Q+A: Golriz Ghahraman on increasing refugee numbers

Golriz Ghahraman, Green Party spokesperson on Immigration and Human Rights, was interviewed on Q+A on increasing refugee numbers. Jacinda Ardern announced last week the number was being increased from 1,000 to 1,500 in 2020, but Green policy is to increase it further to 4,000 (over 5 years), something that is unlikely to be agreed on by NZ First.

“There was such an outpouring of support for refugees from community groups and individuals”.

“Countries that take the most refugees are in fact from the Middle East and Africa, they’re the neighbour countries, they take millions, and in Europe we’ve seen you know millions come across and be integrated and housed because there’s been that need and it’s so close for them”.

“I think that New Zealand has always been a country that likes to do our share, you know we like to do our fair share when these things happen around the world.

On Winston Peters saying “I can show you parts of the Hokianga and elsewhere, parts of Northland, where people are living in degradation, we have to fix their lives up before we start taking on new obligations”. On problems we need to deal with here:

“And we do. And who doesn’t feel that. You know we’ve had nine years of being told we’ve got a rock star economy…

That’s a bullshit claim. The last Government took over as New Zealand was heading into a recession and the world economy tanked, and a couple of years later the Christchurch earthquakes struck, so the New Zealand economy was under aa lot of pressure for years, only gradually recovering. One person at one stage mentioned ‘a rock star economy’.

…while people struggle to find homes, they’re sleeping in cars, the congestion on the roads, you know joblessness. So we need to get back to investing in people, and we’ve got enough to do that, we just need to take care of everyone, and we do want to do our fair share when disasters happen, when wars happen.

“We’ve got enough to do that” depends on what and how much is done.

From the Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement:

18. . Review, and adequately fund and support, the family re-unification scheme for refugees.

Ghahraman:

“So that was a Green Party win in our confidence and supply agreement. We’re going to look at the definition of family. At the moment it’s very limited to dependant blood children and spouse, which doesn’t quite fit the situation of where refugees are coming from. That kind of excludes orphaned cousins who have been adopted and now they’re left back in some refugee camp.”

Won’t that increase the number of people coming in?

“Not significantly, but it would certainly help those families to resettle better without the anxiety of having been ripped apart from their families. And we know that if grand parents were allowed to come they would do a lot of the child care for example and both parents could go out and work and contribute and integrate.”

“So we’re having a review of the definition of family, and also the resourcing for family members being reunified.”

It could be a challenge getting Winston Peters to agree. A review is just aa promise to discuss, not to change.

What is marriage?

It is most often defined as a union between two people, but it depends on how marriage is defined culturally and legally in any modern country.

mar·riage

noun 1.

a. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc. Antonyms: separation.

b. a similar institution involving partners of the same gender: gay marriage.

etc

There are religious claims to marriage, like…

…marriage, as a word, is a religious activity (controlled by the church) which has subsequently been made a civil activity (controlled by the State).

My ‘solution’ is to define all legal unions as XXXXX and reserve the term marriage for those legal unions which are conducted in accordance with a church’s rules. So, every husband and wife would be legally joined, but only those legally joined in a church ceremony would be ‘married’.

Many would dispute that religious groups have exclusive ownership to ‘marriage’ as a single religious entity.

Marriage types mentioned in the Bible:

1. Man + Woman (Nuclear Family) – Genesis 2:24
– wives subordinate to husbands
– interfaith marriages forbidden
– marriages generally arranged
– bride who could not prove virginity was stoned to death

2. Man + Wife + Concubines
– Abraham 2, Solomon 300

3. Man + Woman + Woman’s property
– man could acquire wife’s property including slaves

4. Man + Woman + Woman + Woman… – (Polygany) Genesis 16
– Esau 3, David many, Abijah 14, Solomon 700

5. Man + Brother’s Widow (Leviterate) – Genesis 38:6-10
– woman who had not borne a son required to marry her brother-in-law
– must submit sexually to her new husband

