The new UN Women agency is truly something to celebrate, as gender is usually one of the first issues that gets dropped at times of economic crisis ("Women of the world, unite!", 4 July). The new agency suggests that the past few years of negotiations between UN Member States and advocacy by the international women's movement have finally paid off.
Your article described the newly formed UN Women as "a single powerful body". It will need to be. Many women and men around the globe will be looking to it to ensure that their issues are at the forefront of all areas of development. A colleague has recently returned from photographing women whom Cafod works with in the DR Congo, survivors of horrific sexual violence. Their eyes do not hide the enormous amount of suffering they have been through, but their faces speak of determination and resilience. It is hoped that these women and millions more will have a stronger voice because of UN Women.
Cafod Gender Adviser
Prison is primarily about quarantine; punishment and rehabilitation are secondary. ("Young men thrive on opportunity, not jail", 4 July). If all violent offences, including possession of an illegal weapon, led to prison but other offences did not, our prison population would be manageable. But we are not going to make real progress until we decriminalise drugs and regulate the sales as we do with alcohol, so that what is sold is not dangerously adulterated.
Out of the hands of criminal druglords, regulated and controlled – even taxed, drugs wouldn't force young people into crime and prostitution to buy them. Nor would they have the fatal "bad guy" allure for the young. All the agencies who work with drugs call for decriminalisation. The powerful males who for the most part run the show should understand that recruitment to prostitution would be much harder if drugs were legal, clean and moderately priced. Or perhaps a lack of prostitutes is unwelcome: an awful lot of people seem to depend on them.
Peter Stanford, director of the Longford Trust, reports that some Longford Scholars have had their university places withdrawn once their criminal records are disclosed (4 July). Given that students who are ex-prisoners do not have access to children, what justification do universities have for doing the check in the first place?
West Bromwich, West Midlands
David Stansfield says "the science is clear... it cannot be the homeopathic medicines" that cured pain and depression (Letters, 4 July). The science is also pretty clear on placebos: they can be just as effective as "real" medicines for certain psychological disorders, when backed with therapy. We used to be told that using leeches and maggots to treat wounds was laughable. And now guess what....
If the media didn't try to destroy people in the public eye for mistakes made, these people would be more inclined to admit error ("Excuses, buck-passing, and the lost virtue of taking responsibility", 4 July). I imagine I would be on the defensive if I were to experience an outpouring of vitriol and hostility from the media and, subsequently, the public, as our footballers have.
I'm no fan of personalities such as Frank Lampard, but I should think they tried their best. I'm still less a fan of Tony Blair, but when such a politician does admit to a mistake and changes his or her mind, the media jump on them for a "humiliating" U-turn. What are they supposed to do?
I was appalled by your headline, "Mastermind of Munich Olympic massacre dies at 73", referring to the perpetrator of the 1972 outrage (4 July). Massacres don't have masterminds, they have idiots.
Crawley Down, West Sussex
Churchill was not the last soldier to be British prime minister (Letters, 4 July). Harold Macmillan served on the Western Front and Anthony Eden won an MC.
Aren't you forgetting Edward Heath? As prime minister, in April 1971 he wore his Royal Artillery lieutenant colonel's insignia to inspect troops.
Matthew Bell thinks that because she is a "matronly figure", it is a "mystery" that Libby Purves has one of the smartest CVs in the media ("Even now, Libby Purves buys her own theatre tickets", 4 July). I doubt that he would marvel at his own success were he short, fat and bald as a billiard ball.
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