For Brad Trost and Maurice Vellacott, two MPs who are disgrace to Saskatchewan, Politics’n’Poetry gives you this:
From the Alliance for Responsible Trade, website, the US sister organization to Common Frontiers-Canada, the Quebec Network on Continental Integration and the Mexican Action Network on Free Trade.
NAFTA MUST BE RENEGOTIATED
A proposal from North American civil society networks
Politicians throughout North America (Canada, Mexico and the United States) are beginning to recognize what the majority of citizens already know – the North American Free Trade Agreement’s (NAFTA) promises have not been fulfilled and new policies are urgently needed. There is growing awareness that quality jobs have disappeared, only to be replaced by insecure and low remuneration employment, while income inequality has risen to almost unprecedented levels.
As a result of widespread public concern, various candidates for the Presidency of the United States recognize the necessity for major changes to NAFTA. Recently, several members of the House of Representatives have introduced a bill requiring an assessment of NAFTA, renegotiation of some provisions and providing for US withdrawal unless certain conditions are met.
The Permanent Commission of the Mexican Congress, as well as several State Governors, echoing the wide-spread demand of well-organized campesino organizations, is demanding a revision of NAFTA given the devastation it has caused for agriculture and its harmful effects on the rural population.
Similarly, a Canadian Parliamentary Sub-Committee on International Trade recommended that the Permanent Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade undertake a comprehensive review of NAFTA Chapter 11 on Investment and Chapter 19 on trade disputes.
We four civil society networks from Canada, Mexico, Quebec and the United States believe that it is absolutely necessary to profoundly revise NAFTA beginning with those aspects that have proven most damaging for the socio economic and human rights of our peoples and for the environment.
At the same time, we reject the deeper continental integration currently being negotiated under the aegis of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) by large multinational corporations and governments with no transparency or input from civil society. As such, the SPP is nothing less than the privatization of public policymaking. The citizens of North America have several ideas for bringing about real prosperity and security on this continent. Integration negotiated behind closed doors, however, will bring neither.
Any just trade agreement among our countries must consider the enormous economic inequalities that exist between Mexico, the United States and Canada as well as the growing inequality within each of our three countries. While even the World Trade Organization allows special and differential treatment for poorer countries, this is not the case with NAFTA.
The revision of the terms of this treaty must have as its objective the establishment of economic relations based on social justice and sovereignty within a paradigm of sustainable development. In this brief declaration we cannot mention all the necessary revisions. Here are ten priorities for the required renegotiation of NAFTA.
For further information: In the United States: Tom Loudon, Alliance for Responsible Trade, (301) 699-0042, firstname.lastname@example.org; In Canada: John Dillon, Common Frontiers-Canada, (416) 463-5312 ext. 231; email@example.com; In Quebec: Pierre-Yves Serinet/Normand Pépin, Quebec Network on Continental Integration (RQIC), (514) 276-1075/(514) 217-6529; firstname.lastname@example.orgemail@example.com; In Mexico: Alejandro Villamar, (English)Mexican Action Network on Free Trade (RMALC), (52) (55) 5356-0599; firstname.lastname@example.org
Today is the day that replaced Imbolc, an ancient celebration of the goddess, Brighid. Imbolc marks the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox. Today is the Feast Day of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And, today is the birth day of Birth Pangs!
Last year, a group of “radical,” “militant” and “feminazi” feminists who hang out at the Bread and Roses discussion boards launched Birth Pangs, an irreverent and relevant blog that keeps a close eye on the anti-choice, aka fetus fetishist, aka compulsory pregnancy, aka zygote zealot crowd. Demonstrating that feminists do, indeed, have a sense of humour, Birth Pangs sheds a slightly satirical light on the ludicrous, illogical and just plain ridiculous arguments and ideas of those who would have women barefooted, pregnant and back in the kitchen.
Pop by for a visit. Stop in and say hi. And don’t worry, the feminists don’t bite. (Well, not very hard, anyway!)
