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A letter to our friends in Rojava:

As feminists living across the island of Ireland, we wish to express our heartfelt solidarity with our courageous sisters and comrades in Rojava as their project for women’s freedom is under attack. Please know that as the fascist Turkish state attempts to isolate, dispossess and brutalise the communities of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, they will only serve to strengthen our collective resistance and resolve.

 

You stood with us as we fought to repeal the 8th Amendment. You visited us in Ireland and generously shared your knowledge so we could learn from your struggles and victories. You invited and warmly welcomed us into your communities, demonstrating how a feminist society could be organised in practice, something we had only previously imagined.

 

Let us be unequivocal, an attack on the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria is an attack on women’s rights, on feminist organising and on ways of organising society that prioritise ecology, community and humanity over profit. Your woman-led political movement offers a feminist alternative to global capitalism, with its gender-balanced decision-making system, and the centring of women’s liberation in this unprecedented democratic project.

 

Erdoğan and the Turkish state are threatened by the democratic values of Rojava, by its empowered women and its commitment to equality.  These attacks in the name of establishing a ‘safe zone’ are no more than an attack to drive out our friends and comrades from the region, to smash the democratic project and to put an end to women’s liberation.

 

The creation of a so-called ‘safe zone’ also serves the purpose of deporting thousands of Syrian asylum seekers residing in Turkey. They will be brought back to Syria under the strengthened rule of Bashar al Assad, a war criminal, in spite of the fact that they fled from it in the first place. The invasion of Rojava and the full reinstatement of al Assad’s power over Syria and its diverse population are two sides of the same coin, which contemplates the return to an authoritarian stability that can stop the movement of people (so much desired by the fortress Europe), achieved at the price of slaughtering civilians and destroying emancipatory political experiences.

 

We draw inspiration from your courage and your strength and will come out onto our streets to raise our voices in solidarity with you and to fight fascism, our common enemy.

 

 

We call on feminists across the globe to join us in supporting our sisters, friends, comrades. Organise, march, shout, fight and rise up for Rojava.

 

Jin, jiyan, azadi! Ní Saoirse go Saoirse na mBan

 

