Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Things You Need to See.

From my email:

* Petition to allow people on psychiatric wards to smoke.

* 17th May - International Day Against Homophobia
International Day Against Homophobia


UK campaigners are gearing up for the 3rd International Day Against
Homophobia on May 17th. Last year there were over 40 events in the UK
to mark the day in 1990 when the World Health Organisation removed
“homosexuality” from its list of mental disorders. Internationally, 50
countries are now involved in the campaign for LGBT rights to be
recognised as human rights across the globe. IDAHO organisers are
asking all those who support the campaign to organise events on and
around May 17th.

One of the themes of this year’s campaign is “No to homophobia-yes to
education”. Students at the University of the Arts in London will be
designing two sets of posters that focus on challenging homophobia,
and celebrating LGBT people, both contemporary and figures from
history. The four winning posters will be displayed at a major event
in Central London on IDAHO day. While in Manchester several key
organisations have come together to support a campaign called
“Exceeding Expectations” a three year initiative which will reach more
than 12,000 education professionals and provide resources training and
advice in combating homophobia-information about IDAHO and
international homophobia will be a central feature of this campaign.

IDAHO’s main focus internationally will be its campaign for a United
Nations Resolution to decriminalise homosexuality. This campaign has
received massive support around the world and the petition on
www.idahomophobia.org has now been signed by over 5,000 people. Ben
Crouch, UK North West Coordinator said “The positive effect that a
resolution of this type being approved at the United Nations will have
on the global LGBT community will be equivalent in gay rights terms to
the discovery of creating electricity. For all those who have faced
persecution in the world, for all those who have faced death, torture
and imprisonment because of their sexuality, this resolution is for

Alongside this vital campaign, there will be many opportunities for
individuals and organisations to challenge homophobia. The IDAHO UK
website on www.idaho.org.uk has been designed to share information,
provide a forum to promote events and activities, share ideas and
access resources. Suggestions for involvement are organised around 4
strategic themes of “Being Seen, Being Heard, Being Well and Human

Following a highly successful event in Sheffield last May, organised
by the Centre for HIV and Sexual Health in partnership with the SHOUT
centre, IDAHO organisers are encouraging major cities and towns in the
UK to take on the challenge of organising a minutes noise against
homophobia. Many LGBT people throughout the world have to suffer
intolerance in silence, and this minutes noise provides those of us
who have the freedom of speech without reprisal to SHOUT out on their
behalf. IDAHO UK is also encouraging people to lobby their local
councils to fly the rainbow flag on IDAHO Day, as many did last year.
Councils can also pass resolutions supporting IDAHO as Brighton did in

Derek Lennard, IDAHO-UK Coordinator said “This is a chance for us to
demonstrate that we are not smug about advances made against
homophobia in the UK, and at the same time we can not stand idly by
while LGBT people are persecuted, criminalised and slaughtered around
the world. IDAHO is a network with no bureaucracy to speak of, created
by activists. So our question to all those interested in equality is
stark and clear. As we state on our poster ”International Day Against
Homophobia, 17th May 2007-“What are *you* going to do?”.

From BBC Ouch!:

Save money, seek out disability concessions
So as a disabled person, do you know about all the concessions you get? Are you too embarrassed to ask for them? Let Ouch come to your rescue with our list of the top ten disability concession tips - from half-price angling licences to free directory enquiries, talking phones to toll exemptions on bridges and tunnels, and more!

There's a new campaign just starting up, which aims to collect 1,000,000 EU citizens' signatures to combat discrimination in all aspects of the lives of disabled people in Europe. And it's called One million for Disability.

Why 1 million - apart from it being a nice, big, round figure, of course? Well, in the draft European Union Constitutional Treaty, it's stated that the EU must respond to the call of at least 1 million citizens.

The campaign started yesterday and runs until 3 October 2007. The day after, the signatures will be officially handed over to the European Commission and Parliament.

