Thursday, April 5, 2012

If you want to change the world, stand with the women.

by Felicity Dowling
If you want to change the world, stand with the women.
Revolutionaries must support the rights of a woman to control her own fertility, her right to control what is done with and to her body. There is no leeway, no middle way in this issueIt is unsafe for any woman to trust any form of politics or social movement that denies this. There is no excuse for ignorance of what is facing women across the world working class and peasant communities right now.

There can be no liberation, no freedom, no emancipation for women without the right to control her own body in this and in other aspects of life and relationships,
Why is this an area of controversy? Why is it an area where the right wing media, religion and other reactionary social forces play a critical role?
Revolutionaries struggle for a better world for ourselves and for generations that come after us; but this is not just an issue for a better world in the future it’s a crucial issue for women’s lives today.

It’s a life and death issue
Women in 2012 face huge issues across the world. One woman a minute dies from complications of childbirth or pregnancy, including deaths from lack of medical care in terminations. Health care for pregnant women is often in the front line of cuts in re-structuring economies imposed by IMF, World Bank or other agencies of neo capitalism.

Zimbabwe is a case in point; a good quality health care was destroyed and reduced to one which leaves mothers and babies to die. A maternal mortality rate of per 100,000 live births in 1990 was 231 in 2008 it was 624.3. This follows the enforced re-structuring of the economy.

The contrast is that Italy has a mortality rate of 3.9 per 100,000 live births whereas Afghanistan has 1575.1. In 1990 in Afghanistan it was 1261.

The US has a rate of 16.6 in 2008 where previously it was 11.5 in 1990

UK is fairly stable at 8.4 and 8.8; but it has not joined the likes of Italy who have successfully driven this death rate down

France has seen an improvement from 14.2 to 10.

Pakistan had 541.2 and this had improved to 376.4 in 2008.

China had 86.9 in 1990 and by 2008 had 40.1

South Africa 1990 120.7 by 236.82008

Women die from giving birth if there is not proper health care at the point of pregnancy and before. The forced restructuring of the economies including imperialist war has caused much of the increased death

Informed observers of the situation who are not revolutionaries recognise the situation; below a quote from the world health organisation

“Sexuality and reproduction are central to women’s health
Women’s health during the reproductive or fertile years (between the ages of 15 and 49 years) is relevant not only to women themselves, but also has an impact on the health and develop­ment of the next generation. Many of the health challenges during this period are ones that only young girls and women face. For example, complications of pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death in young women aged between 15 and 19 years old in develop­ing countries. Globally, the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age is HIV/AIDS. Girls and women are particularly vulnerable to HIV infection due to a combination of biological factors and gender-based inequalities, particularly in cultures that limit women’s knowledge about HIV and their ability to protect themselves and negotiate safer sex. The most important risk factors for death and disability in this age group in low- and middle-income countries are lack of contraception and unsafe sex. These result in unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, complications of pregnancy and childbirth, and sexually transmitted infec­tions including HIV. Violence is an additional significant risk to women’s sexual and repro­ductive health and can also result in mental ill-health and other chronic health problems
 Capitalism seeks to control the reproduction of the next generation of workers; it’s a necessity for the system for there to be a next generation.
 , .all too often women are denied control over their bodies, denied a voice in decision making and denied protection from violence. Some 600 million women, more than half the world’s working women, are in vulnerable employment, trapped in insecure jobs, often outside the purview of labour legislation. Despite major progress on legal frameworks, millions of women report experiencing violence in their lifetimes, usually at the hands of an intimate partner.

Attacks on women and their rights and independence are and always have been a feature of an offensive by the ruling class. Look at how abortion has become a political issue in the states. Look at how, in the offensive against Obamacare, abortion has been affected.

Single Mothers
When they are not attacking women over abortion they are condemning young women for daring to become pregnant and to hold onto the pregnancy. Laws across the world are making life harder and harder for mothers who in any way step from the model family structure. In Japan, I am told, single women with children have five years social support and then nothing .The situation for the poor of the US in regards to child care is horrific. The US death rate for women in child birth in some states mirrors Africa. The situation for young mothers in the UK is terrible; yet the media would have us believe the absolute opposite

As capitalism took over Russia maternal health in all it aspects suffered
The soldiers' violence (endemic to and specific to modern warfare), state repression and poverty all damage women’s lives.

Role of ideas/hegemony
As Marxists however we need also to be aware of the impact of ideas, the hegemonic ideas of society s assiduously controlled and developed by modern capitalism and its evil cousin the extreme religious states. Those ideas include religion. L
Let’s be clear anyone has the right to any religious beliefs they like but anyone who understands the life of women in the 21st century needs to realise that these ideas are used and used effectively against women and serve to keep women in their place

Many years ago I debated in a very Catholic Labour Club in Kirkby near Liverpool with the SPUC (Society for the protection of the unborn child). I posed the reality facing young girls with babies outside of the traditional family and the terrible conditions they faced. I talked of how good nurseries, good housing and good adequate incomes could help. How the very people who opposed abortions were those who vilified those girls and who wanted to close down our social services and nurseries. In the audience were nuns who worked in the local home for such girls and their babies. At the end of the debate they came up and asked how they could help, could they join the Labour party fighting for these girls’ rights? We can win over any decent person who cares for people as much as ideas. The institution sexism of most state supported religions is unquestionable (that’s why they are state supported)

The campaign against abortion in the US has been so successful a women came into hospital to have termination because of an extreme risk to her own life and there was not a doctor available trained to perform the operation because doctors had opted out of that training. The same problem is threatened in the UK as the link below   indicate

The reactionary attitudes in South Africa to sexuality, sexual violence, and sexual health typified by attitudes to Aids show cruelly in the statistics of maternal death.

No -one discusses whether a woman should have the right to have any operation other than Abortion. (Although they used to object to sterilisation) Do we hear discussions about the rights and wrongs of appendectomies, of tonsillectomy, of colostomy or an amputation? If a women needs these it’s generally considered her business but on matters impinging on sex and control over fertility everyone thinks they can have a say

Abortion can be horrific, it can be an unpleasant minor op but the right to decide if it happens is the women involved and no one else. If someone else has the say who and why and where does it stop,

As socialists and fighters for the community we want children to be raised in happiness and health, with decent education, nutrition and health care. We want the environment to be safe not toxic.

Women have traditionally been the keepers of the community, defending it from the horrors of exploitation, protecting our species’ need to live in community. Even in deepest poverty women are often those who see the connections.
….rural women in Ghana who struggled to make a living by informally trading smoked fish. “In response to a question on priorities that they would set for global policy makers, they mentioned clean oceans and a fishery sector that will sustain future generations for a very long time,” she said. “Women recognize the importance of sustainability through their daily lives.”
 I have no more time to write on this. It is, as I say, a sticking point. If you want to change the world, stand with the women.

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