussions that are politically and culturally important isn’t just related to the structures of violence that oppress us – it is a fundamental part of its very foundation. It isn’t good enough for women to just be given a scrap of space to speak, particularly when it’s about matters that directly affect our lives.”

    Intimate Partner Terrorism

    But then we heard that Intimate Partner Terrorism is the extreme end of violence – and they are sociopaths/narcissist – and not the majority. The majority of violence is about relationship problems. (Counsellor for Men and Families Simon Santosha on the panel.)

    I had the privilege of going to a seminar presented by Liz Kelly recently.

    And Georgina Dent has written an article prior to the QandA show citing Liz Kelly.

    “Kelly established the concept of sexual violence occurring on a continuum and identified common elements in different types of violence and connecting them to structural gender inequality.”
    “The everyday is connected to the extreme and it’s connected in two ways. First in terms of women’s experiences but it’s also connected in the sense that it’s not deviant, crazy men who do this,” she says “There are some crazy and deviant men but the majority are relatives, colleagues, or friends. A lot of this violence is normalised; it’s only by challenging it and identifying it that we perceive it as violence.”

    liz kelly

    There is too much talk about psychological explanations for men’s violence – talk about mental health issues; about drug and alcohol being the cause. It came up frequently last night.
    And then of course came the argument that it is the result of men feeling disempowered – perhaps because women are beginning to be empowered??

    Natasha Stott-Despoja’s repeated argument was that gender inequality is at the core of the issue of male violence against women. They all agreed but there was no in-depth discussion about this. There were no suggestions made about how we can create change in the power imbalance between men and women.
    But we have to make sure we take care of men’s feelings – their feelings of shame and embarrassment and their feelings of disempowerment – because if they don’t they just might get violent.

    ENTRENCHED MISOGYNY

    There were lots of good questions from women in the audience. Perhaps the best was the video question from Megan Hale:

    “I am nineteen, I have been sexualised by men my whole life. I do not feel safe when I am alone in public and my experiences have taught me that boys my age feel entitled to my body. I do not feel equal to men in Australian society at all. Can the men on the panel acknowledge that there is a lot of entrenched misogyny in Australia, and what are they going to do to get other men to take gender inequality and male violence seriously?”

    “Entrenched misogyny” – what a great term. And her question was barely responded to. Little acknowledgement from the panel that this exists for all women and no analysis of how this could be addressed.

    WHAT ABOUT MALE VICTIMS?

    And of course we had the tweets – “not all men are abusers”; “what about the men”.

    They can’t allow women to speak; to have a voice without involving the “poor men”.
    This was followed by Steve Khouw asking about male victims and citing dodgy statistics about male victims and female perpetrators.

    “But what I want to know, is why it has to be the very small, flickering torchlight that we place on women that needs to be shared with disempowered men, rather than the massive stage lights that are normally shining on men that need to be shared.”
    “Violence against women is not an issue of ‘why don’t women leave’ or ‘how can we support men who are violent to control their emotions’, it is about how do we fundamentally shake up the building blocks of our society to give women more power, and in doing so, remove the ‘right’ of some men to be violent.”Julie McKay, Daily Life

    What would have been the impact if ABC had chosen an all female panel – with a female host? Would their voices have had legitimacy? Would men have bothered to listen?

    “To end male violence against women, we need to end male power, and dismantle all the institutions that uphold male supremacy. It is this power that creates and is reinforced by male violence against women. We will never end male violence by believing that we can change one man at a time, though sensitising education programmes. We will never end male violence against women by being gentle to men and sympathetic to the harms of masculinity to men, not without destroying the institutions that uphold and create male supremacy. We will never end male violence against women, against children, even against other men, if we fail to recognise and name men as the overwhelming primary perpetrators of almost all forms of violence.” Karen Ingalas Smith.

    Male violence against women is a women’s issue – because women are the ones who constantly live with the consequences of male violence. I don’t want to hear a male perspective on this. I want men to listen to women. I am not responsible for changing men’s behaviour. If men are truly interested in change then they need to listen to women.

