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There is a long-held tradition at sea, that in an emergency women and children should be the first to be placed in the liferafts. In this age of so-called equality you might say that women should not receive preferential treatment, but they deserve equal treatment and surely we should protect the most vulnerable: our children. It seems in the Tories neocon ‘new normal’ they believe women and children should come dead last. This harsh reality has never been more stark than during the Coronavirus crisis, where, due to Tory Government incompetence and dithering, frontline mostly female carers were denied proper PPE while caring for vulnerable elderly who were forced to return to Care Homes without a negative Covid test. The predominantly female NHS Nursing staff have been offered a 1% pay increase after putting their lives on the line, but paid Carers and those on Carers allowance don’t even get a mention. Shamefully, it took the determination of a football hero to force this Government to accept responsibility for making sure the poorest children didn’t starve!
In the run-up to the latest Budget there were appeals to offer more help to the unpaid Carers identified in the Independent Article entitled “Call to help carers after shocking figures show 64 per cent have had no break since pandemic began.” They reported that “Lib Dems’ Ed Davey demands immediate emergency funding from Rishi Sunak” and highlighted that “The Liberal Democrats are today launching a campaign for unpaid carers to be given a break, after the release of shocking figures showing that 64 per cent have had no opportunity to take time off from their responsibilities during the coronavirus pandemic. In an open letter to Rishi Sunak, published in The Independent, Lib Dem leader Ed Davey called on the chancellor to provide immediate additional funding of £1.2bn for support services to allow a weekly break for every carer looking after a loved one at home.”
The Independent say “He cited a survey by Carers UK which found that 81 per cent of carers are spending more time on their caring responsibilities during the pandemic, either because of increased needs or the closure or reduction of support services because of lockdown restrictions. The survey found that 64 per cent of carers have not been able to take any breaks from their caring role during the pandemic, 74 per cent said they feel exhausted and worn out as a result and 44 per cent said they are reaching breaking point. In his letter, Sir Ed said: ‘During this pandemic, millions of people have stepped up heroically to look after elderly, disabled and vulnerable people. They are doing a remarkable and important job in very difficult circumstances’.”
According to what Davie told the Independent “A recent survey by Carers UK found that 81 per cent of carers are spending more time on their caring responsibilities during the pandemic, mainly because the needs of the person they are caring for have increased or because the local care services they rely on have been reduced or closed. ‘The brutal combination of lockdowns, shielding requirements and reduced support services have made the pandemic especially tough. But now most carers are simply exhausted. Most haven’t had a single break since the pandemic started.” He urged Mr Sunak to provide emergency funding now, or if that was not possible then in his 3 March Budget, for local authorities to provide more support. “It is essential that services such as day centres can reopen Covid-safe now, so that carers can finally take a break while the people they care for get the support they need,” he said.
The Independent report that Davie had said “With local authority budgets so badly overstretched, the government must provide immediate funding to make this possible, as part of a bigger emergency package to fill the funding gap in adult and children’s social care.’ Across the UK, some 6.5 million people, one in eight of the adult population, are carers, supporting a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill.” But did Sunak spare a second thought for our embattled Carers paid or unpaid? Absolutely not! Those working through agencies funded by local Councils will remain on minimum wage, zero-hours contracts where their frenetic care visits as brief as half an hour, interspersed with unpaid travel time. For those looking after a loved one at home there was no respite and because the meagre Carers Allowance is a legacy benefit there has been no uplift just a bleak future of minimal support. This is the demanding role that almost always falls to women, who the Tories put dead last!
