Recent Articles

Rape crisis money cut as councillors take pay rise

by Jess McCabe     July 9, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Croydon’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC) is having its funding cut by £27,000 a year – while the top Tories in the council are giving themselves pay rises.

This is the currently one of only two rape crisis centres in London (the new Ealing centre is already open), and it may have to close its waiting list if the funding cut goes ahead.
Via gorilerof3b.

RASASC is asking people to write direct to council leader Mike Fisher:

We need your help – urgently. A decision was made to cut the Corporate Funding Budget of Croydon Council two weeks ago and there was pressure on the Council Lead, Mike Fisher, to do some cost saving, pretty quick.

Fisher chose the easiest option as the corporate funding applications were due for ratification. So instead of cutting jobs, pensions, council staff or even not giving the third sector an inflationary rise across the board – he gave himself a rise in pay and slashed one department’s budget of £1 million!

The cuts for RASASC of £27,000 per year is the equivalent of supporting 2,700 survivors of sexual violence on our helpline, seeing 23 survivors face to face for one year specialist counselling or supporting 108 survivors through our Advocacy department from reporting their rape to the end of their trial.

We need your help to save our services! Please email to voice your disgust at these cuts and speak for the thousands of London women this will affect. It will only take 5 minutes of your time but may stop the only Rape Crisis Centre in London from having to close our waiting list.

They have put together a model letter which gorilerof3b has also posted.

cross-posted from the F Word

Oh dear, Demos

by Jess McCabe     May 11, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Think-tank Demos last week launched their vision for how power should be “radically” devolved.

But Jenni Russell at Comment is Free went to the launch, and “no one mentioned women’s existence once”:

As I stood listening, I began to feel a rising tide of outrage. There was just one problem with this message of transformation and innovation – which was that every single one of the five speakers arguing for change was a man (white, at that). That every name mentioned as a new Demos adviser was that of a man. That no one mentioned women’s ­existence once. And that when we were shown a brief video about how power must be shared with the people, every silhouette and every symbol on the screen was – quite unselfconsciously – that of a man.

Very… er… radical.

(Crossposted from The F-Word)

Spotting Sexism: A brief service announcement

by Jess McCabe     September 8, 2008 at 10:21 am

This is just a brief post to tell you about a project that has been cooking up over the summer.

This October, a new series of feminist workshops is going to launch – I’ve been working on this project, along with zohra moosa (you can read about us here).

Spotting Sexism will be a four-week workshop for a small group, on feminism and how it applies to our lives. You can read more about it here, along with information on how to sign up.

It will involve:

  • Weekly 2-hour phone-based sessions
  • Facilitated conversations on key topics, such as: unpicking the sexism in our daily lives & in the media, how sexism affects different groups of women, and how to become a feminist activist
  • Guest speakers
  • A safe space to ask difficult questions, where it’s OK to make mistakes or just not quite understand some of the feminist jargon out there
  • Activities tailored to help draw out your knowledge and experiences
  • A private online community forum, just for participants
  • Extra resources, reading lists and ideas for taking what we discover further…

Reframing the debate on asylum and refugees

by Jess McCabe     June 16, 2008 at 4:07 pm

Refugee Week logo
In case you didn’t know, Refugee Week starts today. While The Guardian has been doing an excellent job of countering the anti-immigrant bias in the media, this excerpt from Mark Haddon’s piece on visiting the Migrant Resources Centre in Victoria, London particularly drives home for me how far we have slipped in this country:

How did we end up treating human beings in this way?

Mario, the MRC’s legal adviser, came to the UK in 1978, with his wife and sister-in-law, after escaping from Colombia, where the government had 68,000 of its opponents behind bars. They were terrified and knew nothing about asylum law. All the immigration officials who dealt with their claim, however, were helpful, courteous and surprisingly knowledgeable about Colombian politics. The three of them were granted temporary admission. The following year they were given full refugee status. ‘I can only be grateful to the UK for the protection offered to me and my family during those difficult days… After nearly 30 years here, I have two children and one granddaughter. We feel British. When I come back to the UK after visiting my elderly parents I always feel as if I am coming home.’

Mario’s is not an isolated case. I’ve spoken to a number of refugees who arrived in the UK 10, 15, 20 years ago. Most were impressed and surprised by the warmth of the welcome they received, and none of them went through the demeaning experiences that many of today’s asylum seekers go through.

What happened during those intervening years? Of course, there has always been racism and intolerance, but only in recent times have these sentiments been allowed to drive and shape official government policy.

Let’s see if the right-wing press will take a one-week amnesty, at least, from their racist/xenophobic anti-immigrant reporting. (Recent headlines: “Has mass immigration wrecked Britain?”, “Do you think immigration is to blame for rise in violent crime?”, and a classic – “Immigration out of control”. Meanwhile last week the Daily Mail served up this dehumanising headling: “Father of four finds 12-strong colony of illegal immigrants living in his LOFT”.)

Incidentally, any UK readers seeking inspiration on this issue from across the Atlantic could do worse than checking out the fairly recently-launched blog The Sanctuary.