    Gillian Middleton Gillian Middleton’s photo

    As Liz Kelly said in her seminar in Adelaide – yes we need changes in social policy; yes we need legislative change; but what we really need is a feminist revolution.

    Women murdered and missing by known and suspected male violence Australia 2015

    real for women

    #countingdeadwomen

    dtj14

  • 09Feb

    The problem with a liberal feminist view of the world is the lack of recognition of the structural nature of the oppression of women and the need to challenge patriarchy.

    An article was written in The Australian today titled:

    “THERE is too little acknowledgment of the importance of male disempowerment in debates surrounding domestic violence.”

    It was written by Tanveer Ahmed described as a psychiatrist and White Ribbon Campaign ambassador.

    mens-choices
    Male dispowerment is a problem then! We’ve had our moment in the sun, gender relations have changed – too far it seems. So when women begin to have a voice, when women begin to demand to be noticed – we have men claiming that the voices of women are disempowering male voices – that there cannot be a shared stage.
    Mr Ahmed is denying exactly what feminists and ant-violence campaigners have been arguing for. He argues exactly against any idea that men have to change; that the socialization of men as aggressors is something positive and that feminists arguing against this are thus disempowering men.

     

    This is such a backlash against feminism, against all the work that has gone into domestic violence campaigns. It is exactly this kind of ‘thinking’ that seriously undermines our attempts to challenge male violence.
    And it is why liberal feminism can never be successful in challenging the oppression of women under patriarchy. Because in patriarchy the male voice always has to win, always has to be heard, always will be louder and stronger than women’s voices.

     

    As was recently commented on in an article by Glosswatch:

    “People don’t want to hear about how women think and feel. They don’t want to picture women as people whom others might actually have to negotiate with. They want “equality” insofar as they want the erasure of all measurable signs of women’s oppression (because let’s face it, these get a bit embarrassing). They do not, however, want this to come at the expense of being allowed to see women as whatever they want them to be at any given moment. We just don’t have space to accommodate the humanity of women as well as that of men. Sisterhood might be powerful, equality might be a fun badge to wear, but casual, unacknowledged misogyny is a hell of a lot more practical.”

    n-WOMAN-IN-THE-SHADOWS-medium

    Yes you are right Mr Ahmed – we do want to disempower men – this is what it is all about – and the reason is because men use their power to control, abuse and violate women. Yes we want to dismantle men’s roles – we want to dismantle patriarchy – we want to stop women being abused, controlled and violated.

     

    Mr. Ahmed argues that radical feminism…

    “defines normal maleness as a ­risible kind of fatuous and reactionary behaviour.”

    Yes Mr. Ahmed ‘normal maleness’ is toxic to women and we do want to get rid of it.
    After centuries of male being the norm, Mr. Ahmed now complains when women start to challenge men – he argues (through his male tears) that women are now the norm. Last I heard women were still being raped, abused, controlled, and oppressed by men.

    He argues:

    “But as the Left increasingly dilutes the notion of biological differences in sex, amusingly illustrated by Greens senator Larissa Waters imploring parents not to buy gender-specific toys for Christmas, we are downplaying the notion that fathers are even desirable.”

    Mr. Ahmed complains about the de-gendering of children’s toys – effectively arguing that disappearing gender – disappearing the differences between men and women is essentially disempowering men. Well yes he is right – disempowering men is about ensuring that the power differentials which are essential to patriarchy are dismantled.

     

    Mr. Ahmed’s article is a sign of backlash and fear – fear of losing male privilege and power.
    So let’s talk about the White Ribbon campaign.

    “White Ribbon Day was created by a handful of Canadian men in 1991 on the second anniversary of one man’s massacre of fourteen women in Montreal. They began the White Ribbon Campaign to urge men to speak out against violence against women.”

    Remember the man who killed 14 women because he hated women – he hated feminists – he resented them and blamed for his own failure to be accepted into engineering at the University.
    The White Ribbon campaign is male-led and receives significant funding from the Federal Government.
    But this article makes us really question what this campaign really aims to achieve. It certainly doesn’t appear to want to address the real issue behind male violence. And it raises the question of how much liberal feminism and its efforts to affect equality within patriarchy can really challenge the oppression of women.