Theresa O’Keefe

Farah Azadi

Juliana Sassi

Wendy Lyon

Paola Rivetti

Aileen O’Carroll

Helen Guinane

Jen Doh

Caoimhe Butterly

Eve Campbell

Hilary Darcy

Stephanie Lord

Sinéad Redmond

Emily Waszak

Aoife Frances

Mary McAuliffe

JA Valois

Maggie ONeill

Linda Connolly

Ursula Ní Shionnain

Suzanne Leen

Sharron A. FitzGerald

Mx Brody Hodgins

Jane Xavier

Paula Geraghty

Melanie McArdle

Dervla O’Neill

Caroline Forde

Ciara Fitzpatrick

Susan Miner

Alanna O Neill

Julia Crowe

Lauren Foley

Heather Ferguson

Joanne Lynam

Emer Smith

Shannon Patterson

Natasha Finnerty

Margaret Ward

Claire McGinley

Nicoletta Mandolini

Clara Purcell

Clare O Connor

Lisa Keogh Finnegan

Tracey Ryan

Anne Mulhall

Maire Ni Mhordha

Eilís Ní Fhlannagáin

Sinead Pembroke

Leticia Ortega

Dyuti Chakravarty

Beth O’Neill

Niamh McDonald

Linda Kavanagh

Antoinette Murphy

Leness Falls

Yvie Murphy

Elaine D’Alton

Maggie Feeley

Siobhán Nic Fhloinn

Becca Bor

Lisa Basire

Xavier Beardwood

Anita Villa

Layla Kuyper

Marie Mulholland

Caroline Kuyper

Marie Moran

Céile Varley

Sharon L Mc Menamin

Muuka Gwaba

Anne McLean

Katharina Swirak

Jacqueline O’Toole

Antonella Garofalo

Brigid Quilligan

Ann O Sullivan

Cat Inglis

Breige Ann McCaughley

Maria Perkins

Sian Cowman

Vivienne Daly

Samantha Kenny

Louise Inglis

Ciara Miller Johnston

Keeva Lilith Carroll

Martine Jackson

Heather McPolin

Ruby Moss

Stacy Wrenn

Tara Ní Dhuinn

Emma Hendrick

Jacqueline Johnston

Sarah Walsh

Breanainn Quinn

Ilaina Khairulzaman

Ina Doyle

Michelle Brown

Alex Ronan

Marianne Farrelly

Joanne McDonald

Georgina O’Halloran

Audrey Fergus

Sarah Shiel

Martina Ferrari

Emma Wallace

Elaine Crory

Becky Indigo Farrell

Cliona Kelly

Goretti Horgan

Bec Fahy

Elaine Mernagh

Melíosa Bracken

Francisca Ribeiro

Kate o keeffe

Joanne Dennehy

Aoife McLean

Mags Glennon

Syd Delz

Carly Bailey

Mairead Enright

Jess Lynch

SaoirseJohnston

Judy Walsh

Aislinn Wallace

Erika Csibi

Stacey Grant-Canham

Laura Ryan

Louisa Moss

Kellie Sweeney

Kerry Guinan

Aisling Corbett

Jane Robb

Sian Cowman

Ingrid Seim

Polly Molotov

Ciara Crawford

Karen Carson

Gillian Brien

Karen Carson

orlagh nic suibhne

Catherine Clarke

Liz Kelly

Irene Doval Marcos

Maryanne Daly

Rose Mullen

Tracy Wall

Maggie Bent

Louise Delz

Bronwen Lang

Rosa Thompson

Edel Quirke

Milena Barnes

Corinne O’Neill

Grainne Griffin

Joanna Schaffalitzky

Aimee Doyle

Cate Dillon

Jennifer Larke

Kalianne Farren

Maebh Murphy

H Oakes

Emma Beuster

Ciara Beuster

Kate Ware

Natalia  R Fedz

Felicity Rawson

Layla Wade

Jene Hinds

Laura J Acha

Niamh P. Keoghan

Lisa Whelan

فرح مخترعيزاده

Cora Quigley

Kellie O’Dowd

Amy walsh

Yasmin O’Connor

Aoife Crowe

Laura McVeigh

Joanna McMinn

Suzanne Dunne

Anne Ralph

Bernie Hughes

Ashley Keenan

Lisa dunne

April Keane

Ann Gerety Smyth

Karen Till

Divya Ravikumar

Jacinta Fay

Caoimhe Doyle

Emma Walsh-Hackett

Tricia Nugent

Natasha Lambert

Anna Higgins

Sorcha Szczerbiak

Alice Chau

Vicky Conway

K McKinney

Sinéad Williams

Ramona Parkes

Charlotte Fassbender

Lorna O’Hara

Niamh Casey

Layla Wade

Rebek’ah McKinney-Perry

Kitty Colbert

Alexandra Day

Síona Cahill

Gen Smith

Heike Stone

Aisling Ní Fhrighil

Aoife hammond

Karen Hammond

Eimear Nic Roibeaird

Mary McDermott

Ellen Murphy

Sarah Elaine McHugh

Niamh Murtagh

Rebecca murphy

Joni Kelly

Bríd Collins

Annie Hoey

Kate Butler

Marie Sherlock

Katie Noone

Ber Grogan

Aisling Cusack

Emma Challacombe

Kerry O’Donnell

Meaghan Carmody

Janet O’Sullivan

Patricia Magee

Gillian Kearns

Éinne Ó Cathasaigh

Claire Brennan

Muireann O’Sullivan

dervla o’malley

Freyja Bourke

Sarah Cassidy

Soma Gregory

Lucy Michael

Deirbhile Brennan

Margo Harkin

Caroline McCormack

Deirdre O’Shea

Liadh Ni Faogain

Yasmary Perdomo Rodriguez

Hayley Fox-Roberts

Pamela Rochford

Clare mccann

Barbara Western

Rebekka K. Steg

Evelyn Campbell

Mariel Whelan

Nicola grant

Dairíona Ní Mhuirí

Taryn de Vere

Yurika Higashikawa

Sallyann Green-Millar

Deb Crawley

Bernadette Hughes

Vikkie Patterson

Trish Hegarty

Katie Harrington

Helen O’Sullivan

Leona Mc Mahon

Rosanna O Keeffe

Angela Coraccio

