Tagged: basic human fucking rights

[Daily Blog reposts] Reform NZ abortion law now

This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 21 March 2013.

I’m returning to an old theme of mine, on this shiny new platform, not only because it’s an issue which I think is important, but one which needs to be discussed.

It needs to be discussed because it’s a matter of basic human rights.

It needs to be discussed because a lot of people – politically-savvy people who are interested in law and rights and progressiveness – really don’t have a good basic knowledge of it.

It needs to be discussed because treating it like an icky scary gross vagina-related issue is one of the reasons New Zealand, a country so bloody smug about its achievements in other areas (*cough*givingwomenthevote*cough*), continues to have condescending, paternalistic, backwards, health-endangering laws around abortion.

Abortion, as part of a whole big wibbly-wobbly thing called “reproductive rights”, is a human right because no one else has the power to commandeer your internal organs for their own purposes.  It’s a health issue because, no matter what restrictions have been placed on it historically, pregnant people have always found ways to end pregnancies they do not want.  Some of these ways are a lot safer than others.

It’s a public health/social welfare issue because forcing people in difficult circumstances to go through pregnancy – not, in fact, a picnic – and then raise a child they do not want, on the generous support of a Paula Bennett-run social welfare system, may just lead to bad outcomes:  hungry kids.  Abused kids.  Unemployed parents.

And abortion in New Zealand is not on demand, no matter how often people who pretend to “love life” insist that we “practically” have abortion on demand.  The hoops pregnant people have to jump through are ridiculous, even when they’re accessible (note: Southland DHB has now begun offering abortion services in Invercargill, despite the best intimidation efforts of “pro-lifers”).  It’s patronising.   It only delays the inevitable – because pregnant people who don’t want to be pregnant will find a way to end that pregnancy, and the longer they are forced to wait, the more dangerous it becomes for them.

Abortion is still a crime under the Crimes Act in New Zealand – with a big messed-up process to get around it, like a labyrinthine self-defence defence.  New Zealanders deserve better.  They deserve the right to control their own bodies and fertility, without petty obstacles.  They deserve the right to make their own medical decisions in private (and yep, that also includes pregnant people who want to remain pregnant).

Now do go on and tell me I’m a soulless baby-killer while I get a cuppa.  If the leftwing men would form a backup chorus for the “why aren’t you focusing on issues that matter” number later this evening that’d be great too.

Victimised prisoners denied $290,000 legal compensation

Less than half the compensation awarded to New Zealand prisoners who have been mistreated has actually been paid to them – or to their victims.

The scheme, which came into effect in 2005, was set up to ensure that prisoners who have been mistreated do not receive compensation until any outstanding debt they owe to their victims has been paid.

One prisoner, Steven Brent Gunbie, was awarded $43,313 for [something].  However, the payment has been held in trust since 2007, and Gunbie will only receive the money after claims from victims of his crimes are settled.

However, only six victim claims have been successful since the scheme started in November 2005.  The six victims have received payments totalling $49,000, and another $63,000 is being held in 19 cases for court-ordered reparation.

The delays are caused by [something].

The scheme was originally set up after prisoners at Auckland Prison at Paremoremo were forced under a programme called the “behaviour management regime” to live in isolated squalor and were treated inhumanely.

The prisoners were awarded a large sum in compensation.  This led to public outcry over the rights of victims of crime.  The Labour government introduced the current law on a trial basis to ensure money would not go directly to prisoners if their victims were owed anything.

The Government has now made the scheme permanent, even though its own advisers say it does not help victims of crime.

Prisoners have received $220,000 from a total pool of $516,000. Another $290,000 is being held in trust pending 12 claims from victims.

After the initial payments, almost all compensation payments are being made to prisoners who have been kept in prison beyond their release dates.

Correction Minister Anne Tolley said work was in progress to move to an electronic system to reduce the number of these errors, but also said prisoners should not receive taxpayer money, despite being illegally detained after their sentences finished.

