Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

Posts Tagged ‘Civil Rights

Breastfeeding

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Breastfeeding

A friend feeding her baby son

This photo was originally posted on facebook in protest at the banning, by facebook, of breastfeeding photos taken by a wonderful photographer, Christopher Rimmer.  That caused quite an international media storm! My friend has given permission for the photo to be used here.  You can see some of Christopher’s stunning work here.

Breasts.  What are they for? For FEEDING babies.  Yesterday the following status was floating around facebook (I’ve just noticed there are no capital letters in facebook, so that is not a typo 🙂 ) and I was reminded that in 2011 it seems we are still freaked out about a woman doing the most natural thing in the world – feeding a child.  The status was:

So I was on the toilet this morning, eating toast with Vegemite and a bowl of muesli and…What? You think there’s something wrong with eating in the toilet? Did that irk you a little? Then why do people suggest breastfeeding mothers feed their babies in the toilet? If you’re a fan of brestfeeders’ rights, I DARE you to put this up as your status.

Why all the hullabaloo about women feeding their children where ever it is necessary?  Sex.  Western civilisation particularly has this “thing” about breasts almost being classed as genitals.  They aren’t.  Do people get aroused over the sight of a cow’s udder?  No?  Human breasts are for the SAME purpose.  To produce milk to feed offspring.  Yet from all the hype around the topic of where and when it is appropriate to feed a child, one would think this was an insult to humankind.  Or an invitation to have sex.  I do not get it.

If anything, the situation seems to have got worse, rather than better, in the years since I had babies (over 30 years ago).  I remember a fuss over women breastfeeding on planes in the USA just last year.  So are mothers supposed to starve their children while flying?  I’ve yet to see any breastfeeding mother actually flaunt her breasts while feeding.  Miranda Kerr posted a photo of her feeding her new baby and congratulations to her for doing so.  Other celebrity mothers have done similar recently.  We need more of it.  Yet they cop criticism for doing so.  I applaud them for raising the profile of the debate.

Debate?  There should be no debate.  Strangely for me, I haven’t researched if trying to restrict breastfeeding is in contravention of any human or civil rights international conventions or convenants, but morally it certainly is.

Surely feeding a child is a basic, almost THE most basic, human right.  It should most certainly be a civil right.  I’d love to see a precedent case!

Breast milk is the most appropriate food for a baby.  Some women can’t breastfeed and have no option but to bottle feed.  We certainly should not be almost criminalising those mothers who do breastfeed.  I could cite a string of articles about the benefits of breastfeeding, but you can all Google as well as I can and I’m sure if you are reading this, you already have an interest, one way or the other, in the topic.  I’m simply looking at the question from the perspective of human and civil rights.

I’m almost sorry I am not going to be breastfeeding any more children, because I’d love to give some of the anti-breastfeeding brigade a run for their money.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

March 31, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Religion in public schools – NO!

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All I wanted to do was check the footy results.  Unfortunately I stumbled across an article in The Age reporting the Victorian Education Department is forcing public primary schools to teach christian religion.  I am astounded!  In Victoria we have a Liberal government.  One of the foundation principles of the Liberal party is freedom of the individual!

From the party’s web site:

We believe in the inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples; and we work towards a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives; and maximises individual and private sector initiative.

Forcing my children to learn christian religion, or ANY religion, is denying my rights and freedoms.  Forcing my children into religious education is certainly NOT minimising interference in my daily life!  This all seems to stem from 2006, when we did not have a Liberal government, so I hope the Victorian Government acts and acts NOW on this issue that is so against the principles of the party.

We are also supposed to have freedom of religion in this country.  This issue has caused me to change my vote once before at a federal level.  This time I will voice my disapproval more strongly!

The Humanist Society has set up a website to “garner views on the issue” and is taking legal action against the Education Department.

Australia is a country of people from many different lands, many different cultures and many different religions.  We are are multicultural society and forcing christianity into schools is NOT the Australian way.  Read the article and see what it is suggested the children who opt out of the classes are going to be doing:  according to the article, they must not do any other classwork.

I am shocked.  Very shocked.  I am still embroiled in a civil rights fight with a federal government department and now I must look at particpating in a fight against a state government department.  I have four children about to enter the Victorian education system.  As a parent this is not what I want for my children.  Clearly I am not the only one, given the  Humanist Society website states:

12:30 – We are also aware that the Humanist Society of Victoria’s website has been so inundated with people wanting to access it that it has crashed. This speaks volumes on just how many people care and want to learn more. Future information will come from FIRIS so be sure to subscribe to the newsletter.

EDIT:

In the spirit of “if you want to change something, suggest an alternative”, resulting from a discussion with someone else, my suggestion would be introduce Cultural Intelligence classes and within that framework touch on all religions to provide awareness, rather than indoctrinate in one.  We need Cultural Intelligence training, so why not start early?

Written by Robyn Dunphy

March 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Australia cops criticism…

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… and rightly so.  While my personal page is off-line as the topic is considered sub judice currently, naturally the two articles I discuss here are close to my heart.

Australia has again been highlighted as the only developed democracy without national human rights law.   Perhaps if we did have such a law, my family and I wouldn’t be in the position we are currently in.  It has been interesting, as I discovered neither the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 nor the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 are scheduled to or declared under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act.  I was not aware of this until last week and I am horrified.  I hope all Australians are horrified at such a discovery.