    As the article “Choosing between misogyny and feminism: A practical guide”

    “You couldn’t have racial equality and slavery co-existing, this is obvious and offensive to anyone – so why do people think we can achieve equality of the sexes under patriarchy? How can we have equality in a system that defines all worth as that deemed masculine? When the male and the masculine are the default, and female and women are Other, there can be no equality, only a delusion that we are diminishing or rejecting Otherness by an adoption, a performativity of the default masculine.”

    Posted by glosswatch Jan 24 2015

    fem

     

  • 22Jan

    The New South Wales (Australia) Police Force recently posted on their facebook page that men are victims of domestic violence too. They quoted figures that 1 in every 5 domestic violence incidents the police respond to are where men are victims of domestic violence.

    nsw police
    As Jenna Price pointed out in her article in Daily Life these figures are not explained in the post by the NSW police. There is no information about the perpetrators of such violence and the possibility of male-on-male violence in same-sex relationships. The implication was that all of the perpetrators were women.
    This disappears all of the hard work and activism that feminists have done to highlight the social basis of domestic violence as being reflective of sexism and patriarchy in Australian society.
    The Police then allowed hundreds of posts to the site blaming women for violence against men

    .comments

    and citing dodgy statistics – statistics which Men’s Rights Activists have consistently been using falsely, and which have  been debunked

    “In 2012, Michael Flood delivered a speech to the Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research. In it, he debunked the concept of one in five men as victims of partner violence – a product, he said, of an inaccurate analysis of the ABS Personal Safety Survey” as cited by Jenna Price.

    But what is most interesting to me is the context of this and what has been happening in NSW over the last year.

    I wrote about the closure of women’s services in NSW  in a previous article on women’s services.

    SOSWomen’s Services have highlighted the plight of women-only refuges in NSW.
    Under the ‘Going Home Staying Home’ program, the NSW government is failing to support women-only domestic violence services.
    “336 individual services have been consolidated into 149 packages operated by 69 non-government organizations.” Sydney Morning Herald”

    So I ask myself – is this a conspiracy?

    Is the closure of women-only services in NSW related to the Police highlighting male victims of domestic violence?

    Is this an attempt to disappear women’s experience of male violence?
    But there is more.

    According to the Queensland government, male violence against women isn’t even an issue for the criminal system. Doesn’t really exist, one would think.

    qld DtJ post

    Destroy the Joint posted on this:

    “The Newman government in Queensland pretended crime had gone down in the state by ignoring a dramatic increase in these domestic violence figures.”

    As commented on this blog by Bettsie:

    “In Queensland over the past twelve months, there has been considerable focus on legislation and interventions to reduce both bikie crimes and public acts of alcohol related violence with claims they are making a difference in reducing crime and improving community safety, At the same time, there is a shroud of silence over the increased reported incidence of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault.”

    So is this a deliberate policy by neo-liberal governments to silence women’s voices; to disappear male violence against women?

    As I have written before:
    “A considerable advantage of the women’s services sector is that it was developed from feminist advocacy and that a major role of such services was to challenge the social constructs that perpetuate disadvantage for women. Part of the empowering aspect of their work is to join with women using the services to advocate and lobby for changes to systems which create barriers to women’s safety and well-being.”

    The closure of women-only services and focusing attention on male victims of violence is one way to ensure that advocacy and activism which challenge the patriarchal system are silenced.
    The fact is that this is just the norm for patriarchal capitalism. When you are in a position of power and control, why upset the apple cart by listening to women or by involving them in decision-making or by even acknowledging their existence. After all, patriarchal capitalism has done very well thank you without women.
    In fact, for hundreds of years men have made a point of ensuring that they do not share their power and control with women.
    And it might be quite dangerous for them if they acknowledged the hatred, the misogyny, the violence that men inflict on women.

    It might even Destroy the Joint.
    It’s not a conspiracy. It’s just the same old patriarchy.

     

    fem

  • 17Dec

    If Man Haron Monis’s 36 sexual assaults had been taken seriously, the #SydneySiege wouldn’t have happened.”

