Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2414

Intrusion and intimidation by the state won't stop FGM

I was involved in the campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM) from the start in my school in Bristol (Socialist Worker, 22 February). We wanted to educate people about it, so they’d know about the risks.

It’s good that now there is more awareness about FGM and more people are talking about it.

But there is a problem with what’s happening to the campaign.

Now it has been taken up by the government and the police. It can be used as another way of attacking Muslims, bringing more police into schools and getting people to spy on us. It could make Muslims feel even more isolated.

Our target was to educate parents within local communities so they understood the impact FGM has on girls. We went into schools and made a film to get through to a younger generation about the dangers of FGM.

One woman told us it would stop us getting pregnant and doing things with boys. We told her the Koran says it is like torture. We argued that it was not to do with religion but culture. 

But one of the teachers used the campaign to ask young Somali girls why they wore a headscarf and interrogate them about their home life. She made them feel bad about their religion.

She tried to arrange meetings on FGM that clashed with prayers. 

She reported my friend’s mother to social services claiming my friend was “at risk”. But my friend had openly campaigned against FGM. Her mother worked in the school, and never supported FGM. 

Now every family going back to Somalia on holiday could be investigated. 

Involving the police means more intrusion and intimidation—and won’t necessarily help in educating people about the dangers of FGM. 

I’m worried that what started as a good campaign is changing. This might push people away and make it harder to stop girls being put through FGM.

Najah FarahBristol

There's more to the Games than the glitter

The Commonwealth Games opening ceremony last week was full of contradictions.

Celebrities and politicians presided over an expensive, glittery welcome to athletes from 53 countries. The majority of those countries deny basic human rights to their citizens. Gay marriage is illegal in 42 Commonwealth countries.

Amid the tacky cliches, comedian Billy Connolly praised Glasgow for its part in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. It gave Nelson Mandela freedom of the city while he was in prison. 

Games events are very popular, with one million tickets sold. Glasgow city centre has a cosmopolitan feel, full of visitors from all over the world.

But there is another side to the games—workers taking a stand over extra demands placed on them, and the council trying to stop protests.

Jim MainGlasgow

Council bosses run out of compassion

Grieving school child Maddie Stevens was forbidden to take part in a school trip. She had ruined her 100 percent attendance by selfishly attending her mother’s funeral.

This news story comes as no surprise to me.Compassionate leave is becoming a luxury item.

I took compassionate leave when my mother died, but I attended her funeral with annual leave.

But five months later when my father died I couldn’t have special leave because my local authority employer had run out of compassion.

Fourteen months after that, my ten month old granddaughter died with heart complications. I was allowed no time off to support my daughter.

They said I’d “had too much compassionate leave”. My last compassionate leave was 19 months ago and today is my first day back in work after burying my granddaughter.

I was off work for 15 days, three of which were initially annual leave.

Why have we become so heartless? I would also like to point out that I am a public sector worker—and we haven’t “got it so good” after all.

Phil ReillyHuddersfield

Don't sell MoD jobs

Nice pictures of Defence Support Group (DSG) workers in Donnington (Socialist Worker, 19 July).

Stirling is proud of its history with the military. 

Since 1942 its DSG workshop has provided jobs and apprenticeships.

But maintenance facilities are threatened by cuts. DSG is up for sale.

Selling it to a private firm could break up a vital service. Skills will be lost and taxpayers will pick up the cost.

Selling off state assets is bad for the armed forces, bad for Britain and bad for communities. Trade unions at DSG say it must be kept in the Ministry of Defence. 

Ronnie SimpsonUnite union convenor, DSG Stirling

Trading in hypocrisy

Apparently David Cameron is “concerned” about European countries selling arms to Russia.

This concern doesn’t seem to extend to the British arms manufacturers that have aided Israel during its attack on Gaza (Socialist Worker, 26 July).

Arming war criminals shows that the ruling class is not concerned about the ethics of arms dealing. They only care about protecting their interests, and making a profit from exporting war.

As Cameron boasts of a “thriving defence industry”, the children dying in Palestine show the human cost of the arms trade.

Sarah BatesEdinburgh

We’re angry in America too

Despite the US media and government trying to cover up Israel’s atrocities, ordinary people are fighting back.

I joined the biggest protest for years in Minneapolis. Over 1,000 people marched.

Emma DavisMinneapolis, US

Let’s take a Freedom Ride

I declare the Global Day of Climate Action on 21 September to be a day on which all public transport will be free. 

This follows the huge success of the Freedom Rides in South Yorkshire.

Just get together in large groups and go somewhere nice.

Ian WallaceSheffield

Maybe we’re all ‘extremist’

If Muslims get involved in their communities, they’re “imposing an extremist agenda”. If not, they’re “segregating themselves”.

And if criticising British foreign policy is extremism, the majority of people are extremist.

Sarah Coxon Facebook

Mind your language

Israel Is killing hundreds of Palestinians. Socialist Worker made clear this carnage is the product of imperialism.

But John Rose was wrong to call Israel’s actions “genocidal” (Socialist Worker, 

26 July). We must always be careful to use such language accurately.

Terry SullivanNorth London

No place for anti-semitism

I don’t like the Israeli government’s actions. I am concerned about the media whipping up hatred against Jews, which leads to the situation in France.

Adam Tinman Farmeron Facebook

We do not hate Jews, we’re alike. We want freedom and justice for Palestine. Everyone in this world deserves to live in dignity and be free.

Saida KamounaReims, France

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Article information

Tue 29 Jul 2014, 18:12 BST
Issue No. 2414
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