Category Archives: Women

Unpacking Michael Fabricant

Zero Tolerance of Violence Against Women

At 9am on Friday 20th June, Michael Fabricant tweeted

“I could never appear on a discussion programme with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. I would either end up with a brain haemorrhage or by punching her in the throat.”

Michael Fabricant has been the Conservative MP for Mid-Staffordshire and then Lichfield since 1992. He’s been urging a pact between the Tories and UKIP since 2012.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is a Ugandan-born British journalist.
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Assange: Not in jail

Yesterday, Channel 4 News ran an anniversary programme, of sorts:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange – hiding for two years in the Ecuadorian embassy – is in “a prison cell with internet access” and “yearns to walk in the fresh air,” says a close friend.

Today, Slavoj Žižek, writing in the Guardian, seems to think that Julian Assange is hiding out in the Ecuador embassy because of something to do with Wikileaks and whistleblowing.

In August 2010, Julian Assange had sex with two women in Sweden. He was, so they both report, aggressive and unpleasant, and very unwilling to use a condom. When they talked to each other and realised he had had unprotected sex against their will with both of them, they went to the police to discover if they could force Assange to take an HIV test – and the police, listening to their account, realised that Assange had by their testimony committed sexual assault and rape.

Until Julian Assange stepped into the Ecuadorean Embassy, nearly two years after the legal due process began in Sweden, he had every element of the justice system due him. He was even on house arrest rather than in prison, in the confidence that he could be trusted with the large amount of money his friends would lose if he skipped bail.
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Filed under Human Rights, Justice, Uncategorized, Women

The deaths at Tuam: a voiceless testimony

Tuam Babies unmarked graveThere is an unmarked mass grave in Galway which has become briefly famous by the work of historian Catherine Corless, who spent years tracing the death records of each child whose remains may have been buried there. (You can hear her being interviewed about her work on the mass grave here.)

Timothy Stanley, a Telegraph blogger who converted to Catholicism from the Anglican church, argues that the mass grave is “a human tragedy, not a Catholic one”. At more length, Caroline Farrow, a spokesperson for Catholic Voice, explains that first of all, this wasn’t really so bad, and anyway, everyone except the Catholic Church is probably lying. (I note for the record: the sheer quantity of misinformation and distortion provided by both Stanley and Farrow is quite astonishing.)
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What would your name have been?

My given name is the seventh most popular for girls in the 1960s. In classes through primary and secondary school, there were never less than two other girls with the same name, and one term there were five.

Stephen - from Us&ThemIf I had been a boy, the seventh most popular name for boys in the 1960s was Stephen. (Curiously enough, throughout primary school there were always at least two Stephens in the class – varying spellings – and in adulthood, though I know only a few women with the same given name as me, every other man seems to be called Steve.
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Not All M&Ms Are Poisoned

I wrote some time ago about the massive sense of entitlement that men have that lies behind every rape story I ever heard.

Toilet outdoors Around 7pm on Tuesday 27th May, two young girls of the Dalit caste (the lowest-rank caste in India) were grabbed by men of a higher caste who were lying in wait for them – or other girls – to go to the fields after dark to have a pee and a crap. (The girls had been required to hold it in all day because they had no access to an indoor toilet, and modesty ruled they were not allowed to go out for this purpose in daylight.) The men raped the girls – they were fourteen and fifteen – and then murdered them.

Men in India often do take advantage of the near-universal practice of requiring girls and women to be “modest” and only go to the fields after dark, to lie in wait for a girl or two and rape them. (In areas where Hindu women practice chaupadi – isolation during menstruation and after childbirth – men find the isolated huts where menstruating girls and women sleep and rape them there.) The government and the police do not regard men raping women as a serious crime, nor do they regard it as a problem that the men who rape have found that the simplest way of disposing of the evidence is to kill the girls or women whom they raped.

Now what kind of person, hearing that story, reacts with: they should have had indoor plumbing! Lack of indoor sanitation killed them!
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Ruining a career

Adam HulinIn December 2012, an 18-year-old athlete who belonged to the Aldershot, Farnham, and District Athletic club orally raped a 12-year-old girl.

The athlete’s name is Adam Hulin. You can see how promising he is as an athlete here.