And here’s an Imbolc poem, a gift to the scruffy band of feminists who dare to challenge and inspire.
Horoscope: Ground Hog Day
Brighid, ancient Hag,
in winter brings new life,
kindles sacred fires to melt Earth’s blanket.
She travels with you, as long ago
when she moved among Galatians and Brigantians.
Long before Patrick danced green among the Celts
Brighid quickened life.
Old Brighid, young Maiden, Mother, Crone
hides within Christianity’s cloak, blessing houses
with candles blessed at Candlemas, the cross-quarter feast day
to celebrate winter’s passing halfway through,
her fires lighting houses, whole communities.
Sainte Brighid, even after decanonization,
even after her fires were snuffed, still
lives. Christianity celebrates the purification
of their blessed virgin, Mary. A ground hog
carried Brighid’s memory across an ocean.
© 2008 BW
I type this in support of the US choice movement, now celebrating 35 years since the Roe v. Wade decision. I would hope that in the upcoming presidential election in the USA that voters vote for the candidate who is decidedly pro-choice on the matter of reproductive freedom. Reproductive freedoms are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.
A somewhat lengthy petition calling for peace in the Republic of Niger landed in my inbox the other day and I had neither the time nor the energy to look at it. That changed yesterday, when I learned that a Canadian uranium mining company, NWT Uranium, has a letter of agreement to join forces with a New Mexico uranium mining company, Nu-Mex.
“We believe that this transaction will be of great benefit to NWT Uranium and its shareholders,” said Marek J. Kreczmer, President and CEO of NWT Uranium. “Nu-Mex has the ability to earn a majority interest in two highly prospective uranium properties and it was these potential assets that drew us to the combination.
The deal is “subject to approval by NWT Uranium shareholders, the Ontario Court of Superior Justice and the TSX Venture Exchange, and requires a favorable fairness opinion.” The two pieces of interest for NWT, Nose Rock and Dalton Pass, are on or near Navaho lands in New Mexico. In the WWII and post-WWII years and up until the late 70’s, the Navaho peoples embraced the uranium industry, welcoming the work, until they noticed the ill effects of the development.
Along the way, though, government and industry gave little attention to the pervasive, irreversible, and now well-documented impacts of this massive development. Government and industry were at best ignorant, but most often arrogantly dismissive, of the emerging epidemic of lung cancer and respiratory disease among underground miners; the wide assault on the region’s land, water and air quality that continues to command public concern and regulatory attention today; the abandonment of tens of thousands of drill holes, thousands of mines, and several dozen mills with little or no reclamation; and the economic dislocation of communities that had given up traditional, agricultural-based economies for the prospects of massive infusions of cash and employment from uranium development. The “bust” that followed the 35-year “boom” is by now a quarter-century old itself, and the communities that once hosted uranium mining, often with open arms, are now hard-pressed to point to anything, other than a few paved roads, that was sustainable from that era.
Fortunately, the state’s governor is taking action to prevent similar mistakes.
Of interest to Nu-Mex are the holdings of the Canadian company, NWT. The North Rae and Daniel Lake uranium projects are in the Ungava Bay area of northern Quebec, home to not less than 7 Inuit communities. That the governments of Quebec or Canada were as concerned for their people as the governor of New Mexico.
North Rae and Daniel Lake are located on the eastern side of Ungava Bay, approximately 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of the town of Kuujjuaq, near the southern shore of Ungava Bay. With a population of approximately 2,000 people, Kuujjuaq is the largest community in northern Quebec.
North Rae is six to 12 miles (10 to 20 kilometers) from tidewater, which places it in a favorable context with respect to mine development. Daniel Lake is also favorably located, approximately nine miles (15 kilometers) east of George River, which is navigable and flows into Ungava Bay 25 miles (40 kilometers) to the north.
