Monday, June 21, 2010

Small Commitment for a Big Society

Rape Crisis (England and Wales) has organised a campaign for sustainable funding for Rape Crisis centres, as there are areas without services at all, and other areas where the existing services are under threat of closure.

They are therefore asking for reassurance from the Coalition Government that it will keep its sustainable funding commitment to Rape Crisis.

As someone who has used my local Rape Crisis centre, I can only praise how well they support women and girls, and that service no longer existing would be devastating for my city. Statistics for sexual violence are not going down, and we certainly need more specialist, independent women-only services for survivors, not risk there being even fewer.

On their facebook page for this campaign, they have suggestions of things that we can do:
• Join our supporters’ group on Facebook
• Publicise the group and this event page to all your Facebook friends and encourage others to join and do the same
• Send a letter to Theresa May MP, Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, voicing your support for a specific, long-term, sustainable fund for Rape Crisis groups, so that the crisis in Rape Crisis ends once and for all. You can write your own, or use our template letter to urge David and Theresa to honour their commitment to Rape Crisis (England and Wales). Find the template on our group page
• Ask your MP to support the right of sexual violence victims/survivors in your area to access vital Rape Crisis services. You can find out how to contact your local MP at:
• Ask your MP and the Government for parity with the Scottish model of funding for Rape Crisis in England and Wales:
The National Co-ordinator of Rape Crisis Scotland describes the impact of having a Rape Crisis Specific Fund there:

‘Even though some centres are still struggling, the general funding situation has improved significantly over the past four years...Because the funding is restricted to Rape Crisis groups, centres no longer have to compete with one another; this has made a huge difference in terms of the service and support they can offer women. Four new centres have also opened in areas where previously there was little or no service provision. ‘

Along with the numerous verbal public and parliamentary statements promising sustainable funding for Rape Crisis from both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, the Coalition Government has told us that it will adopt a ‘common sense’ attitude to addressing the ‘needs of society by enabling funding to deliver innovative and personalised services to the community.’

They have committed to:
• Freedom
• Fairness
• Responsibility

Big Words ...but when will they become a Big Reality? Support women and girls who’ve been affected by sexual violence to have their voices heard by insisting that the Government honours its commitment.

Don’t forget: Send our template letter to Theresa May MP, Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, asking that she honours the Coalition Government’s commitment to provide long-term sustainable funding for Rape Crisis centres
I will also reproduce the template letter they provide here, for those who don't use facebook. It is to Theresa May, the Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities.

Please do send it if you agree with the sentiment, and feel free to alter it to add things you feel are important to get across.
Rt. Hon Theresa May MP #Your Address #
Home Office
Peel Building
2 Marsham Street

# Date#

Dear Home Secretary,

I am writing to you (or Organisation’s Name is writing to you) to seek your assurance that the Coalition Government will HONOUR its publicly stated COMMITMENT to provide long-term sustainable funding for Rape Crisis centres affiliated to Rape Crisis (England and Wales) (RCEW) by providing a specific Rape Crisis fund.

The new Government has stated, in its Coalition agreement, ‘Our Programme for Government’ (May 2010), and reiterated within parliamentary debates and public interviews, that it will support the sustainability and development of Rape Crisis provision in England and Wales.

This commitment came about as a result of the publicly acknowledged critical situation that member groups of RCEW are experiencing, as highlighted by ‘The Crisis in Rape Crisis’ and other independent reports over the last decade. It was also an outcome of continued and consistent lobbying and campaigning by RCEW and their supporters, who are gravely concerned about the consequences of the historic neglect and lack of funding for Rape Crisis groups, which led to 10 centres closing in the preceding 5 years. The Government’s commitment was a response to these specific issues facing Rape Crisis (England and Wales) member groups.

Independent research and survivors’/victims’ testimonies consistently show that the majority of survivors/victims of sexual violence are women and girls who do not report to the police and prefer to access women-only services. Many of these survivors/victims will, therefore, prefer to access their local Rape Crisis centre as they provide specialist, women-centred services, which are distinctive within the Third Sector.

However, a lack of sustainable funding means that, for the majority of England and Wales, Rape Crisis Centres do not exist in many areas and the ones that do exist are under threat. This reduces women’s and girls’ choices and opportunities in accessing specialised, local support for sexual violence and this does not promote a fair, just and Big Society.

I (or Organisation’s name) urge you to honour the commitment and to work with Rape Crisis (England and Wales) to ensure that all member groups are able to access the promised funding.

Yours sincerely,

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

It's Father's Day, the day every year I try not to get too bitter at having lost him.