Helen Stonehouse

Emma Allen

Karen Dempsey

Carola Speth

Aisling Mathews

Catherine Stocker

Jennifer Schweppe

Debbie Hutchinson

Anna McMahon

Rebecca Heslin

Sinéad Ring

Tríona Reid

Loretta J frehill

Aine O’Gorman

Kate Dineen

Amy Kelly

Sharon Pickering

Kelley O’Hanlon

Deidre colgan

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne

Grace Harrison

Phyllis Verschoyle

Emma Dowling

Roisin Blade
Keeva Farrelly
Eve Campbell
Aoife Dermody
Kylie Jarrett
Emily Duffy
Emma Campbell
Helen Crickard
Sevinç Karaca
Leanne Doyle
Jane Ruffino
Wim Hendrix
Emer McHugh
Emilia Burgio
Rachelle Howell
Emma O’Brien
Paula Dennan
Aisling Walsh
Melanie Drumm
Michelle Woods
Lynsey Farrell
Sorcha Fox
Tara Folds
Shauna Stanley
Leah Doherty
Julie Daly
Sarah Holland
Vicky Langan
Katherine O’Keefe
Alber Saborío
Fiadh Punch
Mary Landis
Conorayne
Cathie Shiels
Sonia Balagopalan
Anne Kane, Associate Professor of Sociology
Zoë Lawlor
Natalia Kunachowicz
Lennita Oliveira Ruggi
Bernadette Jennings
Irma Bochorishvili
Oana Marian
Yasmary Perdomo Rodriguez
Anne Marie Kelly
Olga Murphy
Jade Lydon
Aideen Farrell
Eve Cobain
Renata Kempf
Elaine waldock
Kelly Doolin
Avril Corroon
Ashling Cronin
Carol Ballantine
begoña landa
Anastasia Ryan
V’cenza Cirefice
Julie Maher
Tara Flynn
Claire Brophy
Aoife O’Neill
Sharon Boggans Stich
Bernadette A D’Arcy
Gemma Kearney
Eimear Tester
Karin O’Sullivan
Amy Aylmer
Megan Whittington
Sophie Dalton
Jamie Canavan
Eimear O’Neill
Ruth Patten
Livia Hekanaho
Aoife Stephens
Becky Leacy
Caoimhe Ní Néill
Jessica Reid
Lisa Carey
Danielle Lavigne
Eimear Hawthorne
Aisling Murphy
Sandra Fay
Darwesh Obeid
Phyllis Murphy
Jo Parsons
Linda Hayden
Denise C
Kristine Wahl
Kate O’Hara
Aoife Mallon
Rebecca Gorman
Raven Neill
Becci Jeffers
Lisa Breslin
Shivani Jain
Natalie Conroy
Jane Clare
Mo Ludwig
Mary McGill
Jemma McCallum
Dionne Roberts
Dr Sindy Joyce
Naomi English
Charlene Delaney
Caroline Ryan
Elaine Hanson
Joan O’Connell
Suzan Günbay
Sonja Rohan
Kim O’Driscoll
Amy Ní Mhurchú
Lorna Johnson
Stefania Oggioni
Melanie Drumm
Jamie Drumm
Amelia Feery
Hollie Feery
Clare Bell
Ash Hayes
Alacoque
Joan Humphreys
Niamh Webbley-O’Gorman
Katie O’Hara
Mary Connell
Eadaoin de Faoite
Roseanne Doran
Lora O’Brien
Jean Alfred
Vanessa Moore
Grainne
Zoë Lawlor
Vicki Loughran
Aoife Butler
Eanna Finnen
Tara Robinson
Mary Palmer
Ciara hendrick
Marese Hegarty
Siobhán Cawley
Rohan Swamy
Sandra Ní Dhubhthaigh
Zoë Lawlor
Jenny Oreilly
Sian Ní Mhuirí
Aoife FitzGibbon O’Riordan
Gabriela Burnett
Aoife Dermody
Duana mcardle
Dorcy Mac An Fháilí
Sharon Nolan
Nafisah Azeem
Keeva Farrelly
Isabel Rubio
Fiona Lynam
Julie Gleeson
Áine White
Amelia Feery
Hollie Feery
Paula Flanagan
Martha Dalton
Aoileann Conway
Joanna Thompson
Ciara May Boud-Keegan
Nikki O’Malley
Doris Murphy
Vicky Donnelly
Niamh McCrea
Ciara Browne
Amel Yacef
Eugenia Siapera
Ailis Ni Chofaigh
Mo Mansfield
Aedín O’Cuill
Kate Kenny
Aoife Kirk
Stephanie Fleming
Joanne Neary
Emma Brännlund
Sinead Corcoran
Joanne Byrne
Miriam Needham
Lola Gonzalez
Anna Carnegie
Maria Johanna Heschl
Alexandra Soares
Stacey Scriver
Debbie O Rourke
Shauna Markey
Beth Hayden
Jenny Carla Moran
Liath James

Groups and Organisations:

Need Abortion Ireland

Strike 4 Repeal

MERJ – Migrants and Ethnic-minorities for Reproductive Justice

Parents for Choice

Kildare Feminist Network

Fingal Feminist Network

Dundalk for Change

Queer Action Ireland

Reclaim the Agenda

Alliance for Choice Belfast
London Irish Feminist Collective
Dublin south west housing action

ARC Offaly
Galway Feminist Collective

Queer Diaspora Ireland

Feminist/Queer Discussion Group – NUI Galway

 

To add your name please go to https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSejUIr6m4tmm50_Vt8BpkohTKPsQR4A8DBetI3FeGL6s63YtA/viewform

Emergence of ‘Legal Issues’ wrt. Shannon Key West Hotel

Press release from Leitrim and Roscommon United against Racism, guest published on Feminist Ire

 

23rd Feb 2019

 

Leitrim and Roscommon United against Racism regret the manner in which the sudden emergence of ‘legal issues’ around the use of the Shannon Key West Hotel  as a DP centre gives an impression that the state has bowed down in the face of a spate of racist arson attacks.

