Human rights

Gender&Human rights22 Feb 2006 05:58 pm

Cunt Ladies! Gentlemen! May I introduce you to Travis Frey?

Travis is 33 and from Iowa. He has been charged with kidnapping his own wife and involvement in child pornography.

Sounds like a special guy, doesn’t he? Oh, but that’s not all.

Travis drew up this marriage contract for his long-suffering wife to sign and adhere to. She didn’t sign it and instead gave it to the police.

In this document, he proposes to award her “GBDs” (Good Behaviour Days) if she complies with his demands, which she can redeem to get out of a few of her duties, and to deduct them whenever she does not comply to his complete satisfaction.

I wanted to pull a few quotes out of it to astound you, but the whole thing is just incredible. Check these out:

(Page 2)“You are to do everything that is requested or expected of you, if you do not you are considered noncompliant. You are also noncompliant if you start something and can or will not finish, even if you state you are in pain and something hurts.”

(Page 3)“Shaving will be done every third day, and includes underarms, legs and pubic area (navel to anus), all areas are to be completely clean shaven. Every Saturday you are to use the Walh clippers with a guard no greater than 1/2″, and then present yourself to me for a measurement check.”

(Page 4)“You are to pose for 20 photos per quarter on demand, unless your quota is filled. Outfits, toys and poses will always be chosen by me. You must be freshly shaven on the day that photos are taken regardless of your shaving schedule. You will also style hair, apply make up and nail polish as needed.”

“By the end of the first day of each quarter you are to choose your ‘pet name’ that you want me to call you by. Your choice must meet my approval, and noncompliance will be a 20 GBD loss.”

Woman and gun He adds helpfully:

“This is not a contract; it is a description of rules for you.”

Nice of him to clear that up.

Oh, but that’s not the half of it. There is much, much more.

Read the original document here (4 misspelt pages) and then answer me this: is it wrong to wish there was a dingy corner of Guantánamo Bay reserved especially for the re-education of Travis Frey?

American politics&Asia Pacific&Europe&Human rights25 Jan 2006 09:36 pm

Chinese dog characterGoogle have joined Microsoft and Yahoo in capitulating to the Chinese government. They are offering a censored version of their search engine for use by Chinese citizens.

A lot has been said about this by Westerners of all political persuasions, but what surprises me most is that it surprises anyone. ‘BUSINESS MAKES DECISIONS BASED ON PROFITS RATHER THAN ETHICS‘ is hardly going to trouble the front pages.

What’s more unsettling, and increasing every day, is the volume of articles about how China’s emerging economy will be the ruin of the planet. Sanctimonious articles by supposedly left-leaning writers like this one are everywhere.

Apparently the environment is going to collapse under the strain of the entire world consuming at post-industrialist levels, and it’s all China’s fault for zooming up to Western levels of consumption.

The jawdropping hypocrisy of this viewpoint seems never to be questioned by any editor. China’s speedy adaptation to a Western-esque lifestyle is quite likely to be the last straw, survival-wise. But how can any Westerner argue that the problem is China? Europe, America and Japan rampaged across the planet’s resources long before China and India got anywhere near our rapacious behaviour. Now they are close behind, but the problem is not seen to be Ours or Everyone’s. It’s Them. It’s Their fault. They are worse than Us now, so They should be the ones to cut back.

Year of the Dog The Guardian article says:

The western economic model – the fossil fuel-based, car-centred, throwaway economy – is not going to work for China. If it does not work for China, it will not work for India, which by 2031 is projected to have a population even larger than China’s. Nor will it work for the 3 billion other people in developing countries who are also dreaming the “American dream”.

The implication here must be that our disgustingly wasteful consumerist economic model “works” for us.

As must be obvious to anyone with a basic grasp of arithmetic, it does not. It “works” only to deplete our planet to the point of collapse. The “American dream” – which is not too far ahead of the western European dream when it comes to consumerism – is fundamentally flawed. There is no such thing as endless growth. There are no more Earths to ransack.

So no, rampant capitalism won’t “work” for China or India, any more than it “works” for us. The difference is that China and India will probably never have the ultra-consumerist experience, however short-lived, because we’ve already used up most of the earth’s resources. Surrounded by riches beyond the wildest imagination of most of the world, and aware that the earth cannot even sustain our extravagance for much longer, we now begrudge anyone who might forshorten our reign of luxury.

Chinese lanterns “Sorry mate, we ate the last slice of cake. Hands off the crumbs though, you greedy pigs! Have you no SHAME?”

That’s about the size of it.

So any commentator who claims the earth’s impending destruction is the fault of China and its new-found Western-style materialism cannot be thinking clearly. Or they must be employed by a large corporation that has a vested interest in keeping the global status quo exactly as it is.


