Friday, 30 November 2007

Time For Women To Stop Fearing The Night

Women’s Voice

Pam Currie

YESTERDAY a newspaper billboard stopped me in my tracks outside Central Station. “Body in garden is Vicky Hamilton”, it read.
Another day, another dead girl - given the high-profile Angelika Kluk murder trial last year, this case will no doubt hold the media spotlight for a few days or weeks before slipping back down the news agenda.
I didn’t know Vicky Hamilton, but that doesn’t matter now. She’s lain dead for over a decade, buried in an unmarked grave hundreds of miles from the West Lothian town she disappeared from in 1991.
Vicky was the same age as me and we grew up some 20 miles apart, in similar small towns in the East of Scotland.
It could have been me standing at a bus stop that evening, eating chips. It could have been my sister, it could have been any one of my school friends.
It didn’t matter - she was simply a nameless, faceless young woman. Any young woman would do.
After her disappearance, the family and police ran a high profile appeal for information.
Vicky’s face appeared on posters, on leaflets in the hairdressers, on milk cartons.
A stark warning to girls and women in Bathgate, in Bonnyrigg, anywhere - you’re not safe.
Stay at home. Don’t talk to strangers. These streets are not your streets.
This case, of course, will have a particularly salacious appeal to the media - an innocent schoolgirl, pictured immaculate in her uniform - an evil paedo, the ‘bad man’ we had already learned to fear.
But the bottom line is that we live in a society where, as Susan Brownmiller wrote in her seminal book on rape in 1975, “all men keep all women in a state of fear”.
We live in a society where, despite the revulsion we feel for men like Tobin, men’s violence against women is normalized and accepted as inevitable.
Murders like Vicky Hamilton’s will attract media coverage because she fits the profile of a ‘good’ victim.
If she was Black, or a sex worker, or hitch-hiking, or in some way ‘asking for it’, then it would be a different story.
Ditto the respectable family man who beats his wife and abuses his daughters - he’s not the bogeyman hiding in the park, to be profiled on Crimewatch and splashed across the tabloids.
Strip away the media spin and it’s the same story: man murders woman. Not, as David Cameron would have us believe, because of the ‘moral slide’ of society, but because we live in a patriarchal society where unequal power relations are about more than just class relations - they are about men’s power over women.
That’s a problem that can’t ever be solved by simply locking up the ‘bad’ men, or even bringing back the death penalty.
It’s a problem that needs a transformation of society - so that women are as free to stand at bus stops at night as men are; so that for once in our lives, we can be free from fear.

Rest in Peace Vicky hamilton


MURDERED schoolgirl Vicky Hamilton was finally laid to rest at an emotional service today, nearly 17 years after she disappeared.

Family and friends gathered to remember Vicky, who was 15-years old, when she was last seen waiting for a bus in Bathgate in February 1991.

Her remains were uncovered at a terraced house in Margate, Kent, nearly three weeks ago.

An eerie silence fell on the picturesque Redding Parish Church, near Falkirk, when Vicky’s coffin arrived, draped in flowers at around 11am.

On one side the flowers were arranged to say “Vicky”, and on the other to say “sister”.

Michael Hamilton arrived in the first of the family hearses, accompanied by other family members. Vicky’s siblings Sharon, Lindsay and Lee, arrived shortly afterwards in a separate hearse and entered the church arm-in-arm, each carrying a red rose.

Inside, the Rev Geoffrey Smart said a “battle against evil” had been lost on the day Vicky died.

He described Vicky’s murder as a “cruel, callous and evil act.”

He said: “We come to remember Vicky as she was – a young girl with her whole life ahead of her, who was taken from us by this terrible act of evil.

The church was completely packed out with mourners, with all the pews filled and people standing in every available space.

Vicky’s siblings Sharon, Lee and Lindsay were sitting together at the front of the church. Her fatherMichael was at the front on the other side of the aisle.

The church organist was playing a version of I Will Always Love You, by Whitney Houston. The minister continued: “Vicky was a much loved daughter, sister, granddaughter, half sister and niece.

“She has been sorely missed by all these relatives all and the rest of her family and friends over these years.”
Vicky’s family said her disappearance had “ripped the family apart”, but were comforted by the fact they could now lay her to rest.