Awfully close to a large body of water, don’t you thing? That global warming will raise water levels seems not to be an issue for NWT or Nu-Mex. That the Inuit have opposed this threat to their traditional way of life is not surprising. And it only gets more interesting! NWT has nearly 32 million shares in a company that holds several properties in the republic of Niger. Niger Uranium Limited , listed on the AIM Exchange in London, England, is extremely active in Niger.
It is clear, however, that the unfettered increase in uranium mining is causing great problems in Niger. From the petition, a bit of history:
Since its independence, the state of Niger has been in latent conflict with the Tuareg population living on the Nigerien territory. This situation escalated in 1990 with a massacre of this population group in Tchin-Tabaraden and resulted in an armed conflict. After the conclusion of a treaty of peace, which was intended to make allowances for certain claims brought forward by the Tuareg organizations in 1995, this conflict calmed down. Today, it seems that the implementation of the treaty has failed. This caused new dissatisfaction among the population in the north of Niger. A new Tuareg movement “Mouvement des Nigériens pour la Justice” (MNJ, Movement of Nigeriens for Justice) has formed whose central claim is that the peace accords signed in 1995 be met.
Another issue is that the exploitation of the uranium deposits in the regions inhabited by the Tuareg remains an unsolved problem. The local population has practically no benefit from the proceeds gained out of these mineral resources, while the ecological consequences of the uranium production seriously endanger the population and their environment.
We observe that the current crisis is seriously threatening the democratic process in Niger, in particular as the government seems to fall back on out-dated, dictatorial methods in order to gag the press and to impede the freedom of expression of the citizens.
Two members of the NWT Uranium, Inc. Board of Directors are apparently oblivious to the situation:
…North and Kreczmer assured us the country is stable. “When I first went to Niger in November 2004, and that was during the last election, it honestly looked like a lot of fun. Everybody had a little piece of rag tied around their wrist or tied to the antenna of their car to represent their political affiliation.” Kreczmer added, “My experience working in Africa is that because this country relies so heavily on foreign aid, the World Bank has great influence.”
The Republic of Niger has North’s vote on confidence … North feels Niger is going to become more aggressive in developing its uranium properties. He talked about how the President of Niger told his minister of mines, “Get out there and advertise Niger as being open for business. We want people to come in here and invest. We want to give them mineral rights, and we want them to do what Mali is doing.” From the looks of it, the first to jump on the Niger bandwagon were Northwestern Minerals and North Atlantic Resources, but they won’t be the last.
“My experience with Niger is that it’s a peaceful, democratic country with no civil unrest. Let’s put it this way. They have less civil unrest than France.” *
The Tuareg population have documented several horrific human rights violations. Homicides, arbitrary, racist and inhumane detention of civilians as well as expulsion of citizens from their communities by the military appear to be the norm. Dismemberment of corpses is not unheard of. Land mines, restricting the movement of the nomadic Tuareg, are in use despite the fact the Nigerien government signed the Ottawa Convention which bans their use.
The government of Niger wants to double its uranium production and exports so has issued more than 122 licenses to foreign companies. The areas granted exploration rights have generally been agricultural, providing an economic base for the local population. Uranium mining and exploration are harming the health of local populations. Radioactive waste is not being stored properly; open pit mining threatens fauna, flora, water, air and the entire food chain of the people living in the region. The Nigerien media has criticized these activities. As a result, prominent and outspoken editors and writers have been arrested. Some have been threatened with death by members of the Nigerien military.
[A] worldwide ban is justified on the basis of the extensive record of “disproportional impacts” of the nuclear fuel chain on the health, natural resources and cultures of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration calls attention to “intensifying nuclear threats to Mother Earth and all life,” and asserts that nuclear power — the primary use for uranium — is not a solution to global warming.
“Our Mother Earth needs protection from the destructive forms of uranium if we are to survive,” said Manny Pino, a member of Acoma Pueblo and professor of sociology at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. “Everyday we are at risk from radioactive materials that threaten our future generations. Indigenous people all over the World are saying these threats must end, and they are taking united actions to achieve that goal.”
