Sociologist from Malta

Monday, April 23, 2018

The IVF, surrogacy debate - Michael Briguglio

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Times of Malta 23 April 2018

The ongoing news concerning the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia represents a huge taint on Malta’s governance. The way the government is acting is more in sync with that of illiberal democracies in Hungary, Poland and Turkey, where institutional autonomy is being dismantled to protect political oligarchs.
Amid this dark cloud over democracy, Joseph Muscat’s government is trying to rush through legislation and avoiding thorough public debate and scrutiny. IVF and surrogacy are the most recent examples.
The government is stating that in vitro fertilisation (IVF) will be accessible to more than just different-sex couples; infertile couples will have increased chances to conceive a child. Consequently, embryo freezing will be permitted, prospective parents can have extra embryos frozen for five years and these may be consequently given up for adoption.
The proposed law will also allow sperm and egg donations, as well as surrogacy. As things currently stand, surrogacy is illegal, and doctors involved in IVF or embryo transfer can be subjected to a fine ranging from €5,000 to €15,000 and a maximum three-year prison sentence. The surrogate mother’s punishment is decreased by one or two degrees.
The proposed law will keep such punishments in place for surrogacy against payment, but it can allow ‘altruistic’ surrogacy. In turn, this part of the law will be subject to ‘public consultation’ and a legal notice.
Judging by this government’s standards for consultation, my hopes aren’t too high.
Pierre Schembri Wismayer, a professor who was involved in the drafting of the existing IVF legislation is dubbing the proposed changes “chilling”, “irresponsible” and “as tantamount to a document prepared over the weekend by somebody high on energy drinks” (April 15).
He raised concern over the possible ‘blackmail’ of couples applying for IVF treatment to give away their own embryos for adoption if they are not required. He also raised concern that embryologists would select the best two embryos out of the permitted five for IVF treatment for a higher chance of success.
In his words, “the rest, which will be frozen, will in actual fact be less healthy embryos. This will further reduce the chance of these embryos being adopted”. 
He also raised concern about contradictions in the proposed text and lack of safeguards, which are not surprising in a country with poor checks and balances. This could have implications in areas such as children’s rights and health. 
I augur that other experts in the medical and social sciences speak up on the proposed legislation. Irrespective of one’s ideological and ethical positions on IVF, surrogacy and related issues on the Malta parliamentary agenda, I believe that broad, informed, non-banalised and comprehensive debates are required within the public sphere before laws are rushed through.
I, for one, have strong ethical reservations on surrogacy, and this view is shared by a wide range of ideologies ranging from feminism to Catholicism. In many European countries it is banned, while some others permit the so-called ‘altruistic’ model. The European Parliament has called on States to ban it.
In my reading surrogacy legitimises the commodification of the body through exploitation and abuse. The woman’s womb becomes a factory, the mother cannot be called ‘mum’ and the rights of the child are practically inexistent. The client comes first. This argument even holds for ‘altruistic’ surrogacy.
Indeed, how would we know if such surrogacy is really altruistic, that no pressure has taken place and that no money is being paid in a clandestine way? And why is the government assuming that no-cost surrogacy is not exploitative? Is the government consulting research on the demographics of surrogate mothers?
Does it look into the possibilities that the latter may have less social power than their clients?
The plot thickens. What if the surrogacy doesn’t go according to plan and the prospective child does not fulfill the expectations of the clients?
To me it is inconceivable that the same government that calls itself feminist is practically brushing aside ethical concerns and avoiding informed debate on such matters. We are moving towards a soulless State where the government’s niche products involve the commodification of everything.
The human body is the latest addition to citizenship, nature and public land.

Michelle Obama u Malta - Michael Briguglio


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Michelle Obama dan l-ahhar ghamlet analogija interessanti ferm dwar id-differenzi bejn l-eks President Amerikan Barack Obama u l-President attwali Donald Trump.

Obama qalet hekk: “Nahseb qed naraw x’jigri meta thalli kollox ghaddej. Ghal tmien snin, meta Barack kien president, wiehed kien ihossu li hemm ‘genitur tajjeb’ id-dar: Genitur responsabbli, dak li jghidlek biex tiekol il-karrotti u biex torqod x’certu hin. Illum ghandna l-genitur l-iehor. Dak li jahseb li qed niehdu gost, ghax issa nistghu nieklu l-helu l-gurnata kollha, nibqghu imqajmin sa x’hin irridu u ma nsegwux regoli”.

Kliem Michelle Obama huwa tassew applikabbli ghal Malta.