 

We feel for the eighty people waiting somewhere in Dublin in a holding centre waiting for placement who now have nowhere to go. They are the most vulnerable people in this whole situation. They are not just numbers.

 

We believe they should now be housed in communities in this general area in the empty housing stock we see all around us – and be allowed work while they await the outcome of their applications for asylum.

 

We hope that a proper dialogue will now take place between citizens, agencies, communities, campaigners, public representatives and churches in this area on this and the related issues. We hope that outside influences attempting to fuel racist sentiment off the back of this situation are excluded from this dialogue.

 

We believe the Direct Provision system is fundamentally an oppressive system and we were glad to hear a local councillor quoted in the Irish Times yesterday describing it as such. We believe it must be dismantled and those in the system be given the right to live and work in our communities. It is a carceral system and an increasingly ugly stain on our society and communities.

 

 

Feminist Solidarity: cis and trans people will not be divided! (Re-blog)

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Solidarity with British feminists fighting back against the scourge of transphobia in the UK women’s movement.

Feminist Solidarity: cis and trans people will not be divided!

We are a group of feminists, many of whom identify as lesbian or whose politics were influenced by lesbian culture. We are cisgender, we are non-binary and we are trans. All of us are active in the arts, community organising, the media and education. We have all benefited from the deep analysis, radical lifestyle and astonishing bravery of the lesbian feminists who came before us – actions that we understood to be about dismantling the patriarchy, liberating all women from gendered oppression and re-imagining the future.

Therefore, we were dismayed to see Pride in London being hijacked by a fringe group determined to divide the LGBTQIA+ community along the issue of trans rights, particularly rights for trans women, and arguing that the struggle for such rights erases cisgender lesbians.

This cannot stand.

We re-state our support for trans people everywhere. Transitioning in a transphobic society is a brave – sometimes…

View original post 1,091 more words

Trans Rights and Healthcare are on a Precipice

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This piece comes from an anonymous contributor, a comrade of the writers of Feminist Ire, speaking out at a crisis point in trans healthcare in Ireland from the perspective of a trans woman. 

I’m currently writing with feelings of anger, sadness and frustration at two powerful elements within Irish society that seem intent on further damaging the health and well being as well as perpetuating the overwhelming stigmatisation of trans people in this country. When we peel back the surface and uncover the plight of Trans people this ultimately and all too often reveals itself in violence, disenfranchisement, poverty, rape, self harm and suicide. It’s often highlighted in discussion around trans topics, the terrible statistics of self harm and suicide when it comes to the trans community for example. To reference some headline figures a study by the Transgender Equality Network of Ireland in 2012 shows that 78% of trans people have had thoughts of suicide, 40% have attempted and 6% have attempted five or more times! Self harm is not much better with 44% of trans people reporting that they have self harmed at some stage in their lives with 6% actively currently self harming. Unfortunately this very plight of trans people which should be an impetus to drastically improve the standards of care for a vulnerable and suffering minority is often used as a stick to beat us with.

These heartbreaking statistics are a reflection of a wider societal issue, that of the systematic oppression of trans minorities where a binarist, cisnormative, patriarchal society violently attacks in both it’s messaging, actions and structures, every aspect of trans people’s public and private lives as we fight to exist openly and authentically and navigate within it. The statistics quoted above are a snapshot taken three years before marriage equality and legal gender recognition had passed and at an earlier stage in a sizemic cultural shift currently taking place on this island, which has seen a new generation of progressive and radicalised citizens and residents pushing through sweeping social reforms and resisting privatisation through grassroots activism in a country still dogged by it’s colonial and theocratic past. Indeed this aspect of Irish culture and the potential it envokes in shaping our society in the near future makes this Island a pretty good place to be trans comparatively, albeit coming from a very low base. The presence of a strong grassroots, intersectional and women led network of activists has helped to stave off much or the recindance of trans rights that can be seen happening within our two giant anglophile neighbours. To our left we have bathroom ‘debates’ and the dismantling of legal protections along with scores of murdered trans people, excused through panic defense. To our right we have the potential of a depathologised legal recognition for trans and intersex people being attacked, alongside numerous cases of trans women sent to their deaths in male prisons.

