IoS letters, emails & online postings (19 June 2011)

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A rape victim should never be made to feel ashamed because of what they were wearing ("Thousands march to change outdated attitudes on sexuality", 12 June). But if the aim of the SlutWalk was indeed about changing public perception, I worry whether it was achieved.

It could look as if some of these women simply wish to make it culturally acceptable to wear inappropriate clothing in public. But rape is a violent act, not a sexual one. Clothing doesn't come into it, especially as the vast majority of rapes are planned and the victim often already knows their attacker on a social level.

Rape is the responsibility of the rapist alone. Women, children and men of every age, physical type and demeanour are assaulted in this way. And opportunity is often the most important factor determining when a rapist will rape.

I'm not sure that SlutWalks have done anything other than make the women appear as histrionic attention-seekers who don't know what real gender equality is.

Emilie Lamplough

Trowbridge, Wiltshire

If a woman is to be blamed for being raped because of the clothes she wears, then obviously a mugging victim should not have been carrying a purse or wallet when shopping.

Sue Berry

Bedlington, Northumberland

Joan Smith presents well-researched evidence to support her theory that rape is part of the culture of armed forces throughout the world ("Rape is part of military culture, a secret among soldiers", 12 June). It is all the more mystifying then that, in the past, she has often sought to justify the military invasion of Afghanistan as being essential for the emancipation of the women of that country.

Tim Matthews

Luton, Bedfordshire

Published records show that the number of Nato-trained soldiers and armed police in Afghanistan per head of the civilian population is now four times that in this country. To this body of trained armed Afghans must be added the militia of the tribal warlords and the mercenaries of the private contractors. The same records, collected over decades, show that of every four men recruited into the Afghan National Army and armed police, one deserts within a year, often taking his weapon with him.

The Afghans have experienced more than 30 years of civil war. We will leave their civilian population in the state European civilians were left in after the Thirty Years War of the 17th century: at the mercy of huge armed bands of illiterate unemployed ex-soldiers roaming the countryside.

Our politicians pontificate about protecting civilians in Libya and Syria, yet they collaborate in a policy that will unleash greater horrors on the civilians of Afghanistan.

Maurice Vassie

Deighton, York

We often overlook the fact that the Taliban, with its record of terrorism and gross human rights violations, is also extremely unpopular among the Afghan people, despite the appalling corruption of the government in Kabul. Bestowing political power on Taliban leaders who have no consent from the people is not genuine political reconciliation. Rather, it amounts to a perfidious, undemocratic deal that enables elites to monopolise power in their own hands.

It is time to appreciate the distinction between the localised, Pashtun insurgency in the south of Afghanistan and the ideologically driven, Islamist insurgents. We must address the legitimate grievances of the former if we want to have a safe withdrawal plan and contain the Taliban. Therefore, we should first reduce troop numbers in the south (preferably stationing them further north where they enjoy greater support) and persuade the Karzai regime both to decentralise power from Kabul and broaden the ethnic base of the Afghan army. This is the only way we can address the problem among rural Pashtuns of what is perceived as the imposition of an unrepresentative government.

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi


Hamish McRae says that biofuels may count as renewable energy but the excessive use of food crops to produce fuel is not at all "green". Surely biofuels are renewable energy? While the excessive use of food crops may cause food shortages and food price rises, can he explain why this excessive use would not make them "green"? If they replace the use of fossil fuels, they must reduce the production of carbon dioxide, irrespective of scale.

Terry Pugh

Baildon, West Yorkshire

After attending a top public school and reading English at Cambridge, Tom Hodgkinson expresses regret about the failure of his top-notch education to give him a sufficiently robust philosophical grounding in the nature of suffering ("Give me suffering over self-esteem", 12 June.)

As we used to say on our prefab estate, the other half do not know the half of it.

Ivor Morgan


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