6. Rapist + Victim – Deuteronomy 22:28-29
– virgin who is raped must marry her rapist
– rapist must pay victim’s father 50 shekels of silver for property loss

7. Soldier + Prisoner of War – Numbers 31:1-18, Deuteronomy 21:11-14
– under Moses’ command Israelites must kill every Midianite man, woman and child except for virgin girls who are taken as spoils of war
– wives must submit sexually to their new owners

8. Male Slave + Female Slave – Exodus 21:4
– slave owner could assign female slaves to his male slaves
– female slaves must submit sexually to their husbands

Claims that marriage is a cultural practice that must not be tampered with are contradicted by many variations in marriage over time. Marriage has varied and evolved for millenia, and now means different things to different cultures and to different people within cultures.

Marriage variations over history

Variations of marriage over time according to Religious Tolerance:

Marriage has been an amazingly flexible institution. It is and has been in a continuous state of flux. At various eras and locations:

It has been a purely secular ceremony. It has been a deeply religious ritual.
It has been regarded as a life-long commitment. It has been a temporary handfasting which expired after a year-and-a-day.
It has symbolized the transfer of the near absolute ownership and control of a woman from her father to her husband. It has recognized the relationship of two independent individuals, who enter marriage as equals.
In the past, marriages have been restricted to two persons in some cultures, and more than two in others. In the Bible, Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. In predominately Christian countries, marriages have been limited to two persons. In predominately Muslim countries, polygyny is occasionally practiced. This is a form of polygamy with one man and up to four wives. Polygyny is practiced among fundamentalist Mormon denominations in Utah, and British Columbia, where it is illegal but rarely prosecuted .
In the past, some African-Americans and inter-racial couples have not been permitted to marry. Currently, with few exceptions based on genetics or familial relationships, any opposite-sex couple, no matter what their race, can marry.
In the past, only opposite-sex couples were permitted to marry. Same-sex couples can now marry in a growing number of jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia, a few other states, including Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, etc.
In the past, over 1,400 rights and privileges have been restricted to heterosexual married couples in most states of the U.S.. Committed gay and lesbian couples can now get about 400 rights and privileges in the District of Columbia and a growing number of states where they are allowed to marry. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOAM) denies them federal rights and privileges of marriage. They receive full marital benefits in Canada.

More…

History of marriage

The history of marriage dates back as far as the ancient times. Studies revealed that marriage didn’t exist before. The usual practice was that the men in a certain tribe or horde had access to the women they like. When children are born, they belonged to the whole community. This is associated with the perception that humans want sexual variety. However, things have changed when sexual morality was developed and has since influenced the social life of the people.

The earliest marriage was believed to be ‘group marriage’. The union was basically between groups of men and women, and there exists shared sexual relations. The group marriage allowed polyandry, and this existed in Ceylon, India, and Tibet many years ago.

The origin of marriage is a great debate subject. Many people are wondering how marriage began. There have been studies that claim the existence of marriage 4,350 years ago. Before this time, families were made up of less organized groups consisting of more or less than thirty people. The group consisted of men that shared women. With the introduction of agricultural civilization, the society demanded for stable arrangements.

It is said that the first union between a man and a woman took place in Mesopotamia at 2350 BC. Marriage evolved since then and such practice was observed by the Romans, Greeks, and Hebrews. However, the union was never about love or religion. The primary purpose of the marriage is to ensure that the man’s children are biologically his, and so women were treated as mere ‘property’.

Wives were expected to stay at home and attend to the children, as well as house chores. A husband can give back his wife if she is unable to produce children. The ancient people also turned to prostitutes, concubines, or male lovers to satisfy their needs for sexual variety.

