<i>IoS </i>letters, emails &amp; online postings (16 August 2009)

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Susie Mesure writes about the "big political fights" still to be won in countries such as Sudan ("Why is the sisterhood silent on Sudan?", 9 August). She referred to the case of Ms Lubna Ahmed Hussein: she faces trial in Khartoum for noisy antisocial behaviour – not for wearing trousers.

Sudanese women have won the right to occupy 25 per cent of the seats of the Parliament which will be elected in April next year. This will place them in a better position than the women in the UK and USA. They already enjoy the right to equal pay. There are six women Supreme Court judges in Sudan and one Constitutional Court judge. The President's legal adviser is a woman. Sudan has 32 women diplomats including two senior ambassadors. It has two women federal ministers and several state ministers. These are "big political fights" which Ms Mesure overlooks.

Dr Khalid Al Mubarak

Sudan embassy

London sw1

***

I've been campaigning on Lubna's case from the beginning and am also concerned with the plight of women in Afghanistan and the Congo, and sex trafficking. That almost no American women have spoken out about Lubna is a staggering insult to the word "feminism".

anneofcarver

posted online

***

UK feminists are indeed worried about body image, the pay gap, discrimination in the workplace and the effect lads' mags have on young people, but this does not mean we don't care about women like Lubna Hussein. We do care about "hard" issues such as sexual violence against women; witness the spread of Reclaim The Night marches across the country in the last five years aimed at raising awareness of this epidemic. Minimising our concerns and efforts only makes it harder to challenge discrimination against women.

Laura Woodhouse

Burton-on-Trent, Derbyshire

***

Rupert Cornwall's excellent piece about the prison system in America reminds me that Britain's prison population recently hit the record level of 84,000 ("War hero tackles US over degrading prison conditions", 9 August). It is estimated 70 per cent plus in UK prisons have mental problems and many are incarcerated due to drug addiction. While two-thirds of those released in America reoffend inside three years, in Britain 60 per cent reoffend inside two years. Here, prisons are big business. Announcing a new prison programme recently, the Justice Secretary Jack Straw said: "A prison is a source of secure, well-paid employment."

Those seeking a change in the area of crime and punishment are pushing not only against the eye-for-an-eye brigade but also those in the business community who see there is a pretty penny to be made out of locking people up.

Paul Donovan

London E11

***

A diet of ridiculing stories in certain quarters of the national media is setting up health and safety as a great British joke ("Flouted fire rules risk holidaymakers' lives", 9 August). Yet there's a real danger that all the cheap sniggering is having a serious consequence, as a tired routine deadens our senses to those issues of genuine danger, where ignorance, at best, and defiance, at worst, leads us to human tragedy.

John Holden

President Elect, Institution of Occupational Safety and Health

Wigston, Leicestershire

***

The aim of increasing food self-sufficiency long-term in the UK ignores the fact that the average age of a farmer in this country is 58 ("The great British food revolution", 9 August). As farmers' children see their parents making a loss and working long hours, it's not surprising many of them decide not to go into agriculture. My husband works 75 hours a week producing milk and last year made a £14,000 loss. If nothing's done about the supermarkets' stranglehold on the market, more farmers will go out of business. Around 30 dairy farmers are going out of milking every month and there are only about 11,000 left. At this rate, in 20 years there could be only 25 per cent of the farmers there are today.

fleckvieh

posted online

***

I hope the consultation on food security will conclude that farmland should be reserved for growing food and not be turned over to energy crops. The UK is forced by the EU to use biofuels in transport, and is opting to burn biofuels in power stations. Fuelling a small 20MW power station calls for about 7,000 hectares a year to be given over to oilseed rape. With organic farming, including livestock, that land could feed 25,000 people.

Robert Palgrave

Woking, Surrey

***

For decades, the water wheel ground our corn into flour, using just the energy of our rivers. With abundant water power, why are we bothering with behemoth windmills, which spend ages waiting for enough breeze to power our TVs?

Barry Mitchell

Worthing, West Sussex

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