A 12-year-old child is agreed by law and by ethics not to be old enough to be able to consent to sex. (Exceptions are sometimes made, humanely, when two children of about the same age get together and everything is consensual even if neither of the kids are really old enough. This does not apply when an 18-year-old uses a 12-year-old for sex: that is statutory rape.)

Adam Hulin pleaded guilty to oral rape and assault by penetration in Guildford Crown Court two weeks ago. He claimed the 12-year-old girl had lied about her age and looked “17 or 18″. The judge commented “I certainly wouldn’t want to do anything which would prejudice his future career” and let him off with community service and a £60 fine.
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46 years of safe legal abortion

Celebrating 46 years of the Aborion ActOn 27th April 1968, 46 years ago, the Abortion Act became law, and women in the UK – except in Northern Ireland – were entitled to get safe, legal abortions. That’s half a lifetime ago. There can be few doctors or nurses still practicing who have first-hand memories of the bad old prolife days.

Every year for the past few years, on the Saturday closest to that date, SPUC stand in a line down Lothian Road, on the Sheraton Hotel side, and express their sorrow and regret for 46 years of health and wellbeing for women.
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Are corporations people?

Corporations Are Not PeopleThe legal definition of a corporation in the UK is:

a body of persons authorised by law to act as one person, and having rights and liabilities distinct from the individuals who are forming the corporation.

A corporation can own property, do business, pays taxes – well, sometimes – be sued, sue individuals and other corporations, and though it can’t be born or die, a corporation usually has a definite beginning and can come to a definite end. A corporation doesn’t have a passport: it may be registered in just one country, but it can exist in many.

But no matter how many legal rights and powers a corporation may acquire, there are things it cannot do: it cannot vote in most democratic electionsthough the richer the corporation is, the more it is likely to get its way regardless of democracy; it cannot have sex or experience orgasm or know love or laughter or tears; and it has neither soul nor conscience – from a religious viewpoint, a corporation is not a person at all.

Or so I always thought.

But apparently, in the US at least, the Catholic Church has ruled that corporations have souls and consciences, and therefore rights of freedom of religion that ought not to be violated.

The American legal definition of a corporation is similar to the UK’s definition. A corporation in the US is an independent legal person, created, organised, and – should that time come – dissolved according to the laws of the state in which it is registered. Each state requires articles of incorporation that document the corporation’s creation and the corporation’s management of internal affairs. Nowhere in the legal definition of a corporation does it explain where in this process the corporation becomes ensouled.
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Safe sex and Julian Assange

They fell asleep and she woke up by his penetrating her. She immediately asked if he was wearing anything. He answered: “You.” She said: “You better not have HIV.” He said: “Of course not.” 12th July 2011

The longer Julian Assange delays his return to Sweden to be questioned by the police, charged with rape and sexual assault, and for the Swedish justice system to decide what to do with him, the less likely it is that he will ever be tried at all. It is already three and a half years since two women went to the police to discover if they could force Julian Assange to have an HIV test and, in the process of describing what had happened, gave evidence that Assange had attempted sexual assault on one woman and raped the other woman.

Since 19th June 2012, Assange has lived in a room in Knightsbridge, a guest of the embassy of Ecuador, his request for asylum accepted by the President of a nation who has little concern for free speech. Assange has, in effect, sent himself to jail without trial under much more unpleasant conditions than he would have been subject to in Sweden: where he would have been unlikely – even if found guilty – to have been sentenced to more than three years. If he intends to imprison himself in Knightsbridge until the statute of limitations expires in Sweden, he will stay there til August 2020.
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Because it’s my choice

Over two years ago, I wrote a blogpost outlining why I thought those who were opposed to same-sex marriage were also opposed to safe legal abortion. (Human Rights: Abortion and gay marriage).

In 2004, the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE) won the general election and had as a manifesto commitment, lifting the ban on same-sex marriage in Spain. In 2005, Spain became the third country in the world in which same-sex couples can marry. In 2011, the right-wing Partido Popular (PP) won a majority, and had in their manifesto commitments to roll back access to safe legal abortion, and to have the Constitutional Court consider re-imposing a ban on same-sex marriage.

Courts and judges, upholders of law and order, have in general proved to be supporters of keeping marriage legal, because unmaking lawful marriages is disorderly, and to the judicial mind, disorderliness in marriage law is anathema. In 2012, so it proved in Spain: rather than fall into the unutterable confusion of declaring that seven years of marriages would no longer be recognised, the 2005 law was upheld.
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