The minister added: “Her family were robbed of seeing Vicky grow up as all their hopes and expectations for Vicky’s future were taken from them.

“The judicial process will go on and help give some peace to all who mourn Vicky’s tragic and distressing death.

“As Christians, we are meant to have a forgiving spirit, yet forgiveness is a two-way street and we have seen no signs of contrition either for the evil deed or for putting a family through the hell of these last 16 years of uncertainty, worry and fear, which also caused the untimely death of Vicky’s mum.

“So today all we can do is thank God that throughout this time of uncertainty and fear Vicky was safely in His loving hands.

“Yet before this Vicky was forced to face something that nobody should ever have to face, especially a young, vulnerable teenage girl.”

However, he added: “We must not dwell on this today, but try to see beyond its darkness and focus on the light of our Christian belief, which tells us that Vicky is safe and secure in heaven, together with her granny and her mum, in order that God’s gracious love might take from us any feelings which might undermine our own lives.

“When we are able to do this we stop such evil from gaining any kind of victory over us, as we unite in God’s love.”

A young man dressed in full military uniform and ceremonial white gloves stood outside the church to greet mourners, including Vicky’s uncle Eric Hamilton.

Mourners laid wreaths and flowers on the grass outside before entering the church while people stopped in the street to watch.

The minister said: “Today, let us all find resolution and peace as we give Vicky her Christian service and burial in order that you can then move on in your lives.

“Jesus brought the light of God’s love to humanity in many different and powerful ways when He walked this earth, and through His Spirit He still does this today.”

He paid tribute to the “bright bubbly girl” who was a popular pupil at Westquarter Primary School and Graeme High School, and thanked “the people of Scotland” on behalf of Vicky’s family for their support since her disappearance. During the service the mourners sang All Things Bright and Beautiful and How Great Thou Art, and Westlife’s You Raise Me Up was played at the request of Vicky’s father, Michael.

The cortege then passed her old house on its way to New Grandsable Cemetery, near Vicky’s former home on Ward Avenue, Redding, in a plot where her father also wishes to be buried.

At Vicky’s graveside, Mr Smart said: “We gather to commit Vicky’s body to the ground, knowing that after her death some 16 years ago, Vicky’s immortal soul lived on in God’s eternal Kingdom of love.

‘The souls of the innocents are in God’s hands, no torment will touch them, for they are at peace.

“Almighty and ever loving God, Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ longed for us to know how we should live and love and grow, and chose a young person to show us some glimpses here of heaven.

“When youngsters suffer pain and cry and lose their hold on life and die, while we must grieve and wonder why Christ keeps them safe in heaven.

“So we give thanks to God for Vicky, now silent to the world, yet all these years, with her hand in hand in Christ’s, her Lord, and with her mum and her granny, Vicky has lived on in heaven.

“Lord, tell Vicky how we’ll always care, and miss the years we longed to share, until in answer to our prayer, we meet Vicky again in heaven.”

Vicky’s remains were found alongside those of 18-year-old Dinah McNicol, from Essex, buried in the garden of a house in Margate, Kent. Peter Tobin, 61, has been charged with Vicky’s murder.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Suspect, 41, is charged with murder of Rachel Nickell
By Jonathan Brown and James Macintyre
Published: 29 November 2007
Fifteen years after the brutal murder of Rachel Nickel on Wimbledon Common shocked a nation and threw the one-time suspect Colin Stag into the limelight, police have announced they are charging another man for the killing amid fresh hope the case could finally be solved.
Robert Napper, 41, will appear at City of Westminster magistrates' court on Tuesday, Scotland Yard said, charged with sexually assaulting and stabbing to death Ms Nickell in broad daylight as she walked with her two-year-old son.
Hilary Bradfield, of the Crown Prosecution Service's Serious Casework Unit, said the new charges were brought after a "painstaking" review of the case. "As the investigation has developed, I have been carefully examining and assessing the evidence," she said. "It has been a painstaking process and alongside the police we have considered all aspects of the case in detail.
"This week, we have reached a decision that there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and have authorised the police to charge [Mr Napper]."
Scotland Yard would only say: "Robert Napper, 4

