women's liberation

A dozen women filled the public gallery of Whittlesea City Council chamber on July 27 to oppose an ALP council back-down on the appointment of a part-time women’s policy officer.

The women were mostly part of the council-sponsored “Women Matter Two” network, which seeks to enhance women’s participation in public life and politics in Melbourne’s working-class, outer-north suburbs.

In June, council voted almost unanimously to set aside $50,000 in the council’s annual budget to create this part-time position: 2010 is the Year of Women in Local Government.

The Cairns Women’s Network (CNW) has endorsed a planned national day of action for abortion rights on October 9.

“We do not understand why a section of the Qld Criminal Code from 1899 is being used to bring charges against a young Cairns couple in 2010”, said Dr Carole Ford from the Cairns Women’s Network. “All people who respect a woman’s right to control her own fertility should support repeal of these archaic laws.”

Ford said the CNW was planning a peaceful vigil in Cairns beginning on October 11.

Myth: Public opinion on abortion is deeply divided

Australians support access to abortion — for three decades, opinion polls have consistently shown that most Australians support women’s right to choose and believe that forcing a woman to have an unwanted child is worse than allowing abortion.

Myth: The charges against the Cairns couple relate to drug importation or the fact they didn’t see a doctor.

Network of Women Students of Australia is an annual feminist student conference. This years conference was held in Newcastle from July 14-18 with the theme “intersections”. Eighty students attended.

Mish from sex-worker peak body Scarlet Alliance spoke about trans and sex worker rights. Rachel Evans spoke on behalf of Socialist Alliance about the same-sex marriage campaign.

The Council of Single Mothers and their Children (CSMC) has taken a stand, in solidarity with Indigenous single mothers in the Northern Territory, against the income management and Basics Card scheme. These policies were part of the NT intervention, rolled out across Aboriginal communities in 2007.

Legislation passed in the Senate on June 21 amended the Social Security Act to allow income management to also be applied to non-Aboriginal people, across the NT and then eventually across Australia.

The French Parliament, on the eve of Bastille Day, voted 335 to one in favour of preventing Muslim women wearing a full face-covering veil in public.

The July 13 Le Monde said the new law was strongly supported by the right. The gutless Socialist Party (PS), French Communist Party (PCF) and Green Party, while being “resolutely opposed” to the wearing of the niqab and the burka, abstained.

The PS’s big objection was that the legislation is a “gift for fundamentalists”.

Maybe. Mostly it’s a gift for every racist Islamophobe in Europe.

Pro-choice group Children by Choice has written to Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and two senior state ministers calling for a legislative review of the state's abortion laws, a move supported by the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties (QCCL), said the July 7 Courier-Mail.

However, Children by Choice spokesperson Cait Calcutt said all three leaders had replied that the government would not act, saying any change would be up to a private member's bill.

Step by Step: Women of East Timor, Stories of Resistance and Survival
Edited by Jude Conway
Charles Darwin University Press, 2010
241 pages, $44

Review by Niko Leka

The title of Step by Step refers to how the Timorese gained their independence. The steps are told through the firsthand narratives of 13 women who grew up in East Timor.

When they were born it was a Portuguese colony, which in 1975 was invaded and occupied by Indonesia. It achieved victory in the quarter century-long struggle for independence in 1999.

You have been reported in the media as preferring to be judged by your actions rather than as a woman.

I congratulate you! This is what all women want: to be judged on their merits not on the basis of gender.

An activist of “the second wave” of feminism, I have been fighting (along with my sisters) against sexism in the workplace and the broader community for more than 40 years.

Sex Work Matters: Power & Intimacy in the Sex Industry
by Melissa Hope Ditmore, Antonia Levy & Alys Willman
Zed Books

When sex workers speak it is often with anger, frustration or reproach.

This is because, more than any other group of workers, they have been defined, pathologised and moralised at by others.

Sex Work Matters was a labour of love that emerged from a conference of sex workers held in New York in 2006. The result is a collection of essays by sex workers, academics and people involved in providing services to sex workers.

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