Please help support “Esha” in prison on false charges of blasphemy

GO FUND ME

This is the text written by Rahila Gupta to raise funds for Esha’s legal expenses:

“Esha” a 24 year old woman has been cut off from the world in her prime and is languishing in a Pakistani prison for the last three years on false charges of blasphemy brought against her by her best friend after they had an argument. She stands accused of having torn pages from the Qur’an and having slept on them. Although there have been several hearings, her trial  is still pending  for a complex variety of reasons – one of them being that there have been five different judges, each fearing for his life.

She has no family to take an interest in her except for a dedicated young man, “Mo”, whom she met on a visit to court and who, on hearing her story and seeing her isolation, has been trying to support her. Blasphemy is a serious offence in a deeply religious country like Pakistan and punishable by death. Blasphemy laws have been used to persecute minorities like the Christians or to settle personal scores. Several prominent people have been killed  for supporting those accused of blasphemy. Only recently a Christian couple were burnt alive for allegedly desecrating the Qur’an. See links below.

“Mo” has gone into hiding after he  received death threats. He is unable to work now and therefore, unable to raise the kind of fees that are charged by lawyers. For this kind of case, the fees are extremely high because of the danger posed to anyone associated with it. This is why we cannot use their real names.

She is being sexually harassed by the superintendent of the prison. As she has rejected his advances, he has withdrawn all basic privileges such as medicines, visitors, even a  mattress to sleep on. She is locked up 24/7 in a cell that is not heated in the winter and not cooled in the summer when temperatures can reach a baking 45c! She has attempted suicide twice and her poor mental health is a cause of real worry. She has stomach ulcers, skin allergies and kidney problems as well.

“Esha” and “Mo” are completely trapped.  ‘Esha’ says ‘I have lost all faith in society. I have been cut off from life, from the world, from education. I have lost the will to live.’

Although it is vital to Esha’s mental health that she leaves  prison, if her bail hearing is successful, neither of them have any money even for rent or food. Mo’s own family feel he’s wasting his life and are threatening to cut him off.  He says, ‘I was 27 when I met Esha. I have spent all my life savings on her. My life is in danger from extremists and I have lost family, friends and peace of mind. Why am I doing this?’

This money will go towards Esha’s legal fees and associated expenses for a lawyer who is highly recommended. “Mo” is desperate to get the legal case on the road before “Esha’s” next attempt on her life.

Please donate as generously as you can.  The money will be used to pay legal fees and welfare costs.

GO FUND ME

The general election doesn’t matter – but only if you’re Russell Brand

Or, any other rich, white guy with a trust fund or 6 figure income or a banker or a footballer.

Russell Brand’s dismissive attitude to voting is well-documented. He’s also right in terms of the general election not having any real long-lasting, major changes to the lives of people living in the UK; or, those affected by policies enacted by the UK government and UK corporations overseas. No political party is advocating a radical shift in politics to end poverty.

Brand is completely wrong about the general election being irrelevant. He is a dilettante with a film to promote.

And, it is unbelievably obvious that Brand doesn’t understand the reality of poverty.

The general election is only irrelevant to Brand because he doesn’t depend on housing benefit to pay rent in a sub-standard council property full of mould; nor does he depend on child benefit to feed his kids. Brand isn’t dependent on public transport or under-funded schools. He’s never had to make the choice between feeding his children or paying the rent.

Brand doesn’t have to jump through several thousand hoops to get a pitiful disability living allowance in order to care for a child or the equally asinine hoops to get a personal independence payment (PIP) – some of which have taken more than a year to process. This assumes that people who are disabled will eventually get the financial support they require – many new claims have been denied forcing people into lengthy appeals processes, even when dying.

Brand isn’t forced into remaining in an abusive relationship because devastating cuts to women’s services mean that refuges are closing. Specialist services for BME women are experiencing even more drastic funding cuts. Even if women manage to leave the relationship safely (and the highest risk of extreme and fatal violence is after the relationship ends), the benefits system takes months to process claims pushing women further into poverty. Cuts to legal aid give women little access to justice and the “families need fathers” rhetoric ensures that violent men can use the family courts to continue abusing their former partners and children.