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

First change the culture

The government plans rape law reforms, but in a society that assumes women make it up, how can they be implemented? Julie Bindel, journalist from the Guardian explores why without cultural change rape will always be hard to "prove" as rape happens to normal women with normal lives. Rape is often just seen as sex gone bad as opposed to a violent physical and psychological attack on a woman abusing her inner being as well as her body. rape is used to control women and is a hate fuelled crime like no other - it is not sexual in any way except to violate the victims sexuality and very being. Women are too often seen as fantasists, liars or whores rather than victims. Why is this?
November 28, 2007 2:00 PM | Printable version

Rape, it would seem, has become a "political football": so says Vera Baird, the solicitor general. She was referring to David Cameron's recent speech, in which he said that his party was committed to challenging the appallingly low conviction rate.

Baird, who is due to announce reforms to the laws surrounding rape, understands the issue. Ten years ago, I coordinated a scheme in West Yorkshire in conjunction with the CPS, to deliver specialist training to prosecutors in all aspects of sexual assault. Baird, who was at that time a practicing criminal barrister, delivered sessions during the course. She spoke of the myths and misunderstandings surrounding rape, such as there being a typical victim and perpetrator, and also about the ways in which women are blamed for "bringing it on themselves" if they had any physical contact with her rapist before the attack.

Baird went down extremely well with the prosecutors. She told them that in order to secure more convictions, they had to be at least as well equipped with all the facts of the case, and of the research around rape, as the defence. Baird certainly cares about rape and its consequences.

Now here is the problem. The government can try all the tweaking of laws possible, and go out on a limb to introduce measures that may dispel myths held by judge and jury, and it might help a bit. It can clarify, and re-clarify the issues of consent, and attempt to stop the introduction of the previous sexual history of complainants. Such measures, however, will only be successful if rigorously applied by the judge, and adhered to by the jury.

In 2003, I was part of a research team at the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit, looking at the effectiveness of the restrictions in allowing previous sexual history as part of the defence in rape trials. Much of the time, the defence snuck such evidence in without the prosecution or judge even noticing, or applied to have it heard and succeeded.

During breaks in the trial, I heard both prosecution and defence lawyers joke with each other about the complainant, her evidence, and in one instance, her underwear (which was being displayed as an exhibit). Outside of the court, during one case involving a 15-year-old complainant and an adult man, so-called specially trained police officers were having a laugh about the sexual positions described by the defendant during his evidence, all within earshot of the complainant's family. Like all the other cases I observed, the defendant was acquitted.

Time after time, I observed, both in CPS case files and in court, the police did not gather evidence at the scene, the CPS were reluctant to proceed to trial because the complainant had some sort of relationship with the defendant, and judges did not ensure the law was properly applied.

There is no doubt that reports in the press about so-called false allegations of rape have increased dramatically, to the point where much of the general public believes that most women "make it up".

There is little point in telling juries at rape trials about the psychological impact of rape, as Baird may well propose, if the jury does not consider any act to be "real rape" unless a man jumps out and grabs a virgin nun and ravishes her in the bushes, while holding a knife to her throat and wearing a black mask. Any reform to the current law will fail unless the government runs a massive awareness campaign, along the same lines of those to deter drink driving and smoking. If it were to do that, and educate the public about the realities of rape, by the time they sit on rape trials as jurors, people might just understand that all rape is "real rape". Baird, as I said earlier, cares about rape. If she could persuade the Treasury to spend some serous money on public education, we would undoubtedly see a significant rise in the numbers of men committing this hideous crime convicted.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Domestic abuse level in city soars by 11%
DOMESTIC abuse in Edinburgh has soared by 11 per cent in a year, according to new figures published today. A total of 5784 incidents of domestic abuse were reported to police in the Capital in 2006-07, compared with 5178 the previous year. The increase is higher than the seven per cent rise recorded in the rest of Scotland.

Communities Minister Stewart Maxwell claimed the rise in the reporting of domestic abuse showed more people were recognising it was unacceptable.
But he said the figures were the tip of the iceberg and showed there was more work still to do. Across Scotland, the statistics showed recorded incidents of domestic abuse rose from 45,812 in 2005-06 to 48,801 in 2006-07.

Separate findings from the 2006 Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey, also published today, showed only one-in-five victims of abuse by a partner had reported the incident to police.