Garth McVicar of the Sensible Sentencing Trust criticised the scheme for forcing victims of crime to re-engage with offenders if they wanted compensation.  He said the Justice Minister at the time, Phil Goff, “was trying to pacify and tried to have a foot in both camps.”

Current Labour Party justice spokesperson Andrew Little said the law did not work and failed to meet victims’ needs.  It also had the perverse effect of victims benefiting only when the state abused prisoners.

Outstanding payouts

[insert list of unsettled claims here if necessary]

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This is the article which David Fisher wanted to run in the NZ Herald – an article about obstacles in the path of giving just compensation to prisoners mistreated by bungling corrections staff.

It’s just a pity the version which got published was headlined “Prisoners paid $500,000″ – which isn’t true – describes Steven Brent Gunbie as “violent gun-wielding kidnapper Steven Brent Gunbie” and began,

A child sex offender was paid $26,600 in compensation by the taxpayer under a scheme which has awarded more than $500,000 to prisoners since it came into effect in 2005.

which puts a rather different spin on the matter, don’t you think?  Or am I just unintelligent and poorly informed?

~

But let’s be serious – David Fisher could’ve written the above – or even something better.  The NZ Herald?  Ain’t got no time for giving a shit about abuses of prisoners’ rights.  Not when there’s pageviews in them thar hills.

Parenting and politics just don’t mix!

This week, we’ve seen some really clear examples of how parenting and politics don’t mix.

Nanaia Mahuta, MP for Hauraki-Waikato, had to take her five-month-old baby into the debating chamber late on a Friday night because 8 of her Labour colleagues apparently had far more important things to attend and no one told Chris Hipkins that this government likes to ram things through under urgency right after the Budget.

And Holly Walker, list MP for the Greens, has received kindly, compassionate words of advice from a constituent who wanted to remind her silly ladybrain that it’s a terrible, terrible crime for her to be pregnant while elected.

Mahuta and Walker just don’t understand.  Politics and parenting doesn’t mix.  They’d be well advised to look to role models like the Prime Minister, who understood that because he chose to have a son who attends a prestigious private boys’ school and chose to become leader of our country, he needed to set priorities and remember he can’t just demand that politics accommodates his choice to have children.

Which is why he didn’t attend his son’s overseas baseball game when it clashed with the funeral of two New Zealand soldiers.

Wait, no, the other way round.

Now, the thing is that Key did get some blowback for that choice – but because it was seen as a matter of his priorities, and the fucked-up-ness thereof, not because John Key’s choice to be a father is inherently in conflict with his choice to run for office.

All Mahuta has asked is that we reconsider Parliamentary rules laid down in the dawn of time when the notion of a woman MP would have been mindblowing – much less a breastfeeding parent MP.  All Walker has asked is that we, um, accept the existence of her pregnancy, and presumably make the same allowances that all working pregnant people should receive, because (a) pregnant people deserve basic human rights and dignity and (b) pregnant people are just kinda ensuring the propagation of our species and the creation of future taxpayers who are going to support all your judgemental asses in retirement thanks to this government’s short-sighted bullshit suspending payments to the Cullen Fund.

Yet apparently this is completely inconceivable, despite the point (raised on Walker’s Facebook thread) that it’s meant to be the House of fucking Representatives.  And pregnant people and breastfeeding people and parenting people deserve some fucking representation too, and if they cannot be accommodated by the institution which governs all our lives, where the fuck will they be accommodated?

~

Addendum: I note with raised eyebrow the National Council of Women‘s tweet on the matter.  Read it how you willETA: apparently just a case of sloppy editing.  My raised eyebrow stands.

And yet, still no sign of the Herald’s DEMOCRACY UNDER ATTACK banner …

You might think the legal/policy arrangements around reimbursing carers of adults with disabilities would be a bit of a minority issue which the vast majority of New Zealanders don’t have to worry about, due to their able-bodied privilege.

But you’d be wrong, because right now that issue is the site for the National government’s most egregious shitting-upon of basic concepts of justice.

Take it away, Andrew Geddis.

