Stand up and be counted

// 26 July 2006

We’ve blogged many times in the last few months about the war that is being waged on American women’s right to have an abortion if she so chooses. In fact, the crisis is just getting worse, as the Senate has voted to criminalise transporting a minor over state lines to access an abortion. Most of the time, it feels like we can’t do much from this side of the pond.

In its first issue in 1972, before Roe vs Wade legalised abortion in the US, Ms Magazine put out its first issue, and 53 high profile women came forward and said in its pages that they had had an abortion.

Now, Ms has launched a new petition, and in an email Gloria Steinem is urging women to sign it. Either speak out about your abortion, or show your support for those of us who have had one:

It is time to speak out again – in even larger numbers – and to make politicians face their neighbors, influential movers and shakers, and yes, their own family members. We cannot, we must not – for U.S. women and the women of the world – lose the right to safe and accessible abortion or access to birth control.

Your name and your voice will make a difference.

Sign here (WARNING: It’s one of those annoying forms where you have to pretend your from a state, even though you’ve told the form you’re not from the US) Let’s hope it does some good!

On the same subject, Kai Ma over at AlterNet rubbishes the idea that men should be given a say in whether a woman they’ve got pregnant with has a termination or not because they will be financially liable for the child. There is, the writer points out, a difference between a womb and a wallet.

Meanwhile, here in the UK the Fawcett Society has published a report calling on public bodies to start preparing now for new legislation that will place a positive duty on them to promote gender equality.

In particular, the report addresses how the new law will affect the criminal justice system, which Fawcett says is “ignoring women’s different needs”.

Dr Katherine Rake, Director of the Fawcett Society said: "We still have a man-made justice system, designed by men for men. It fails to protect victims of rape and domestic violence, does not address the causes of women\x92s offending and has led to a doubling of the women\x92s prison population in the past ten years. The system also creates a glass ceiling for women working as police officers, lawyers or in other roles.

"There\x92s been some good progress in some areas in recent years, but the new gender equality duty should be a catalyst to transform the system to make it fairer to women and men."

Here’s hoping it works, ladies, because the system is in serious need of reform.

Fawcett also reminds us of the stark statistics:

  • Nearly half of women experience domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking
  • 5.29% of reported rapes end in conviction
  • Two women are killed by their current or former partners every week

    Six years after the Government was made to lift the ban on gay and lesbian people serving in the armed forced, the Ministry of Defence has been made to pay £850,000 to those who have been sacked because of their orientation.

    Doesn’t sound like a hell of a lot to me, or not split between the 24 men and women who have won their cases. A further 62 cases remain to be settled. We can thank the Lib Dems for dredging up these figures, the Independent reports.

    Unfortunatly, in the very same issue, the Independent managed to P me off with this headline:

    “Woman police chief urged to resign by her police authority”

    I eagerly read on, to see what about Maria Wallis’ failings as a police officer was down to her gender, but low and behold no information is forthcoming. Would the Independent write “Male police chief urged to resign”? No, it wouldn’t be news. Neither should this, or if it makes the papers it shouldn’t be because of the gender of the shoddy police chief involved.

    It’s a sad sign that senior police officers that happen to be female are still minority figureheads, whose success and failure is used to say something wider about the ability of the rest of the gender to do the same job.

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