• 30Dec

     

    Suffragette_poster

     

    I had the privilege of seeing this film yesterday. I thought it was brilliant. My heart was in my mouth for most of the film, and by the end when they showed the real footage of women marching in white and purple at the funeral of Emily Davison (Natalie Press) the tears were running down my face.

    Suffragette_film_v_3430096b

    One of the most pleasing aspects of the film was that it was centred on a working class woman, Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan). I always had the impression that the Suffragette movement, particularly in Britain, was a middle class white movement. So it was interesting and informative to see it from a working class woman’s perspective. I understand that she is a fictional character so was interested to learn more about working class women and the suffrage movement and came across this article by Missjones4history:

    “The working class, working women who became involved in the suffragette movement have, for the most part, been written out of history. A fact which is astounding considering the hurdles the working class women had to jump in order to secure their right to an involvement in politics.” 

    She writes about the  women of the Lancashire Cotton Mills.

    “ At the turn of the twentieth century, working women increasingly found their work, and their right to work under attack from the ever increasing, male dominated trade unions who wanted to protect jobs for men. They therefore began to organise themselves into unions to protect their rights in the work place and to campaign for the enfranchisement of women. An example of this is the Manchester and Salford Women’s Trade and Labour Council…”

    “In terms of an organised suffrage movement, the working women of Lancashire have been called the ‘original inspiration’ behind the formation of the Woman’s Social and Political Union, the WSPU, infamously known as the militant suffragettes.[4] This was due to a petition that the North of England Society organised, a petition for female enfranchisement; signed exclusively by women working in the textile industry of the North West. By the spring of 1901, the petition was taken to Westminster containing 29, 359 signatures; Mr Taylor, the MP for Radcliffe said that he’d heard of bigger petitions, but had ‘never seen a larger one’.[5] This petition aroused the active interest in the suffrage movement among working women, an interest which was to make many women politically active, a role hard to fulfil taking into account the many different roles a working woman already had.”

    This article, as does the film, highlights the great sacrifices that working class women in particular, made to fight for their rights.

    Maud Watts was born and worked from the age of seven in a laundry. The scenes in the laundry highlight how difficult these conditions were. She is also, as a young child, subjected to sexual abuse by her employer, who continues to sexually abuse the girls in the factory.

    We also see domestic violence when Violet Miller (Anne-Marie Duff) arrives to give evidence in Parliament with a battered face. There is no horror or shock at this from the other women – an acceptance that this male violence is a part of their lives.

    Violet also withdraws from the most violent acts of the activism, because she is pregnant. In the scene with Maud, she cries – she is worried that she will be unable to cope with yet another child. An example of the lack of options for women in controlling their own fertility. And a reminder that this is still a large issue for women all over the world today, even in our so-called progressive Western countries.

    I was astounded at the level of violence meted out to the women as they demonstrated and held rallies. They were beaten, kicked, belted with police trugeons. And then the mounted police would move in and trample the women with their horses.

    It also showed the humiliation the women experienced when placed in prison – strip searched and demeaned – something that women prisoners continue to be subjected to today.

    And the torture involved in force feeding the women was horrific to watch.  The missjones article argues that this violence was more extreme for working class women:

    “Despite official lines stating that all women were treated the same by the authorities, regardless of social background; it soon became apparent that this was not the case. It was noticed that middle class and upper class suffragettes were receiving preferential treatment, for example, if they resisted being fed, they would only be force fed a few times before being released. On the other hand, the working class suffragettes, who the prison authorities thought to be anonymous, were often subjected to the torture of force feeding on a daily basis for the full term of their sentence.”

    The sacrifices that Maud was forced to make to continue her activism is heart-breaking. She is kicked out of her home by her husband – for bringing shame and social stigma to the family. She loses her son. He is her husband’s property and so he is able to determine that she is not to have contact with him. In another painful scene she is confronted with the fact that her husband has given him up for adoption. A memorable quote to her son

    “Your mother’s name is Maud Watts.”