No, that one won’t be troubling the front pages either.

British politics&Europe&Human rights23 Jan 2006 07:00 pm

Pregnant Midge doll by Mattel Today, the High Court ruled that Sue Axon’s campaign to ban confidential medical treatment for children under sixteen is unlawful.

Mrs Axon is a mother of five. She wanted the law changed so that girls under sixteen can no longer be given advice, treatment for sexually transmitted diseases or an abortion without their parents being informed. One of her own daughters is due to give birth this March on her seventeenth birthday.

Mrs Axon claims that not being informed of the intimate details of her children’s sexual health appointments “undermined” her as a parent. She believes that if medical professionals respect her child’s privacy and grant him or her the same rights to medical privacy as a legal adult, her own human rights under the European Convention are being violated.

Here’s a direct quote:

“Having endured the trauma of abortion, I brought the case to ensure that medical professionals would not carry out an abortion on one of my daughters without first informing me. I could then discuss such a life-changing event with her and provide the support she would need.”

Hmm. “Having endured the trauma of abortion”. Not exactly a neutral perspective. It doesn’t take Miss Marple to work out that her “support” would come with a very firm agenda.

She also says she wished to change the law so that “our children can be protected from potentially damaging advice offered by professionals who do not know them.”

The very fact that members of the medical profession do not have a personal relationship with their patients means they can be as objective as any person could possibly be. Let’s not delude ourselves: the average age for loss of virginity in Britain is well under the legal age of sixteen. Fourteen is a closer bet. If a child of fourteen or fifteen – or even younger – is having sex, they need access to contraceptive advice, sexual health screening and emergency measures (such as the morning after pill or abortion) if they conclude, after considering all options carefully, that this is what they need.

If they’re old enough to have sex and mature enough to seek proper medical advice, they are old enough to decide who to talk to about it.

If a nurse told a 14 year old boy that they had to call his mother before dishing out his monthly allocation of free condoms, they’d scarcely have time to look up before he pelted out of the door at top speed. Result? Well, if he’s unlucky, perhaps a local flurry of STDs and another teen pregnancy, easily prevented if that embarrassment factor had not been introduced. Any child responsible enough to seek contraceptive advice should be applauded, not humiliated.

If a doctor told a 15 year old girl that her parents had to be involved before she could gain access to abortion advice, she may well attempt to take care of matters herself with a few of the old bottle of gin/hot bath/throw yourself down the stairs type ‘remedies’. Worst still, there may once again appear a market for backstreet abortionists, for girls whose religious or fiercely moral parents would forbid them to undertake the medical procedure of their choice.

Midge and crib I’m sure Mrs Axon would not want to think of any girl taking her chances with a thug and a knitting needle. I’m sure she would prefer to convince herself that a parental right to be told would have no effect on the numbers of children who seek legitimate medical treatment in a responsible, adult way. But I believe she is wrong.

Luckily, so does the High Court. Kids, go and get yourselves kitted up with contraceptives. Get yourselves checked for STDs. Remember you can always talk to someone in confidence if things go wrong. This is your business and yours alone, and it’s going to stay that way. Just as it should.

The real tragedy here is not that Mrs Axon lost her fight, or that she considers her own “human rights” eclipse her child’s right to impartial advice, but what it says about her experience of parent-child relationships. Many children are so emotionally close to one or both parents that they would seek help and advice from them as a first resort. They would trust their parents to do the best for them. They may ask a parent to accompany them to a medical appointment, or ask them for input in the decision making process, without fearing that the parent would seek to impose their own rigid views on them. I can’t help feeling that a parent who demands a new law to allow her to barge uninvited into her children’s bedrooms is clearly not very close to her children at all.

Europe&Human rights&Writing16 Dec 2005 10:23 am

Today, a brilliant writer called Orhan Pamuk goes on trial in Turkey.

Orhan PamukHis novels include the astonishing My Name Is Red, Istanbul and The Black Book. He is undoubtedly the most internationally renowned living Turkish novelist.

Pamuk was prosecuted by the Turkish authorities because he mentioned in a media interview the slaughter of Armenians and Kurds by his own country.

According to Turkey, these deaths were not genocide and Pamuk has committed a crime by suggesting they were. The crime is classified in Turkish law as “insulting the country”.

Pamuk repeated his claims in October when collecting a German peace prize. His trial date was already in the court timetable by then. That “let them see” strategy drew European attention to the case and now an intense media scrutiny has fallen on Turkey and its attitude towards human rights.

