Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/701/13531
Protect women's rights - oppose the abstinence bill
Beth Granter, Brighton Socialist Party
In May 2011, Tory MP Nadine Dorries made an attack on sex education via a private member's bill. Dorries proposed that girls be given "information and advice on the benefits of abstinence from sexual activity" as part of their sex education.
Making abstinence education 'just for girls' positions women as the gatekeepers of sex, and men as having no responsibility.
Existing sex and relationships education (SRE) in the UK is not statutory. Already some schools, in particular academies, 'free schools' and religious schools (ie schools outside local authority control), do not teach comprehensive SRE because they disagree with the apparently 'unsavoury' content.
Abstinence education has been proven not to reduce sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy. A review of US sex-abstinence programs involving over 15,000 people by Oxford University found that they do not stop risky sexual behaviour or help in the prevention of unwanted pregnancy.
Dorries has made other attacks on womens' rights, such as trying to hand over counselling for women seeking abortion to religious anti-choice organisations, and trying repeatedly to reduce the time limit on abortions.
A few days after the first reading of her abstinence education bill Dorries went on the Vanessa Show and claimed that "if more children were taught to 'just say no' there would be less sexual abuse". This outrageous victim blaming is a total distortion.
Dorries' proposals, and the actions of her party, have nothing to do with helping women. For example, the Con-Dem cuts include:
- Axing £280 million of funding for a ten-year Teenage Pregnancy Strategy
- 40% cuts to domestic violence, while legal aid is also being cut
- Cuts in welfare, public services, public sector jobs, pay and pensions, which all disproportionately affect women
Socialists believe that women should have full control over their bodies through access to genuine sex education, birth control, and political and social equality. The Con-Dem cuts are increasing inequality between the rich and everyone else.
- Join the 'Stop Dorries' abstinence for girls sex education bill' Facebook campaign, which now has over 1,900 members, at http://facebook.com/stopdorries
- Demonstrate against the abstinence education bill - 20 January, 10.30am, outside the Houses of Parliament, Old Palace Yard, Westminster. Facebook event: http://on.fb.me/stopdorriesdemo
In The Socialist 18 January 2012:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party campaigns
International socialist news and analysis