However despite this somewhat favourable environment, there remains two large and prescient threats to the progress of trans liberation in Ireland. Namely, a couple of chiefs based within one hospital in south Dublin who seem intent on limiting access to health-care and perpetuating an outmoded and dangerous conservative pathological ideology, discouraging people from transitioning where possible, refusing to listen to the increasingly angry and desperate voices of the trans community, refusing to implement international best practice when it comes to trans health care, criticizing us for demanding such health-care and proportioning partial blame on the healthcare demands of the trans community for the regrets of a small number of detransitioners all the while conflating their situation with the desperate mental health situation alluded to above. Thier prejucicial elitist practices are resultingly working to conserve the violent patriarchal transmysogonist aspects of a society that kills us and in order to do this these dinosaurs are allying themselves with traditional media to spread this destructive message and shore up their status as Ireland’s premier gatekeepers. This is a high risk strategy and very dangerous to the health and wellbeing of trans people, the same people they proport to care for.

The media narrative in Ireland in relation to trans people is currently being pulled in two destructive and harmful directions. On the one side there is an old school and elitist club, most prominent within the broadcast and ‘newspaper of record’ realms that projects a veneer of liberalism, but in reality paints over the cracks of a declining conservative, ignorant and voyeuristic mindset influenced by the ‘medical oddity’ genre of pseudo scientific transexual documentaries of the 90s to early 00s emanating from either side of the pond. The impact of this club’s influence can partially be evidenced in the cautious language reflected in the recent together for yes campaign which amongst other things erased the effect that the eighth ammendment had on trans and intersex people in much of its messaging in the penultimate weeks of the official referrendum campaign.

While many trans people who worked hard to secure a yes outcome and their grassroots allies were prepared to begrudgingly go along with this messaging to secure a victory by not actively speaking out, a hurt and resentment remains that has spilled out in potentially destructive ways. A statement from anonymous members of the trans community demanded an apology from together for yes literally hours after the results were declared. This resulted in an unintentional indirect attack on the grassroots, who are made up of pragmatic trans people and their allies and threw trans women and femmes to the TERFs. The downplaying of the intersection of trans and intersex people in relation to the 8th has also resulted in gendered language in the headings of the prospective legislation which, if not rectified could potentially leave trans and intersex people with uteruses still unable to access abortion healthcare in Ireland. Thankfully there seems a concensus around rectifying this situation but this should never have arisen in the first place.

On the other side there is a red top brigade that on the one hand is perfectly content to sensationalize, hypersexualize and dehumanise the trans experience to titillate and incense their diminishing white cis-hetero audience. They are in turn being pushed into even more dangerous territory by their sister publications in the UK that are largely owned by an increasingly centralised right wing conservative and billionaire class, who by co-opting the language of feminism and fueled by evangelicals are giving voice to their willing lackeys in the form of a loud minority of middle class TERFs who are ramping up their attacks on trans people. This tactic compliments their agenda of dividing people into competing groups and hierarchies to distract from intensifying inequality, debt and economic stagnation caused by their economic plunder. Although making inroads into online spaces where increasingly their once captive audiences have deserted to, their impact on these realms on the mindset of people living in Ireland remains limited. That being said it’s this cohort of nasties that have the potential to derail impending legislation that should increase the ease of legal transition for trans people in Ireland and regognise non binary and intersex identites. Hopefully the former cloak offered by the marriage equality results and resulting legislation while the original gender recognition bill was passed will again be offered by the success of the repeal campaign.

The results of this unholy alliance between the chiefs and the dieing media, aside from the problems stated above is that healthcare in Ireland for trans people is in a dangerous and delicate impass. The chiefs want to model the recent and welcome investment in trans healthcare in their own image, to preserve the status quo and bolster their own professions albeit with shorter waiting times. Trans people as individuals are a small disparate and oppressed minority with limited voice, resources and energy fighting for a depathologised and informed consent model that is on demand and without apology. We are at the mercy of the chiefs despite a favourable cultural environment, despite support from politicians, and even tacid support from the health service.

What we’ve currently been able to muster in terms of advocating for health care is a small and problematic campaigning group centered around inexperienced trans-masc indivituals who are currently on the outside of the health system. They speak out loudly and attempt mass protests for healthcare. They have uncovered the sinister ideology begind the masks of the chiefs but they tone police their own community members who wish to speak out at protests, disengage with non-binary ‘trouble makers’ online and sit in meetings with the likes of Joan Burton and celebrate it. Of special note however is the emergence of Radical Queers Resist, a broader queer alliance who came to light during the refferendum campaign by largely nullifying the effects of the most grotesque forced-birther group in the form of the ICBR. This group offers the potential of offering an effective avenue for the campaigning elements of the trans liberation movement going forward.

