Politicians' hypocrisy about the abuse horror is obscene
Having worked in childcare for 30 years I find it obscene watching politicians pretend to care about what happens to some of the poorest people in our society.
I have reported the grooming and abuse of young teenage girls by older men that were routinely referred to as “boyfriends” by the attending police.
They asked questions about the teenagers such as “she likes the boys does she?” and “is she promiscuous?”
More shockingly, some social workers would say “she’s old enough to know what she’s doing”.
This displayed a total ignorance of the complex web of reasons why youngsters cannot protect themselves against abusers who take advantage of them.
I’ve also been with children in private homes that charge the local authority extra for children with complicated needs but with no increase in resources for the child.
New Labour introduced the concept of “those most in need”. This took services away from those teetering on the brink and only provided for those already at the bottom of the cliff.
Teenagers are not as vulnerable as very young children so it followed that they needed less protection or understanding.
This has been normal for so long girls are seen as women and women referred to as girls—so what’s the difference?
The media portray teenagers as sexual objects and encourage them to see themselves as little else.
Julia Robertson, Swansea
From parliament to celebrities to the elites we have seen shocking child abuse scandals.
But their ethnicity hasn’t formed part of the headline of the story.
With the horror in Rotherham it’s different.
But targeting people’s ethnicity will only give confidence to racists and create more Islamophobia on the streets.
Already we’ve seen the far right try to capitalise on this and organise demonstrations.
Maz Saleem, North London
Back strike to beat the loan shark
Last week debt advice charity StepChange reported the number of people struggling with payday loan debt has increased by 42 percent in the last year.
It is yet another indictment of Tory austerity.
With interest rates up to 7,000 percent, most people know that the payday loan is the one they’ll never be able to pay back.
But if the electricity or the gas is about to be cut off, what alternative is there?
The rapid growth of the industry in the last few years—worth £900 million in 2009 to £2.2 billion in 2012—speaks volumes about how depressing most workers’ paydays are in Britain.
Unemployment may be low, but you no longer have to be on the dole to struggle to make ends meet.
Tory party chairman Grant Shapps once called the payday lenders “obscene”.
But the Tories refuse to entertain any kind of cap on their extortionate interest rates.
For them there are two kinds of poor people—those who are deserving of help and those who aren’t.
With the rapid growth of food banks and payday loan sharks, it would seem that there are indeed two kinds of poor—those with work and those without.
And it is both that we need to mobilise behind the public sector pay strikes and mass trade union demos this October.
Pat Carmody, Oxford
Media is obscuring the roots of the Iraq crisis
The Islamic State group’s use of tactics such as beheading is horrific.
The reaction of the Western media to the beheading of the two US journalists reveals as much as it attempts to obscure.
The Telegraph described beheading as a “fetish” with Islamic State, while the Washington Post talked about “bloodlust” and “psychosis”.
But amid the Islamophobic pop psychology there is no mention of the context—the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq.
While the group uses the killings for propaganda, the Western powers have also used it to whip up support for their imperialist agenda.
It all obscures that the occupation destabilised, Iraq paving the way for this sectarian and reactionary organisation.
Emily Northfield, South London
Painting a picture of solidarity
Al-Hasaniya Moroccan Women’s Centre has a Peace Wall for Palestine project that we would like readers to know about.
We invite people to come and include messages on our specially commissioned mural. Children are especially encouraged to add their messages of hope and peace.
Our plan is to photograph the project and send to Palestine.
In a small way we hope it will provoke a cross cultural dialogue and let people in Palestine know they are not alone.
It is available to the public until 20 September at The Venture Centre, 103 Wornington Rd, London W10 5YB.
Ibtesam Hassan, West London
Warmonger of the year
I’m used to seeing spoofs and lies on the internet.
But I’ve yet to find the words to describe my feelings when I found out Tony Blair was named GQ magazine’s Philanthropist of the Year.
Whitewashing war crimes, lies and murder and draping them in the jewels and sparkles of millionaires on a lavish night out is beyond contemptible.
Charis Szuster, Glasgow
The only way to fight back
On your article about public sector pay strikes.
We need to back the strikes. It’s the only way to fight back.
Rory Kerr, on Facebook
Voting Yes is anti-racist
Marcus Carr is worried that a Yes vote in Scotland will lead to increased English chauvinism (Letters, 6 September)
But far right Loyalist groups in Scotland—as well as Ulster of course—want to stay and they will be voting No.
The Yes vote would be an opportunity to fight for a better society.
And the British state would then have less to crow about its “glorious” imperialist past.
So Martin has much less to worry about than the bigots of the racist English Defence League.
Nick Grant, West London
More irony than sense
“Plebgate” is the story that just keeps on giving.
The latest revelation is that the cops obtained the records of Sun journalist Tom Newton Dunn in order to identify the police officers leaking information.
This puts a spotlight on police power, and their ability to get around one law by using another.
It also highlights the ongoing relationship between the police and sections of the media.
But the Sun’s false outrage at phone hacking is at least ironic, even if it is devoid of any sense.
Ruairi O’Neill, Bristol