What’s a good way, you might ask, to create a policy on paying family caregivers without running the risk of it being overturned? And the answer I assume you’d give is “make sure that the policy isn’t unlawfully discriminatory, so there is no reason for this to happen.” If so, you are an idiot. Because there’s a far, far better way to respond.

You simply tell the Human Rights Review Tribunal and the courts that they are not allowed to look at the policy and decide whether or not it is unlawfully discriminatory.

I’d just like to end with a little thought experiment for the class: imagine that Labour were in power and passed any legislation – say, to plant more native trees on public land, or to make it illegal to waterboard people – and then said “but you can’t see the advice we’ve made this decision on, and you can never ever challenge it.”

Oh, and passed it under urgency.

Just imagine it.  The Kiwiblog commentariat would shit themselves.  W****O**’s servers would probably explode.  You’d hear Cactus Kate’s screams all the way across the Pacific.

Add this to Sky City’s 35-year protection clause and our whole constitution just got taken out back and shot in the head, and National’s turned the corpse into a ventriloquist’s doll and is assuring us that democracy is just resting after a rather vigorous squawk.

We are so fucked.  And the mainstream media will probably do fuck-all about it.

Wellington event: get human rights issues for queer, trans and intersex people on the board

Human rights issues for queer, trans and intersex people in New Zealand

Early next year New Zealand will appear before other countries at the United Nations (UN) for its second Universal Periodic Review (UPR). They will question NZ about its overall human rights performance.

The voices of community groups are a vital part of this process. The Human Rights Commission is currently holding some workshops around the country about how to use the UPR process (and reporting against UN Conventions) to profile the issues important to your communities. More details about the UPR process and these workshop dates are on the Commission’s website here:http://www.hrc.co.nz/international-human-rights-new/faqs-for-upr-1314

Using the UPR process to focus on sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex issues

The Commission has organised a follow-up meeting for people wanting to make UPR submissions on intersex, sexual orientation and/or gender identity issues.

Thursday, April 18, 6-7.30pm, Level 1, Vector House, 44 The Terrace, Wellington

This is an event run by the Human Rights Commission. Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley would like to provide support our local community to attend. Our LGBTIQ team staff members Kate and Rosie will be attending and we would love to see you there.

Full details at On a long enough timeline, everything changes

H/T somebody on Twitter.

Police officers given green light to abuse their power

How’s that changing-our-repugnant-police-culture going?

Police officers who deliberately faked their uniform badge numbers to avoid being identified as they weighed into a violent public protest will keep their jobs and won’t be investigated by the force’s watchdog.

Because?

Despite the pre-meditation involved, the Independent Police Conduct Authority decided the three officers’ behaviour was not serious enough to warrant its attention, saying investigators were too busy dealing with cases involving death and bodily harm.

Here’s the big issue (right after “either the IPCA has fuck-all investigators or our Police are physically injuring/killing so many people that a well-staffed IPCA is overrun with cases”): why the fuck are our police officers taking deliberate, explicit steps to hide their identities in the first place?

And why the fuck do we have a Police Commissioner whose response basically reads as “dammit, boys, if you must make us look bad at least do it smartly so you don’t get caught!”:

“I hope it isn’t true, but if such stupidity did occur – give me strength,” Marshall wrote in his blog on the police website. “Talk about scoring an own goal.”

It is true.  It wasn’t “stupidity”, it was a deliberate step to avoid identification in a situation where the officers involved felt strangely certain that their behaviour might incite complaints from members of the public.

But when the Police Commissioner describes it as “an own goal”, as “foolishness”, not “a perversion of the course of justice and a wilful attempt to avoid detection while roughing people up and denying them their democratic rights”, what the hell else do you expect officers will do?

They’ve just been clearly told, “you will not be independently investigated up until the point you actually shoot someone”.  They’ve just been given the clear message, “we will cover your shit up, just pretend to be sorry and like it was all a big mistake.”

Cue Greg O’Connor any minute now to tell us how no police should ever have to wear badge numbers because how else are they meant to cow the sheeple into submission?

For some totally-anonymous-yet-still-somehow-authoritative commentary on the matter, check out the Dom Post’s editorial.