Mr Maxwell said: "It is deplorable that male violence against women, through crimes such as rape or domestic abuse, continues to devastate many lives. The rise in the reporting of incidents shows that while we have made progress in changing attitudes and encouraging women to report domestic abuse, there is still a lot more work to do in tackling this problem."

He said the Scottish Government's campaign: "Domestic abuse, there's no excuse", had succeeded in increasing awareness of the issue. "More people now recognise that all forms of domestic abuse are wrong," he said.

"While many women are seeking help from support services such as the Domestic Abuse Helpline and Scottish Women's Aid, and more women are reporting incidents to the police, this new research also shows that many are not.

"It's important that we do all we can to encourage people to report incidents so we can know the true extent of this problem and ensure that perpetrators are properly punished."
Community safety spokesman for the Conservatives, John Lamont described today's figures as shocking.

He said: "To see less than half of all incidents being recorded as a crime is dreadful.
"The fact that an increasing number of cases - 57 per cent - involve known repeat victimisation shows we are not doing enough to get abusive partners out of abusive relationships.

"In many ways this is often the worst form of abuse, as the abused partner often feels trapped in a relationship - sometimes unable or unwilling to ask for help.
"We all have a duty to play our part, as family, friends or neighbours to help mend this part of our broken society.

"Our social and voluntary services need support to help victims of domestic abuse and the state must reflect society's abhorrence of abusers in the way it pursues, prosecutes and sentences these people. Domestic abuse must not be the hidden crime that shames 21st century Scotland."

Monday, 26 November 2007

Man guilty of abusing young girls

Mackie admitted abusing the girls in a police interview A man from Cumbernauld has been convicted of a series of sexual offences against two young girls over a 15 year period.

A jury at Airdrie Sheriff Court found John Mackie, 50, guilty of six charges of using lewd and libidinous behaviour and one of sexual assault.

The offences took place at homes in Glasgow and Cumbernauld between February 1991 and July 2006.
Sentence was deferred until January and Mackie was remanded in custody.

The court heard that one of the girls was abused between the ages of eight and 17, while the other, who suffered from learning difficulties, was abused between the ages of 10 and 15.

During the trial the first girl, now aged 16, gave evidence to a closed court via a CCTV link.

The second girl, who is now 24, spoke in open court. She said: "He gave me love bites on the neck and I was embarrassed to go to school. Teachers at that time did contact social work. "At first the abuse would happen about three times a month then it stepped up to once a week until I was about 13."

A taped police interview with Mackie was played to the jury. In it he said: "Why I did it, I haven't a clue, but I remember abusing the two girls over a number of years. I was drunk, I don't know why it happened. " However, when questioned in the witness box the accused denied the abuse. Sheriff Morag Galbraith said: "Given the very serious nature of the charges I doubt whether my powers are strong enough and I'm considering remitting you to the High Court for sentence." Mackie was placed on the sex offenders register.
This is not the first time this has happened - these telly programmes seem to mostly based on abuse dressed up as misunderstandings,communication problems or relationship difficulties. If we stopped watchin then that would give a clear message and if you must watch phone in and complain that you feel that the woman has been put at risk and the show is behaving unethically and is concluding with the perpetrator.

