Fear of the Vaccine

An increasing number people in Malta are refusing to take the vaccine against the H1N1 virus. This is worrying, very worrying. I won’t enter the specific merits and dangers of the virus or the vaccine but the socio-political connotations of this.

Let’s face it. Like many other Europeans, many Maltese are losing their faith completely in elected politicians. While this can lead to more serious things such as civil unrest in the longer run, it is having also immediate consequences. The scepticism about the vaccine is one of them.

What many are asking is: Has the vaccine been tested enough? Is there a lot of scaremongering about H1N1 just to sell a product? In whose interest is the vaccine being given? Those of the pharmaceutical industry (one of the most notorious on an International basis) or mine and my health?

The BWSC saga definitely doesn’t help. Allegations (of corruption) on their own may mean nothing in a Court of Law. In the Court of Public Opinion it is different matter. Many people have strong suspicions, or even certainty that public interest (our health, environment and tax money) has been compromised for the profit of the few.

It seems that even having elected MPs taking the vaccine in front of a camera is not enough to convince people to trust authorities that the chemical injected in their body is in their own interest.

Do you blame such people when they’ve been lied to over and over?

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The Difficult Road to Equality

Around the world, a percentage of the population are transgender since they feel that the sex that was assigned to them at birth is not congruent with their gender they identify with. Malta and Gozo are no different than the rest of the world, and a small percentage of the population have difficulty with identifying with the sex that corresponds to their sexual organs.

In 1994, the Maltese Law Courts introduced the possibility if changing one’ sex on the official documents if a person who suffered from gender identity disorder had undergone irreversible sex reassignment. A number of transgender persons requested this change in documents by going to court and after presenting a certificate of the irreversible surgery, a medical expert is appointed by the court to physically examine the person verify the surgical procedure. This in itself continues to discriminate against post-operative transgender persons because it violates their human dignity and does not allow the possibility of self-identification.

Since 2008, I have accompanied Joanne Cassar to court for her Constitutional Court Case against the Public Registry where she is requesting for her right to marry a person of the opposite gender. After two years of court sittings’, deferred sessions, a psychological profile assessment, and sitting at the back of the court room in support towards Joanne and many other transgender persons ….finally a judgement was called.

Throughout these two years, I was without a doubt that the Public Registry had violated Joanne’s human right when her marriage bans were not issued. The strong belief did not come about from thin air, but it is based on the fact that the European Court of Justice had already ruled a judgement in favour of a transgender person from the United Kingdom, and the benefits of being a citizen of an EU member state is that such a judgement cannot be disregarded in the member states.

It is every person’s human right to choose to marry and form a family, and this is enshrined in the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights. Should the Public Registry appeal this recent decision taken by Judge Ray Pace , the case continues for the final stage of appeal at the Maltese Constitutional Court, however European Court of Justice case law cannot continue being ignored by the Maltese State and although the path to victory may be longer, the result is positive for my friend Joanne and the members of the Maltese Transgender Community.

 

Colette Farrugia Bennett

Green agenda and sexual health policy

Andrè Vella, secretary general, ADŻ-Green Youth, Balzan

In response to Charlene Valen­tina Giordimaina’s letter (Holistic Sex Education, November 10), I would like to draw her attention to ADŻ-Green Youth’s holistic policy towards sexual policy, which can be found on our blog at https://maltagreenyouth.wordpress.com/ . Once she goes through it, she will realise that our view of a holistic youth sexual health policy goes beyond the simple use of contraceptives. It encompasses an educational campaign to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and to adopt safer sexual practices.

It is for this reason that we decided to disparage Gozo Bishop Mario Grech’s comments directed at a truly holistic approach to sexual health. For a campaign based solely on the notion of abstinence is not effective. In fact, our view concurs with Philip Carabot’s and others who dismissed Bishop Grech’s comments.

In today’s day and age, we should move away from mediaeval myths about contraception. Although Ms Giordimaina does not seem to think so, holistic teaching incorporates contraception. Does she think that teachers are currently failing or “abusing” students by teaching them also about contraception?

