Tag Archives: religion

Ireland: Protect your whores from the nuns!

The Magdalene Laundries might have closed, but sex workers are not safe from Irish Sisters at all. The nuns simply regrouped, renamed themselves and are still harming prostitutes. A little background information:

FMagdalen-asylumrom 1765 all the way to 1996, ‘fallen women‘ in Ireland were taken from their homes and incarcerated in so-called ‘Magdalene Laundries‘.  A fallen woman could be an unmarried pregnant woman, a girl who was considered too promiscuous or a prostitute who needed to be ‘saved’. In these prostitute-prisons they were horribly abused and had to perform forced labour.

“the institutions had little impact on prostitution over the period”, and yet they were continuing to multiply, expand and, most importantly, profit from the free labor. Since they were not paid, Raftery asserted, “it seems clear that these girls were used as a ready source of free labour for these laundry businesses”. Wikipedia

The 1993 discovery of a mass grave in Dublin opened up the conversation about the exploitation of prostitutes and led to a government inquiry. A formal state apology was issued in 2013, and a €60 million compensation scheme was set up. The four religious institutes that ran the Irish asylums have not as yet contributed to compensate the survivors of abuse. This is despite demands from the Irish government, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the UN Committee Against Torture.

You think the exposure of all their crimes would have at least stopped the Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, and Sisters of Charity from abusing sex workers, right? They refuse to acknowledge what they did or compensate their victims, but maybe they would be out of the whore-hurting business, right? Surely they’re not making money, right now, doing the exact same thing, right?

Yeah, right.

The Sisters continue their abuse

ruhamaRuhama, the largest anti-sex work organisation in Ireland, was founded as a joint initiative of the Good Shepherd Sisters and Our Lady of Charity Sisters“both of which had a long history of involvement with marginalised women, including those involved in prostitution“. They’re even funded by the Department of Health Department of Justice. They received over 14 million between 2006 and 2011.

We know that Ruhama is led in part by Magdalene Laundry nuns” said Kate McGrew, member of the Sex Workers Alliance of Ireland. Sex workers in Ireland have been fighting for human rights, labour rights and protection from (state) violence. But they have found a persistent and aggressive enemy in the Catholic sisters. Ruhama has not just been bothering prostitutes again, they also actively campaign against sex workers’ rights. They opposed Amnesty International’s proposal in favour of human rights for sex workers and are fighting against everything sex workers demand.

But still, the Irish government is allowing Ruhama , those same people who abused and exploited prostitutes, to advise them on laws that directly impact sex workers, while excluding sex workers themselves. Not only is the Irish government funding the same people that abused sex workers for all those years, they even consult them as ‘experts’ on prostitution.

How many more skeletons need to be found in closets or cesspools before the public wakes up to the evil of prohibitionism? How many more lies until the self-appointed saviors lose their credibility for good? And how many more women have to die? – Maggie McNeill

itssomethingRuhama does not offer any actual help to sex workers who need help. Rescue organisations and anti-prostitution NGO’s rarely do, they mostly make money by ‘raising awareness’, abusing prostitutes, receiving money from governments and providing ‘education’ to health professionals and policy makers. But it seems they haven’t killed any babies. yet. So, you know, that’s something…

You can read more about human rights for Irish sex workers here. You can read more about abuses in the anti-trafficking rescue industry here.

Sex without Consequences

It often seems that people who oppose things like sex education, birth control, equal rights for gay people and decriminalised sex work just want to make sure that no act of pleasure goes unpunished. We can’t have kids get easy access to condoms because good Lord they might think to use them. We can’t have women selling sexual services without someone being punished because that might send the message that’s it’s fine for two consenting adults to have sex for their own reasons. We can’t provide contraceptives because people might start to believe that you can just have sex and “we’ll have you covered“.

(Read that link by the way because omg Dan Savage yes)

It’s about the punishment of sex.

I wonder how we can change our cultural attitude towards sex. Because for me, sexual rights are not just about human rights and individual freedoms. Our attitude towards our bodies, our pleasure, our nature seems deeply disordered to me. Sex is good for us. Pleasure is good for us. Punishment is not. How wonderful would it be if we celebrated sexuality as a positive aspect of life, if we encouraged all forms of consensual pleasure and intimacy? The world would be a better place if we had more sex :).

(The video is from The Onion, though it could’ve fooled me!)

All about them without them

One of the most crazy aspects of the rescue industry is their ability to simply block any information that contradicts their views and fully ignore any sex worker who does not identify as a victim. The Christian Dutch broadcaster EO has made a series on prostitution and the lack of knowledge and insight is mind blowing. Jojanneke v/d Berge, the host of the show, was allowed to write a column for the feminist magazine Opzij and she shamelessly admitted that in her two years of research she had succeeded in ignoring every sex worker who did not fit into the image of a victim. Dutch sex workers are a pretty loud bunch, so that’s actually quite an achievement. They further displayed their ignorance with the following video. “What would it be like if women bought sex?” they ask, and their presentation of sex work is so hilariously unlike any reality of any sex worker that it’s hard to understand how they can present this with a straight face.

