Some on Politics and Some on Violence – themed round up

// 19 September 2008

In best Sesame Street styleee, this blog entry is brought to you by the themes politics and violence…..

First up, newly elected leader of the Kadima party in Israel, Tzipi Livni, has been challenged by right-wing opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu to hold a snap election. At the moment Livni has 40 days left to form a coalition government (which is usual in Israel due to the single transferable vote single constituency list system adopted there) to come the country’s second woman prime minister following Golda Meir in the 1970s. Officially Livni does not have to go to the polls until 2010. Livni is a former Mossad spy according to Yahoo! News although Wikipedia clarifies she worked for them for two years during the early 1980s before studying law. It is felt that Livni will continue the tentative peace process between Israel and Palestine.

Meanwhile Rwanda has just elected the first national parliament with more women then men. Women won 20 of the 53 general seats plus they have 24 non-party seats reserved only for women meaning they have at least 44 seats in the 80 seat partliament (and possible 45 as it is thought one of the two youth seats was also won by a female candidate). This puts them ahead of Sweden (47%) and Cuba (43.2%), exceeds the worldwide average of 18% and is well ahead of the UK’s 19.5%. However this is also to do with the demographic imbalance caused by genocide and emmigration as refugees.

Bellancilla Nyonawankusi, a Kigali official responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the voting, said women lawmakers carried a double burden. “The role of the elected females is double: they must on the one hand concern themselves with the implementation of government decisions, and on the other be a voice for the grassroots.All Rwandans have a role to play in the reconciliation, but women can do it better than men. They are the ones who were the first to be affected by the genocide and they are the ones who are bringing up the children,” she added.”

From Yahoo! News

Moving onto issues of violence, the UK has finally conceded in needs to sign up in full to the UN Convention on Children’s Rights. This would remove the current opt out on detaining juvenile asylum seekers and refugees without judicial review which currently means the “best interests of the child” rules doesn’t apply to immigrant children in the UK.

Sex Education ComicAlso on children’s issues, some people are complaining that the Family Planning Assocation has produced a cartoon-style sex education guide for six year olds. One man claimed:

“This is all part of an exercise to break down children’s inhibitions and natural sense of modesty.”

Obviously he hasn’t spent much time around six year olds where fart and poo jokes are also part of their “natural modesty”! The booklet is available to buy from the FPA and parents have the final say about whether their children will see it.

Meanwhile the UN is trying to reinvigorate work to eliminate violence against women following Ban-Ki Moon’s appeal in February of this year.

“Violence against women is an issue that cannot wait. A brief look at the statistics makes it clear. At least one out of every three women is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Through the practice of prenatal sex selection, countless others are denied the right even to exist. No country, no culture, no woman young or old is immune to this scourge. Far too often, the crimes go unpunished, the perpetrators walk free.

It is a campaign for the women and girls who have the right to live free of violence, today and in the future. It is a campaign to stop the untold cost that violence against women inflicts on all humankind.”

From UN

This week UNIFEM is taking testimony on gendered violence from survivors.

Comments From You

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 19 September 2008 at 11:15 am

Once again objections being raised in respect of FPA’s booklet on Sex Education ignores the normalisation and increasing acceptance of young girls being sexualised by the media and our culture. Girls and boys are constantly exposed to misogynstic sexualised messages by the media wherein girls are portrayed as sexualised objects not diverse human beings. It is very odd how opponents object to this very important and age relevant booklet yet consistently ignore how reduction of girls and young women to men’s sexualised commodities has a very negative effect on women’s and girls’ mental and physical well-being.

It is vital young girls and boys learn the facts about sex education in an age appropriate way, because if it is left until the child reaches the age of 8 then it is too late in many instances because cultural indoctrination will have taken effect. The APA Task Force on The Sexualisation of Girls produced in-depth research which showed how sexual commodification of girls and young women detrimentally affects all women and girls.

but this fact is conveniently ignored. Instead, opponents claim ‘children are innocent’ and in need of protection.

Laura // Posted 19 September 2008 at 5:37 pm

The whole idea that “children are innocent” when it comes to sexual activity and feelings is naive, in any case. I had sexual feelings from the age of at least 6 and I know I’m not the only one who engaged in physically pleasurable activities with my peers at a young age. The aim shouldn’t be to protect children’s “innocence” (so leaving them open to exploitation, STIs and unwanted pregnancy further along the line) but to ensure they are prepared to engage (or choose not to engage) in sexual activity – and deal with the challenges and issues surrounding sexuality – in an informed, safe and self-confident way.

The Voter // Posted 19 September 2008 at 11:01 pm

Get your facts right! Israel does NOT use the single transferable vote in any form to elect the members of the Knesset. Israel uses a national closed-list party-list system of proportional representation with a very low threshold, currently 2% of the votes nationally. See here.

So the likelihood of women being elected is determined by the parties – near the top of their party’s list and they might get a seat – well down the list, forget it.

Mrs. Boggins // Posted 20 September 2008 at 5:51 pm

I have always been for sex ed from an early age as I was an early developer – unusually, so I thought.

As a primary school teacher who has just moved down into the infants, I have had my eyes opened this week as I have repeatedly seen a girl ‘touching herself’ in class. I thought it was unusual, but having spoken to other teachers I find it is actually quite common.

I am teaching 5 year olds!

So – the sooner the better for sex ed really.

Louise Livesey // Posted 23 September 2008 at 10:37 am

Dear Voter, You are right and my apologies (that’ll teach me to write on the fly from rememberances of my A Level in Politics without rechecking my recollections).

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