Sign Up Here

From The Guardian

Love in the time of phone porn.
Boys and girls see sexualised images of females at every turn. Issues such as body image, eating disorders, self-harm, depression, teen pregnancy and pressure to have sex trouble many girls, and the signs are that both sexes are struggling to make sense of what it means to be female.

Last week, a 16-year-old boy admitted making indecent images of a child after using his mobile to film his friend having sex with a 14-year-old girl and sending it to five of her classmates. In May last year, two 16-year-old schoolboys were arrested for making a porn video of a 14-year-old girl on a mobile phone and circulating it around their school in Perth, Scotland. In August, it was reported that the headteacher of Helston school in Cornwall had asked bebo.com, a website popular with teenagers, to remove the school's entry after complaints that children as young as 13 had put soft porn pictures of themselves on it. The pupils had set up the school entry.

Children who have grown up with the internet, email and mobiles are exposed to porn at a much earlier age. Both girls and boys are under immense pressure to pass it off as harmless fun. And if you don't like it, you don't like sex. Or you're gay.

"Both my daughters were subjected to porn as soon as they went to secondary school, aged 11," says Helen Browne, a mother to two teenage girls. "They had to toughen up to it pretty quickly so as not to seem prudish."

It seems that children are not learning enough about positive body image, respectful relationships and how gender roles are stereotyped. Among the criticisms levelled at sex education comes a new claim: that young people need a sex and relationships education (SRE) that counters the damaging messages of porn.


Kate, a 15-year-old who goes to school in Shropshire, says: "Practically all lads look at Zoo or Nuts and that lot. The ones who are 14 and 15, I mean. I'm not sure whether boys younger than 14 read them - they probably do. It's a very normal thing and no one thinks anything of it." Kate says she hasn't come across porn by accident "apart from on lads' phones. And too many of them have Jordan as their background."

Pressure group Object is campaigning to have lads' mags regulated in the same way as recognised porn. FHM has a "puppies cam" feature that encourages readers to take pictures of unsuspecting women's breasts. Object asks why magazines read by teenage boys aren't subject to the same regulations as those for teenage girls.


Last year, an NSPCC survey found that incomplete sex education in schools is leaving children confused about what is illegal or unacceptable, with 93% saying that their sex education lessons did not include any information about sexual abuse. The charity has called on the government to ensure 14- to 16-year-olds are taught about sex in the context of relationships, peer pressure and the law.


Those working in gender violence prevention would like to see this kind of sex education begin much sooner. Damian Carnell is a development worker at TRI (Training, Resources and Information), at the Nottinghamshire Domestic Violence Forum. "We're at a very dangerous point, with porn in all its guises being more socially accepted, sneaking into all kinds of consumer products and on to TV," he says.

"We'd like to see domestic violence awareness and positive relationship promotion, including gender respect and awareness projects, in all school year groups from year 5."

The charity Womankind Worldwide is piloting an education programme - Challenging Violence, Changing Lives - in schools across the UK, to raise awareness about male violence against women. It has a component on pornography and prostitution in year 11. Lis Martin, the creative director, says: "What teachers are saying is that younger girls are vulnerable to approaches from older, sophisticated men from outside school. Porn is used in chatroom grooming. Yet girls are also visiting porn sites to find out what they need to do to please boys. They aren't questioning abusive relationships."
Read the whole article here.

* Not a service like any other by Julie Bindel
It is a year to the day since the publication of Paying the Price, the Home Office review into prostitution - but women selling sex, and the organisations providing support for them, are still waiting for action from the government. One of the recommendations that came out of the review was the setting up of projects dedicated to assisting women out of the sex trade. Another was to tackle the demand - the punters, who keep prostitution alive. While nothing was being done, five women working in street prostitution were murdered in Ipswich.