21 great reasons to eyeroll at Family Fist

Mythical-concepts-of-Family First have issued a pamphlet (warning: links to Family First website) outlining the “21 great reasons” to keep legally discriminating against loving same-sex couples and parents.

I assure you you don’t need to read it, since it’s actually just the same old four ridiculous reasons they always bring up:

  1. Marriage is an eternal unchanging institution, the Bible says so, also we’re afraid of change
  2. We don’t hate gay people, we just think they’re icky different
  3. What about dogs, ponies, and underage children?  (This line of reasoning really never does get less creepy, does it?)
  4. THINK OF THE CHILDREN (not because of the underage marriage provision, obvs)

Which is where they roll out this hilarious image:

family first 1

A sad-looking white girl stares soulfully at the camera, captioned: “If I have two dads, who will be my mummy?”

I thought of a few ways to respond to this.  There’s the classic “lacking one bio-parent doesn’t mean you never see a person of that gender for your entire childhood” argument:

ovaries

A sad-looking white girl stares soulfully at the camera, captioned: “If I have two daddies, two grandmothers (typo in original), several aunties, a godmother, multiple female primary school teachers and a Scout Leader, I will obviously still be fucked up because the specific ovaries which spat out the egg which became me isn’t in the picture. Shit.”

Then there’s, “but despite continually insisting that you have SCIENCE on your side, you’ve simply never established that a parent of either gender is 100% necessary to the development of a well-socialised human being”:

A sad-looking white girl stares soulfully at the camera, captioned: "If I have two kittens, who will be my puppy?"

A sad-looking white girl stares soulfully at the camera, captioned: “If I have two kittens, who will be my puppy?”

But let’s be honest, after five minutes trying to engage with the bizarro logic of homophobic bigots, I just decided laughter was the best policy.

A sad-looking white girl stares soulfully at the camera, captioned: "If

A sad-looking white girl stares soulfully at the camera, captioned: “If a train leaves Timaru at 50kph at 2pm travelling a distance of 250km, and neither of my gay dads are good at math, can I get a homework credit?”

A sad-looking white girl stares soulfully at the camera, captioned: "When there's something strange in your neighbourhood, who are you gonna call?"

A sad-looking white girl stares soulfully at the camera, captioned: “When there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who are you gonna call?”

A sad-looking white girl stares soulfully at the camera, captioned: "If I summon Cthulhu, who will summon Shub-Niggurath?"

A sad-looking white girl stares soulfully at the camera, captioned: “If I summon Cthulhu, who will summon Shub-Niggurath?”

A living wage: living with dignity edition

The concept of a living wage is one that just makes good sense to me.  A wage should be enough to live on, right?  Because it’s a wage?  Because what’s the point if it doesn’t?  Because … because we have to work to support ourselves and our families and if the wage isn’t enough to live on surely it makes no sense?

(As I ask these questions, my expression gets progressively more and more confused.  I assure you it’s very cute.)

But I realise I am not everyone, and so when a group of very knowledgeable people put together some estimates of what a “living wage” would really be (covered by Eddie here and Ben here), I go “sounds fair to me” and other people go, “But I could live on far less than that, these numbers are too high!!!”

What I’ve come to realise is that “living wage” means vastly different things to different people.

To some people, it means enough to tread water.  Enough to fulfil basic caloric requirements and pay for rent on the smallest place you can find (probably in Kawerau, or Gore, because if you claim you can’t afford rent and you live in Auckland, where all the jobs are, you’re just being demanding), wearing underwear from a $2 shop and using minimal power because you don’t need a television if you’re really struggling.

Honestly, I’m surprised I haven’t yet seen a comment saying “but you don’t need to go out even once a month if you really can’t afford to!!!”  And I will thank you not to link me to it if you see it.

To me, there’s an unspoken “with dignity” that sits after “living”.  It means more than the bare bones, more than scraping by, more than just making ends meet.