When I was a kid, sometimes during half-term holidays I used to go to his work with him, when he was a German lecturer.

One day I sat in his class when they were doing an aural comprehension exercise, which in this case involved listening to a song and answering questions about it.

To keep me from too much boredom, I joined in with the class and listened to the song on headphones, and for some reason it totally captivated me. I made him put it on a tape for me and I listened to it again and again through my early childhood. My obsession with listening endlessly to quirky and odd pieces of music still hasn't waned to this day.

Then I remember coming home from University once and asking Dad if he still had the song on tape anywhere. He hunted round, found it and played it, and we listened to it again. This time, I asked what it was about, and it was totally disillusioning to find out that it's pretty reprehensible. The gist of it is a man telling his children not to play with the gypsy children in the woods, because they were naughty and dirty, but to play with their brothers instead. I was gutted, that this song I had so adored, was so offensive.

But, for the sake of nostalgia, here it is. My genius brother found this and we're pretty sure it's the very version we used to listen to.

'Spiel nicht mit den Schmuddelkindern' sung by Franz-Josef Degenhardt.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Spoonless Substitute

If I had the spoons, I could perhaps have written a whole post on each of the links below, but my body is overtaking everything else at the moment, so here is a collection of some writings on the internet which have caught my eye in the last few days.

Does your iPod support rape in the Congo?, looking at rape being used as a weapon in areas of conflict over minerals used in electronics.

Disability Terminology: A Starter Kit for Non-Disabled People and the Media. I like that she acknowledges that she's coming from an American perspective, where the preferred language used by disabled people is often different from in the UK, and she makes some great points, including one expanded on by Elena Newley in "I don't suffer!".

FWD's Ableist Word Profiles are always worth a read, too, discussing disablist language further.

I loved this story about 9 women in Northern Ireland who have been acquitted of criminal damage after breaking into the premises of an arms manufacturing company. Impressively, the jury agreed with them that rather than commit a crime, they had in fact taken action to prevent crime and "protect the lives and property of people in the Gaza Strip and to stop alleged war crimes being committed by the Israeli forces".

Other stories and writing I've found thought-provoking and interesting are:

Women's health shortchanged because of bias towards male subjects in studies

The potential and the danger of first person in feminist discourse

Informed Choice or Restricted Right on thinking of abortion as a right rather than a choice.

The Absence of No: Re-considering the Yes focus in critique of rape culture

Where the Fight Against Child Obesity Can Go Very, Very Wrong

and 'Biggest Loser' TV programme finalist says the show gave her an eating disorder.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Greencoat Boy Packs a Punch to Equality.

One great thing about the internet, which is helped a lot by twitter, is the immediacy of information. When something goes wrong, all sorts of people can rally round and react, sometimes within minutes of the event itself.

So things happened like that tonight. @LGBTLabour posted the following messages on their twitterfeed.

Within minutes, this became a Trending Topic on twitter, meaning it was one of the most talked about things at that time. The discussion, now with the tag #bigotbar, is still ongoing. And people are starting to discuss actions like boycotts, and mass emails to the Punch Taverns who own the pub involved.

As Grace Fletcher-Harwood has said, they picked the wrong LGBTs to mess with! She also gives links to some pub review sites which accept comments on pubs, and the contact details of the Chair of Licensing for Westminster Council.

Sarah Brown joined in, with

All of that is why I love the internet.

But then, as quickly as things rise, they can also start to descend. A few jokes here and there. A few jibes. The point that someone has been treated so appallingly on the basis of their gender or sexuality gets overtaken by the vital importance of a witty pun on the situation. Equally, facts start to change a little, and get edited and shortened, often cutting out key information.

The F Word's own Helen was one of those who pointed out that

So let's stop introducing exclusivity and bullying into a human rights matter. The Greencoat Boy pub have actually broken the law, in refusing to provide a service to people on the grounds of their sexuality and gender. That goes against The Equality Act 2010, I'm told.

If you are as angry as I am about this, those links above, in this post, will give you a place to start on what action you might want to take. There are people to contact, and if you want to boycott premises in your area which are run by Punch Taverns, you can find out where your local Punch Taverns pubs are here.

And keep an eye out for updates - here on The F Word of course, with a Greencoat Boy search on twitter, on blogs and such.

I am so, so glad that our society is in a place where many people's initial reaction to something like this is to be outraged, not resigned to it. That the people involved want to fight, rather than feel shamed by these bigoted actions. That others are jumping in, sharing information and working stuff out together to try and make this the last, ever, place in Britain that refuses service to someone because of their gender or sexuality.

Well, we can dream.

Edited to add, another great point has been made by @Lisybabe: