women's liberation

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.

South Australian independent Bob Such announced on June 28 he would introduce a private member's bill into the state parliament that would, in effect, ban the wearing of the burqa or the niqab in banks and government buildings.

Such claimed his bill would not be discriminatory and would target any face covering where security might be a concern. However, all his public statements have specifically raised the burqa and its possible use in criminal activity.

Multicultural affairs minister Grace Portolesi said SA police have said they have no such concerns about the burqa.

Eighty people gathered at the State School Teachers Union offices in Perth for the Socialist Ideas Conference over the weekend of June 26-27. Speakers included Jeyakumar Devaraj, Socialist Party of Malaysia MP, and Richard Downs, spokesperson for the Alyawarr People's Walk-off in the Northern Territory.

On March 10 Veronnica Baxter, a 34-year-old Aboriginal woman from the Cunnamulla country, south-west Queensland, was arrested by Redfern police and held on remand. She dressed, appeared, and had identified as a woman for 15 years and was known by family and friends as a woman. Yet she was placed at the all-male NSW Silverwater Metropolitan Reception and Remand Centre. Six days later, after a 14-hour break between checking her cell, she was found dead, hanging in her single cell.

Breaking story (last updated June 25): Socialists and progressive trade union and social movement activists have reacted sceptically to the leadership change in the Australian Labor Party (ALP) federal government of Australia. Julia Gillard displaced Kevin Rudd as PM on June 24 after a surprise leadership challenge that came into the open the night before. She became the country's first woman PM. Wayne Swan replaced Gillard as deputy PM.

The Venezuelan National Assembly (NA) is considering a bill to decriminalise abortion, but only in restricted cases, the June 10 Ultimas Noticias reported.

It was one of the proposals of the committee for the rights of women in the NA. It is part of a raft of proposals to be considered in changes to a new penal code, to eliminate gender bias.

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