As is the norm, the concerns of the world’s Indigenous peoples continue to be ignored. Stephen Harper could not support the recent United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, not because it contravenes Canadian laws, but because it would mean a loss of control of “vast resources on land claimed by aboriginal communities” and indicate a lack of support for the nuclear industry which forms part of the Harperian plan to curb GHGs.
– Agence France Presse: http://www.afp.com/
– Website of the MNJ: http://m-n-j.blogspot.com/
– Eye witness accounts
– * Finch, James. “Exposed: The World’s Best Kept Uranium Secret.” EzineArticles 09 April 2006. 14 December 2007 <http://ezinearticles.com/?Exposed:-The-Worlds-Best-Kept-Uranium-Secret&id=176018>.
Sent: 24 Sep ‘07 13:53
The Alison Bodine Defense Committee is appealing to all progressive groups and organizations who fight for a better world to support the campaign to defend Alison Bodine, a US citizen who is being targeted by Canadian Border Services Agency for being an anti-war and social justice activist.
Originally from Broomfield, Colorado, Alison is a central organizer with Vancouver, Canada antiwar coalition Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO), for three years was the president of the University of British Columbia’s Coalition Against War on the People of Iraq and Internationally (CAWOPI), a long-time executive committee member of the UBC Social Justice Center, is a prominent activist in solidarity with Cuba and the Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba, and a supporter of immigrant and refugee rights in Canada and the US.
Near midnight on Thursday September 13, 2007, Alison was arrested by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) when she attempted to legally cross the border at Peace Arch border crossing, travelling from Canada into the United States. Three days prior, Alison was harassed by CBSA officials while traveling from the US into Canada. The ordeal began after border officials searched her vehicle and identified her as a political organizer after they found various political materials and progressive newspapers in her car.
As an international student at the University of British Columbia who recently graduated with a Bachelor of Physics in June 2007, Alison has traveled between the US and Canada on dozens of occasions, and had never been denied entrance to Canada or asked to return to the US.
As she was returning to the US on Thursday September 13th, Alison returned to claim items confiscated earlier by the CBSA. Upon presenting her receipt to claim her materials, she was handcuffed and told she was under arrest, and that a warrant for her arresthad been issued across Canada. She was then taken into detention. This unjust and illegal imprisonment was met with a huge protest and organizing drive by the newly-formed Committee to Free Alison Bodine. Friday afternoon, on only 5 hours notice, 80 people came together at the Citizenship and Immigration Canada Offices in Vancouver, demanding the immediate release of Alison Bodine. Media was also quick to pick up this important case, which was covered locally and nationally by newspapers, TV and radio.
Following all of this, Alison’s status took a major turn. Officials constantly reminded her all day that there was no way she would be released from detention before Monday. However, at 8:00pm on Friday, Alison was given notice by immigration officials that she would be released from custody immediately until her Admissibility Hearing on Monday Sept 17th – a major victory in the campaign for her freedom. However Alison’s ordeal is not yet over. In the early afternoon of September 17th, Alison learned from a CBC reporter that the CBSA had cancelled her Admissibility Hearing scheduled for 2pm that day. Alison herself was never officially notified by CBSA.
At 1:30pm Monday September 17th, more than 50 supporters rallied outside the downtown Citizenship & Immigration Canada offices, especially because of the cancelled hearing, to demand that all charges against Alison be dropped immediately. The CBSA postponement of Alison’s hearing is a maneuver to delay because they know they won’t be able to prove the charges they have made up so far. It also shows they have decided to escalate this case to a more political level byfinding some different charges to bring because they know right now their case cannot win in a hearing.
Being without status in Canada, Alison’s situation is always uncertain, and she can still be arrested at anytime. All progressive, humanity loving people must unite around this case. We must understand that this is not just an attack on Alison, this is an attack on all of us. This is an attack on the basic democratic and human rights of all people, especially social justice activists, immigrants, refugees and all non-status people and non-residents in Canada. The illegal and unjust arrest and detention of Alison Bodine means the Government of Canada and its agencies want to continue and escalate the silencing of free speech and political expression and continue their terrorizing of people who oppose their policies at home and abroad and the new era of war and occupation. They are also testing and evaluating our response to defend ourselves against their attacks against us. The degree, seriousness, effectiveness and consistency of our defence impact their decision on how to further their repressive measures.
