Classifieds | Archives | Jobs | About TGT | Contact | Subscribe
 | 
Last updated 4 hours, 19 minutes ago
Printer Friendly Version | TGT@Twitter | RSS Feed |
HOME LOCAL MIDEAST ASIA WORLD BUSINESS SPORT OPINION WRITERS
Sarah Ditum: Let’s talk about the DUP and women’s rights
June 17, 2017
 Print    Send to Friend

Before 10pm last Thursday night, the DUP was a shambles of a party whose leader Arlene Foster was responsible for the cash-for-ash scandal which has cost an estimated £490m and caused the collapse of power sharing in Northern Ireland. The moment the exit poll was in, it became one of the biggest forces in British politics as the prospect of the party entering into a confidence-and-supply arrangement to support a minority Tory government took hold.

And not long after that, senior politicians were making it clear that the DUP’s regressive social agenda would be staying in Stormont. Same sex marriages remain unrecognised in Northern Ireland, and the 1967 Abortion Act (which permits abortion under certain conditions in England, Scotland and Wales) still doesn’t apply there. The DUP has blocked legislative efforts at liberalisation on both counts.

Over the weekend Ruth Davidson, the Conservative’s leader in Scotland, demanded – and got – assurances from Theresa May that LGBT rights would not be up for debate. Soon after, Jeremy Corbyn gave an interview in which he declared: “LGBT rights are human rights. They must not be sold out by Theresa May and the Conservatives as they try to cling to power with the DUP.”

Well actually, as for abortion, there’s been a bellowing silence at the senior levels of politics. Corbyn’s formulation echoed Hillary Clinton’s famous formulation that “women’s right are human rights”, but there have been no specific words of assurance for the humans who are women and whose right to safe, legal abortion is routinely placed under threat at Westminster.

This is especially galling from Labour because its manifesto actually included a commitment to work with the Assembly to improve abortion rights in Northern Ireland. At present, women can be – and are – prosecuted for obtaining abortion pills under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, a piece of legislation that predates women’s right to vote. Heck, it predates women’s right to own property.

And any woman who chose not to take her chances with the law or for whom pills are not an option must instead pay to travel hundreds of miles to England, where she must pay for her abortion because the NHS will not fund it. The system is cruel, and urgently in need of reform. Yes, the fact that abortion is a devolved issue makes it sensitive, but women’s rights should no more be up for grabs than LGBT ones.

In fact, as the Abortion Act reaches its 50th birthday, the state of the law on reproductive is due for revisiting altogether, with campaigners agreeing that it is vastly past time for abortion to come out of the criminal code altogether and be treated as the health matter it actually is.

So how come our political defenders of socially liberal values aren’t talking about it now? If LGBT rights are human rights, do women count as human?

Here’s the cynical answer. It’s also the answer that I think happens to be true. Women don’t get to count as human. LGBT rights are human rights because they affect men too. Women’s rights – well they only affect women, and don’t merit any special protections. It’s a particularly bitter disappointment that women like Theresa May, Arlene Foster and Ruth Davidson can enjoy the fruits of equality through their own positions without defending the reproductive choice that is the cornerstone of liberation for women.

Women can’t rely on the benevolence of individually powerful female politicians, or trust in the good intentions of male politicians who mouth the right words up until the moment anything is actually on the line. Our lives, our freedoms rely on feminism – the politics that recognises what we share as women and gives us a way to fight together.

Because without feminism, women will keep being left till last.

The Independent

Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Comments
 
Post a comment
 
Name:
Country:
City:
Email:
Comment:
 
    
    
Related Stories
Robert Fisk: Not so strange bedfellows
Northern Ireland’s Protestants have always proved useful political tools for British ministers and ambitious, desperate politicians. Churchill played the “Orange card” be..
Siobhan Fenton: Irish unity is inevitable
Growing up in Belfast at the tail end of the Troubles, the so called “Irish question” always seemed a hypothetical one. The Good Friday Agreement was seen as answering th..
Siobhan Fenton: A political crisis is looming in Northern Ireland
While much of the UK media’s attention has been turned on Brexit, Trump and Corbyn-coups, Northern Irish politics has been tiptoeing to the edge of a cliff. Quietly and w..
Siobhan Fenton: Northern Ireland can’t simply be an afterthought
The UK Government could scarcely be doing more to destabilise and alienate Northern Ireland if it tried. As Theresa May’s Cabinet lurches from one post-Brexit crisis to t..
Ciara Riordan: Wogan inspired a generation of Irish people
I got to meet Terry twice. The first time was when I was a broadcast journalist with BBC World News in London. I had a very brief encounter in the lift (of all places) in..
FRONTPAGE
 
GALLERY
 
PANORAMA
 
TIME OUT
 
SPORT
 
 
Advertise | Copyright