Write On: Letters to the editor

Burqa or sexual display?

Ema Corro's article (GLW #761) and the letters about it (Luke Vanni, GLW #763, Margarita Windisch, GLW #764) all contain valid points. We think that, while legislation plays a very effective role in certain arenas (employment, education, finance, etc.), it's on much shakier ground when attempting to control what women wear. In the current political climate, the likely result is only increased resentment and opposition felt by some Muslims towards the West.

We would rather see women themselves, as a group, internationally, deal with this issue by consciousness-raising. But before that can happen in the West, we really do have to clean up our own act. At present, when many Western women still seem to feel the need to present themselves in low-cut tops, short skirts, tight clothing, stilettos, etc. — an alternative hardly likely to encourage a Muslim woman to discard her burqa — the West simply does not have the moral ground.

There are thus two ridiculous extremes: on the one hand, women totally concealing their bodies under a burqa, as if visually obliterating themselves from society, and on the other, women deliberately displaying their bodies in a sexually oriented way to anyone and everyone. Both are degrading.

And it's just not good enough to continually blame capitalism/men/governments, etc. These are all relevant of course, but no revolution was ever made by the rulers; it has to be the underdogs, the exploited, who finally understand what's really happening, and refuse to continue with behaviour that demeans them but favours those in power.

This persistent (perhaps convenient) notion that "it's them who do it to us", which sidesteps any self-criticism — any examination of how women themselves contribute to their own degradation — must be addressed. Currently we're not even at first base because how Western women present themselves is largely not seen as a problem.

Anne Horan

Blackheath, NSW & Alison Bird

Yungaburra, Qld.

TAFE fees

#letter = I am appalled at the Victorian Government's decision to introduce HECS into TAFEs throughout the state. Adding a HECS-style fee structure to courses will greatly disadvantage people wanting to pursue formal qualifications, thus further reducing the skills shortage of Victoria.

The addition of a HECS-style fee structure will put people in low-income situations off from seeking possible avenues to improve themselves. The decision by the government to remove the already low fees of TAFE students on low incomes and put in place a higher fee structure, which is pitted
against the private sector, does not make sense when we think of the social welfare of lower-income students.

The only benefit is to the business sector which will gain in terms of competition and profit. Many people in our community will become adversely affected as profit takes a first priority. Choice and ability to explore different modes of education, subject context in TAFEs will become almost extinct as profit will weed out subjects that do not bring in big money for the TAFE infrastructure.

How can the basic need to educate all Victorians play second fiddle to profit? We need to say no to this proposal by the Victorian Government to introduce HECS into TAFEs. It will lead to a poorer education system for all Victorians. It will have the opposite effect on already struggling low-income earners to undertake study at TAFE.

@letter auth = Xiaoli Ma

[via email]