Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sex, drugs and rock n roll

Today has been one of challenge and argument. In fact as we blog we are still arguing!

We split up this morning with Fiona and Pauline heading to the morning briefing. The main point of information was that every country is to have an opportunity to speak independently tomorrow on reproductive health instead of one submission from the European caucus.

Eve attended a session with the UN Human Settlement Program with regard to Land Access Trusts in Africa and India. The Trusts are set up to give women and women headed families the opportunity to gain training in financial matters, get mortgages, and start businesses in order that they might support themselves and their families.

Economics of the sex industry is the item that has caused so much group controversy. UNANIMA organised the meeting along with the Coalition against Trafficking. The packed to over flowing meeting heard from Melissa Farley, an American feminist research and clinical psychologist who has done recent research into prostitution and the sex industry in Las Vegas Nevada. We also heard from Victor Malarek, an investigative journalist who has spent some 30 years working looking at the industry and its victims. His recent book is The Natashas, inside the global sex trade, exposes yet more terrible statistics and facts.

We also heard from a lawyer, and Dr Gail Dines, Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies who has made numerous studies of the media culture surrounding the sex industry. Professor Dines showed very graphic slides of magazines and available mainstream Internet pornography in an effort to encourage us to understand that this is all freely available and accessed by many.

And that's where the arguments started.....

How do we undo the culture? Can we 'go back' to a time when this was not the norm and kids were not brought up to see violent pornography as normal? what do we think about advertising? How sexually explicit should films / videos / music videos / advertising be?

The discussions continue.....

Today has definitely been challenging on the emotional front. The National Council of Women in GB held and event on the effects of war on women and children. 70% of victims in war are women and children... that statistic alone is horrifying. Womankind Worldwide have produced a document called Taking Stock Update: Afghan Women and Girls Seven Years On which makes disturbing reading.

NAWO Widowhood in Conflict session followed on - the neglected gender issue addressing needs and and supporting roles. The African protocol has been introduced in Kurdistan because things are rather better now, and that does give opportunity for explicit detail on gender issues to be enacted.

Eve got off rather lighter during the afternoon and attended a League of Women Voters session on how to lobby your MP/Representative/Town Mayor/person of influence. She thought this might be a useful tool for the working day back in Parliament!

But seriously - it was a really effective session with a ten point practical plan for people to follow based on the idea that you might only get 60 seconds to get your point across, and how prepared you should be. The League of Women voters are a great group, cross party and dedicated to getting as many voters, especially women, registered and out to the polls.

Now getting back to the fun of the day; guess who we met? Eleanor Laing MP our Shadow Justice Ministry spokesman out here with the IPU, and also Baroness Joyce Anelay, representing the Lord's Speaker.

They were as surprised to see us as we were to see them - but so good that we can exchange views on how the CSW progresses and get more women in the Party involved back in the UK.

We had dinner with Eleanor - and enjoyed a joke with George the Millenium Hotel doorman! (No we are not staying there unfortunatley!!!)

So as we finish blogging at just gone midnight here in NY we have had a day that challenged our emotions and the concept of what can be legislated for, and what is about the human condition, and how we can make the world a rather better place for women.


greyfloozy said...

Where women lead - men follow!!
Keep up the good work

Niki Molnar said...

"70% of the victims of war are women and children"

I'd be interested to know how they defined "victim", as I would class those who have lost a husband or child as much a victim as those who have lost their own life.

If the 70% only counts "collateral damage" (the typical way Governments try and de-sensitify death and destruction), then this is absolutely shocking.

Who would go to war if they knew 70% of those who die would be innocent women and children?