Brand is completely oblivious to the fact that many of the children living in poverty in the UK live with single mothers. They live in poverty because their fathers refuse to financially support them – preferring instead to waste thousands on legal fees avoiding payment rather than ensure their child has adequate clothing and food. Others hide their income and spend it on holidays or equally pointless shit whilst their children’s mothers go without food to buy their child a new pair of shoes.

There are no political parties currently committed to holding fathers financially responsible for their children – and it is almost always fathers who refuse to support their children – nor are any parties will to talk about this as a form of child abuse.

No party is fully committed to saving the NHS and I’ve yet to read a party manifesto which recognises the need for a non-judgmental benefits system that actually supports people instead of punishing them. Good quality social housing is in short supply – outdated heating systems forcing people into fuel poverty aren’t exactly an anomaly. The relationship between poor child health due to substandard housing and the destruction of the NHS is frequently ignored.

Rhetoric around migration remains deeply racist and lacks any concrete understanding of consequences of unfettered capitalism and ongoing colonialism.

Running about the high street in an anonymous mask isn’t going to make this reality understood.

A radical reform of capitalism is necessary, but a rich, white dude doesn’t live with the daily micro-aggressions and consequences of anti-migration, a dismantled welfare state, inadequate housing and a disappearing health care system. It is people living or caring for family members with disabilities, single mothers, pensioners, low-income families and migrants who do: they are being pushed further and further into poverty.

Best of the worst political parties is our only option right now. It’s not great by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s better than the worst of the worst. Voting for the Conservatives and UKIP will result in more people being forced into poverty. It will be followed by the entirely preventable deaths of people.

The SNP can curb Labour’s more asinine policies on migration, benefits, the NHS and Trident, and Labour can curb the SNP’s dependence on some of their more ‘colourful’ members who joined for nationalist reasons and who aren’t fully committed to the newer SNP policies, as well as challenging Scotland’s medieval land-owning regulations.

We need braver politicians and political parties who actually care about people living. We won’t get them by not bothering to vote.

Women are worse than men

This is an actual comment submitted by a man to my post on the hypocrisy of left-wing dudebros.

Far worse than the males you condemn are the women who are anti-choice. These women disgust me as I see them as a force for either back alley abortions and the death of so many women or the other alternative–mandatory motherhood.

Here you have it: women who oppose abortion are “far worse” than violent men who rape and kill.

A comment by a man actually proving the point of my post.

BEEM: We’re no longer allowed to talk about poor people in social housing because it hurts other people’s feelings.

BEEM is the umbrella group registered tenants associations in Edinburgh & Lothians, which forms part of the tenant participation strategy of  the Scottish Government. I hadn’t ever heard of  them before but they were offering free lunch to members. And, seriously, who turns down free lunch?

It was tedious.

Free lunch did not even remotely compensate for the tediousness, despite being excellent and involving cake.

The first two hours were presentations on why the Scottish government came to develop a national strategy on tenant participation and the achievements therein. The information was interesting but not what I had expected from the blurb in the email. I wanted more information on how BEEM could support local tenants’ organisations; not a history of Scottish government legislation.

There were lots of complaints about how few tenants organisations showed up to this meeting. But, it was on a Thursday. The fact that people in social housing might have actual jobs that they can’t take time off for free lunch events seemed to have been missed by a number of people paid to be there. And, we won’t even go into the issue of caring for children or family members with disabilities. That being a barrier to people (read women) participating seem to have missed everyone completely. Yes, there is some funding for childcare for these events but BEEM didn’t include any suggestion of potential childcare in their email invite. And, really, when was the last time a local authority paid for a carer so that a person (read woman) could attend these meetings safe in the knowledge that appropriate support had been covered for those they care for?

There was also no real discussion of literacy or language issues being a barrier to tenant participation in their community organisations, at the city, regional and national level. When I raised it, everyone pooh-poohed the suggestions saying that all Edinburgh council documents were available for translation. How this is meant to help people who are functionally illiterate went unanswered; as did my point that not everyone was comfortable accessing translation service via the council for numerous and valid reasons (and as someone who speaks English as a first language but with a ‘foreign’ accent, I can’t imagine how much patronising “support” those who speak English as a second language get from local employees. More than one has heard my accent and done the whole talking in a loud voice very slowly routine.)