    Whilst the laws around custodial rights to children have changed since then, I have written extensively about how the family law system continues to punish ‘bad mothers’ and privilege fathers’ rights. http://mairivoice.femininebyte.org/the-fault-that-is-family-law-part-1/

    The film has been criticised for its whitewashing of the suffrage movement and its lack of inclusion of women of colour.

    “Britain was a white society in the main,” Dr Bartley tells me, “and the movement reflected that.” Dr Sumita Mukherjee, a fellow at King’s College London researching Indian suffragettes, notes that the women’s suffrage movement in Britain was “very different from the American case or the Australian case or the New Zealand case, because although there were ethnic minorities in Britain at that time, there wasn’t the same scale or the same questions of citizenship as there were in other countries”. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11914757/Racism-and-the-suffragettes-the-uncomfortable-truth.html

    Anna Leszkiewicz  has written an interesting article about the composition of the British suffrage movement.

    “Anita Anand, author of Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary, tells me that there were women of colour working alongside more famous white suffragettes, most notably the subject of her book, the Indian princess Sophia Duleep Singh. “There were many overlaps between the Indian suffrage movement and the British suffrage movement. Sophia Duleep Singh had every reason to hate the British. They had taken everything from her: her father’s kindgom, wealth, future, everything. But she believed in this sisterhood, and she sacrificed everything to fight for British women’s vote, and also then fought for Indian women’s emancipation as well.””

    asian_suffragettes

    Dr Mukherjee adds:

    “There’s a popular image of Indian women in 1911 involved in a suffragette procession [see above]: they were Indian women living in Britain at the time living with their families. What’s interesting about that photo is that they’re part of a procession campaigning for the vote for British women, but in that procession they had an Empire section with Australian women, New Zealand women and Indian women. British suffragettes tried to convince women from other areas of the British Empire that if they got the vote, they could look after Indian women and other women in the other communes of Britain.

    “There’s an implication that white women felt they were more able to speak for Indian women than Indian women themselves. So although I’m not sure I’d say it’s overtly racist, it is imperialist.”

    This article also briefly raises the issue of lesbian women in the movement, which the film fails to address. An issue which has been controversial in women’s movement then and since.

    “There are many other suggestions of gay relationships within the movement, including Mary Blathwayt herself, Christabel Pankhurst, and Dame Ethel Smythe. “Dame Ethel had realised early on in life that she loved women, not men, and was fairly bold about things,” Pugh adds.”

    Whilst the list of when women were given the right to vote in different countries at the end of the film was informative it should be noted that this really does not cover the full picture. For example in South Australia until 1973 the Legislative Council vote was available to any person who owned, rented or leased any dwelling house(thus excluding many women who did not own property) and it excluded joint occupiers, which effectively allowed only one vote to a married couple, disenfranchising one partner – inevitably the woman. It was not until the 1975 elections that voting for the Legislative Council was open to all adults.

    Aboriginal Australians have had full voting rights at all levels of government in Australia only since the 1960s.

    Aboriginal Australians had first begun to acquire voting rights along with other adults living in the Australian colonies from the late-19th century.[1] Other than in Queensland and Western Australia, Aboriginal men were not excluded from voting alongside their non-indigenous counterparts in the Australian colonies and in South Australia, Aboriginal women also acquired the vote from 1895 onward.

    Following Australian Federation in 1901 however, the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 restricted Aboriginal voting rights in federal elections. For a time Aborigines could vote in some states and not in others, though from 1949, Aborigines could vote if they were or had been servicemen. In 1962, the Menzies Government (1949-1966) amended the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to enable all Aboriginal Australians to enroll to vote in Australian federal elections. In 1965, Queensland became the last state to remove restrictions on Aborigines voting in state elections. By 1967 Aborigines had equal rights in all states and territories.

    So the film had flaws. But this does not prevent me from feeling great admiration for the strength and courage of these suffragettes.

    I was also struck by how the film raised issues for women that are still relevant to our struggle today – violence against women; child sexual abuse; poverty; women’s rights to birth control and abortion; lack of economic parity and independence; lesbian visibility and freedom from discrimination. All these issues remain significant to real freedom from oppression for women.

    This film acts as a commemoration to all the women throughout history who have sacrificed, who have shown strength and courage, who have given up their lives for the freedom of women everywhere. As the film quotes Emily Pankhurst:

     “Never surrender. Never give up the fight.”