Meanwhile non profit organisations working largely within the system with limited clout, work desperately behind the scenes despite stretched resources and limited funding pools. They are, as the system dictates heavily funded by the very organisations they are advocating towards. They can not speak out for fear that the chiefs in a strop, stop treating half of the countrys trans patients within the health system overnight. The only solution is the mobilisation of the existing wider grassroots movement of allies. This has the potential to effect change in our favour but it must be built upon a greater understanding of our predicament and the sharing of experience and resources. This can be realised through the amplification of our voices through the correct use of it’s inherant privelege.

In the meantime waiting lists continue to lenghten causing massive mental strife. Trans people continue to be subjected to invasive and unnecessary psychological and psychiatric assessment based on outmoded and offensive criteria, being actively discouraged in their hormonal and medical transitions and twarted at every stage. Non-binary people have to lie and pretend not to exist in order to access the same treatment as their binary counterparts, access to counselling and non-patholigising forms of mental health care is sparse to non existant albeit linked with the wider defunding of mental health. Recieving hormone replacement therapy for already transitioned individuals from GPs on a parity with their cisgender counterperts is almost impossible. Autistic people and those with other and often linked mental health problems such as PTSD are not deemed to be ‘true transgender’, expensive treatments deemed cosmetic because they don’t conform to the male gaze of medical practitioners rather than seen as alleviating the distress of dysphoria remain out of reach and patients are forced to travel abroad for intensive operations with limited aftercare and financial support. The potential outcomes of this impasse will have a greater threat to the lives of trans people than the unfortunate decisions and regrets of a minority of detransitioners currently being used as false equivalencies to preserve the status of the chiefs.

 

Vote Yes, for those who can’t

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Guest post by Magda Jasinka of Dziewuchy Dziewuchom Irlandia

I guess I am coming somewhat late into the “game” but I couldn’t quite figure out how I could have my voice heard on the 25th May. I am living in Ireland and unfortunately don’t have the privilege of voting in matters that quite frankly could one day affect me and thouseands of others. I’ve decided therefore to share with you this little piece of my mind in aid of the Together for Yes campaign and also and very much so in hope that it might change someone’s mind to vote YES or to vote at all.

After making the decision to come to Ireland which was influenced almost entirely by some sort of a “promise” of a better life and more possibilities to succeed in many different aspects of life that have become important to me throughout those years. Being only 19 and feeling that my own country has somehow failed me and betrayed me I found comfort and a shelter in Ireland which in years to come I would call my home. I do however feel that much like where I am from, the 8th amendment has failed so many women and for this I am resentful. I can’t understand why someone would vote NO as somehow they cannot see that their vote is causing another woman’s trauma. I also can’t understand  that for some reason people think they have the right to take away a woman’s choice concerning her own body. I hate the fact that I’d have more bodily autonomy after my death as I’d have a choice to become an organ donor than I would have now if I became pregnant.

What I do find most outrageous as a female is the uncertainty yet predictable nature of the faith of offenders who by inflicting life threatening wounds to a pregnant woman can potentially get away with murder, quite literally actually as they most likely would face a manslaughter rather than a murder charge. Murder occurs if a person intended to kill, or cause serious injury to another PERSON, who dies as a result and whilst a scenario involving a death of a foetus by injuries caused by another person has not yet been heard by the Irish courts, the British case of AG’s Reference (No. 3 of 1994) [1997] 3 WLR 421 would become a valid precedence for the Irish courts in such circumstances. In AG’s Reference (No. 3 of 1994), a boyfriend (B) stabbed his girlfriend (G), who then prematurely gave birth to the child (S). S was injured by the stab wounds inflicted upon him by B and died after 121 days after being prematurely born. It was held that B could not be convicted of murder as he could physically not form an intention to kill or seriously injure S. The House of Lords stated that “until she had been born alive and acquired a separate existence, she could not be the victim of homicide”. The common law jurisprudence would suggests that only an independently living, self-sufficient human being can become a victim of murder and there is no authority in any common law jurisdiction to suggest that a foetus is considered an independently living and self-sufficient human being. In a further attempt to secure the murder charge, the prosecution tried to apply the doctrine of transferred malice which states that when the intention to harm one individual inadvertently causes another person to be hurt instead, the perpetrator is still held responsible for his acts. However in AG’s Reference (No. 3 of 1994) the House of Lords held that to transfer the malice directed at foetus initially and then hypothetically from a foetus to a born child with legal personality was described as legally too far to support a murder charge against B. As such, B was charged and convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 7 years in prison. To put it into perspective a woman who is found guilty of the offence of intentionally destroying unborn human life under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 will face up to 14 years in prison. Where is the justice here?

I guess what I would really like is for someone to read this and choose to trust women and protect life that the 8th Amendment has failed to do.