Svetlana Orlova had no idea why she had been invited on to the daytime television show and she was shocked to find herself face to face with the man who had beaten her for years.
She was further stunned when he produced an engagement ring and proposed. Looking deeply uncomfortable, she shook her head.
The public rebuff cost her her life. Within days she had been stabbed to death and her former lover was under arrest for murder.
Now ministers in Spain are to hold crisis talks with broadcasters as the nation searches its soul over its trashy television culture.
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Ricardo Navarro, 30, had told Patricia’s Daily Show, which has an audience of 2 million, that he and Ms Orlova had broken up because of a dispute over money. Ms Orlova contested that, saying: “There were many other things”, but without elaborating or mentioning that she had a restraining order against her former boyfriend.
Undeterred, Mr Navarro went on bended knee and asked her to marry him. “Come back,” he said sounding tearful, as the audience cooed. “You are everything for me.”
Ms Orlova shook her head slightly. “Well Svetlana, say something!” the host exclaimed. “We are all on tenter-hooks. Is that ‘no’, or ‘I don’t know’? Say it clearly.”
Five days later Mr Navarro was arrested after allegedly stabbing Ms Orlova repeatedly in the neck. She died in hospital.
Baldomero Limón of Boomerang, the production company responsible for the programme, said that producers were “devastated”, but denied any responsibility in Ms Orlova’s death, saying that they were also deceived by Mr Navarro. “Nothing made us suspect that a tragedy like this could occur.”
Viewers’ groups have called for the show to be taken off the air.
It is not the first time that a woman has been killed after appearing on Spanish television shows. In 1997, Ana Orantes, 60, was doused with petrol and burnt alive by her husband, José Parejo. Unable to get any help from the authorities, she had gone on a television show to speak of the beatings that she endured at his hands. In November 2004, Andrés Reyes killed his 18-year-old girlfriend after she appeared on a television show to speak about his abuse of her.
The Spanish Government has named the high rate of violence against women in Spain a priority and wants broadcasters to draw up a code of conduct for these programmes. “Domestic violence should not be a television spectacle,” MarÍa Teresa Fernández de la Vega, the Deputy Prime Minister, said.
Sixty-nine women have been killed by their partners this year. Despite government efforts, Spanish judges are accused of being sympathetic to men who are violent towards their partners. Women’s rights groups expressed outrage last week after a judge gave a reduced sentence to Mariano Navas, who stabbed his girlfriend in 2005, citing his “humiliation” on Patricia’s Daily Show as mitigating factor.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

London Reclaim the Night March

There was a reclaim the night march last night in London and there is another one in Glasgow on 29th December. Women really do need to re-enforce the idea that we need more done about rape and abuse. We need those convictions to go up in order women feel confident that she will be believed but better than then it would be better if men did not rape and abuse women.

Fighting fear

Until all women stand up together in the struggle against male violence, they will continue to rape, beat and abuse us

November 23, 2007 4:00 PM | Printable version

To some, feminist activism seems old hat. One of my friends, who has been involved in the women's liberation movement for as long as I have, sneered at me when I asked her if she was coming on this Saturday's Reclaim the Night march through London. The inference was that she had something better to do.

Well there is nothing better I can think of to do on Saturday. If you are planning to watch X Factor instead of marching alongside your sisters, chanting fabulous slogans such as "men off the streets," and "yes means yes, and no means no," consider this. Without feminist activism, rape in marriage would be legal; it would be perfectly acceptable to pay women less than men for the same job and sack them when pregnant; and domestic violence would be considered a normal part of family life. While you open that bottle of wine and put your feet up, more than two thousand of us will be protesting about the atrocities inflicted on women by men and telling men they will not continue to get away with it.

Although it is fashionable to look down on what is thought to be old-fashioned feminism - doing direct action, naming men as the problem, criticising rather than embracing the sex industry - women need to be out on the streets, protesting about sexual violence more than ever.

Despite four decades of campaigning against domestic violence, over 100 women are still killed every year by current and former partners. More rapes than ever are reported but far fewer convicted than the 1970s, and the sex industry is growing at an alarming rate, globally. There are so few convictions for child sexual abuse, it may as well be legal to rape an under-five year old, and sexual harassment in the workplace is still a major problem for women. I could go on.

Male violence towards women and children - yes, male - is pandemic. We must force them to change - to stop raping, killing and abusing us. When I march on Saturday, I will be doing so for women everywhere - even those of you watching X Factor - because sexual violence is the only thing in the world that affects all women, and therefore working towards eliminating it should be something we are all involved in.

Before you start having a go, telling me you have not been raped, or beaten by your partner, or sexually abused, or flashed, let me ask you (women) something. Can you honestly say, hand on heart, that you have never feared rape? Have you never modified your behaviour, even just a little, for fear of being attacked? Remember that time you took a minicab home, alone and drunk? Did you feel relieved the next day that nothing bad happened to you? Or when you walked through a park late at night alone? All women know that if we have not been raped, we are lucky. We are so accustomed to living with the constant, nagging fear of sexual violence that we rarely notice it is there half the time.