For this reason, we are appealing to you to join us in this struggle by endorsing this emergency campaign and by writing a letter of support demanding that the CBSA drop all charges against Alison. Please send this appeal to your email lists and friends. We must show the Government of Canada and their agency, the CBSA, that they cannot get away with trying to intimidate activists. We have attached a template support letter, as an example. Letters of support should be
The CBSA might think that by delaying the Admissibility hearing this campaign will lose steam and the pressure against them will lessen. On the contrary, this campaign is only just beginning. People all across Canada and the world know about this case of political harassment and this will only gain momentum from here. This is a political case; Alison
has done nothing wrong or illegal. Alison, along with supporters in Vancouver and across the country will keep up the demand that the CBSA must drop all charges
against her and restore her full rights to travel between the US and Canada. For now, they have re-scheduled her Admissibility hearing for Friday, September 28th at 9am. In the time between now and then we will not back down, we will not slow down and
we will continue fighting!
Our fight is not over. Your support is essential to get all charges against Alison dropped!
WE WILL WIN
Read the rest of this entry »
Well, I guess Dubya is flexing some muscle over PM Steve these days.
And, apparently, it’s all because of Maude Barlow and the Council of Canadians, the ones some radio personality around here is writing off as an extremist radicals. Now, I don’t know about you, but from my recollection of Maude Barlow the last time she was through here, she’s a pretty tame duck. And she tends to talk a lot of sense, most particularly on water and globalization, I had thought.
Now there’s this issue of North American Union aka Security & Prosperity Partnership aka deep integration. The idea’s been around for a long time, just not so brilliantly orchestrated or articulated. We’ve had “structural adjustment,” the Free Trade Agreement and NAFTA, just a few bits of the language global economics and capitalist ideology have thrown our way as they continue in their lust for more, their disgusting and immoral misuse of resources and promotion of rampant consumerism.
And PM Steve is priming Canadians to accept it while big business works behind the scenes to quietly make it happen. PMS (and a PM or two or more before him) also kowtows yet again to the President of the United States of America, allows the US Army to dictate security in our country! Again, I don’t know about you, but I know I don’t like it when a mucky-muck from another country, most particularly an aggressively violent other country is “protected” by a 25 km security perimeter from seeing what Canadians really think of him and his policies. I mean, is he worried that Maude might kill him? Now that is laughable!
What really gets my goat though is when friends of the mucky-mucks have the complete and utter stupidity to issue a challenge, as reported in the Ottawa Citizen:
“You can be sure it [security] will be pretty strong. I wouldn’t advise anyone to try to get through the 25 kilometres.”
Yet again, I do not know about you, but when I get challenges or threats sent my way by anyone, I get persnickedy. So, I’d like to try breaching the security area. I would. I hope some fine Canadian or group of Canadians charters a bus or organizes a train full of Canadians to get me and a whole lot of others to bring attention to this undemocratic and unethical attack on human rights and human security.
In the meantime, I guess I’ll write the letter The Council of Canadians are asking for (see below). And I’ll talk to a shwack of folks, too. If enough of us make noise, we might just succeed in getting that meeting cancelled. If not, I will see you on the bus or train.
ACTION ALERT: Stop SPP talks, consult with Canadians now July 12, 2007Dear activists,As reported on the front-page of the Ottawa Citizen and in numerous other media reports, “Police have derailed plans for a public forum on the Security and Prosperity Partnership that was to take place six kilometres from where the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. will gather next month for a summit.” (See Ottawa Citizen Police nix meeting near world leaders, July 12, 2007)The news report states, “The forum was scheduled for August 19, the day before Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon are due to start two days of meetings on the security partnership, a controversial initiative aimed at more closely aligning the three countries in a variety of areas.”