Condoms …. and a “Culture of Pleasure”

Gozo Bishop Mario Grech has stated that teaching students about contraception encourages them to give in to the “culture of pleasure”. He even goes to say that this is tantamount to abuse. There have been many agreements and disagreements on what the Bishop said and I don’t feel like repeating them once again. I would just like to point out something quite dangerous in the link between the most popular contraceptives – condoms – and the “culture of pleasure”. Something that many seem to be ignoring.

My fear is that many people especially young ones, do not use condoms, not because they don’t know about them or could not afford them, but due to the idea that condoms diminish pleasure. I won’t enter the merits of whether this is true or not (I think it’s something completely subjective). However it is enough to say that one is better safe than sorry. I don’t know of any study confirming this, however I strongly suspect that a substantial number of unwanted pregnancies where condoms were not used at all are the result of this “without a condom it’s more fun” mentality. The amount of STD’s and STI’s transmitted due to this mentality is probably even larger.

Aside from the other arguments on this issue, I would like Mgr Grech and those that agree with him to include this into the equation: Is it possible that the same “culture of pleasure” he is criticizing happens to be the reason why condoms are used even less? If that is the case wouldn’t it be more appropriate to teach our students not only the technicalities related to sex, but how to value their own and their partner’s body without expecting the unrealistic – abstinence? That it is much wiser to diminish slightly the pleasure (if it’s the case) and prevent the undesirable?

Asking Questions and Demanding Answers – Greens in Parliament

As the youth section of the Green Party, one of our ambitions is to have members of the Party in government, especially through a coalition. However, while this is what every Party aspires for, even more than that, we find it of utmost importance that we have Green MP’s, even if not in government. There is a lot a Member of Parliament can do, that activists can’t. One of them is asking the right questions and demanding the right answers.

 

I am writing this just after reading an article in the papers about Dr Adrian Vassallo (PL) asking the Home Affairs Minister, what happened on the issue he himself had raised on pornography being available for tourists in hotels. Obviously very few people care about such a non-issue. However, the point is that Dr Mifsud Bonnici had to reply to Dr Vassallo’s question. He tried to be evasive as much as possible but he did state that the Police are investigating into it. Needless to say Dr Vassallo will sooner or later raise the issue again as to how the investigations are proceeding.

 

While Dr Vassallo is fighting windmills, and most MP’s ask a lot of superficial questions, I’m sure that a member of Alternattiva Demokratika would not only ask more relevant questions, but also demand non-evasive answers.

 

A clear example is the power station extension controversy. While the PL had a precious opportunity to ask direct, non-open ended questions and demand specific answers to what is really going on, they just turned the issue into a farce. The issue turned into whether a PN member of parliament wanted to say yes, but happened to say no. Was it a genuine mistake or the Nationalist MP actually wanted to say no? A Freudian slip, or maybe it’s because he had been drinking before the vote? Obviously, the PN rebutted with equally ridiculous answers – that even a Labourite MP wasn’t clear in her vote.

 

Do we really care about that? An Alternattiva Demokratika MP will not offer favours or jobs to friends and their friends. However the electorate can be promised that a Green MP will not ask how many tots of whiskey a rival MP has drunk. Or whether tourists are allowed to watch pornography on their Hotel Television.

Crimes Against Democracy

Crimes Against Democracy

In view of the recent violent attacks on members of Birdlife and CABS activists, Alternattiva Demokratika Zghazagh – the Green Youth would like to bring to attention the seriousness of intimidating people one disagrees with.

Spokesperson for ADZ Dirk Urpani stated ‘four years ago we witnessed arson attacks on people who dared open their mouth on the issue of racism. Now something on the same lines is happening against people who dare oppose illegal hunting by filming it. This is a crime more serious than illegal hunting itself as it sends a message to society that some people can get what they want by the use of physical violence”

“It is even more worrying that the FKNK seems to be watering down these abuses claiming ‘provocation’. It is also making unfounded claims that the activists were trespassing. However, even if against all odds, this is really the case, the violence is unjustified. In that case, the aggressors had the option of calling the police.” Concluded Mr Urpani.