It seems that the Tory austerity drive was aimed directly at women in particular and this is still very much the case. In the Labour List Article entitled “92% of net savings to Treasury since 2010 shouldered by women, says Whittome” Sienna Rodgers highlights the obscene disparity. She emphasised the injustice that “92% of net savings to the Treasury via tax and social security changes since 2010 have been shouldered by women, Labour MP Nadia Whittome has highlighted on the basis of analysis released on International Women’s Day. Research by the House of Commons Library commissioned by Whittome, the Nottingham East MP who is the UK’s youngest, shows that just 8% of savings through welfare, state pensions and direct taxation have come from men. The 92% versus 8% figures include measures announced in Rishi Sunak’s new Budget. They do not include indirect taxation, business/corporation tax or pension tax relief, nor the Covid furlough or self-employment support schemes.”
Rodgers points out that “The latest data suggests the disproportionate impact on women is intensifying, as the same analysis conducted in 2017, based on a methodology created by backbench Labour MP Yvette Cooper in 2010, revealed a split of 86% to 14%. Whittome has pointed out that despite exceptional measures being taken during the pandemic, such as the £20-a-week uplift to Universal Credit, the net savings generated from women since 2010 stood at £100.5bn compared to £8.2bn from men. ‘Women have overwhelmingly paid the price for a decade of austerity, with money taken directly from their pockets. Measures announced in Wednesday’s Budget failed to rectify this deeply unfair burden and may have actually made things worse. ‘We need a government that takes gender economic inequality seriously and is not oblivious to the impact its policies have on different groups,’ Nadia Whittome, MP for Nottingham East, said.”
Rodgers reported her demand that “The Chancellor must now urgently publish the government’s equalities impact analysis of the Budget and explain what steps will be taken to rectify the massive disproportionate impact of government policy on the lives of women.’ Sunak unveiled an extra £19m over the next two years for domestic abuse schemes in England and Wales in the Budget on Wednesday. Leaders and organisations in the sector welcomed the move, but said a £200m ‘shortfall’ remained. The Chancellor’s lack of attention to the social care sector and decision to freeze public sector pay, particularly affecting women, were also criticised. Keir Starmer said Sunak ‘barely mentioned inequality let alone tried to address it’.” However, we need a much stronger voice offering robust opposition to this Tory Government’s toxic policies; the Labour Party has been severely weakened by the targeting of the progressive Left under the wrecking ball of Trojan horse Keir Starmer who really needs to go ASAP.
In the Left Foot Forward Article entitled “The government needs to protect domestic abuse shelters for women,” Sophia Dourou says that “Campaigners are calling for the government to protect lifesaving women’s domestic abuse services.” She highlights the “Launching on International Women’s Day, a petition by domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid,” they are asking for the government to require local authorities to fund women’s refuges. The domestic abuse bill, which reaches report stage at the House of Lords today, requires councils to fund accommodation for survivors but does not specify women-only shelters. The charity is asking for specific funding for women’s’ shelters because abuse is a gendered crime and the vast majority of victims who get seriously injured or killed are women. This petition follows a number of Women’s Aid member services losing local authority funding.”
Dourou reports that “The charity’s recent Fragile Funding Landscape shows that one in five domestic refuge services are running without local authority funding, with spaces for Black and minority women far more likely to be unfunded. Women’s Aid chief executive Farah Nazeer said that the women-led domestic abuse services losing funding could lead to more women and children dying.” She said: “The decision by some local authorities to commission ‘gender-neutral’ services disregards the evidence that women experience the most severe domestic abuse; are more likely to be killed by their abuser; and that women experiencing domestic abuse need access to women-only support. ‘Women need to trust a service and feel safe to be able to access support, especially if they are leaving their home to move into a refuge with their children. Many will be living with long-term trauma, and will need specialist support to rebuild their lives’.”
Dourou noted that “Nazeer said that 91% of domestic violence crimes that lead to injuries are against women and three women are killed every fortnight by a current or former partner in the UK. ‘Coupled with the current government plan to separate domestic abuse from the Violence Against Women and Girls strategy, this will only serve to encourage more ‘gender neutral’ responses to domestic abuse,’ she added. ‘Women-led domestic abuse services are under threat, and there will be severe consequences for women and children if we do not stop this now’.” Left Foot Forward encourages you to Sign the Petition.