Inside the ‘war on terror’

by Jess McCabe     June 9, 2008 at 2:57 pm

This American Life is a class act at any time, but this recent episode is a must-listen. It is an investigative report into what happened to Richard G. Convertino, the Justice Department lawyer who prosecuted the ‘Detroit Sleeper Cell’ case.

Arrested only days after 9/11, the four men tried in the case were meant to have been planning an attack – two of the men were found guilty by a grand jury, only to have the Justice Department voluntarily asked the judge to throw out the case.

It was supposed to be the first terrorist attack planned from American soil. It was quite unusual behaviour for the department to not only throw out its own case, but then go after its own prosecutor.

The podcast considers whether the decision was taken as part of a vendetta against Richard G Convertino, the prosecutor, who repeatedly ruffled feathers, breaching protocol and failing to get along with his colleagues. But the Justice Department’s attempt to bring criminal charges against Covertino failed and he then he sued them.

All of this is fascinating, but more so are the couple of glimpses of the information at contest in the trial – for example, one piece of evidence was a home video shot at Disneyland. In the podcast, it becomes clear that there’s a section of this video filming a duck pond – the prosecutors argued that some singing translated to an anti-US screed – the defence said it was a song about ducks. (The podcast producers don’t get their own independent translation, sadly enough!)

The case rested heavily on some sketches in a day planner – which could be a map of a US air base in Turkey, or not.

Immigration is also a feminist issue

by Jess McCabe     April 10, 2008 at 4:43 pm

Every single candidate for the London mayoral elections in May – even Tory Boris Johnson – supports an amnesty which would allow illegal immigrants living in the UK for four years or more to follow a “path to citizenship”, The Independent reported yesterday.

Last month Mr Livingstone called for a “fresh start”, with a one-off amnesty for migrants without “regular status”, in spite of his party’s stance. “Migrants contribute hugely to the economic, civic and cultural life of London and the UK,” he said. “To have a substantial number of them living here without regular status because of deep-rooted failings in the immigration system, some dating back over a decade, is deeply damaging to London as well as to them.”

This is really good news.
continue reading… »

Life in the Shadows

by Jess McCabe     March 20, 2008 at 4:35 pm

Our Man Inside has been to Jordan to photograph Iraqi refuges. Check out his amazing photoessay here:

Check your privilege here

by Jess McCabe     February 8, 2008 at 11:19 am

An interesting meme to identify class privilege has been doing the rounds of the US blogs. Originally designed to make university students think about how class impacts them, the meme requires you to tick off items such as “had more than 50 books in your childhood home” and “you were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family”.

In some ways, this list is probably insufficient to reflect our particular class system in the UK (perhaps someone will be inspired to write one specific to us). But at the same time, it is still a useful exercise. You can find the full list at Social Class & Quakers, the blog which seems to have kicked off this meme.

At the same time, these privilege lists are not a new idea – Barry Deutsch has compiled a list of these lists ranging from white privilege to non-trans privilege. Deutsch’s has also added his own take on this idea – the male privilege check list, which my fellow F Word blogger Louise has reminded me of this morning. (Number 14 – “my elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more this is true” – might be of particular interest to some of the commenters on Gracchi’s post earlier this week).

Feel free to experiment with these memes in the comments section.

London pro-choice protest tonight

by Jess McCabe     February 6, 2008 at 12:31 pm

Abortion Rights protest imageA quick reminder to London readers: Abortion Rights is calling for people to come out in force this evening, for a protest against efforts to restrict access to abortion and “as a proud public reminder that those who support a woman’s right to choose are in the overwhelming majority”.

The protest has been mobilised to counter Ann Widdecome’s ‘Not on your life…’ roadshow, which the Tory MP is dragging up and down the country to promote ‘pro-life’ amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill that would chip away at women’s rights.

Similar protests will take place when the roadshow hits Liverpool, Coventry and Cardiff – see the Abortion Rights website for more info. The group has also produced a detailed briefing on the bill’s progress through Parliament, and efforts to tack on anti-abortion amendments.

Here is a flyer with directions and more information.

This was cross-posted at The F Word

A new coalition on prostitution

by Jess McCabe     January 22, 2008 at 2:39 pm

A new coalition to put forward a feminist perspective against prostitution is to launch on Monday 11 February. The launch is a public event, with the invite extended to “all those who believe in real women’s-rights rather than men’s right to buy women”.

The meeting is at 6.30pm in the Amnesty UK Human Rights Action Centre in New Inn Yard, nearest tube Old St.

Of course, watchers of UK politics will be aware that the launch comes at a time when ministers are putting serious thought into a shake up the prostitution law along the lines of the Swedish model, to make the act of buying sex explicitly illegal – so women will not be charged for selling sex, but the men who buy their bodies will face prosecution. Today we learn that 52% of Britons agree with this approach and 65% agree that buying sex is an act with exploits women.

The Swedish government pioneered this legislation in 1999 and, although the move has not been without controversy, it has apparently produced a drop off in the number of prostitutes on the street, and perhaps on the numbers of women trafficked into the country.
continue reading… »

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