Delitti kontra d-Demokrazija

Alternattiva Demokratika Żgħażagħ tixtieq tiġbed l-attenzjoni dwar l-użu ta’ vjolenza u intimidazzjoni fuq persuni li wieħed mhux neċċessarjament jaqbel magħhom kif ġara fl-aħħar sensila ta’ attakki vjolenti fuq membri tal-Birdlife u l-attivisiti tal-CABS.

Kelliem għal ADZ Dirk Urpani qal, “Erba’ snin ilu rajna attakki fuq persuni li kellhom il-kuraġġ jitkellmu dwar il-kwistjoni ta’ razziżmu. Issa qegħdin naraw attakki fuq persuni li jopponu apertament il-kaċċa llegali u jifilmjawha. Dan ir-reat hu iktar serju minn dak tal-kaċċa llegali innifisha għax jgħati x’jifhem li hemm persuni li jistghu jieħdu dak li jridu billi jużaw il-vjolenza fiżika.”

“Aktar inkwetatni hu l-fatt li l-FKNK qegħdin jipprovaw inaqqsu l-gravita ta’ dawn l-atti billi jsostnu li kienu risposta għal ‘provokazzjoni’ li kaċċaturi ġarrbu meta l-attivisti daħlu fi propjeta privata. Anqas li kieku dak li qegħdin jgħidu l-FKNK hu minnu, dan xorta ma jiġustifikax l-użu tal-vjolenza. F’dak il-każ setgħu ċemplu l-puluzija”, temm jghid is-Sur Urpani

Robert Callus

ADZ The Green Youth – PRO

Blast from the Past #2

Following the latest news from Gaza, about Maltese activist Bianca Zammit, we thought it was appropriate to commemorate her activism with ADZ. She wrote this article way back in 2003.

From the whole team we wish her a speedy recovery.

Human trafficking

Posted 11 Mar 2003 by Bianca Zammit.

Human trafficking, a term used to define a situation where people including children are tricked, forced or threatened in order to be transported to other parts of that country or another country all together where they are coerced to work in factories or enter the sex trade. Those destined for factories become imprisoned with no compensation for their labour and become victims of an irrational schedule that allows very little time to rest. Human trafficking uses the same methods that were used in the slave trade. It is difficult to know for certain the amount of people that are trafficked each year but the United States government estimates that at least 700,000 women and children. In Bangladesh traffickers trick parents by promising a bright future for their children with job opportunities and marriage but in reality they are taken to India and Pakistan and forced into prostitution. Those women that manage to escape are detained by government officials to “protect” them. They are usually put in cells with criminals and these leads to further personal aggravation. Those women that reach their families are greeted with disappointment and shame due to their prostitution and the importance of family honor in these countries leads them to become social outcasts with any possibility of recovery from the trauma experienced extremely difficult. In 2000 the government passed a law that made trafficking illegal with harsh penalties but this law remains to be implemented effectively. Up to now police either ignored accusations regarding trafficking or are themselves part of this business.

In Russia, promising advertisements about stable job and career opportunities abroad are used as traps so that once the women that apply reach their destination they are immediately forced into prostitution. The experience of being in a foreign country where people do not understand one’s language is a very alienating condition and many times these women succumb to the orders they are given. This nightmare is increased by the further rape, abuse and torture these women are subjected to by the traffickers. If men are trafficked these are forced into agricultural or construction work with no pay. Some horrendous circumstances state that the trafficked victims must repay their traffickers the whole cost of transportation. If a victim manages to escape and return home there are no services that can aid the victim and have to face the turmoil on their own. In Russia there is no law against trafficking and cases are rarely taken into consideration. Similar above experiences are shared also in Japan where activists calculated that Yen 4 Trillion ($400 million) a year is made out of trafficking. In Japan there are no laws against trafficking and traffickers are penalized in accordance with the prostitution or immigration laws. In 1999, 127 sex slaves were freed by police officials, the traffickers being charged with trafficking. However, such incidents remain the exception rather than the rule. It is important that all governments introduce into the laws a clear definition of trafficking and a prohibition in any form of exploitation. The measures must be consistent with the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons. Police officials must be trained on how to recognize trafficking and how to treat it, including how to help the victims.

http://www.ecosprinter.eu/2003/03/human-trafficking/