Did the organizers stop at nothing for profits?
20 people died in the horrific stampede at the July 24 Love Parade festival in the German city of Duisburg, 500 were injured and, for a time, over 1 000 people were officially listed as missing. The revellers panicked at a tunnel entrance. But, already in the build up to the parade many thought there was a risk of mass panic developing.
By Jan Röder and Sebastian Förster, CWI Germany
Whether it was the songs of Pete Seeger in the 1930s, Bob Dylan in the 1960s or Public Enemy in the 1980s, the mix of politics and music has always struck a chord amongst a layer of young people who are angry and frustrated at the huge poverty, repression and exploitation that exists in the world. In the 1990s, that honour undoubtedly belonged to Rage Against The Machine.
By Stephen Rigney, Dublin Socialist Youth
Young people in Omagh have been outraged by the decision of the owner of Serene Treat, a beauty salon, to fit a Mosquito to her premises. This device emits a high-frequency sound which is audible only to people in their early twenties and younger. It is being marketed as a way of dispersing crowds of young people by creating discomfort.
The owner, Kerry McCrory, claims that her business is being hurt because crowds around Café Extreme, next door to her business, which is popular with young people, are engaging in “anti-social behaviour”. In reality, genuinely anti-social behaviour is rare in the area. This device is totally indiscriminate and affects all young people within range, as well as potentially affecting people with some disabilities. McCrory says she will take the Mosquito down if Omagh District Council and the police put in place “more effective” measures, i.e. more draconian measures, to disperse young people. The Council has largely remained silent on the issue.
The device has also met with opposition from parents, who are angered by their children being labelled “trouble makers” simply for hanging out with their friends. Many also acknowledge that Café Extreme provides a space for young people to socialise, which is very rare in Omagh.
Indeed, anti-social behaviour which does exist in the town can be linked to the shocking lack of affordable sports and recreational facilities provided by the Council. Omagh has one of the highest levels of teenage alcoholism in Northern Ireland, which breeds anti-social behaviour.
The use of measures such as this Mosquito demonstrates the increasing criminalisation and marginalisation of young people in our society, the vast majority of whom do not participate in anti-social behaviour. Young people need to organise independently of the right-wing, sectarian parties, who have failed to meet our needs, and fight against reactionary attacks on our rights.
Elisa O’Donovan, Dublin Socialist Youth
“Want to be the hottest girl on campus?” This was the slogan used to advertise the first Miss UCD beauty pageant, a competiton sponsored by the UCD Students’ Union in conjunction with the Sun and the News of the World.
UCD Students’ Union, like all student unions, should be vehemently opposed to all forms of sexism and be promoting a positive view of women. Beauty pageants are demeaning to women and are an excuse for putting sexism on parade. They encourage the idea that women should be seen as sex objects to be judged by men, as well as making women believe that to be desirable they have to conform to unrealistic types of “beauty”.
Socialist Party members demanded the immediate withdrawal of support for this so-called competition by the Students’ Union. In response the student union officials justified holding this sexist pageant by running it as a charity event for the primary immunodeficiency association; a charity that helps mothers and fathers cope with raising a child with an incurable paediatric condition.
It is ironic that in order to raise money to help struggling families, UCD Students’ Union has to resort to using a competition that bans mothers and wives from entering! Along with this the competiton banned all women under 5’4”!
By Cian Prendiville, Limerick Socialist Youth
In January’s Finance Bill VAT on condoms was lowered from 21% to 13.5%. Any reduction should be welcomed, the crucial question is why, given the problems with sexually transmitted infections (STIs), is there VAT on condoms, or indeed why are they not free?
The VAT cut got some mixed reactions. As could be expected the Catholic Church was up in arms against it. The Union of Students in Ireland simply welcomed the reduction and called for the VAT to be reduced to 5%, unfortunately accepting the logic that there must be VAT and a price tag on safer sex.
This is at a time when according to one survey, 40% of students didn’t use a condom the last time they had sex. This is particularly worrying given the growing problems of STIs such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV. Between 1998 and 2003 the reported number of STIs increased by almost 400%.
Yet despite this condoms are more expensive in Ireland than most other parts of the EU, with companies such as Durex and Mates making billions. It is the height of hypocrisy that the government can claim to be trying to tackle the spread of STIs and yet allow this profiteering to take place.
As well as this there is a shocking lack of decent, non-judgmental sex education for young people. In report after report there are stories of teenagers not using condoms correctly or following myths such as “you can’t get pregnant if its her first time”. In order to tackle STIs and unplanned pregnancies, sex education, free contraception, STI tests and treatment must be provided without stigma or judgment to all.