So let us stop ignoring the obvious. Until we all stand up together and make ourselves visible in the struggle against male violence, they will continue to rape, beat and abuse us. Let's see you there on Saturday. And men, if you wish to be part of the solution rather than the problem, perhaps you could send the organisers a donation for next year's march? Something tells me we will not have a world free of sexual violence by next November.

25th November is the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women

UN rights chief calls for end to violence against women

GENEVA (AFP) — The top United Nations human rights official urged states worldwide to take more action against rape, domestic abuse and all other forms of violence against women.

"Every day, in all corners of the world, countless women and girls are killed, mutilated, beaten, raped, sold into sexual slavery or tortured," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said in a statement ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25.

"This impunity is built on a foundation of discrimination and inequality ... unless these inequalities are addressed, including in the economic and social spheres, the violence will persist," Arbour said.

"A woman will not report rape if we continue to stigmatise the victims of violence rather than the perpetrators," she added.

Just last week, a court in Saudi Arabia sentenced a woman who had been gang-raped to six months in jail and 200 lashes after she spoke to the media about the case.

"We must demand that states honour their commitments to bring perpetrators to justice and provide redress for their victims," Arbour urged.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Dundee Murder trial

Tests show accused grabbed jumper of woodland murder victim, court is told


FORENSIC tests suggest a man on trial for the Templeton Woods murder grabbed the victim's jumper, a court was told yesterday.

Dr Jonathan Whitaker, one of the world's top experts on DNA profiling, said the results of tests on Elizabeth McCabe's clothing, and a hair root, linked her to the alleged killer Vincent Simpson.

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Taken together, the combined odds of the DNA coming from someone unrelated to Simpson were one in 40 million, he said.

Ms McCabe, 20, disappeared in February 1980 after a night out with friends in Dundee city centre. The nursery nurse's remains were found in Templeton Woods 16 days later.

A jury at the High Court in Edinburgh has seen photos of the naked body with a blue jumper draped over the victim's head and shoulders.

After years in storage, the jumper was sent to a specialist forensic lab in Wetherby, Yorkshire, for further tests after the murder hunt was reopened.

Dr Whitaker yesterday explained how swabs were taken from three different parts of the blue jumper - even though there were no stains visible to the naked eye. Tests for either blood or semen had proved negative.

All results matched the DNA profile of Simpson.

Dr Whitaker said "a fair and reasonable estimate" of the DNA from the right-hand side of the jumper's neck coming from someone else was one in 320,000. A swab from the right arm produced a result which could have come from one in 38 of the population.

The chances of DNA from the back of the jumper coming from someone other than Simpson was one in 105,000.

Dr Whitaker said: "In my opinion, these DNA profile results provide extremely strong support for the assertion that the DNA recovered from the hair and the blue jumper has originated from Vincent Simpson."

Questioned by advocate depute Alex Prentice, QC, prosecuting, about the DNA result from the jumper's neck, the forensic scientist added: "This result is of particular significance since the DNA profile result is what I would expect to find if Vincent Simpson had grabbed the jumper in the area of the neck, thus transferring his DNA to this area."

Earlier, the trial heard that DNA extracted from the root of a hair found on a black plastic sheet had also been sent to Dr Whitaker's lab for testing. The sheet is said to have been used to take Elizabeth's body to Dundee Royal Infirmary's mortuary, although Simpson's defence team claims there is no proof that it was the same sheet.

Dr Whitaker told the trial that the figure of one in 40 million resulted from tests on the jumper and the hair root DNA only.

The forensic scientist also agreed with Mark Stewart, QC, defending, that there were "provisos and caveats" in his report on his findings.

Simpson, 61, now of Camberley, Surrey, denies murdering Ms McCabe, of Lochee, Dundee, in February 1980. At the time Simpson was living in Newtyle, near Dundee, and operating a private-hire taxi business. He has given the court details of an alibi and a list of 13 names - one or more of them the true killer, he claims.

The trial continues.

Woman is murder by her estranged husband

This John Smith guy murders his estranged wife whilst on bail for domestic abuse offences, he has a history of offending against her and yet it takes a judge to ask for a risk assessment once poor Kelly Smith has been butchered - it's a bit late now? What was the sheriff thinking when he granted bail? What risk assessment was done then? And why is it important that they had sex, why is this reported? Every three days in Britain a man kills his female partner or ex-partner, their children are left without a mother and a father. Well if the Scottish Parliament wants to do something about children's experiencing domestic abuse then they need to buck up the legal system and hold perpetrators of violence and abuse of their partners and ex-partners accountable.