Il-Gvernijiet Nazzjonalisti bejn l-1987 u l-2013 ma kienux perfetti, izda gabu tibdil importanti fil-pajjiz bhad-demokrazija liberali, il-liberta’ ta’ l-espressjoni, il-pluralimzu tax-xandir u tas-socjeta’ civili, l-eliminazzjoni tal-vjolenza mill-apparat ta’ l-istat, zvilupp ekonomiku u socjali, shubija fl-Unjoni Ewropea u shubija fl-Ewro. Meta kien hemm maltemp ekonomiku globali wara l-krizi tal-2008, Malta zammet sod u baqghet mixja.

Kemm Eddie Fenech Adami kif ukoll Lawrence Gonzi kemm il-darba hadu decizzjonijiet importanti u rrikonciljaw interessi differenti billi poggew il-gid komuni fuq quddiem. U avolja kienu konservattivi fuq kwistjonijiet bhad-divorzju u d-drittijiet LGBTIQ, li kieku ma kienux huma li fethu l-bibien ghall-liberta’, kien ikun ferm iktar difficli li wara jinfethu t-twieqi ghal dawn id-drittijiet.

Kien hemm oqsma bhall-ambjent li kien jixirqilhom iktar importanza, izda pajjizna kien qed jara titjib f’certi oqsma permezz ta’ regoli frott ta’ shubija fl-Unjoni Ewropea.

Ejja nqabblu dan kollu mal-Gvern Laburista ta’ Joseph Muscat. Huwa veru li l-ekonomija qed tikber, izda l-istess tikber iz-zaqq meta wiehed jiekol hafna helu. Il-mudell ekonomiku ta’ Muscat hu bbazat fuq bejgh tal-passaporti, zvilupp bla razan, u l-kummercjalizazzjoni tal-gid komuni. Is-sostenibilita’ ta’ dan il-mudell fuq medda ta’ snin hu wiehed dubjuz, iktar u iktar meta ma jidhirx li hemm pjan ghal difersifikazzjoni.

Il-Gvern Laburista qieghed jatwa politika ta’ xejn m’hu xejn f’oqsma bhall-ambjent, is-sahha u t-trasport. Il-governanza dghajfa qed tagevola l-korruzzjoni u kbarat li ma jsegwux ir-regoli qed jigu ippremjati. Sa dan it-tant Joseph Muscat jipprova jisseduci lill-poplu biex jippartecipa f’prattici simili.

Ta’ min wiehed jomghod sew kliem bhal ta’ Michelle Obama. Jaghmlu sew dawk li jitkellmu dwar kif il-Gvern ta’ Joseph Muscat qed ibiddel il-pajjiz f’wiehed fejn kollox ghandu prezz u fejn ma jippurtaniex mill-konsegwenzi ta’ politika li ma tharisx fit-tul. Sewwa jaghmlu dawk li ma jiskrux sakra li jkollha konsegwenzi koroh l-ghada.

Dan l-artiklu deher fil-Mument, 23 ta' April 2018

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Malta llum bejn politika socjali u l-progett Daphne - Michael Briguglio


Nixtieq nitkellem dwar xi realtajiet u inugwaljanzi socjali f’pajjizna illum.

Tajjeb inzommu f’mohhna li l-inguwaljanza socjali jista’ jkollha forom varji. Jista’ jkollha x’taqsam ma’ fatturi ekonomici, ma’ pregudizzji, ma’ diskriminazzjoni u ma eskluzjoni socjali ta’ gruppi varji.

Jekk niehdu d-dinja tax-xoghol bhala ezempju, naraw li f’pajjizna hemm realtajiet kontrastanti ferm. Filwaqt li l-ekonomija qed tikber u l-qghad u l-istatistka tal-faqar juru tnaqqis, hemm madwar 30% tal-‘working age population’ li m’humiex qed jahdmu f’impjieg formali. Fost dawn hemm 7,000 zghazugh li mhux qed jirregistraw ghax-xoghol jew jattendu xi facilita edukattiva.

Hemm ukoll bosta haddiema li qed jesperjenzaw zminijiet iebsa. Huma hafna l-haddiema b’pagi baxxi u/jew b’kundizzjonijiet hziena li ma jistghux ilahhqu ma’ l-gholi tal-hajja u li ma jistghux jitolbu ghal pagi iktar gholjin. Dan minhabba ragunijiet bhal dik li f’xi setturi jistghu jinstabu haddiema ohrajn minflokhom li lesti jahdmu ghal pagi iktar baxxi u ghal kundizzjonijiet inferjuri.  B’hekk jinholoq ciklu ta’ sfruttar u kompetizzjoni ingusta bejn il-haddiema.