It means being able to save, so you have a safety net when things go wrong.  It means not shifting from flat to flat when the landlord raises the rent, moving the kids from school to school, and certainly never having the temerity to aspire to home ownership.  It means having treats – a day at the zoo, a movie, a bottle of wine, opportunities to bond and socialise and enjoy the company of your family and other people.

It means being able to hold your head up at the school gate because your kid can have a new pair of shoes (which aren’t shitty plastic that’s going to hurt their feet) to wear to school.

Sure, the kid could wear jandals, and nobody’s going to die without a glass of $10 sav, and takeaways are going to kill us all … but seriously.  What complete sociopathic lack of empathy do you have if you can’t even allow that human beings deserve lives which include enjoyment and reassurance and dignity?

And if you really are a middle class bastard motivated purely by self-interest, you know what else letting people live with dignity means?

People not becoming totally disillusioned with our society.  People not doing everything they’re told they have to do, only to feel like they’re never going to get ahead.  People not turning into criminals, breaking into your home, stealing your shit, and burning your fucking house down because they have been browbeaten and shat on and starved and shuffled from low-paying temporary job to low-paying temporary job until they have fucking snapped and said “fuck it, why the fuck not go eat the rich?”

People don’t have bread and you’re sitting back saying “Let them NOT eat cake, cake’s a luxury item!” and you don’t expect this shit to bite you in the ass?

A living wage is a wage that lets people live with dignity.  Is that so much to fucking ask?

“Arbeit macht frei” sind NICHT deine Woerter

So, originally this was going to be a ranty post about how seriously grossed-out I am by repeated comments by lefties, in response to National’s prison labour proposals, which toss around the phrase “Arbeit macht frei” with little regard for either Godwin’s law or basic fucking proportionality.

Then I did a search for “arbeit” on The Standard and … well, the scale of the issue became very evident.

Forcing prisoners in New Zealand prisons to work is shitty.  It’s oppressive.  It’s an abuse of power.  It’s capitalist scumthuggery.

It’s not a fucking Nazi death camp.

The phrase also gets thrown about casually in discussions about Paula Bennett’s vicious welfare reforms.

Forcing beneficiaries into low-paying, un-liveable jobs is shitty.  It’s oppressive.  It’s economic bullying.  It pushes families into further deprivation.

It’s also not a fucking Nazi death camp.

Verbscape on Twitter summed it up pretty perfectly:

Q: What things are like deathcamps? A: Deathcamps.

Q: What things aren’t like deathcamps? A: Every-fucking-thing else.

You are not fucking clever because you can remember one single iconic piece of information from 5th form history, people.  Can’t we just criticise this shit because it is wrong, and not so you can totally show off your awesome History Channel referencing abilities?

We need better abortion access

That’s the message I take from the Abortion Supervisory Committee’s annual report, as summed up here by ALRANZ.  Per their post:

Disappointingly little progress in ensuring a higher percentage of abortions are performed earlier in pregnancy. Only 34 percent were performed at 8 weeks or less, down from 36 percent in 2010. For pregnancies under 10 weeks, the figure was 55 percent in 2011, down from 56 percent in 2010. (This reflects New Zealand’s poor uptake of early medication abortion – only 6.8 percent of all abortions are medical, as opposed to more than 40 percent in the UK and 72.5 percent in Scotland.)

Let’s be clear:  these people are going to have abortions anyway.  There is nothing stopping these people from having their procedures.  They aren’t changing their minds.  They’re just facing delays, delays caused by our present legal situation, delays which increase the risk of something going wrong, delays which increase the difficulty of the abortion they’re going to have anyway.

Let’s just fucking well acknowledge that these abortions are going to happen, and given that, that we want the people having those abortions to be as safe as possible, don’t we?

Because our current laws force people to see up to 5 different doctors, and because they often have to travel out of their own areas to get the procedure done, they’re facing delays which make it more dangerous for them, more expensive and more time-consuming for our medical profession.

That just isn’t right.  It’s not compassionate.  It’s not caring.  We need to treat people better.

ETA:  Richard Boock has written on the issue also!

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The floor is now open for your predictable “but what about the risk to the BABY???” troll comments, k_p.