Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2092

Harsher policing of prostitutes is no solution for vulnerable women (Pic:» Tim Sanders )

Harsher policing of prostitutes is no solution for vulnerable women (Pic: » Tim Sanders)

What should we say about prostitution?

I read Esme Choonara’s article (» Government puts women in danger, 1 March) on how to make prostitutes’ lives safer and although I thought it was very good I think it missed out one crucial point.

The majority of prostitutes are driven by addiction. The need for women to prostitute themselves could be ended by prescribing morphine.

It would also take away the daily Russian roulette of injecting and not knowing whether you will suffer an overdose.

Prescribing morphine would render pimps and pushers impotent.

The women who died in Ipswich need not have done (or have led such horrendous lives) if society had treated their addiction with intelligence and sympathy instead of punitively.

Shame on the government that it thinks only of acting tough on crime rather than about saving lives.

Elen Counsell, East London

While Esme Choonara’s concerns about prostitutes being criminalised by the government are accurate, I consider her attitude to the Swedish model of criminalising buyers to be misconceived.

It must be remembered that men do not need to buy sex but want to do so. Part of their enjoyment is the degradation of that particular woman and through her all women.

Misogyny is at its base. By criminalising the buyer a clear message is sent out to men that their behaviour and attitudes towards women will not be tolerated.

This law is combined with extensive and sophisticated routes out of prostitution for women. For the Swedes the buying of a person, usually a woman, for sex is a human rights issue and we would do well to emulate this.

Do you object to there being laws on racism even though the law does not eradicate it?

Furthermore, sex traffickers are avoiding Sweden because there are far fewer buyers for their “product”. In the market place if there is no buyer there is no seller.

A final point is the use of the phrase “working as prostitutes”. The very word “work” imbues this abuse with an aura of respectability.

Sam Hardie, by email

Cuba isn’t socialist

The main points of disagreement that Joe Simpson (» Letters, 8 March) has with the Socialist Worker article Castro and Cuba really come down to whether or not Cuba is socialist – for me this depends on what your idea of socialism is.

The Cuban revolution was incredibly inspiring, but even Fidel Castro stated in 1959, “I want to make it clear now that I am not a communist.”

The Cuban revolution was not a socialist revolution. That is not to say that it didn’t have popular support or make significant improvements to people’s lives at the time.

However, the revolution was based on a guerrilla strategy which meant popular support was not turned into a revolutionary self-emancipation of the Cuban workers and peasants.

Instead Castro substituted himself and the authoritarian guerrilla command structure for any independent or organised workers’ power. Therefore, control of Cuban society was – and is – held by a tiny unelected minority.

Cuba remains a beacon of hope for millions of people and this is understandable. The courage and commitment of Che Guevara and the revolutionaries who fought with him inspire us in our fight against imperialism today.

However, a “world leading healthcare system and free university education” is not enough to claim Cuba as socialist or that Cuba’s political system is something to aspire to.

Joe Simpson neglects to speak of the jailing of dissidents and homosexuals, executions of people trying to leave, the fact that no one is allowed to organise independent groups or parties, that there is no independent trade union activity or that prostitution is rife and many Cubans face a brutal way of life.

My idea of socialism does not include any of the above. My idea of socialism involves democracy and freedom of expression, where the majority shape and decide their own form of society.

Sadly in Cuba the majority are not allowed to even speak about the possibility of doing so.

Debbie Jack, Glasgow

Campaign wins victory for gay asylum seeker

Lesbian and gay activists in Manchester were delighted to hear that they have won another anti-deportation case.

Florence and Michael were given indefinite leave to remain in Britain on 27 February.

Florence is from Sierra Leone and sought asylum for herself and her young son, Michael.

She fled Sierra Leone because she was suffering physical abuse including beatings by her parents and rape by her cousin, who she had been forced to marry. This happened because Florence told her parents she is a lesbian.

The Manchester Lesbian Community Project (LCP) supported Florence’s campaign for the right to remain in Britain on compassionate grounds.

This follows a victory last year when gay Ugandan Moses Mayakiza also won the leave to remain after a long struggle.

Campaigning drew in many different types of people, including students, trade unionists and anti-racist activists. Gay bars gave venues and prizes for free for fundraisers.

There is now a self-organised group for LGBT asylum seekers and refugees in the city.

These small victories have given heart to campaigners who will continue to organise and oppose the government’s racist and homophobic immigration laws and practice.

Kate Richardson, Manchester

Newcastle rallies against the war

Five years on from the invasion of Iraq, some in the mainstream media took it upon themselves to declare our campaign against the war dead.

They said that the greatest movement in British history would be forgotten.

But a meeting at Newcastle university last week proved them wrong.

Around 300 people came to hear Moazzam Begg, Rob Owen and Farah Khan speak out against the war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was the largest meeting in Newcastle for years.

More coaches are now being laid on for this Saturday’s demonstration, such is the demand from students following the meeting.

The meeting has had a transforming effect on campus and a lot more students are talking about the war.

We are going around university to build for the demonstration, which is now a much easier task.

If we can get a big number of students down to the demo it will completely transform our Stop the War group on campus.

Amunah Venugopal, Newcastle

Abolish the royal family

Tim’s cartoon perfectly captured the hypocrisy of having a royal family (» Harry Goes Home, 8 March).

Why should Prince Harry be swiftly removed when so many other troops are left behind in Afghanistan? It makes no sense. Are they not in a similar situation?

The answer, of course, is that mere “commoners” are regarded as less important than members of the royal family. So different rules apply.

The answer is to abolish the royal family. We need an elected head of state.

Graeme Kemp, Shropshire

No sympathy for the devil

I was saddened to hear the news that Margaret Thatcher had been well enough to leave hospital.

My thoughts are with the miners and their families at this difficult time.

It is small consolation that the storms would probably have curtailed any street parties planned if she had not recovered.

Shaun Shute, Gloucester

A way to beat depression

It seems more people suffer from depression than ever before.

The world is richer than it has ever been yet more and more people are dying of hunger and disease.

I believe most people feel angry but turn the other way because they feel there is nothing they can do.

But if you turn that anger into doing something positive against the system you will feel better.

Remember the poet Shelley said, “We are many, they are few”.

Hazel Sabey, West London

No place for profit in health

This government thinks nothing of the people of this country.

Any private company that is willing to throw some money at this country will be accepted.

There is no thought for the communities. We all have to go to Superstores for food, clothes, electricals, insurance, cars – and now even our health.

I feel devastated that ordinary people have no say in their future.

We know these private organisations in healthcare are in it for the money.

It has nothing to do with care in the community.

Julie Kanani, by email

Imperialism and Kosovo

John Passant asked if Kosovo had the right to national self-determination (» Letters, 8 March).

Socialists support genuine national liberation movements. We have nothing to gain from the colonial oppression of others and everything to gain from solidarity with movements against oppression.

But self-determination shouldn’t limit freedom for others.

The history of the Balkans has been one of imperial powers playing off national movements against each other for their own gains.

Kosovan self-determination is a strategic gain for imperialism in the region and should be opposed.

Joe Dwyer, Kettering

Unite to stop the Nazi BNP

I was at the recent Unite Against Fascism conference and heard London mayor Ken Livingstone’s speech.

I was glad to hear him stress that the London Assembly elections use proportional representation – so a vote for any party other than the British National Party (BNP) would help to keep the fascists out.

It is important for people on the left to put their differences aside and mount a united campaign against the BNP Nazis.

Sylvia Elgrib, Sidcup, Kent

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Article information

Tue 11 Mar 2008, 18:08 GMT
Issue No. 2092
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