Hemm ukoll bosta fatturi kulturali u socjali li qed iwasslu ghal inugwaljanzi li hafna drabi jahmdu kontra n-nisa fuq il-post tax-xoghol. Politika li verament trid l-ugwaljanza f’dan il-qasam tizgura li n-nisa ikollhom l-istess stima, appogg, pagi u kundizzjonijiet li ghandhom l-irgiel fuq il-post tax-xoghol. Politika ekwa titkellem ukoll dwar ir-responsabilitajiet ta’ l-irgiel fil-familja u mat-tfal.

Ta’ min iqis ukoll li f’pajjizna huwa stmat li l-ekonomija mohbija (underground economy) hija pjuttost kbira (25% tal-prodott gross domestiku). Hemm diversi ragunijiet li jispjegaw l-ezistenza ta’ xoghol mhux dikjarat. Fosthom hemm l-ezistenza xoghol prekarju b’kundizzjonijiet ta’ sfruttar li donnhom qed jaharbu mill-attenzjoni ta’ l-awtoritajiet.

Ta’ min isemmi kwistjonijiet ohra relatati ma’ l-eskluzzjoni socjali. Fost dawn hemm is-solitudni. Paradoss ta’ zminijietna hu li filwaqt li l-bliet u l-irhuha qed jikbru,  is-socjeta’ qed tkun karattierzzata ukoll minn nuqqas ta’ sens ta’ komunita’, individwalizazzjoni f’oqsma varji tal-hajja u nies li jhossuhom wahidhom qalb il-folla.

Ghalhekk huwa importanti li l-politika socjali tipprovva ssahhah il-komunitajiet fis-socjeta’. Dawn jistghu ikunu komunitajiet lokali, fuq il-post tax-xoghol u fl-edukazzjoni,  u jistghu ikunu ukoll komunitajiet ta’ persuni b’esperjenzi, gosti jew kulturi simili. Investiment ikbar fil-kunsilli lokali, fl-ghaqdiet non-governattivi u f’inizjattivi edukattivi, socjali u kulturali jistghu jghinu f’dawn ir-rigward.

F’socjeta’ fejn il-partiti politici ghandhom prezenza kbira f’oqsma varji tal-hajja, huwa importanti li tigi valorizzata  politika li temfasizza kemm il-kapital socjali, u mhux wahda li tisfrutta lil bniedem peress ta’ processi fejn il-vot jispicca arma biex nikkompettu ma’ xulxin ghall-privileggi. Tajjeb ukoll li l-politika tippromwovi bilanc ta’ drittijiet u dmirijiet, biex b’hekk l-individwu ikun verament parti mis-socjeta’ ta’ madwaru.

Ghalhekk, oppozizzjoni b’sahhitha ghandha d-dmir li titkellem f’isem dawk li qed jesperjenzaw inugwaljanza frott ta’ politika ta’ Gvern li kemm il-darba qieghed iwarrab ir-ruh socjali.

Il-fatt li l-Gvern Laburista irid idahhal ligijiet bhal dik tas-surrogacy juru li minkejja d-diskors li hu feminista u liberali, fil-verita’ huwa favur politika li tmur kontra d-dinjita’ tal-persuna.

Nitxtieq nitkellem ukoll dwar kwistjoni ohra li qieghda fuq fomm kulhadd: L-ahbarijiet li hargu mid Daphne Project:  konsorzzju ta’ 45 gurnalist minn gazzetti kbar minn 18-il pajjiz.

Huwa car iktar minn qatt qabel li l-pozizzjonijiet ta’ Keith Schembri u Konrad Mizzi m’ghadhomx tenibli u ghalhekk ghandhom jitnehhew mill-karigi taghhom ta' ministru u Kap tal-Ufficcju tal-Prim Ministru. Ir-revelazzjonijiet mid-Daphne Project izidu aktar evidenza mal-illegalitajiet tal-Panama Papers.

Iktar ma’ l-Prim Ministru Joseph Muscat jibqa jiddefendi lill-Schembri u Mizzi, iktar qed isahhahh il-kultura’ ta’ xejn m’hu xejn, il-kultura’ ta’ l-impunita fejn hemm ligi ghall-Allat u ligi ghall-annimali.

Jidher li l-triumvirat ta’ Muscat, Schembri u Mizzi iridu jzommu l-poter akkost ta’ kollox u ghalhekk ghandna noqoghdu attendi sabiex niddefendu l-kisbiet demokratici li akkwistajna tul is-snin.

Ghalhekk naghlaq biex nappella biex ikun hemm unita’ milll-forzi kollha ta’ rieda tajba sabiex insalvaw il-pajjiz mill-iktar tmexxija korrotta li qatt kellu.

Il-poter ta’ Muscat m’huwiex etern, u ahna ser nibqghu infakkruh b’dan il-fatt permezz tal-vuci, tal-kitba u ta’ l-attivizmu taghna.  

Diskors, 22 ta' April 2018