Enormous, disproportionate impact on black minority women

The Independent reported on the LSESUASH et al. letter to the UN special rapporteur yesterday. That’s good: major media coverage, and non-right-wing major media coverage at that.

Mr Moos, who was recently involved in a freedom of expression battle with LSE, believes that any type of segregation should be fought and that the UN pressure would help public discussion.

He said: “We hope that the UN will air their concern about the on-going issue of gender discrimination in public institutions in the UK, and advise the UK government on how to ensure full compliance with the existing human rights legislation that outlaws discrimination on the basis of protected characteristics like gender.”

As opposed to treating gender as a special case because culture or because religion or because oh shit we don’t want to get into it.

The question of gender segregation in universities took off last year when a guest speaker stormed out of a debate at University College London due to segregation. UCL has since changed its guidelines, saying events should be open to all, “regardless of gender”.

Pragna Patel, the director of Southall Black Sisters is still not satisfied though, saying it is important to “support students in the same struggle, but in a different sphere”.

She said: “Gender segregation, if allowed to gather momentum in higher education, will have enormous, disproportionate impact on black minority women. We see a direct link between the work we do and supporting students who are leading this struggle.”

That’s a good point. It’s not white majority women who are going to be marginalized by retrograde moves like allowing gender segregation. You could argue that there’s a subtle form of racism at work in this – that (white) UK bureaucrats who want to allow gender segregation are being cavalier about it because it’s not their daughters who will be gently shoved out of the public sphere. It’s an invidious kind of argument, because it generally is invidious to assume one knows other people’s motivations, but then again we keep being accused of racism or at least sympathy with racists for opposing gender segregation, so…there you go.

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