 

Open letter to Judge McMahon on #repealthe8th

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A reply to this letter to the Irish Times last week. The IT has not published it, so we are happy to do so.

A Chara,

The hypocrisy of former Justice Bryan McMahon (‘The Eighth Amendment’, Letters, May 4th) in calling for the retention of the 8th Amendment cannot go unremarked. McMahon’s strong urging of a ‘No’ vote suggests that he has forgotten the recommendations of the working group on Direct Provision that he presided over just a few years ago that urged quite the opposite. The McMahon report “strongly urges” that arrangements be made to enable women in Direct Provision experiencing crisis pregnancies to access proper supports including provisions for travel abroad, presumably to access abortion services. The McMahon report is very clear on this. It recommends “that a review by the relevant organisations of services for persons in the system experiencing a crisis pregnancy be undertaken immediately with a view to a protocol being agreed to guide State agencies and NGOs supporting such persons. Particular attention should be paid to addressing the needs of the individual in the context of the legislative framework. Issues relating to travel documents, financial assistance, confidentiality, and access to information and support services should be addressed.”

The working group on Direct Provision and the McMahon report can be criticised on many fronts, but on this front – the need to address the terrible circumstances faced by women experiencing crisis pregnancies in Direct Provision – the report is on the right track. It is clear that horrors of the sort inflicted on Ms Y can only be addressed by removing the 8th Amendment from the constitution and making sure that ALL women and pregnant people can access the supports that they need in this country. As groups such as AIMS Ireland and MERJ – Migrant and Ethnic Minorities for Reproductive Justice have shown us through research and personal testimony, this extends beyond abortion access to the whole issue of reproductive services and health care for migrant and ethnic minority women in this state. The women who have been most affected by the 8th Amendment – the women who have died because of the 8th Amendment and the disregard for the lives of women and mothers that it has embedded in our constitution – are disproportionately migrant women. Migrant women make up 25% of pregnant people in Ireland, but account for a shocking 40% of maternal deaths. Former Justice McMahon himself is very much aware of these facts and of the terrible circumstances that can face migrant and asylum-seeking women and girls. It is to his great discredit that he has chosen to ignore this evidence and awareness in his cruel and hypocritical call for the retention of this most cruel and hypocritical aspect of this state’s constitution.

Yours, etc,

Anti-Racism Network Ireland

AIMS Ireland

Migrants and Ethnic-minorities for Reproductive Justice (MERJ)

Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI)

Let’s talk about sex

Let’s talk about sex

Guest Post by Emma C, Belfast Feminist Network

If this was a fluffy opinion piece for a Sunday supplement, I might make some sideways jokes about 5 minutes of pleasure, or someone’s turn to go ‘downstairs’ as a way of making light about this intimate, messy, universal experience. It’s everywhere, in ads, all of our films, television, books, plays, music. We let our culture mull it over but with little nuance. Yet we never really seem to be able to actually talk about it. For real.

We are in the midst of a wave of reignited feminism and its predicted backlash. We see every day in articles from across the world, the endless tales of rape, violence, maternal deaths, lack of access to safe abortions, persecution of sex workers and LGBTQ+ people. I’m utterly convinced that our inability to properly address sex; what it is, what it’s for, how it feels, when it works, when it doesn’t, what its value is, has kept us behind this hurdle of inequality.

Locally, we have been dealing with our very own Northern Ireland flavoured version of this worldwide phenomenon. A recent rape trial, abuse scandals, the lack of respect for LGBT people sex workers and women, all becomes fomented in policy and has maintained barriers to healthcare, equality and respect.

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Real-talking about sex has to begin. Real sex, not biology-book sex, not biblical sex, not porn sex, but real actual sex that happens between real actual humans. Most of us have an innate drive to seek sexual pleasure and some of us are more successful in that search than others. Sex is one the issues at the crux of gender and sexuality.

Imagine you are a 12-year-old girl walking home from school in your uniform, you have just begun to develop breasts. Your hormones are beginning to go haywire, meaning your emotions are everywhere and the world seems bigger and more confusing, even though adults are beginning to make more sense. Now imagine that as you are walking home, car horns beep at you regularly, when you turn to look to see who they are honking at and realise that it’s you, you see men the same age as your father and you blush a deep red as you’re not quite sure how to react. Then imagine that with every passing few months there are more comments in the street, from young men hanging around in groups, from waiters, from family friends, even from school teachers, about your slowly changing appearance.

This is the beginning of the onslaught. This unwelcome and unwarranted attention is never spoken about to the young people that experience it. This is when men, and the women, trans people and gay men that they objectify begin to learn about consent. We are being taught from a young age that it is okay to be publicly sexualised, by men; older men, younger men, men in positions of power, strangers and there is really nothing we can do about it.