    It is women who are the victims. It is women who are in the middle of male violence. It is women who are in the firing line.

    women as victims of war - MadreUpdate:

    Interesting article by Megan Murphy in Feminist Current:

    “Violence against women is taken for granted. Misogyny is taken for granted. Male violence is not seen as gendered. Violence against powerful men is a “public” problem — a war — and violence against women is a sidenote, if it is mentioned at all. Sixty women disappeared from the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver over about 20 years, beginning in the early 1980s, before the police even began an investigation. A database created by an Ottawa researcher tallies the number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women across Canada at 824. On any given day in Canada, more than 3,300 women (along with their 3,000 children) are forced to sleep in an emergency shelter to escape domestic violence. Most domestic violence homicides happen after a woman leaves (or tries to leave) her abuser. Women simply aren’t protected by the system. They aren’t taken seriously. The signs are there and they are ignored, over and over again, until it’s too late.

    “Soraya Chemaly pointed out that the number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq was 6,614, while the number of women killed as the result of domestic violence during the same period in the US was 11,766. So tell us, who is being targeted? What kind of violence matters? What kind of victims matter? Who is really, “at war?”” http://feministcurrent.com/…/a-war-on-the-police-how-about…/

     

    By now we have all heard of the siege in Sydney. And about Man Haron Monis.
    For the last two days it has headlined the news and social media.
    The immediate assumption made when the siege occurred was that it was a terrorist attack. Why? Because he was a Muslim. And because he raised a flag with Arabic writing in the window. This is what he wanted us to believe – that his holding siege with hostages in the middle of Sydney was for a cause, and not because he is a violent, malicious man.
    It is what the Western media and our Western politicians also wanted us to believe. Even as the real story of this man came to light, they continued to define him as a rogue terrorists and media outlets continued to examine this event in these terms.
    This man, Man Haron Monis had a history of violence against women.

    He had been charged with being a co-conspirator in the murder of his ex-wife, who had been knifed and set alight.

    He was also charged with 40 sexual assault charges against women. And let’s not play around with words –aggravated sexual assault is violent rape.
    He was on bail.

    The magistrate who gave him bail stated:

    “If there is a threat it was to this woman who was murdered.”

    But after all he is not a threat to the community – only to women!
    This is why he was not on the radar of the authorities – he was not a real threat to anyone – except women.
    Male violence against women is epidemic throughout the world.
    Destroy the Joint figures show that 73 women have been killed by male violence in Australia this year.

    dtj 73
    But the media is not really interested in violence against women.

    Our politicians are not really interested in violence against women.
    It is more interested in creating fear and war-mongering.

    Escalating the threat to Western democracy allows them to continue with their wars, continue with their torture, continue with their demonising of the “other” and make us all afraid. This allows them to justify their secrecy and their denying of our freedoms and our rights.
    They are more interested in escalating violence. In making war.

     

    According to Women, Peace and Security:

    • Today close to 90 per cent of current war casualties are civilians, the majority of whom are women and children.
    • War crimes including rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, and any other form of sexual violence.
    • Violence against women is greatly exacerbated in conflict zones
    • Women face many challenges in conflict and post-conflict environments – including extreme poverty, displacement from their homes, destruction of social networks, and limited opportunities for employment and income generation.

    And wars which put more women and children at risk.

     

    Kathleen Barry

    A hashtag was born declaring #illridewithyou to Muslim Australians fearful of facing backlash on public transport. It was a powerful and heart-warming hashtag – but it is a practice that every woman uses on a daily basis – because every day – at home or in public – women are targets of male violence – physical, sexual, threats, harassments. But there is no public outcry, no empathy, little understanding – it just part of normal life for women in patriarchy.
    Acknowledging violence against women is a step that men in power are not willing to take. It would threaten their very power base.

    As Louise Pennington states

    “This is the reality of rape culture: systemic violence against women is simply not considered a problem. We need to start using the term terrorism to define male violence and we need to start recognising that women are human too. Until we do, men like Monis will continue to perpetrate these crimes, which are not ‘isolated incidents’ but systemic, state-sanctioned terrorism against women and girls.”