Saturday, 29 May 2010

ending child detention

things i've had my head in the sand about, #1/1000 000. i haven't written about any Yarl's Wood or other detention centre stuff as i'm at a loss to explain why i'm not chained to the gate, or Doing Something in some way, about it.

so the new government has pledged to end detention of children subject to immigration control. it was pointed out to me at a workshop by Black Women's Rape Action Project & Women Against Rape about yarl's wood at the anarchafeminist conference in manchester, that this of course means that children will be released from detention, often into the 'care' system, while mothers continue to be imprisoned.

splitting up families in this way is, of course, horrifying, especially in the guise of a 'doing good' election promise. however an alternative way to 'end child detention' was used in scotland, where they had pledged to end the practice immediately, and therefore needed to get those kids across the border asap:
"Sehar [Shebaz] and her baby girl were incarcerated in Dungavel on the same day that the new coalition government told us that child detention would end – and end immediately in Scotland – whereupon Sehar was summarily removed from Scottish soil and driven down to Yarl’s Wood  Detention Centre to be locked up there instead. [...]

Sehar was instrumental in ensuring that the letter to Nick Clegg was seen by the outside world. She was then swiftly separated from the other families and prevented from communicating with anyone else." (from a statement by Positive Action in Housing)
Then, on the 22nd may, Sehar and her daughter were deported, flown to Pakistan.
"Sehar is the victim of well-documented domestic violence here in the UK. Her escape from her husband is extremely likely to incur retributive violence soon after she sets foot in Pakistan. Her life and her baby’s life are at risk.

Damian Green, immigration minister, has refused to give Sehar compassionate leave to remain despite receiving copies of police reports and letters from Blackburn Women’s Aid supporting her claims of domestic violence."
last week a Pakistani 'service user' told me she'd heard that Sehar had already been killed. this woman has also told me several rumours that turned out not to be true, but that's not to say this isn't true.

Positive Action in Housing's statement continues:
"We are now concerned about the remaining eleven Yarl’s Wood families, four of whom are on hunger strike. We also remain concerned about exactly what the new government means when they say they will end child detention. Will families be able to claim asylum without fear of being separated and children being taken into care while parents are locked up? After the latest debacle about ending child detention, we have to be cautious about exactly what the politicians mean when they come out and say these things. At present, it means Scottish asylum families being driven straight away hundreds of miles away form their communities and sources of support to the controversial Yarl’s Wood facility which even the Chief Inspector of Prisons has branded as unsuitable for children. Let us not forget that UKBA themselves admitted that FAMILIES DO NOT ABSCOND.
In the spirit of the new government’s commitment to end child detention, Positive Action in Housing is calling on the government to release with immediate effect all remaining Yarls Wood families back to their communities so that their children can return to a normal life and schools and so that the asylum claims of their parents can be properly investigated in a humane and civilised way – this is the least recompense we could give as a society for the inhumane way we have treated these families."
eleven families. i mean, it just doesn't make sense to me even according to the obscene logic of the home office. why put a tiny number of people, so unsystematically, through such hell (not that i think the 250+ other people at yarl's wood should be there either..)? perhaps they are testing whether they can get away with it. i read an offhand comment by a guardian journalist who had spoken with women in yarl's wood that the phonecalls are cut off every few minutes as a matter of procedure. so that it's that much harder for them to keep in touch with lawyers, supporters, family (their children, once they are separated!).. i just...

Thursday, 27 May 2010


from a press-release thing to do with the White Ribbon Campaign (UK group trying to get men to take responsibility for stopping DV):
"Home Office figures show that in the World Cup in 2006, domestic violence cases reported to the police increased by up to 31 percent. These figures revealed a surge of reported cases on each of England's five games in the tournament."
i was working the local helpline back in 2006 and it was unbelievable. sooo busy. overexcitable, pissed-up men feeling entitled to... it doesn't bear thinking about.

anyhow, i much enjoyed this, from the same press release:
"To pin the White ribbon on the chest is like taking on the responsibility of captain, but in the more important game, that of life." Paulo Maldini (former Italy and AC Milan captain).

Monday, 24 May 2010

shining the cold light of evolutionary psychology

oh fuck off.

no, he's doing it because it brings him rewards, and because he can.

and refering your adult daughter for a mental health assessment to cure her of her abusive marriage? jesus christ, that's terrifying.

'evolutionary psychologist' (how can you argue with that, after all?) empowers mother to take control of her daughter, as the solution to the fact she is controlled. aaargh

Friday, 21 May 2010

economic necessity

BFP writing about reality tv shows set in Detroit (and a whole lot more):
"Whole industries *exist* because we believe the racist tropes about black led urban warfare. It makes sense to us as viewers that a majority black city *needs* tankers and massive arsenals to deal with rampant uncontrollable crime.


And so industries build up around that response (reality television cop shows)–whereby not only does a militarized response to violence *make sense*–but becomes *economically* necessary . *Violence* becomes economically necessary. 

And in the end–Racism (and sexism, heteropatriarchy, nationalism, etc) all become economically necessary. That is, we must continue to believe that the best way to deal with raving black criminals is with paramilitary–and we must continue to believe that there is such a thing as a raving black criminal. How could reality shows like these exist otherwise?

