<i>IoS</i> letters, emails & messages (30 November 2008)

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The Independent Online

I enjoy the enlightened and liberal writing of Joan Smith, but she appears to have a phobia about men who use prostitutes ("Damaged women are safer now", 23 November). If such intolerance was directed at gay people it would be called homophobia.

Prostitutes and men who use prostitutes are individuals. If Jacqui Smith's brutal Act of Parliament goes through unamended, men who use prostitutes will suffer injustices similar to those suffered by homosexuals in the past. And they will be very susceptible to blackmail.

Peter J Brown

Middlesbrough, Cleveland

If this Act were carried to its logical conclusion, next time you use the Tube, go to the hairdresser, visit a takeaway, or even buy a copy of The Independent on Sunday at a newsstand, you could expect to be arrested and face a £1,000 fine if the operatives involved turn out to be trafficked. Shoppers will have to be on their guard: 60 allegedly trafficked persons were found the other day in a Lincolnshire field, picking leeks destined for UK supermarkets. Best stay clear of leeks for a while, then.

So, we are expecting 80,000 prostitutes nationally to be subjected to detailed questioning about their personal backgrounds by customers in their perfectly legal trade, or face unemployment.

Suzanne Hammond

via the message board

It is better to help in any way possible the women and girls who are trafficked and subjected to abuse. With two young daughters, I'm glad someone is acknowledging their basic human rights.

Odette

via the message board

In "Obama's green start" (23 November), you quote the President-elect's video address to a global warming summit: "My presidency will mark a new chapter in America's leadership on climate change."

Without wishing to rain on Mr Obama's parade, is there not in these words the usual suggestion of US arrogance: that any international commitment which that country undertakes automatically requires it also to assume a leadership role? Global warming, climate change and the Kyoto Protocol have been in existence for quite a few years now, and the wilful blindness to all three by the outgoing President has robbed the incoming one of the possibility of leadership. It would have been more gratifying if he had used an expression like "America's commitment to international cooperation on climate change".

Michael B Johnson

Brighton, East Sussex

The fascism surrounding epidurals and Caesareans is the main reason why I, and a number of my friends, decided to give birth in a private hospital where your choice of birth is not questioned so long as you are able to pay for it ("Natural childbirth movement 'denies women choice' ", 23 November). In the past 10 years, the number of women giving birth in private hospitals has increased hugely.

The Government should be concerned. Does it really want a situation where the poor give birth in squalor, neglect and suffering while the well-off have perfect births? It has spent a great deal of money attempting to obtain equality in education. Why should birth be any different?

Sally

via the message board

One of the natural birthers' key arguments for denying women choice is that birth is a physiological rather than a pathological process – "medicine" should be used to manage illness only. What does this mean for what comes before birth – conception? Should we deny women contraception as it is "medical"?

Smriti

via the message board

D J Taylor does Annie Powell a disservice (The Bottom Line, 23 November). In her four attempts at a general election, her highest vote was 4,544 (15.1 per cent of votes cast) and she was always second in the poll. For 20 years she has represented the Penygraig ward on Rhondda council, becoming the only communist mayor in Britain. As such, she was one of the few in opposition to Labour in the Rhondda valleys, until Plaid Cymru started making gains. Annie was much admired by friends and opponents alike.

Glyn Morris

Beddau, Pontypridd

Cole Moreton suggests we "tune in while you can, on the biggest radio show Baker has ever done" (Hero or Villain, 23 November). In other words, tune into Radio 2 on Saturday mornings to endure the trivia of Danny Baker and Zoë Ball. Unfortunately, I did. I cannot understand why the BBC is so determined to transform a music station into Sad FM. The usual excuse is they want a younger audience. Surely they already have that on Radios 1 and 6?

Nigel Wardle

Stapleton, Leicestershire

Just because Little Dorrit is by Dickens doesn't mean it's automatically either marvellous or suitable for the screen ("Is it all over for costume drama?", 23 November). It is not a great read, and too bitty, even had the chunks been an hour long. But three million-plus viewers in today's segmented market is still pretty good.

Rob

via the message board

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