Frederic Castonguay, the municipality of Papineauville’s general manager, “confirmed he had been called by Mr. Guy Cote (of the Quebec provincial police), who told him that the police and U.S. army need the community centre as a base of operations for summit security.” Despite the fact that the Council of Canadians had paid its $100 deposit for the space, Mr. Castonguay said the police, “didn’t want us to rent it to anyone because they need the room there to put equipment and special vehicles. There was no choice.”
The Council of Canadians in coalition with other organizations, including the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Communications, Energy & Paperworkers Union of Canada, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Common Frontiers-Canada and the Quebec Network on Continental Integration, had planned to hold a public forum on the Security and Prosperity Partnership in the nearby community with Maude Barlow and a panel of writers, academics and parliamentarians. This public forum was intended to promote broader public awareness and citizen engagement on this important issue. An alternate location for the public forum is now being sought.
Linda McQuaig wrote recently in the Toronto Star, “Given the centrality of (national security and energy, as well as trade), one would have thought that any changes – especially changes that would make Canada more like the U.S. – should involve wide consultation with the Canadian people. But exactly the opposite is happening. The public has been completely shut out of the SPP process…No public consultations have been planned for Montebello. Indeed, security measures will ensure the leaders hear as little as possible from the people.”
For more information on the Council of Canadians campaign against the Security and Prosperity Partnership, along with a wide range of analysis and background materials on this issue, please go to IntegrateThis.ca.
Prime Minister Harper,
As a member of the Council of Canadians, I am calling on you to stop talks on the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, including the upcoming leaders summit this August 20-21 in Montebello, and to consult with Canadians on this critical issue.
I was outraged to read that a public forum near Montebello with writers, academics and parliamentarians wanting to speak on this issue was blocked because the police and U.S. army wanted the community centre it was to be held at as a base of operations for summit security.
I am opposed to the SPP, which includes the no-fly list (the SPP states, “Develop comparable standards and procedures…for passenger screening”); pesticide residues (it says, “Work to resolve differences in pesticide maximum residue limits that may be barriers to trade…”); the tar sands (it calls for, “Greater economic production from the oil sands”); and civil rights (it calls for, “sharing of terrorist watch list data and the establishment of appropriate linkages between Canada, the United States and Mexico.”)
I also believe that the North American Competitiveness Council should be disbanded. Corporations such as Manulife Financial, Home Depot and Wal-Mart should not be shaping economic policy between Canada and the United States.
I urge you to keep the promise you made in your Throne Speech that “significant international treaties will be submitted for votes in Parliament.” I believe that the Security and Prosperity Partnership should be subject to public hearings, as well as brought to the House of Commons for a full debate and vote.
I look forward to your response.
For more information about the Security and Prosperity Partnership, visit IntegrateThis.ca. We’ll post new information about the Montebello summit as it becomes available. Visit often for up-to-the-minute updates
Oh! I can see it now from coast to coast to coast, un-Welcome mats layed out for Dubya, PMS, and Calderon who are scheduled to gather in Quebec from August 21-23rd 2007 to sign, seal, and deliver to us the Security and Prosperity Partnership Agreement which, of course, is being done without the benefit of due democratic process in any of the three countries involved.
But that’s what fascism’s about, eh?
The Canadian Peace Coalition invites all Canadians to join the National Day of Action
The Council of Canadians has a wealth of information including background documents, AV materials, and Teach-in resources.
I guess oil is soooo important that women and girls lives don’t really matter to GWB & Co…
The Independent on Sunday ~~ June 24, 2007
‘50,000 Iraqi refugees’ forced into prostitution
Women and girls, many alarmingly young, who fled the chaos at home are
being further betrayed after reaching ‘safety’ in Syria
By Nihal Hassan in Damascus
It’s Monday night in a dingy club on the outskirts of the Syrian
capital. Two dozen girls are moving half-heartedly on the dance floor,
lit up by flashing disco lights.