Violence and militarized responses to violence will pay for more than one child’s college education and make more than one person’s house payment–and as such, *racism* (and sexism, heteropatriarchy, nationalism, etc) will pay for more than one child’s college education and make more than one person’s house payment.

In city where foreclosures are rampant and 40 % of the people are unemployed–what would *you* choose? Getting paid to be on a show about violent (black) Detroit, or sitting in a crowded room with social justice community organizers doing a skill share?"

Friday, 14 May 2010

love, again

i finished reading the first half of Endgame. i was folding down the page-corners each time he wrote something relevant to this blog, and now the whole damn thing is folded. my 'jensen' tag stands to get embarassingly large, but what can you do? this guy is doing all my work for me - so much of the stuff i wanted to do with this blog about linking up abuses and oppressions and looking for the universal truths and functions of it, reading this book has saved me years. *and* in volume two, my friend who is half a book ahead of me tells me, he talks to lundy bancroft!! like, i was getting all ready to tie jensen in with bancroft on this blog and then dreaming of emailing jensen to tell him how he's so nearly there but just needs to talk to this perpetrators-expert dude bancroft, but they're way ahead of me. oh to be a geeking-out fly on the wall. sigh.

anyhow, what was playing on my mind, as i read the last few pages, was to do with love. i've written before a bit about how love and passion are policed, pathologised, occasionally criminalised, including by 'well meaning' social workers and the like (do i need to keep on with the well-meaning disclaimer? can i start saying something less polite soon?). the weight of this was brought back to me as i was finishing up volume one and came across paragraphs like this:
"...Everything the culture taught me: how to submit, how not to make waves, how to fear authority, how to fear perceiving my submission as submission, how to fear my feelings, how to fear perceiving the killing of those I love [he's not just talking about people] as the killing of those I love (or perhaps I should say the killing of those I would love had I not been taught to fear love too), how to fear stopping by any means necessary those who are killing those I love..."
this all struck home with me, hard, how much i fear taking action against abuse, oppression, destruction, how the state of fear is infinitely more comfortable, and how i deal with that by loving less. numbing, depression, caring less, shutting down my love to only those closest to me, or only those things and people i can immediately see. and then - what does it mean? how can i love those closest to me without loving the other people, the other things?
"we are only free, when we are supporting the freedom of others"
(my biggest internet crush of the moment is all for Mai'a)

which is one side of things. but also, how hard is it to love in the face of that policing and pathologising? i was thinking - the women i work with often love with their all (others are numb and shut-down, but that's a different story, and a reason why there can't be a one-size fits all approach to DV work right). but the social workers - they can't afford to love, and empathise. they can't really know what it is, or how could they do that work? i wonder what their definition of love must be, and what it's got to do with (their own) 'good' families and ownership and 'security' and hoarding. they are probably really having no fun. i mean, i don't have a lot of time for the oppressors-as-wounded worldview but then sometimes -. what can you say?

i was also thinking about how i have to hide from my colleagues and people 'in the sector' (!) just how much i love my job, or rather, my work. it's not ok to be passionate about it. the management could pathologise me as 'driven' and starting looking for 'boundary issues' i might have. i was too driven when i was twenty, but i work damn hard on my boundaries and have figured them out over the years, at least within the framework of the voluntary sector (if i ever start doing the grassroots work i dream of, i think those must be somehow different boundaries to figure out).

i made some personal mistakes along the way, though i'm pretty sure my 'clients' were not impacted. like for example she didn't know it, but i did fall in love with one woman, not in that way, but in the example she showed me of mothering and of courage and awesomeness. when things went wrong for her i cried and cried - but of course she doesn't know this. then she made things right for herself. i 'should' have had stronger boundaries and not empathised so much. i got in a mess for a weekend. my managers never found out either, thank god. and.. well, what's wrong with caring that much, once in a while?

well, it was agonising... when you (allow yourself to) love something, pain is going to be part of it. so - i allow myself to love some things - a certain amount, and then draw lines, and exclude some things, and love some things abstractly. like the gulf of mexico. women i work who are eligible for benefits in the uk or who have enough income have more choices and options open to them if they are being abused. it's safe enough to empathise with their troubles, to try and figure it out with them. the gulf of mexico, on the other hand... and women with no recourse to public funds. many agencies switch off on hearing those words. it's too much, a stretch of empathy too far. i won't switch off. but i know there is something happening to my heart as the situation becomes bleaker for my longest-term 'client' with no recourse. i can feel myself starting to shut down as i can't bear to think of all the implications of her lack of options. it's safer not to love or care 'too much', to be A Professional. which, of course, entails not fighting as hard for what she needs. which is why we have all been professionalised - offered privileges in return for leaving behind the people we were trying to work with. at risk of losing these privileges, we then fear caring, loving and fighting.

No. it's becoming so clear how much it being not-ok-to-love is so much a part of how oppression functions. this kind of work has to be driven by love, and feeling and acknowledging pain has to be part of it. as supporters, we have to find ways of supporting each other in this. 

i love the groups, the women's support groups, i love the many moments every week where i can see amazing change happening, i love the women i work with. i want the crushing structures that make people feel mental for feeling highs and lows, or who lock people away and/or take away their children for loving, to end. and even more, i want the systems to end that make it impossible, too frightening, to love people (and places, and seabirds). and, jensen would say, what am i going to do about it?