Argh, My twitterfeed is exploding with Dutch sex workers who are pissed off and flabbergasted. And while Jojanneke van den Berge is allowed to share her prejudice and lies in newspapers, tv-shows and magazines, sex workers are (again) ignored. Disgusting.

Click here for the video.

The Weekly Personal

We don’t really celebrate Halloween here in the Netherlands and I think it’s a shame. I’ve always loved holidays, I’m a total sucker for Christmas and Easter and all the magical vibes and decorations and songs, my family celebrates most holidays together and we always have a great time. I went to the Efteling last weekend, it’s the biggest theme park in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in the world and I’m still recovering from the excitement! But Halloween just isn’t a ‘thing’ here and although I guess I could celebrate on my own, it’s just not the same.

I’ve never felt at home in pagan communities, or else I might have celebrated with them. I’ve tried, I’ve been to more pagan meetings than I can count. But the problem is that I consider myself an atheist pagan, an atheist who does not believe in anything supernatural, and the pagan subculture is obsessed with everything outside of the natural world. It’s not just that I think reiki healing, crystal energies and astral bodies do not exist, though that is what I think, it’s mostly that I don’t care about those topics. My religious feelings concern the natural, I’m not interested in acupuncture or homeopathy. They’re like football or fashion, I don’t want to talk about it or learn about it because I don’t care. I remember a meeting where one of the women recalled how she’d been a witch in a previous life and had been burned at the stake. I realised then as I realise now that those memories, although false, were very real and traumatic for her and I held my tongue as the others in the group comforted her as she sobbed. But I couldn’t help thinking “this is not how I want to spend my Saturday afternoon”. Another time a good friend and I attended a Beltane celebration, where a non-pagan author presented her fictional book about witch hunts in the Middle Ages. I’ve never understood why modern-day pagans feel those witch hunts are connected to their religion, but anyway, the author was there and told us something about history. Then this woman stood up and started talking: “the witch hunts are not over, not a little bit! Just a couple of weeks ago, a tree in my street was going to be cut down but the tree talked to me, said it wasn’t ready to die, so I chained myself to the tree and the police eventually came and cut me from the tree and sent me home! They discriminated me because of my religion!”. The author looked puzzled and uncomfortable as others agreed with the tree-loving-witch. My friend and I tried not to laugh, but mostly I realised that this is not my scene. I’m fine with anyone believing in whatever they want, but I don’t want to spend my time on reincarnation and aura-healing. I want some nature-loving pagans to dance around a May-pole with, celebrate the changing of the seasons and read scary stories on Halloween!

So I’ve invited some friends over tomorrow night and hopefully we’ll watch a horror movie or something. Thankfully Sinterklaas and Christmas are coming up, I can’t wait :).

The Weekly Personal

One of the nice things about the Netherlands is that it’s somewhat egalitarian. We have our elite and celebrities and  security and all that, but it’s all pretty reasonable for a small country like ourselves. On the left is a photo of our prime minister Mark Rutte cycling to work, for example. Can you image president Obama on his bike in the streets? I like how our national politicians feel more like local ones.

I got into a discussion with Gert-Jan Segers on Twitter. He’s a member of the House of Representatives for ChristenUnie (Christian Union) and one of the initiators of the legislative proposal to criminalise clients of sex workers who are victims of trafficking or coercion. Don’t be fooled: ChristenUnie want to criminalise all forms of sex work, but they’ve convinced PvdA and SP to collaborate on this step towards the Swedish Model. It’s already illegal to have sex with someone who is obviously forced or not consenting, so this new law wouldn’t change that. But the PvdA and SP still say they believe this law won’t be used to start a witch hunt against clients of sex workers. I talked to one SP politician who actually seems to genuinely think this is true. Oh and Gert-Jan Segers had no idea that the number of possible victims reported by Comensha included women who had travelled alone. The ignorance is astonishing.

Anyway, I turned off my phone and went to a convent for the weekend. I sometimes feel like a bit of a fraud for not publicly self-identifying as atheist more, I think it’s important to be visible and I find the increased influence of theism problematic. They say you should pick your battles and I’m identifying with plenty of ‘other’ already, so I’ve decided to keep my religious ideas more to myself. But I regularly stay at this convent, I enjoy the slow pace, the silence, the routine, I like it there. I wish I could stay longer. I’m an atheist, they know this, I’m still welcome there. Those nuns are not the problem :).

But people like Frits Rouvoet are. (“Her mom died when she was 2. Her son is dying of cancer. Look at this scary-ass empty parking lot. She’s all alone and it’s so dangerous. Nobody chooses to sell her body, no prostitute decides to go into this type of life. I’ll just stalk the red light districts and write all about the sex girls are having for money and how degrading and filthy and fapfapfapfap such respect for the strong fapfapfap women fapfap“).