Savita Halappanavar went to Galway University Hospital on 21st October with severe back pain, to be told she was miscarrying. She was 17 weeks pregnant. For three days of agony she and her husband requested an abortion – the foetus was still alive but had no chance of survival – but the medical staff refused: there was still a foetal heartbeat. He said they were told that this was the law and that “this is a Catholic country”. After three days the foetus was dead and the prolife medical team removed it, but too late to save Savita Halappanavar’s life: she died of septicaemia on 28th October.
The protest last night outside Merchant’s Hall in Hanover Street had been planned well before Savita Halappanavar died: it was in response to the first meeting of the Alliance of Pro-Life Students.
This is an organisation that intends, in its own words, to “invest in the future”:
Students are the nation’s future leaders and professionals. The next generation of doctors, lawyers, parents, teachers, nurses, politicians, engineers and artists will go on to build a pro-life society with a profound and lasting respect for human life.
By “respect for human life” they mean the ethos that let Savita Halappanavar die in agony.
Today, the Yes Scotland campaign is having a march. The main reason for the march seems to be so that the march planned for 21st September 2013 is not the first march for independence.
Next Saturday, there will be another march: I expect it to be quite a bit smaller, but much more important. Alex Salmond won’t turn out for it, there won’t be any fancy rally in Princes Street gardens.
Filed under Politics, Racism
“In my next Friday prayers, I will make a sermon against FGM to let people know the harms that is associated to it. That will be my duty,” said Imam Ayuba Jaiteh of Tujereng village.
He further promised: “Also in other social gatherings, such as naming ceremonies, I will talk against FGM.”
According to the Home Office, up to 24,000 girls under the age of 15 may be at risk of female genital mutilation. Since March 2004, it has not only been illegal to mutilate a little girl’s genitals in the UK (the first law against FGM in Britain was passed in the 1980s) it is also illegal to take a girl out of the UK to mutilate her genitals in another country. Anyone who does so can in principle be prosecuted and jailed for up to 14 years.
But there have been no prosecutions in the UK. Not because girls have not been mutilated, but because – according to Newsnight’s report last night – no effort has been made to prevent it:
[Isabelle Gillette-Faye, a French campaigner against FGM] walks me over to the Eurostar platform to tell me the story of two little girls who were about to board the train headed for St. Pancras to be mutilated in the UK.
“It was a Friday. We heard just in time. They had tickets for the Saturday.
“A family member tipped us off. We told the police and they were stopped from making the journey.”
The parents were cautioned. Had they gone ahead with the mutilations and been found out, they would have been imprisoned for up to 13 years.
“We simply will not tolerate this practice,” Isabelle explains.
Does she think many French children have been cut in the UK?
“Yes, because you do not care,” she says.
Arrested for being a public nuisance outside a takeaway shop, the 15-year-old blamed her behaviour – screaming and bashing the counter – on the systemic abuse she had suffered at the hands of two men inside. During six hours of videotaped testimony she went on to say how she’d been lured in by the men with gifts – drinks and a phone card or maybe something to eat – and made to feel “pretty” before eventually being asked to “pay for” the vodka with sex. She even handed over underwear spotted with the 59-year-old accused’s DNA.
Nine months later, in August 2009, the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to charge the two men as the girl would make an “unreliable witness” and the lawyer doubted any jury would believe her.
Three-quarters of the time, when sexual offences against children are reported to the police, the adult alleged to have committed the offence will not go to trial. According to NSPCC research, a third of children who are sexually abused “do not tell anyone at all about it, let alone report it to the police.”
The teenager who screamed and yelled and told the police this year saw her evidence – believed at last – form a central part of the case against the gang of nine men found guilty of raping and trafficking children.
As a white feminist, I feel like Fleet Street Fox and Julian Norman: this is about adult men raping and abusing girls, and race doesn’t enter into it.