The political background to this case is significant. Turkey wants desperately to join the European Union. Many sections of the existing EU feel it should not join. Some commentators think this unwelcoming behaviour is plain old anti-Islamic prejudice. Some blame Turkey’s poor human rights record for the chilly reception. It’s probably a combination of both.

Europeans are notoriously disapproving of what could be seen to be heavy-handed draconian tactics. So Orhan Pamuk’s trial in Turkey may well have a strong effect on European public opinion. The authorities may decide to be lenient to reduce resistance to the bigger economic prize of EU membership. Or they may decide to make a high profile example of him. It’s impossible to say. But it will have long lasting political implications, whichever way the judgment goes.

Outside the framework of social context, this is the story of one artist’s right to free speech. Those of us who support that cause will be with him all the way. Orhan Pamuk, stick to your guns. Turkey, think carefully. We will be watching.

UPDATE: The trial has just been suspended for the time being, minutes after starting. Turkey is buying time to find a way out of this PR disaster, perhaps…

British politics&Human rights08 Dec 2005 02:33 pm

Instruments of torture

Just when you thought you’d had all the sensible legal decisions you were likely to get in one week, here comes another one.

Today, the British Law Lords found unanimously that the Government’s detention of 8 men without charge is unlawful because it relies on evidence which may have been obtained by torture. Lord Carswell concluded that “to allow its admission would shock the conscience, abuse or degrade the proceedings and involve the state in moral defilement“.

None of this fuss should have been necessary. The inadmissibility of evidence gained by torture is already a long-standing pillar of British law. Unfortunately, Blair’s government seem to have chosen not to bother themselves with such trifles. Even the Court of Appeal – the highest court in the land, junior only to the House of Lords and the European Court of Justice – recently decided that such evidence could be used, provided it wasn’t obtained by British authorities.

The “turn a blind eye” attitude of those ministers and judges is the very reason “rendition” (in Condi Rice’s terminology) and Guantánamo are tolerated. The torture and degrading treatment of human beings is still being done in our name, even if we are plugging our ears with our fingers and singing “la la la, can’t hear you”. To suggest otherwise is disingenuous at best.

Now, the increasingly deranged British government will be obliged to uphold the law. The Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, must review all cases where prisoners are being held due to evidence obtained in countries where torture takes place.

So the week’s going pretty well for human rights activists. What next? Abandonment of the preposterous ID card scheme? I’ll mention it in my letter to Santa.

British politics&Human rights&Pop culture&The art of blog07 Dec 2005 10:15 am

Judge Apparently The Telegraph has briefly quoted your own Foxy in today’s paper. I haven’t seen a print copy yet, but I’m told it’s on page 19. The web version seems to be here.

Non-Brits, just to explain: The Telegraph is an extremely conservative (with a big and small C), right wing, Establishment broadsheet daily newspaper, beloved of the ruling class.

I look forward to a short boost in readership comprised entirely of High Court judges, Tory MPs and minor aristocracy. (Is it too soon to take them aside and explain they might not agree with everything they read here?)

British politics&Human rights05 Dec 2005 07:02 pm

Here come the brides Today, we have a piece of new legislation that makes the country better, not worse. And that’s not something you can say every day.

As of today, gay couples can register their partnership and receive the same kind of legal rights as heterosexual married couples. The law has been in place since November last year, but changes to all the applicable administrative systems have taken time. From now on, civil ceremonies between same-sex couples will be officially recognised.

Here come the grooms Of course, the government has wriggled out of using the word “wedding” in the Civil Partnerships Act, presumably to alleviate the concerns of those upstanding citizens who feel two people promising to love and take care of one another for life is an abomination.

But the sophistry of calling it “registration” rather than “marriage” doesn’t hide the fact that this is one of the biggest British civil rights gains in recent times. Over the last few years, ministers have seemed more comfortable eroding their constituents’ liberties than increasing them. This is a positive step indeed.

Loved up Couples who register their partnership – and let’s refer to it as “marry” regardless, shall we – will be assessed for benefits, immigration and state pension rights as a couple. They will be able to succeed tenancy agreements in the event of one outliving the other. They will receive due compensation in the event of an accident. They will be recognised under inheritance laws. If they choose to split, they will need to dissolve their partnership through the courts, just as straight married couples do. If they have children, the absent parent will have rights of contact.

So I’m looking forward to the summer already, when I hope to get twice as many wedding invitations as usual. I think I’d better splash out on an outlandishly chic hat.

American politics&Corporate&Human rights09 Sep 2005 10:58 am

I initially wrote this as a comment to the post below but, having finally realised (with help from Mr Swiss) that it is crazy to bury long rants in comments and later plead blogger’s block, I am posting it here instead.

