One sure way to reduce prostitution: heroin prescription

In late 2006, the whole of Britain watched in horror as five vulnerable female prostitutes were, one by one, over the course of one and half months, picked up off the streets of Ipswich and taken to their deaths. The last victim, Paula Clennell, was even seen on television stating that, despite news of the murders and despite being alerted to the fact a killer was on the loose, she would continue working the streets as she ‘‘needed the money’’ to fund her drug habit. The killer was eventually identified as a Mr Steve Wright, who, in February 2008, was found guilty of all five counts of murder, and sentenced to life imprisonment. But the truth is that all five deaths were preventable. Preventable, that is, for want of some political courage on the part of our leaders.

In response to the murders, there was, of course, a wide and varied national debate about policy on prostitution, and how to make these vulnerable women safer. Criminalization of demand, legalization, brothels, tolerance zones – all were considered and discussed. But one simple way to keep vulnerable women away from ‘‘the oldest oppression’’ as some feminists prefer to call it, was ignored: heroin prescription.

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Of those who are forced to choose: Bernadette Devlin McAliskey

 

Only the very safe can talk about wrong and right

Of those who are forced to choose, some will choose to fight

– lyrics from Natives, song famously sung by Christy Moore, by Paul Doran.

The revolutionary heroes of the left who become icons on t-shirts and posters tend to have two characteristics. They are usually men, and they are usually dead. I’m thinking Che Guevara, Malcolm X, Bobby Sands, Steve Biko. Actually, I can only think of one who continued his mystique while still alive: Nelson Mandela.

Iconic poster Free Angela Davis, by F. Beltran, 1971

Iconic poster Free Angela Davis, by F. Beltran, 1971, from IISG on Flickr.

Off the top of my head it’s very hard to think of any women. Angela Davis, of course; she is still alive and still appears as an iconic poster image. And she’s been getting involved with the Occupy movement in the U.S. too.

Well, there’s someone who should appear in this pantheon, and she is still alive and has never sold out her socialist, republican, feminist credentials. Bernadette Devlin McAliskey. I’m quite shocked at how unfamiliar this name seems to be to a lot of people here in Glasgow; growing up in New Zealand in the 1970s and 80s, I had heard of her. But between then and now, I’d not heard much.

Where did she go? Why has a woman who was elected to the UK Parliament at 21, who smacked the Home Secretary in the head the day after Bloody Sunday, and who was nearly assassinated in front of her children with seven bullets, dropped from view?

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Why I Became a Feminist

I grew up around the outskirts of Glasgow and up until my early to mid twenties I was unaware of feminism. Discovering feminist ideas sent guilt surging through my brain. It was like getting a new lens with which to look not only at my present way of being but all of my past too. I was horrified with the way I had thought, believed and acted previously. As far as I was educated by TV, film, music, books, family and friends, being male meant desiring sex from women. Seeing women as objects of desire rather than human beings but then I didn’t really see humanity in males either.. I was too effeminate and as such I would be called gay or bender and would be beaten up regularly. This was ALWAYS from males, the violence was a way of them reminding me that I do not fit into the masculinity box. I think the fact that I was obviously heterosexual was what made my feminine traits all the more unbearable for these males. I was breaking out of the masculinity box. That box that tells you to be a “hard man”, a “big man” and “take nae shit fae nae wan”. A man should love football and sports, enjoy porn, like drinking and “going on the pull”. Let’s not forget the main important thing, be able to fight.

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On the Jury and Sectarian and Sexual Violence: A Response to Lallands Peat Worrier

I’m a big fan of Lallands Peat Worrier, his blog, his Tweets and his person; he’s on the side of angels and he has a lovely brain the size of a planet. His latest post disturbed me a little though, so here is me writing out my understanding of why I’m disturbed. I also ramble into more of a response to the content of his post and the case it discusses: the implications of the Neil Lennon sectarian / assault case for Scotland’s anti-sectarianism law.

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