political · Uncategorized

My Political Pants

Last Sunday the Australian Federal Minister for Education announced that an
expert group had been formed to work on the implementation of a nation-wide phonics assessment and numeracy check for year 1’s. He asserted this action was part of a plan of getting back to basics in Australian schools. I spent the afternoon reading comments and looking into it more – I was excited to finally have some something from my Facebook feed spark my attention. Even more igniting was a blog I read that night by Cate Speaks –Imperfect activism. She wrote  about the shared despair resulting from the politics of the wider world and the mental exhaustion resulting in a lack of time or energy to devote to activism.  Most importantly she proclaimed that while it may be impossible to do ‘enough,’  even if you only do one thing, ever, that’s still one thing that wouldn’t have been done if you hadn’t done it.

She particularly inspired me with the goal ‘to do your one thing, and then encourage two or three more people to do their one thing too’, in order to make a difference. She plans to do 2 things a week , one that is political or big picture and the other small and local – ‘something that aims to maintain and build the communities I am a part of’.  I’m pretty keen to follow her lead so am adding yet another 2017 blogging goal to me list – the political post.

To recap this year I’ve said I’m going to do – a reading post (WWW Wednesday and When are you reading challenge), an issue post, my regular whatever posts and now a political post. Let’s just not set too many timelines on these! I had a bit of a crazy busy week – daughter back to school, now a big Year 1, son started kindy, I attempted to work clients around various schedules, hubby had shearing and our puppy broke his leg! I was extremely happy to make it to the weekend. I’m now trying to work my way through several tabs open in my internet browser and this is where my first purposeful political post shall begin….

Firstly I am still trying to get my head around Simon Birmingham’s education announcement (mentioned above). My first thought was WHY more assessment? H’s reception teacher last year did reading at least once a week with each student, I’m sure all teachers already know where their kids are at reading-wise. More important than assessment in my opinion is resources to respond to what teacher’s already know. Resources to help the students who are identified as struggling. Anyhow I still need to look into this one further – maybe next weeks post.

Secondly Trump. I don’t know who I would’ve voted for if I was American but I am not 100% against this guy. Then I read this summary of his first week in office…

Thirdly Trump. again. well no actually Russia. A lovely friend joined me on the five hour round trip to pick my puppy up after surgery and we discussed all and everything. She mentioned fears of Trumps relationship with Russia, especially since Russia was seeking to decriminalise domestic violence, what the what?! She wasn’t making it up:

According to CNN ‘The pending legislation would consider an assault — if it’s a first offense that does not seriously injure the person — an administrative, rather than criminal offense. The legislation would also apply to children…Women’s rights groups say domestic violence has an insidious hold on many Russian families and fear that decriminalizing assaults will only encourage more violence… An old Russian expression “If he beats you it means he loves you.”…Official data on domestic violence in Russia is not centrally collected so it’s hard to verify. But the state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports that 40% of serious crimes in Russia are committed in the family, 36,000 women are beaten by their husbands daily, and 12,000 women die yearly as a result of domestic violence — one woman every 44 minutes.’

‘Yelena Mizulina, the politician who introduced the legislation believes it will bring domestic violence offences into line with other assault and battery charges, which were decriminalised last year.The change would mean that ‘battery within the family’ as an administrative offence would be punished with a fine, community service or brief prison term.’ (http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/01/13/despite-outcry-russia-set-de-criminalise-domestic-violence). It also returns the crime to the realm of “private prosecution”, where the victim is responsible for collecting evidence and bringing a case. Repeat offences would be criminal infractions, but only within a year of the first, giving abusers a pass to beat relatives once a year.’

The Economist reported that Russia is one of three countries in Europe and Central Asia that do not have laws specifically targeting domestic violence. Instead it is treated like other forms of assault, ignoring the fact that spouses and children are more vulnerable than other victims.

Alena Popova, an advocate for laws against domestic violence, is reported to support the new law, believing that more women will come forward if they do not think their partners will be sent to Russia’s harsh prisons. Similarly comments on the Economist article shared

For those still confused [with the] difference between “criminal” and “non-criminal” violations in Russian law
1. While both types of violations are prosecuted by the state, only courts (1 court per 1 mln people, roughly) can do criminal cases. Many smaller offices can process administrative cases. Speed of processing will be much higher after de-criminalizing.
2. Standard of proof is easier for “non-criminal” violations, more domestic abusers will be sentenced after de-criminalizing.
3. Range of punishment is lighter for “non-criminal” cases, but still includes forced community service and short detention ( weeks / months ). Certain types of theft and battery are routinely treated as non criminal.

Another commentator suggested that while the first punishment is administrative there is then an INEVITABLE criminal case for the second offence led by a government prosecutor that cannot be closed by the “consent of the parties”, with maximum punishment of 10 years in prison. Thus giving family members more protection – previously calling the police was useless; police could do nothing; now they can fine the offender, and lock him up for 15 days to think about his behavior, and get into him that the next time he will be on direct way to state prosecutor and 10 years imprisonment with very high chances of case going through.

I think in the end I will have to leave this issue to the Russians (although I did sign an online petition). The most important takeaway message for me is, one woman dying every 44 minutes from domestic violence, ANY woman/child/person dying as a result of domestic violence is unacceptable.

‘Enough’ for one day I think.

 

 

Although FYI

More ideas from Cate’s Blog https://catespeaks.wordpress.com/ (I also like Leaning to Speak Politics https://learningtospeakpolitics.wordpress.com/)

Here is a highly incomplete list of really small, easy things you can do for yourselves and for each other.

  • Donate to a charity on behalf of someone else.  Oxfam Unwrapped will send a friend a card on your behalf, telling them what you donated in their name.  The bag of pig’s manure seems like an appropriate choice right now.  So does the Women’s Rights gift, that trains women in Bangladesh for leadership roles.
  • Bake something delicious and give it to someone.  I feed my colleagues a lot (but not tomorrow, because I’ve spent all evening writing this.  Sorry, my scientists!), but dropping something in to a local homeless shelter, or for the doctors and nurses at your local hospital is a nice touch.  Or you could do this.
  • Write a letter to a politician thanking them for their work on something you appreciate.  Or write a letter or a card to a teacher or friend who has helped you, telling them how much you value them.
  • If hand crafts are your thing, make a quilt or a cape or knit a teddy bear for a sick or traumatised child, or check out one of these campaigns.
  • If you are in a choir or orchestra or other musical group, get a group together and see if there is a local retirement home, or hospital, or detention centre, that might like a short concert.
  • Recommend a book to someone.  Buy it for them, if you can afford it.  Make it something fun and clever and escapist and quietly feminist.  (My recommendations this week are Sherry Thomas’s book A Study in Scarlet Women, which is a really clever gender-swapped Sherlock Holmes; The Invisible Library, by Genevieve Cogman, a fantasy adventure with secret agents, alternate worlds, and stolen books; and anything by Lois McMaster Bujold, but especially Paladin of Souls.)
  • Ring someone who you know is having a rough time right now for a chat.
  • Volunteer for a tree planting day, or at a wildlife shelter.
  • Download Mapswipe, and help Medecins Sans Frontières find people in disaster zones (note that you will need good eyes for this activity)
  • Take a bath, turn off your phone, and have an early night.  Books, music, favourite TV programs, partners and pets might all be part of this arrangement.  It doesn’t have to be tonight.  But give yourself permission to take a night off from the fear.  You can afford one night.  We all can.
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