Anti-Oppressive Practice: Social Care and the Law

Anti-Oppressive Practice: Social Care and the Law

Anti-Oppressive Practice: Social Care and the Law

Anti-Oppressive Practice: Social Care and the Law

Excerpt

The law is an instrument and not an end in itself. If you learn how to
use the law you can do something with it. (Margaret Simey, in an
interview with the authors, November 1993)

Asked what it was that gave her the strength to continue her work, Josephine Butler replied that it was 'the awful abundance of compassion which makes me fierce'. Josephine Butler was born in 1828. Committed to fighting injustice and oppression, she spent the greater part of her life campaigning against legislation regulating prostitution. It has been said that if:

Josephine Butler were alive today, she would still be campaigning
against sexual exploitation. She would be arguing with passion
against pornography. She would be out amongst the drug addicts,
the AIDS-sufferers, the prostitutes of both sexes, loving them and
caring for them. But at the same time she would be ruthless in her
exposure of those who exploited and trapped them.

(Church Times, 26 December 1986)

Biographers have stated that Josephine was not a born fighter. While she may not have been considered a natural candidate to lead a public cause, she did believe that women should be regarded as individuals with the same needs and rights as anyone else: 'the right to work, to be regarded as equal with men in the eyes of the law, to share with men the responsibility of making the conditions in which both must live' (Moberly Bell, 1962: 12).

Compassion is not perhaps a word that many would use to describe their motivation for working in health and social care practice. However, compassion can be described as 'sharing', and if you share the distress of people then you cannot walk away (Simey, 1993: 15). In September 1993, in a lecture to students at Josephine Butler House, Liverpool John Moores University, Margaret Simey described Josephine's 'blistering sense of outrage' not only as the quality that made her 'fierce' but also as the quality which has been lost in much social care practice. Margaret Simey, who died in August 2004, spent her life dedicated to the people of Merseyside. Her work was based in the Granby area of Merseyside, where she spoke out boldly but wisely against what she saw as injustice and oppression. This was reflected in her writing, which 'displayed a fierce commitment, written with an uncompromising . . .

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