They are dessed in tight jeans, low-cut tops and knee-high boots, but
the girls’ make-up can’t disguise the fact that most are in their
mid-teens. It’s a strange sight in a conservative Muslim country, but
this is the sex business, and it’s booming as a result of the war in Iraq.
Backstage, the manager sits in his leather chair, doing business. A
Saudi client is quoted $500 for one of the girls. Eventually he beats
it down to $300. Next door, in a dimly lit room, the next shift of
girls arrives, taking off the black all-covering abayasthey wear
outside and putting on lipstick and mascara.
To judge from the cars parked outside, the clients come from all over
the Gulf region – many are young Saudi men escaping from an even more
conservative moral climate. But the Syrian friend who has brought me
here tells me that 95 per cent of the girls are Iraqi.
Most are unwilling to talk, but Zahra, an attractive girl with a bare
midriff and tattoos, tells me she’s 16. She has been working in this
club since fleeing to Syria from Baghdad after the war. She doesn’t
like it, she says, “but what can we do? I hope things get better in
Iraq, because I miss it. I want to go back, but I have to look after
my sister”. Zahra points to a thin, pubescent girl with long black
hair, who seems to be dancing quite happily. Aged 13, Nadia started in
the club two months ago.
As the girls dance suggestively, allowing their breasts to brush
against each other, one winks at a customer. But these girls are not
just providing the floor show – they have paid to be here, and they
need to pick up a client, or they’ll lose money. If successful,
they’ll earn about $60, equivalent to a month’s wages in a factory.
There are more than a million Iraqi refugees in Syria, many are women
whose husbands or fathers have been killed. Banned from working
legally, they have few options outside the sex trade. No one knows how
many end up as prostitutes, but Hana Ibrahim, founder of the Iraqi
women’s group Women’s Will, puts the figure at 50,000.
I met Fatima in a block of flats operating informally as a brothel in
Saida Zainab, a run-down area with a large Iraqi population. Millions
of Shias go there every year, because of the shrine of the prophet
Mohamed’s granddaughter. “I came to Syria after my husband was killed,
leaving me with two children,” Fatima tells me. “My aunt asked me to
join her here, and my brothers pressured me to go.” She didn’t realise
the work her aunt did, and she would be forced to take up, until she arrived.
Fatima is in her mid-20s, but campaigners say the number of Iraqi
children working as prostitutes is high. Bassam al-Kadi of Syrian
Women Observatory says: “Some have been sexually abused in Iraq, but
others are being prostituted by fathers and uncles who bring them here
under the pretext of protecting them. They are virgins, and they are
brought here like an investment and exploited in a very ugly way.”
Further viewing: Nihal Hassan and Nima Elbagir’s report will appear on
‘More 4 News’ at 8pm tomorrow
This is US data, but it makes one wonder how Canadian veterans fare in this regard. Surely we are better placed to prevent such horrific statistics, by simply being a less militaristic culture than our southern neighbours. Mind you, with Harper and Hillier at the helm, we may be doomed to echo the patterns of the USians. From AlterNet: War on Iraq:
Why Male Military Veterans Are Committing Sexual Assault at Alarming Rates
A recent study by the Department of Justice found that military veterans are twice as likely to be incarcerated for sexual assault than nonveterans. When asked about the finding, Margaret E. Noonan, one of the authors of the study, told the Associated Press, “We couldn’t come to any definite conclusion as to why.” The intrinsic and systemic connection between militarism and violence against women, however, makes this finding far from surprising.
Sexual violence has been a de facto weapon of war since the beginning of the patriarchal age. Raping and assaulting women is seen as a way to attack the honor of the enemy, and women have always been the spoils of war. The result is that many types of violence against women are exacerbated by militarism, including the indirect effects on civilian populations both during hostilities and after the conflict ends and soldiers go home. These include:
- Rape/sexual assault and harassment both within the military and perpetrated on civilian populations
- Domestic violence
- Prostitution, pornography and trafficking
- Honor killing