  • 24Dec

    xmas

    I’m wishing you all a Merry Christmas – because that is part of my history and culture. Although I am an atheist, I was fortunate to grow up in a happy nuclear family and Christmas has always been a time of love and warmth for me.

    But for those who don’t celebrate Christmas I wish you a happy and safe holiday.

    Christmas is not happy for everyone. For many women it evokes memories of trauma and abuse. For many women and children the patriarchal nuclear family is the site of male violence and abuse. For those of you who were physically and/or sexually abused as a child; those of you who witnessed male violence against your mother and whose Christmas time is fraught with distressing and painful memories, I wish you a safe and peaceful holiday.

    trauma tree

    Trauma and Christmas

    As a result many women are ostracized or  estranged from their families and face a lonely and isolated time. I send you much love at this time.

    There are many women and children who continue to face trauma and abuse at this time of year. The holiday season sees an increase in calls for help from women facing male violence from their partners. May you find safety at this time and I hope that the support services that are so desperately needed are available to you.

    Picture1

    Many women face Christmas without their children. Children who may be forced to visit or live with their abusive fathers. May you have the strength to continue to fight to protect your children and provide them with the support and love they need.

    wsas

    There are also women, particularly indigenous women,  whose children have been forcibly removed from their care because of the racist and misogynistic policies of our society. May you have the support of the community behind you to give you strength and love at this time.

                                                      cropped-GmarMcGrady

    It is a difficult time for incarcerated women who are often locked up for reasons of poverty and male violence.

    sisters inside

    http://www.sistersinside.com.au/

    And our refugee women who as a result of our draconian and inhumane policies are facing years of imprisonment, degradation and assault in their bid to flee from war, violence and abuse. Be aware that whilst our government is enacting such inhuman treatment, many Australians are advocating for change.

    safe_image.php

    I have also been fortunate to have in my life many strong and committed feminists who have given me strength and support over the years. It is important to know that throughout the world women are gathering , meeting, sharing and struggling – across many and varied issues – to end the oppression of women; to end male violence in all its forms; working towards the demise of patriarchal rule.

    So may next year be one of hope, joy and strength as all women continue in their struggles against patriarchy.

    women-hold-up-half-the-sky-annastaysia-savage

  • 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.
  • 10Oct

    Here are a list of articles about the Australian Family Law System.

    These articles have been written over a period of over ten years and may not include any subsequent changes to family law in that time. However, the issues outlined continue to be of relevance for women now.

    Parental Alienation -Fact Sheet

    Fact Sheet 1 Parental alienation

    Family Law         November 2009

    The family law reforms which were made law in July of 2006 have been described as the most significant reforms since 1975. We have considerable concerns about these reforms which we believe take the focus away from the best interests of the child, and place the emphasis on parental rights. In particular it is non-residential parents who potentially have won the greatest gains with these reforms.

    Escaping Gendered Violence: The role of Family Relationship Centres.  Help or Hindrance in Providing Safety for Women and Children      November 2009

    Escaping Gendered Violence

    Myths and Facts               Domestic Violence and Child Abuse in the Context of Separation and Divorce May 2009

    Myths and Facts

    Barriers to Women and Children’s Safety in Family Law system                May 2009

    Barriers to Women and Children’s Safety in Family

    No Escape from Violence: The Silencing of Women and Children                             April 2008

    This article outlines the significant barriers that women and children face when they attempt to escape from male violence within the family and the barriers within the family law system.

    No Escape from Violence presentation

    “Barriers to Safety: Proposed Changes to the Family Law System” April 2006

    This paper examines the proposed reforms to family law as a result of the Government’s inquiry into family law which resulted in the report ‘every picture tells a story’ (2003).

    It is important to examine the political context of these reforms and the political agenda of fathers’ rights groups to gain an understanding of what these reforms are about and how they reflect a right wing shift in political thinking away from creating safety from women and children towards fathers’ rights.

    DVIRC Family Law Forum

    The Relationship Between Child Sexual Abuse, Domestic Violence and Separating Families April 2003

    This paper examines the relationship between child sexual abuse and domestic violence and highlights the research that indicates the coexistence of these two forms of violence in families.