Posted on International Women’s day, in the Byline Times Article entitled “IWD 2021Internet Now ‘Most Dangerous Place’ to be a Woman Journalist,” Sian Norris exposes another danger facing outspoken women. She says that “A new study by Reporters Without Borders exposes the dangers faced by women journalists online and off. The internet has become ‘the most dangerous place for women journalists’, according to a new report from Reporters Without Borders – with 73% of those surveyed saying that they had experienced gender-based violence online. Published on International Women’s Day 2021, Reporters Without Borders gathered 112 responses from across the world, including from journalists who write about gender issues. It found that the “internet has become more hazardous for journalists than the street”.
Norris reports that “In response to the question “do you feel that impunity prevails, that the violence could be repeated, and that another woman journalist could fall victim to the same perpetrator?”, 85% of respondents said “yes”. This question applied to violence offline as well as online. The report recommends that journalists are provided with training to help them ‘develop good reflexes and responses to cyber-harassment and to create an ‘emergency internal mechanism to respond to threats and sexist attacks online’. It also suggests to women journalists that ‘while you are being attacked, ask a trusted person to manage your social media accounts for you, sifting through what you are receiving, deleting insults, blocking accounts that are the source of insults, and reporting those accounts’. Online violence against women journalists can take many forms, from trolling and targeted abuse on social media to the hacking of email accounts and the posting of personal information.”
Norris documents responses: “I get rape and death threats every day, aimed at me and my family,’ Syrian journalist Merna Alhasan told Reporters Without Borders. Indian investigative journalist Rana Ayyub said that she received ‘daily threats of rape and death’ and a wave of hatred on social media. Ayyub was targeted by abusers who used ‘deep fake’ technology to insert her image onto pornographic material. She said: ‘I felt like I was naked for the world. I was throwing up, I was in the hospital, I had palpitations for two days and my blood pressure shot up. I just couldn’t stop crying.’ India was found to be the most dangerous place to be a woman journalist. Women journalists who call out gender-based violence online also find themselves becoming a target. For instance, French journalist Nadia Daam, who accused the Blabla forum on gaming site jeuxvideos.com of fostering a culture of online bullying, received threats from men claiming they would ‘rape her dead body’.”
Norris describes a situation where “Women’s Rights in the Firing Line,” as “Reporters Without Borders found that women reporting on gender issues were at a greater risk of violence, both online and offline. According to Juana Gallego, head of Spain’s Gender Equality Observatory and a lecturer in journalism, writing about women’s rights ‘can prove dangerous in some countries where it means undermining traditions and arousing awareness in minds that have been subjected to a machista society’. Over the past decade, 942 journalists have been killed, of which 43 were women. Four of these women were killed for their work on gender rights, Mexico’s Miroslava Breach, India’s Gauri Lankesh, Iraq’s Nawras al-Nuaimi, and Malalai Maiwand who was killed by the so-called Islamic State.”
Norris says that “According to data collected in December 2020, two of the 42 women journalists currently in prison have ended up there as a result of reporting on women’s rights. They are Saudi journalists Nouf Abdulaziz al-Jerawi and Nassima al-Sada. A third Saudi journalist working on women’s issues, Eman al-Nafjan, was released on bail in 2019. One survey respondent in Spain told Reporters Without Borders: ‘The fact that women often write about women and feminism, as well as sensitive subjects such as human rights and minorities, exposes them to a two-fold danger, of being bullied which almost always includes sexist insults.’ Women who work in traditionally male-dominated fields, such as sport, are also routinely targeted with violence and harassment.” As the authoritarian rule of the Tory Sovereign Dictatorship intensifies its grip here in the UK, the situation will get more threatening for all outspoken journalists in this country and our Media is already leaning well towards the extreme right.
