Monday, February 08, 2016

Syrian civil war and regulating sex work

There were a couple of good pieces on our course these this weekend.  One, a Guardian op-ed called "What happens next in Aleppo will shape Europe," covers the murk of the cross and doublecross. (Left: Exodus from Aleppo 3 February 2016).
Aleppo will define much of what happens next. A defeat for Syrian opposition forces would further empower Isis in the myth that it is the sole defender of Sunni Muslims – as it terrorises the population under its control. There are many tragic ironies here, not least that western strategy against Isis has officially depended on building up local Syrian opposition ground forces so that they might one day push the jihadi insurgency out of its stronghold in Raqqa. If the very people that were meant to be counted on to do that job as foot soldiers now end up surrounded and crushed in Aleppo, who will the west turn to? Russia has all along claimed it was fighting Isis – but in Aleppo it is helping to destroy those Syrian groups that have in the past proved to be efficient against Isis.
and there's this:
All this is happening at a time when European governments are desperate to win Ankara’s cooperation on the refugee problem. If Turkey now turns into a troublemaker for Nato on its Middle Eastern flank, that serves Russian interests. Similarly, if Europe sees a new exodus of refugees, Russia will stand to benefit.The refugee crisis has sowed deep divisions on the continent and it has helped populist rightwing parties flourish – many of which are Moscow’s political allies against the EU as a project. The refugee crisis has put key EU institutions under strain; it has heightened the danger of Brexit (which Moscow would welcome); and it has severely weakened Angela Merkel, the architect of European sanctions against Russia.
The piece describes Putin, the man of order, as the king of chaos, but with his own interests always in short term view. And Putin is only one of the regions noir princes, in the Machiavellian sense we discussed last week in lecture.

Another piece, on the plan to criminalize the customers of sex workers in Britain is following the Swedish model that targets then client and not the prostitute.  Sex worker and activist Laura Lee says this plan would make sex workers less safe, and explains why: when clients fear prosecution, they don't use the registries that sex workers set up to identify and screen their clients:
“I had a guy call a number of months ago. He was perfectly polite – a little curt, maybe, but I put that down to nerves. When he got to my place, he was very clearly disturbed. He started with hideous verbal abuse, based on sectarianism, and his hatred of sex workers, a hatred of Catholics, just a hatred of who we are and what we do. I kept him as calm as I could, I used every soothing method I knew, I didn’t attempt to argue back. My primary purpose was to get him out of the room, which I did eventually.” She isn’t often alarmed by her clients, but this new inability to screen them has frightened her and her colleagues. “I was left badly shaken by the experience and the knowledge that I had no way of tracing this man to warn other sex workers about him,” she says. Other women have told her that they are “very scared”.
 Tips of the icebergs here.

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