Supporters of legalisation argue that women would be safer working in saunas and massage parlours. They also want tolerance zones, where women could work without fear of arrest. This would mean, they say, that the women would take fewer risks. But there isn't a scrap of credible evidence that women would be safer if we made the state a pimp, which is what legalisation would mean.

The former adviser to the Home Office, Katharine Raymond, recently alleged that plans to legalise prostitution were suppressed because of a fear within the department that the rightwing press would leap on it. Not so. I also worked alongside the review team, and got the firm impression that proposals to legalise were shunned because of emerging evidence from countries such as the Netherlands, Germany and Australia that legalisation has been a disaster.

In these countries, legalisation of brothels and toleration of street prostitution have resulted in an increase in trafficking, no reduction in violence towards the women, an increase in demand and an increase in illegal brothels; it has not broken the links between organised crime and the sex industry. It has normalised prostitution in the minds of the citizens, so that children are growing up seeing it as just another service industry.

Of course the women, and men, involved in prostitution should not be regarded as criminals. They are the victims of pimps, punters and the brutality involved in selling sex. But we should not just leave it at that. Let us do as the Swedes have done, and criminalise the buying of sexual services. Not only have they decriminalised the selling of sex: the Swedish government has made significant resources available to help women leave prostitution. Beside this radical legislation is a public education campaign to debunk the myths and lies about prostitution - for example that it is a career choice, and an equal exchange between buyer and seller.

Drugs workers in Ipswich say that many of the women working the streets have "pimps and boyfriends" who put them under pressure to sell sex. Legalising brothels or "tolerating" street prostitution effectively legalises pimping. Supporters of such measures often cite the fact that there has not been one woman murdered in a tolerance zone, either here or abroad. But if a man wishes to harm a street worker, he will simply drive her away from the area.

In 1999, I was involved in setting up the first UK re-education programme for kerb crawlers, in Leeds. In partnership with West Yorkshire police, we piloted a scheme with the intention that police would shift their focus from the women to the men who create the demand. The police offered the men they stopped a choice - either go to court and get your name in the paper, or attend a one-day course on the realities of prostitution.

Did the men who attended the course change their minds? I doubt it. However, if men grow up being given a clear message that prostitution is the abuse of women, and a warning that they will be in court if they pay for sex, we may go some way towards eradicating demand for sexual services. That coupled with helping women to leave the industry, might see an end to prostitution, and the murder of women caught up in it. Imagine that.

From the blogosphere:

* Action against sex shops from CharlieGrrl.

* Woman Prosecuted for Attempting to Induce an Abortion. This is terrifying - the full story is here, but Feministe's analysis is definitely worth reading. Also covered here at Women's Space and here by Sparkle*Matrix.

* As if Literally, A Weblog (a blog dedicated to the wrongful use of the word literally) wasn't good enough, there is now also lowercase L, dedicated to the annoying habit of some net users and sign writers to CAPITAlISE everything except the lETTER l.

* UK Law and Rape - in the name of football and follow-up, both from Sparkle*Matrix.

* FINALLY, I have been tagged with a meme to reveal five things about myself, so here goes.
- Z and I had our third anniversary last Wednesday. This made me very happy.
- I recently sold a broken mp3 player on ebay for nearly £25. I was very glad I hadn't just chucked it!
- I am going to be 30 this year. I am not a big one for being bothered about age, but this is ever-so-slightly freaking me out.
- I cried in town yesterday when I unexpectedly came across a funeral. It was quite embarrassing but I couldn't stop. I then had to hide in the Church the funeral had just come out of until I calmed down enough to carry on with whatever I was doing.
- I love watching birds eating from my bird feeder.

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Anonymous said...


Wow! Plenty of links there! Did you get the idaho stuff from their website? I could just look, couldn't I, and not be lazy :-)

The 30 thing isn't so bad once you get through it ;-) although I got a bit of a shock this evening when someone said "people like you and me, in our early thirties..." to me... :-))

Claire (in the very early 30s!)