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WOMEN'S RIGHTS

THE CAMPAIGN AT HOME,

AN APPEAL TO MR ASQTJITH

Representatives from the New Zealand Women's Christian Temperance Union and tdie Canterbury Women's Institute met on Friday evening, April 29th, when i t was agreed to forward to the Right Honourable H. H. Asquith, Prime Minister, the fo.lowing letter authorised by the Union and the Institute : — ' To the Right Honourable! H. H. ■Asquith, Premier of England. Sir. — There are human exigencies, .'fundamental necessities, t which sweep >ay all bSrriws of time, place and circumstance between • the meanest subject and the highest tribunal of the land. Mindful, therefore, of our responsibilities as members of the British Empire, ,v:e, representative women electors of New Zealand, feel constrained to address the Premier of England on a subject of vi.&l import to the race, 'lhe basic British principle, of the right of free petition 'has^ .been 'violated, and the results of that violation have been such as to leave an -indelib'-e stain on the British Government.

It is with deep horror and indignation that the women of New Zealand at last apprehend the extent and significance of the barbarities inflicted on English women in prison for the suffrage cause. We learn with shame that women convicted and uncohvicted women whose offences were wholly rooted in political principles, and in many cases merely technical, have been treated .with a coarseness and cruelty surpassed only in the dungeon! of Russia. We learn that resistance to penal conditions deemed to be unjust lias been met with blows, insult and barbarous violence. We

learn that women, driven by these conditions to the extreme protest of self-starvations, have been "subjected by Ministerial orders to a dangerous, nauseating and hideously painful process, ostensibly inflicted' to preserve life. In our opinion such treatment •is in reality an act of despicable persecution. We learn that women were, in the first place, reluctantly driven to breaches of the law by their utter failure to 'obtain satisfaction by constitutional Forms of appeal. We learn in. fact, that the consideration theoretically promised ito all his Majesty's subjects is not extended to women, who are thus showii to be oh the footing of serfs in the., eras of his Majesty's Government. These judicial outrages were inflicted on earnest women .of spotless character, not by autocratic tyranny: in a semi-savage country, but in the heart of the most enlightened Empire in the world, under the most progressive Government that perhaps ever held office in land. Can anyone fail to draw the obvious inference Nowhere on earth can the interests of women be safeguarded where Parliameiif is ' not aa fully responsible to women as to men.

As women we are pleased, as British subjects we are humiliated, to know tha,t these cruelties have not gone unregarded, but have .pi'ovoked remnstrance from many parts of the worm. Nowhere, however, should abhorrence of these atrocities be deeper than in New Zealand,' the first conn try to grant its women the franchise — Ne\v s Zealand, where the benefits of the equal vote have been enjoyed for seventeen years of peace, prosperity and honour. " Nowhere is Imperial patriotism warmer than in . New Zealand. Nowhere is the honour of Britain held more dear than in New Zealand. Uowhere, therefore, has sympathy with the general humanitarian work accomplished or proposed by your Government been' more cordial and sincere than in- New" Zealand. Consequently in no other part of the Empire should there be more amazement at the cruel * and illogical attitude of your " Government towards women, for what body , of electors would more readily forward' humani-

tariari legislation than enfranchised women ? We can have no doubt as to the final issue of the struggle. And we submit that it will be to the lasting credit of your Government to vindicate the honour of Parliament by righting in the only manner possible the wrong which has been done. — We are, etc., FANNY COLE, president New Zealand Women's Christian "Temperance Union, MARGARET FOSTER, president Canterbury Women's Institute.

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/GRA19100507.2.78

Bibliographic details

WOMEN'S RIGHTS, Grey River Argus, 7 May 1910

Word Count
662

WOMEN'S RIGHTS Grey River Argus, 7 May 1910

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