The lack of recognition of just how severe these barriers can be for tenant participation was evidenced by an employee of a local housing association who thought that tenant at community level could be increased by holding meetings on evenings and weekends. My hand shot straight up in the air and I went straight through the “working/caring” commitment roll call. This was met by blinking.

The final note was a discussion on a desire for a major cultural shift to get people into renting properties rather than home owning. Because too many people equal social housing with poverty and that is just too embarrassing for some social housing tenants. After all, who wants to be poor? Granted, people who are poor don’t really get a choice in this but BEEM weren’t overly concerned with this somewhat large section of social housing tenants. There was no discussion of fact that places like Germany and Canada with huge rental markets also invest in pension funds negating the need to depend on a house to fund old age.

Personally, I’ve never understood the logic of home owning as a retirement fund. If your house is your investment for your old age, then surely you need to sell it when retired? Having no pension but a house you want to pass on to your children as an inheritance makes no financial sense to me. But, heh, I’m poor and will never own a home. so what the hell do I know?

It’s safe to say I scurried out as soon as it was over and won’t be going back. There may be a huge stigma attached to being poor and living in social housing in this country but that isn’t the fault of the people living in those conditions. It’s the fault of government policy, media coverage and people who think it’s more important to pretend that poor people don’t live in social housing . So that other people living in social housing don’t get their feelings hurt by having to recognise poverty in their neighbours.

Between this and the fucking appalling presentation by Police Scotland on internet safety for children this week, the revolution can’t come soon enough. And, I’m not having Police Scotland or BEEM along to mine.

We are not penguins. Cute and cuddly is not an excuse for genocide.

 

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This very brief article is doing the rounds of twitter today:

Ex-Nazi ‘bookkeeper of Auschwitz’ asks for ‘forgiveness’

Lueneburg (Germany) (AFP) – Former SS officer Oskar Groening, known as the “bookkeeper of Auschwitz”, admitted at his trial Tuesday to “moral guilt” over the mass murder at the death camp and asked for “forgiveness”.

“For me there’s no question that I share moral guilt,” the 93-year-old told the judges, admitting that he knew about the gassing of Jews.

“I ask for forgiveness,” he told the court, attended by Holocaust survivors. “You have to decide on my legal culpability.”

You’d think a fairly straightforward case of criminal liability for genocide, but no. Apparently, old people are cute and cuddly and therefore not liable for their actions:

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Narcissistic Father declares daughter property: internet decides her consent no longer exists

I flinch when I see babies in “Daddy’s little princess” pyjamas and girls in “Mummy’s Little Helper” t-shirts. I don’t think these kinds of clothing are cute. Mostly, they make me want to vomit.

This image takes the fucking cake though. In the category of “how well can you meld creepy narcissism with daughter as property”, it would totally blow away the competition. It’s the other side of those horrific purity/promise rings given by fathers, particularly in US sects of Christianity, to their daughters so they will always remember their “Daddy’s Little Princess”. The similarities to grooming practises by sexual predators is completely ignored.Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 09.04.30

It’s more than just the creepiness of labelling children possessions of the fathers. There is also the issue of consent.

I’ve deliberately removed the child’s face from the image because I believe it is unethical to share images of children without their consent – particularly when the image is used to humiliate. Yes, every other site has published her face but that doesn’t make it fair. Consent isn’t given via other people’s misuse of a child’s image.

Realistically, who wants to be known forever more as that girl from the Facebook meme with the creepy father? The one who warns away boys from her body with his six pack on her t-shirt? What about her right to privacy? Her right to live a life not defined by the actions of her father? The choice to be anonymous? This isn’t a child who is old enough to consent to her image being used. She’s not old enough to understand the full ramifications of having her image online.

Publicly humiliating your child in this manner isn’t good parenting. We need to stop sharing these images of children when we know that the only reason they are doing the rounds of Facebook is for people to laugh at.

 

 

Into the Woods: Could have been funny but ended up Mother-hating (Spoilers)

(spoilers)

Into the Woods is meant to be a modern twist on the traditional fairy tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel. Their stories are tied together by the Baker and his wife who cannot conceive a child due to a curse placed on their house by the witch next door. They need to find 4 items in three days to lift the curse: a cape as red as blood, corn-silk hair, a white as milk cow and a golden slipper.