Many of us will have seen the declarations from various pious lampposts around this wee country that, “ THE WAGES OF SIN ARE DEATH”, yet we know from our national stance on abortion, access to contraception, and sex work that actually if the so-called sin is a sexual one between a ‘straight’ man and another person, it’s the other person who has to bear the brunt of that particular exchange.

Consensual sex is categorically not a sin. Well, except if you are a woman (and trans person and gay man and sex worker). Then of course it is a sin. You are a slut, unlike the man, who will probably be a legend (to himself), we all know this, we understand this paradox and yet we all maintain it, despite the harm it causes. Street harassment is the thin end of the wedge of our rape culture. RAPE CULTURE, a description that so many baulk at, yet we live in a society where somehow a woman should automatically be embarrassed about having a threesome and a man can be glorified amongst his mates. According to solicitors, the shame of a threesome could lead a young woman to take a lengthy and unnecessary court case against someone to save face… whereas leaving someone crying hysterically and bleeding internally after a sexual encounter is perfectly acceptable. A top tip for any man planning a threesome: if someone starts bleeding, best to call it a day, at the very least you aren’t doing it right and at the worst you might be raping someone.
We know that what a person wears, drinks, eats, how they get home, and what previous sexual history they have should have absolutely zero to do with whether or not they get raped, yet on and on we see victim blaming from legal experts, from prurient press, from anyone quick to judge with access to a social media account.

Expecting everyone who is not a straight cis man to pay for the sin of sex is why abortion is such a controversial topic as well. It’s got little to do with little cute babies and everything to do with women and pregnant people facing the consequences. “She should have kept her legs shut” “She should have to take responsibility for her mistake” “She should have thought about that before whoring around” – all things that are frequently said in some shape or form – it’s abortion’s own form of blaming, with a human to look after for the rest of your life as punishment. This is despite the overwhelming majority of single parents being women, it’s despite the overwhelming majority of contraception and birth control being aimed at women and it’s despite the fact that sexual assault and rape are so common that they are endemic, and yet we don’t even get off the hook for that one, as apparently our bodies don’t even deserve freedom from someone else’s crime (if they are a man).

Whenever the onslaught of sexualisation begins, it teaches us – women, queer and trans folk, that our boundaries are unimportant. It undermines our trust as to everyone’s intentions, and most importantly it undermines our ability to trust our own instinct. Setting boundaries is an important life skill, yet attempts to develop this skill are thwarted from the start if we can’t even tell strangers on the street not to comment on the shape of our ‘tits’ when we are still children.

Forgotten in all of this is that sex is supposed to be pleasurable, people shouldn’t get internal lacerations from consensual sex, unless it’s something they have specifically requested. Our concept of virginity is outdated as well, why is the only important thing when a penis enters a vagina? There are so many more ways of having sex, and not just for queer people. Sex is better when it is about reciprocal pleasure, you need to be able to say to the person that you’re having sex with, ‘yes that’s working or no that’s not working, can you do it more like this?’ However we are having sex in a society that doesn’t allow space for conversations about that.

We can be on the BBC talking about murderers, about complicated political ideas, about tragedies faced by families dealing with a variety of crises, but we are unable to talk about sex openly. We can’t address it, we are too scundered, even though that embarrassment creates a void that leads to our young people being educated by the internet; by the most popular types of porn which debase women, people of colour and trans people.

Popular porn is what we are offering to our culture instead of real conversations about pleasure. Young people are divided by gender for sex education, which is largely provided for by religious organisations. It’s no coincidence that the same organisations that are against contraception and abortions, are against LGBT people and sex before marriage.

If we let these people misinform our children, our offspring will look somewhere else instead, for something that more closely reflects the real lives they live than the prim fantasies that abstinence-only, anti LGBT sex education provides.

Not only have we no adequate ways to punish and re-educate young men with monstrous ideas about what women are (less than human receptacles for sperm and babies) but we are enabling them from children to become this way.

If we want our future to be safer and happier for the next generations, then we have to make actual changes to our sex education. We have to stigmatise talking about women and others as less than human and not stigmatise women having sex. We have to teach people that there is no pleasure without consent and that consent is the lowest bar. We have to be prepared to call out ‘banter’ if it demeans anyone because of the type of sex they have. We have to stand up to the tiny minority of bigoted bullies that get their voices amplified too often.

Everyone knows someone who has been raped or sexually assaulted, everyone knows someone who has had an abortion or crisis pregnancy, we just need to learn to put on our grown-up pants and talk about these things properly and with respect before any more generations are harmed by our wilful negligence.

– Emma C

Belfast Feminist Network

 

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