    This paper will examine how the mutual existence of these two forms of abuse impacts on families who are separating. Australian research will be cited which highlight those cases involving all forms of family violence are an integral part of the work of the Family Court. It will be argued that the legal system needs to take into account that both domestic violence and child abuse are significant problems in the separating family and that issues of gender both in the context of child sexual abuse, domestic violence and separating couples are integral to our understanding and the way we deal with these concerns.

    csaconfpaper03

    CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE ALLEGATIONS AND THE FAMILY COURT    February 2003

    A study was conducted at the Adelaide Registry of the Family Court of Australia into 50 cases where child sexual abuse allegations had been made in the context of proceedings before the Family Court. The results of the investigations into the child sexual abuse allegations show that child sexual abuse was confirmed at a similar rate to such allegations made to the South Australian statutory child protection agency. More significantly when specific child sexual abuse allegations are made against fathers, then confirmation rates of child sexual abuse are substantially higher than those in the general population. The results of this study confirm the hypothesis of this thesis that child sexual abuse allegations in the context of Family Court proceedings are not more likely to be false than those in other contexts.

    Child Sexual Abuse and the Family Court

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 06Jan

     

    “How Certain Efforts To Prevent Human Trafficking Are Proving To Be Hurtful”

    This is an interesting article from Holly Smith.

     

    trafficked woman
    She expresses concerns about the use of extreme examples of the harms done to women and girls through child sex trafficking – the images of bound, gagged and tortured girls to raise awareness about sex trafficking.

    “As I continued to speak, I began to notice posters displayed at many of these awareness events. They often portrayed girls who were beaten, drugged or tied to beds, or something similar to indicate circumstances of force and bondage.
    None of these images represented my experience. I wasn’t abducted from my bedroom; I wasn’t held in shackles, and I was never in fear for my life. I began to question whether or not I was a victim of sex trafficking.
    And, then, I stopped sharing my story.”

    She describes her own story of being lured, not forced or coerced into prostitution.

    Her experience when telling her story was that people began to question why she did not leave if she was not being physically forced to stay in prostitution – why she chose to continue as a “willing victim”. She argues that this can make girls and women feel that they were somehow to blame for their victimisation.

    “I again felt like that 14-year-old girl who had been misunderstood, judged and blamed by law enforcement, family members and friends.”

    This resonated for me in our advocacy work around other forms of male violence against women and children, such as domestic violence.

     

    When we raise awareness of male violence against women we use images which we hope will shock and make people sit up and take notice.

    Pictures of bruises and injuries; statistics about deaths and injuries are powerful ways of creating the attention that is needed.
    These images fail to take into account those women who do not necessarily experience physical violence – or where physical violence is only the tip of the iceberg of abuse. They also do not reflect the complexity of male violence against women and children – the grooming, the establishment of dependency and forced isolation, the coercive control that men place on women.
    Neither does it recognize other abusive behaviours such as financial abuse, emotional abuse and the many other forms of male abuse that men use to dominate and control women.
    When we create in the minds of the public this image of battered women are we doing a disservice to other forms of abusive behaviour that women experience?
    We hold women responsible for many things, including their own victimization. If there are no bruises, no injuries are we setting up women to be blamed for not leaving, for not escaping from abusive relationships, as Holly began to experience in telling her story?

    “They can unintentionally cause the public to project blame onto those whose backgrounds and spirits are so broken that they fail to see a life in prostitution as something from which they need to be “rescued.””

    “We must never interrogate a child victim about his or her actions, or lack of actions. We must, instead, question which factors would drive a child to become a “willing victim,” and we must hold the perpetrator(s) accountable, not the child.”

    This holds equally for women trapped in abusive relationships.
    Holly Smith is the author of “Walking Prey: How America’s Youth are Vulnerable to Sex Slavery.”

    walking prey
    “Holly is a survivor of child sex trafficking and an advocate against all forms of human trafficking and child exploitation. She works with survivors of abuse, anti-trafficking organizations, and pro-empowerment programs across the globe.”