This construction of the Baker and ‘his wife’ sets the scene for the whole film. The bumbling baker who can’t remember a simple set of instructions is the hero, whilst his possession-wife is brave, smart, funny, kind and dies. The baker gets everything he wanted in life: 3 children and a maid in Cinderella. His wife is killed. The idea that a ‘good’ family would be so desperate for a child that they would steal from another child is rather bizarre too. At least, the wife steals hair from Rapunzel. The baker, on the other hand, can’t steal from Little Red Riding Hood and returns her cape the moment he steals it. He earns the cape by killing the wolf.

I’m not a fan of the ‘women so desperate for a child they will do anything’ trope. The baker wants a child too but he isn’t punished for his failure to conceive – only his wife. His refusal to acknowledge his wife’s contributions to the marriage are not seen as flaws but the signs of a ‘good’ man.

The representation of women in the film is entirely sexist – all of them have serious character flaws. Little Red Riding Hood is so greedy she steals from the bakery AND eats the treats for her grandmother. Both her mother and grandmother are killed. The original curse on the witch was placed on her by her mother in punishment for failing to notice a thief. The witch curses her neighbours because she’s spiteful and hates her aged body. The original thief is the baker’s father who is forced into it by his pregnant wife (the father runs away but that’s because he’s sad not bad like the women). The witch steals Rapunzel to punish the mother. The baker’s wife dies because of her desire for a child. The woman giant is killed because she seeks justice for the theft of her property and the death of her husband (yes, the giant wants to eat Jack but Jack did steal from him first). Jack’s mother dies because she’s not very bright and thinks her son’s dim too.

Rapunzel and Cinderella are the only two women not ‘punished’ although Cinderella is sentenced to a life time of cleaning up after the baker and raising his children. Rapunzel goes off with the lesser of the two dim princes but without learning about her birth family. They are also not mothers and it is mothers who are classed as deserving of death.

Johnny Depp’s performance as the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood is the most ridiculous part of the film. It isn’t scary but rather creepy in the traditional sense. He stalks the young Red Riding Hood using words like lush. Granted, we know he wants to eat her but actually he appears at the sexual predator common in 80s stranger-danger messages for children. The sexualised imagery in this song is in complete contrast to a film that is obviously aimed at children. Beyond the distressing imagery of an adult man stalking a child with sexualised language, Depp’s performance is pretty much Jack Sparrow and his character from Dark Shadows all rolled into one. As much fun as Sparrow is, he’s already had 4 films – and Dark Shadows is a dreadful mess of drivel.

In contrast, the song ‘Agony’ performed by the two princes was a brilliant piece of satire:

It made them both look as pathetic, whiny and ridiculous as they are (and thank Gaia Cinderella dumped Charming’s arse).

What would have made this a true modern twist would be for the mothers to have survived and lived together. The baker punished for not recognising his wife as a person and Jack and Little Red Riding Hood held accountable for stealing without being killed. Even the witch reacted out of desperation and self-loathing. Her crimes are ones to be pitied. Instead, this is a film where mothers are punished for mothering.

Kate Middleton: Suffragette

Kate Middleton is officially our generations suffragette for the incredible action of wearing the same outfit twice. At least, according to Patsy Kensit.

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Image via 

#DickheadDetox: Owen Jones for Whining about not winning feminism

 

To be fair, there are lots of reasons why Owen Jones could be nominated for the #DickheadDetox : his recent inability to understand that lesbians are human too followed by his excruciating refusal to recognise that watching pornography at work isn’t acceptable for anyone, including middle aged white dudes – or, that a judge who claims to be so stressed they need to wank at work shouldn’t be a judge. I’ve yet to see A&E staff argue for their right to wank at work due to ‘stress’, but, hey, they usually aren’t middle aged white dudes.

I’ve added Jones for whining about not ‘winning’ feminism in response to challenges from anti-pornography feminists. Cus, there is no evidence of male entitlement in a dude who insists on ‘winning’ an argument with women. None whatsoever.

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Owen Jones is just another misogynistic, left-wing right-on dudebro.

Second wave feminism and racism

Erasing women of colour from their participation in the second wave feminist movement is racism.

Claiming racism didn’t exist in second wave feminism is racism.

It is entirely possible for both statements to be accurate. Claiming that one is true and the other is not is also racism.