Pat commented that the article quoted in the post below is very harsh.

Well yes, it is harsh. I agree. As I said, I doubt I would’ve put it quite like that.

Nonetheless, I share the sentiment behind it.

The idea that a shoot-to-kill policy was put in force in New Orleans to stop looting – to protect property over human life, in other words – is just staggering.

I know there are some fairly effective attempts by officials to excuse this, such as the “We’re just protecting law-abiding citizens from rapists and crack addicts” excuse, but the bottom line is exactly what that article says: “one item of our property is worth more than your life”. Initially, it was admitted in the international media that the shoot-to-kill approach was intended to protect property, presumably to reassure those who have some. That cry seems to have turned to a whisper, in the face of international disapproval, but it doesn’t change the motive.

This is capitalism at its rawest, without the usual sweeteners which make it palatable.

In modern life, money rules. You will be killed if you attempt to come between capital and the rich. That’s true for everyone, everywhere. The police protect those with property; those who have power, influence, things. The life of a poor person is worth less than a single dollar to the rich. You need only look at the local droughts around Coca-Cola’s bottling plants, or the sweatshop labour of Asia, to see that. It’s not news to any of us. We know what makes the world go round.

Again, it doesn’t really shock any of us that poor, disenfranchised people are not considered worthy of much official effort when it comes to saving lives. They do not constitute an important market, and they are not sufficiently shackled to the labour market, for various reasons, to affect the economy. So what use are they? (See also: most of Africa.)

So what’s most chilling of all about the New Orleans situation is that it is not an anomaly. It is merely the hideous face of modern capitalism without its make-up on.

American politics&Corporate&Human rights&Race08 Sep 2005 07:43 pm

I didn’t write this. I found it on this Indymedia post and thought it said all the things I’d been wanting to write in response to recent discussions, only more succinctly. And more aggressively than I would’ve said it, to be honest, but it still saves me a job. (Lazy, moi?) So here it is.

Priorities of Empire

The American ruling class couldn’t give a shit about the largely poor and black population of New Orleans. To these corporate oligarchs the poor are just so much expendable trash, to be confined in prisons or sent to die in colonial wars.

The truth is revealed: America is neither a nation nor a community – it’s a rich man’s racket, a con imposed on the majority of the population. As a political entity it has ceased to exist for the majority of the population who are left out of the social contract. The sadistic oratory of the governer says it all: if you are starving we will shoot you, we will shoot to kill… The czar of Russia couldn’t have put it more crudely. We are your rulers, you are scum, one item of our property is worth more than your life, and the life of your family. Challenge one iota of our wealth and power and we will destroy you like an insect.

America wake up…refuse to fight, refuse to kill, take your country back from the slime that claim to rule in your name.

‘Dr Strangelove’

Activism&Audience participation&Burma&Human rights&South Asia03 Jun 2005 12:07 pm

If you have a spare birthday card – or notelet, or postcard, or can knock one up yourself – please consider sending it to Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma. For more information on Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burma campaign, please have a quick look here.

My card cost 68p to post and the card itself was 50p, so not a large investment. But it’s important that the world is seen to be watching Aung San Suu Kyi, and this might be a good way to do that. Little tactical actions like this are sometimes the most useful.

I’ll cut and paste the original campaign request, rather than paraphrase the whole thing. Here’s why I’m asking:


Action Request – please forward to friends and colleagues.

On Sunday 19th June is the 60th Birthday of Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Burma’s democracy movement. On that day she will have spent a total of 9 years and 238 days in detention. Armed soldiers behind a barricade of barbed wire turn away any visitors. The regime has also cut her phone line, so no-one can call to wish her happy birthday.

The brutal generals who rule Burma have already made one attempt on her life, attacking a convoy she was travelling in on May 30th 2003. Up to 100 of her supporters were beaten to death in the attack. Aung San Suu Kyi’s car managed to speed away, but she was later arrested.

The regime are doing everything they can to isolate Aung San Suu Kyi.
They want the world to forget about her. They fear her popularity. She is the main threat to their continuing rule, and there are growing fears for her safety.

Please send a birthday card to Aung San Suu Kyi. Although the card is
likely to be intercepted by the regime, thousands of cards arriving will send a powerful message to the regime. If they know the world is watching, it will make it less likely that they will take action against Aung San Suu Kyi, as they will fear the international reaction. Your card will help keep her safe from further attacks.

Send your card to:

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
54 University Avenue
Bahan 11201
Myanmar (Burma)

Please forward this message to friends and colleagues.

This action is part of a global campaign to free Aung San Suu Kyi. For more information visit:”>Burma Campaign.

To stay in touch with the campaign, join our email network. Send a blank email to”

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