Norris points out that “Journalists were routinely targeted by former US President Donald Trump’s administration, with women journalists and women of colour singled out for sexism and exclusion. He repeatedly made comments designed to demean and belittle women journalists, telling PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor that she asked a ‘racist question# when she queried his statements on nationalism, and ordering CBS’ Weijia Jiang to ‘just relax’, telling her to ‘keep your voice down’ and saying she had a ‘nasty tone’. Trump told Cecilia Vega of ABC News ‘I know you’re not thinking, you never do’ and called CBS’s Paula Reid ‘disgraceful’ and ‘a fake’. Members of Trump’s administration actively excluded women by refusing to take meetings with women journ Sexist harassment, online and offline, has a chilling effect on journalism and women’s rights to freedom of expression. At its most extreme, it kills women journalists.” Boris Johnson is eager to follow the Trumpian model, ready to sling insults at women.
Norris claims that “Online violence in particular causes women to self-censor and discourages them from covering subjects which they fear will lead to harassment and abuse. Considering that women journalists are more likely to be the victims of this abuse if they report on women’s issues, this violence creates a vicious circle and silences writing and reporting on the issue of gender-based violence itself. According to the survey, violence against women journalists caused 48% of respondents to self-censor, while 22% closed their social media accounts and/or left professional networks. Another impact is on pluralism. If women are harassed out of journalism, issues that impact specifically on women are not heard and therefore not taken into account by decision-makers in politics, the economy and industry. It also allows everyday sexism in the media to flourish.”
According to Norris “In defiance of a male-dominated media landscape, women are coming together to fight back. In the UK, the Second Source was set up in 2017 following the #MeToo revelations against male journalists. The scheme runs events and a mentoring programme to support women in the industry. Meanwhile, in Brazil, Agência Pública co-founder Natalia Viana, who is often the target of online attacks from persons close to President Jair Bolsonaro, has said that women journalists had taken steps to protect themselves and are trying to build a stronger form of mutual aid.” She says that “In France, Prenons La Une has built a support network for women journalists.” We have progressive Socialist news outlets here in the UK like Byline Times, the Canary, Skwawkbox, Left Foot Forward, The Morning Star, Labour List, London Economic, Vox Political and so many more. We must support them and above all make sure that this rabid Tory Government does not shut them down.
The Government are using Covid as an excuse to shut down our valid right to protest; one Nurse in Manchester just received a hefty fine for organizing a protest against the 1% pay rise. But both Skwawkbox and the Canary are producing regular broadcasts available online so we don’t need to be drowned out by the Tory mouthpiece at the BBC. “#TheCanaryLive – International Women’s Day – Choose to challenge. The Canary is all about challenging the status quo and it runs through our blood as individuals. Join us to be a fly-on-the-wall while Canary women discuss the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day: ‘Choose to Challenge’. What does it mean to challenge gender bias and inequity? What can any individual really do to bring about social change? And with the trend of ‘cancel culture’ are the people who find themselves cancelled actually being given an opportunity to change and evolve? Are they really being held to account in a meaningful way? We’ll discuss this and more between 7 and 8 this evening.”
The Tories want to shut down Russia Today (RT) claiming they are spreading Fake News, while in reality the real political hype, lies and propaganda is being churned out via the BBC under Tory control. The reality of renewed austerity, rebranded to hide the truth, is starting to dawn on people across the UK. The battle over school meals, freezing public sector pay and now the insulting offer to the Nurses who have put their lives on the line during the pandemic; is anyone still buying their ‘lev…up’ lie? People will need to start taking to the streets on mass in protest because in huge numbers it will become impossible to shut down without enlisting the arm to turn guns on us. The obscene squandering of public funds while they wine about a well-deserved pay rise and try to convince us there is a £300Bn debt to pay back. We need to demand a full Investigation ofthe Covert 2019 Rigged Election that foisted this corrupt cabal on us. We need to challenge their corruption in Court and get them removed from office ASAP. DO NOT MOVE ON!