The second article was written by Malcolm Fraser.  Malcolm Fraser was Prime Minister of Australia from November 1975 for seven years.  I remember him well, as I had recently arrived in Australia in February 1974.  Malcolm has been involved in humanitarian work for many years.  He points out the regression in Australia’s policies since that time 35 years ago when we welcomed Vietnamese refugees.  That community is now, he tells us, nearly a quarter of a million strong and contribute greatly to Australia.  What changed?

What I have learnt about Civil and Human Rights in Australia over the past year has been enlightening: yet not in a way I would have ever expected.  It has been a sad year for me personally, of course, but I cannot consider only my personal situation.  I am horrified when I consider the possible extrapolation of my situation across the country.  I am still haunted by the images of the Christmas Island tragedy and the Christmas Island detention conditions.

It is time: time Australians stood up for what is right.

Another dead heat? Voting in Australia…..

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Chamber, Parliament

Elections!  Arrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhhhhh!  This time it is Victorian State Parliament.  We just had a hung Federal election and it looks like we could get a hung Victorian one as well if some of the commentators are to be believed.  While I rarely agree with Andrew Bolt about anything much at all, I have to say he is rather on point with his assessment that this looks like another “dead heat” in the making.

Farrah Tomazin of The Age is saying rather much the same thing.

The headline banner of the HeraldSun says “On a Knife Edge”.

I have a sense of deja vu.  Impending doom of another two week wait for independants to clutch their moment of power while staring at the TV cameras like deer caught in the headlights.  Maybe not quite, but there is no situation like a hung election result to give an amazing amount of attention to a few – sometimes just one.  There was once this senator from Tasmania, I believe………

We Victorians will all dutifully trudge to the polls tomorrow at our local primary school, the church hall, the this or that building to have our names marked off the role and put our numbers in the little boxes.  Those of us who forget will be fined if we don’t have good reason for foresaking our democratic right to vote.  To Americans the concept of compulsory voting is indeed strange.  They think it is undemocratic.  But then I have had Americans swear they live in a republic, definitely not a democracy.  I’m not sure what they teach in American schools about “government of the people, by the people, for the people”.  At least we have the sense to hold elections on a Saturday.  Can you imagine voting on a Tuesday, a work day?

I like the fact Australia makes it a family thing.  Children pop along with their parents and grow up with the idea voting is the normal thing to do.  The odd sausage sizzle adds to the flavour of the day.  We could do without all the “how-to-vote” cards but I guess it just goes with the territory.  How many really follow those things anyway?

In the Federal election we had a record number of “informal” votes – in fact, if I recall correctly, we had a record number of actual blank votes.  Perhaps I should explain a little.  You see, having been a scrutineer myself in another life, I can personally attest to the interesting things one finds on ballot papers.  Interesting anatomical drawings are not uncommon.  Swearing is also popular.  Blank is actually quite unusual.

People in Australia have been making quite a political football out of asylum seekers of late, especially any that happen to cross the seas in a boat.  To those people who want to see us treat these people to the conditions of places such as Christmas Island and then send them home, I suggest as you exercise your vote on Saturday, you take a moment to reflect on how lucky you are to be able to stroll down to the polling station, kids in tow, grab a snag from the fund raising sausage sizzle and wander home in peace.  With your hands still attached to your wrists.  No bullet through your head.  No risk of your wife or daughter being raped because you had the audacity to vote.

Treat your right to vote with the respect it deserves and while you are doing it, have a thought for those who flee from regimes where it is perilous to attempt to achieve the freedoms we take for granted.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 26, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Airport security – where DO we draw the line?

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This is an interesting problem. In case you can’t be bothered clicking on that link, a woman claims she was asked to remove and show her breast prosthesis during an “enhanced” pat-down.  The article explains an “enhanced” pat-down includes a “frisk” of one’s private parts.

On the face of it, I can understand we need security measures to take into account any prosthesis a passenger may have.  After all, should one be of an inclination to do so, one could hide all sorts of things in a prosthetic leg, arm or breast.  However, perhaps we can do it a little more discretely and with some compassion for the person.

This whole “enhanced” thing seems to be creating a bit of a stir.  Let’s look at another report, which has resulted in legal action.

“As the TSA agent was frisking plaintiff, the agent pulled the plaintiff’s blouse completely down, exposing plaintiffs’ breasts to everyone in the area,” the lawsuit said.

This was during “extended search procedures”.  Enhanced, extended – whatever!  She was 23 – I’m sure the TSA agent would not have been as keen to pull open my blouse (age has some benefits, I see).

Both of the above situations were in the USA, but how long before Australia follows the leader?  Besides, airline security really is an international responsibility these days – can we have different policies and procedures in different countries and still have effective security?

While no, I do not want to be in a plane that explodes half way across the Atlantic or the Pacific and yes, I do expect our governments to provide suitable security measures to prevent such an event, I do not expect to be embarrassed or humiliated during a screening process.  Surely frisking of private parts can be reserved for those where a real suspicion exists (based on initial investigations of a less intrusive nature), not just for the average traveller.  Is there any age limit on this particular type of frisking is one question that springs to mind.  What about children travelling unaccompanied?  Are they to be subjected to this?

Where do we draw the line?

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if at some point a class action was launched in relation to airport security based on civil rights enshrined in the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights.  That covenant protects the individual, for example: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.”  Being picked out at random for an extended or enhanced (take your pick) search is surely arbitrary?  It is definitely interference with one’s privacy, although it could be argued not unlawful interference as the search is “required” by law.

Where do we draw the line?

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 21, 2010 at 1:35 am