More…

Defining marriage

It is often claimed that marriage has always been between a man and woman. For example:

I see this as an argument over the definition of a word – marriage = man and woman, and has done since the word was ‘created’

Definitions include:

1. to take in marriage
2. to perform the marriage ceremonies for (two people); join in wedlock.
3. to give in marriage; arrange the marriage of.
4. to unite intimately: Common economic interests marry the two countries.
5. to take as an intimate life partner by a formal exchange of promises in the manner of a traditional marriage ceremony.

Where does the word ‘marry’ come from?

Origin:
1250–1300; Middle English marien < Old French marier < Latin marītāre to wed, derivative of marītus conjugal, akin to mās male (person)

Word Origin & History
marry
c.1300, from O.Fr. marier, from L. maritare “to wed, marry, give in marriage,” from maritus “married man, husband,” of uncertain origin, perhaps ult. from “provided with a *mari,” a young woman, from PIE base *meri- “young wife,” akin to *meryo- “young man” (cf. Skt. marya- “young man, suitor”).

marry
a common oath in the Middle Ages, c.1350, now obsolete, a corruption of the name of the Virgin Mary.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/marry

Nothing there definitively saying marriage = man and woman. It seems to be man orientated, not surprising as marriage often used to be man owns woman (as part of his property). A marriage was a convention used to breed an heir for his property.

And anyone who knows about language evolution will say the definition history is irrelevant. “Gay” has evolved to a variety of modern uses, eg merry, homosexual and lame.

As others have said, how we legally define marriage is up to us now.

It could be said that Louisa Wall is trying to make marry merry.

What is neoliberalism?

The term neoliberalism is used a lot on blogs, mostly as a derogatory term or an  insult (neoliberalist). It sometimes seems to be used as a wideranging abuse, accusing anyone to the right of pure socialism as being a neoliberalist.

But what does it actually mean?

Terminology

The meaning of neoliberalism has changed over time and come to mean different things to different groups. This lack of agreement creates major problems in creating an unbiased and unambiguous definition of neoliberalism.

In academic social sciences outside of economics, the term “neoliberal” is often used to condemn privatization and its advocates.

neoliberalism

  • A political movement beginning in the 1960s that blends traditional liberal concerns for social justice with an emphasis on economic growth. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language
  • (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) (Economics) a modern politico-economic theory favouring free trade, privatization, minimal government intervention in business, reduced public expenditure on social services, etc
  • neoliberal  adj & n Collins English Dictionary
  • a movement that modifies classical liberalism in light of 20th-century conditions. Ologies & -Isms.
  • Synonym: liberalism – a political orientation that favors social progress by reform and by changing laws rather than by revolution

Definition of ‘Neoliberalism’

An approach to economics and social studies in which control of economic factors is shifted from the public sector to the private sector. Drawing upon principles of neoclassical economics, neoliberalism suggests that governments reduce deficit spending, limit subsidies, reform tax law to broaden the tax base, remove fixed exchange rates, open up markets to trade by limiting protectionism, privatize state-run businesses, allow private property and back deregulation.

Investopedia explains ‘Neoliberalism’

The use of the term “liberal” in economics is different from its use in politics. Liberalism in economics refers to “freeing up” the economy by removing barriers and restrictions to what actors can do. Neoliberalism’s policies seek to create a laissez-faire atmosphere for economic development.

Wikipedia on Neoliberalism

Neoliberalism is a political movement advocating economic liberalizations, free trade, and open markets. Neoliberalism supports privatization of state-owned enterprises, deregulation of markets, and promotion of the private sector‘s role in society.

Those who use the term argue that Neoliberalism is now a hegemonic philosophy[1], or ‘paradigm’[2], and that establishment economists, politicians and media sources tend to implictly accept it’s underlying assumptions and beliefs as ‘common sense’, one striking effect of neoliberalism being it’s effect on social democratic political parties that previously might have taken at least rhetorical positions against unfettered markets, but today when in power practice neoliberal policies[3]. Neoliberalism is also felt to govern the relationship between the West and Developing countries, and to have major effects on culture and state and other social institutions.

 

A Primer on Neoliberalism

  • by Anup Shah