Write on: Letters to the editor

Issue 

Prostitution

I welcome Ema C's call (Write On, GLW #615) for progressive groups to campaign to remove all forms of coercion from the sex industry and show solidarity with sex-workers' struggles. Sexual violence must never be tolerated. Sex workers, and, more specifically, prostitutes, are subjected to the crimes of rape and sexual assault at alarmingly high rates. In fact, recent research in Western Australia also revealed that a massive 50% of those attending the sexual assault referral centre had been sexually assaulted by police, further highlighting the urgent need for complete decriminalisation of this industry.

Ema C argues that by defining prostitution as "the sale (rental) of a woman's body", I reinforced a stereotype which allows such abuses as rape and assault by clients. The prostitution contract is for sexual services, and while Ema C is correct in pointing out that much campaigning and education has taken place to ensure that the terms of the commercial contract as set by the seller are understood and complied with by the purchaser, they often are not. Rape is about power not sex. And ultimately prostitution is about earning money, not sex. More than 75% of "voluntary" sex workers are doing this work for financial reasons only and would like to leave it. Many others state that if given a choice of similar earning capacity and work flexibility they too would leave the industry.

Another level of coercion is happening here, which decriminalisation alone won't fix. And capitalism is the ultimate pimp.

Lara Pullin
Canberra

Iraq

US strategy in Iraq has been to use elections to legitimise occupation and to pressure the EU and the UN to become involved.

For some time now, an argument has been promoted by an element in the peace movement that elections (Yankee sponsored) will restore democracy to Iraq. There is also an equally erroneous belief that armed resistance will only prolong the occupation — even though the US won't give a firm commitment for withdrawal.

In the trade union movement there has been hand-wringing and brow-beating by a select few because some unionists in Iraq have been killed at work. Sadly, it doesn't seem to occur to them that some people have been collaborating — by supplying goods and services to the invader. It should be remembered that a collaborator remains a collaborator, unionist or not.

For those shedding crocodile tears such as the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, eventually the penny may drop. Lenin was spot on about the potential of national struggles in colonial and semi-colonial countries to suck the marrow out of imperialism — this is precisely what is happening in Iraq today.

Understanding this doesn't require us to endorse the politics of every group engaged in the armed struggle but to embrace a united approach to ending occupation.

I'm sure that these people want to see the US defeated in Iraq as much I as do, but the way they have polarised the argument between those who were for the elections and those against, and their opposition to armed resistance has not been helpful. All of this is far too close to the dominant discourse in Washington, London and, closer to home, Canberra.

Finally, in the weeks and months ahead, the ideological offensive will intensify to portray the peace movement as anti-democratic supporters of terrorism. Self-determination is the key to democracy in Iraq. Let us continue to demand an end to the occupation.

Kevin Watkins
Belmont WA

Abortion

I liked your article "Abortion 'debate': Women must have the right to choose" (GLW #615). I hope you might consider using the example of Canada as a country with no abortion laws, to show your legislators that no abortion law or restriction is necessary, and that they all should be repealed. I have a PowerPoint presentation on just this subject, at <nolaw.ppt>.

If you would like any further information, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Joyce Arthur
Pro-Choice Action Network
Vancouver, Canada

Kyoto protocol

As the Kyoto greenhouse protocol comes into force, it is being criticised because it doesn't include China and India. But why should it? In 2002, China ranked 94th out of the 177 nations on the UN Human Development Index. India ranked 127th. Per capita carbon dioxide emissions in 2000 were 2.2 metric tons in China and 1.1 tons in India, compared with 18 tons in Australia and a global average of 3.8 tons. Aggregate emissions for China and India combined are lower than US pollution alone.

If all countries adjusted their emissions per head to Chinese or Indian levels there would be little, if any, need to worry about greenhouse gases.

Restricting economic growth in poor countries to limit emissions may well do more harm than good, but the reverse is probably true in rich nations. Kyoto has various flaws — including the special treatment it gave to Australia — but its focus on emissions in many wealthy countries, but not in underdeveloped nations, is correct.

Brent Howard
Rydalmere, NSW

British Army

In a face-saving exercise a British general has condemned abuse of prisoners in Iraq, even though the soldiers were trained in the art of "softening up". This is a first for the British Army in recent times.

In Northen Ireland, the same army has carried out systematic abuse of civilians, civilian prisoners and IRA prisoners for nearly 30 years. Far from being publicly condemned or charged and tried, the soldiers, e.g., Corporal Clegg have received the indulgence of the army and the courts.

Denis Kevans
Wentworth Falls, NSW

From Green Left Weekly, February 23, 2005.
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