Abattoir Butcher Murders Wife

25 Knife Wounds In Frenzied Attack

A SLAUGHTERHOUSE butcher stabbed his estranged wife 25 times just minutes after they had sex, a court heard yesterday.

Mother-of-two Kelly Smith died after her husband, John Smith, launched his frenzied attack.

Her hands and wrists were sliced open as she tried to defend herself from the onslaught.

At the High Court in Glasgow yesterday, 28-year-old Smith admitted murdering her.

Smith had previous convictions for assaulting his wife and for a breach of the peace involving her.

The fatal attack happened in a friend's house at Glasgow Street, Ardrossan, Ayrshire, where Smith had been staying after he and Kelly split up.

Kathleen Harper, prosecuting, said Smith was on bail at the time and was banned from either approaching or contacting Kelly or going to their marital home.

On the evening she died, on February 19, Kelly drove her two children, aged eight and two, to a friend's house to be looked after for the night while she went out for a drink in a Saltcoats pub with another pal.

On the way home, she went to see her estranged husband.

An argument began but it calmed down to the point where they made up and had sex.

Afterwards, however, Smith went into the kitchen and returned with a knife which he plunged into Kelly as she sat on the bed.

When she fell to the floor, he continued to stab her and then stabbed himself in the left arm.

Ms Harper said Smith took his wife's house keys from her bag, intending to get her car from the family home and escape.

But he couldn't find the car keys there because Kelly had left them and the car in her friend's driveway.

He then went to the friend's house, threw stones at her window to waken her up and said he was to take the children and get the car keys. But he was told to leave.

Smith then went to another friend's house and told him: "I really done it this time.

"I need to get away from here. I think I've killed her."

They went round to Smith's house and he went in, returning to shout: "Aye, she's deid."

Police got a 999 call from Smith saying he had stabbed his wife and, when they arrived, he was still inside the house.

When he was taken to the police station, Smith asked detectives several times: "How long will I get for murder?"

Asked why he got a knife after they had made up, he said: "Coz madness.

"Just things going through ma heid and I've just lashed oot and I shouldn't have,poor lassie."

Asked why he stabbed himself in the arm, he replied: "I just thought maybe if we just both got it together.

"I wish I'd put it through me mate and then the two of us would have went the same way."

A post-mortem revealed that Kelly would not have died straight away but would have bled to death.

She had received internal wounds damaging the lungs, her spleen, a kidney, small and large bowel and liver.

Judge Lord Brailsford called for a risk assessment report before formally sentencing Smith to life in January next year.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Discussion in Scottish Parliament 22 November 2007

The Scottish Parliament discussed giving £40 million over the next 3 years to domestic abuse particularly in relation to working with children. I do have an issue with the term "male abuse" as it signifies a biological determinism in relation to why men might abuse women. I am quite insistent on calling it men's abuse as as a Marxist and a feminist I see it as a construction of class society and a gender construction that comes from that. So I winced a bit at all the "male abuse" bit but it doesn't really matter not that much. There are issues about not ring fencing the money and I don't know what consequence that will have - hopefully not be damaging to existing work. I will report back on this as soon as I know.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Freedom from Fear March

Freedom from Fear
(part of 16 days of action against violence against women)
Sisters resisting male violence and abuse
Thurs 6th December @ 6.30 pm
Assemble Hall Street, Clydebank
Going to the Playdrome games hall for tea and coffee
Demonstrate your rights as a woman to live safe from the
fear of and actual male violence and abuse, both in the home
and in our community.
This is an event for women and children only
For more information contact Clydebank Women’s Aid on
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Saudi Arabia has a terrible human rights record yet remains very good friends with Briatain and the US of A. Indeed Gordon Brown had tea with King Abdullah only last month - meanwhile a woman who was a victim of a gang rape has been sentenced to torture by the state - 200 lashes and 6 months in jail because she broke the law. It is a scandal, once again women are toldtomodify their behaviour in order not to tempt abusive, dangerous men. What has Britain or the USA said? Very little. My partner was flung out of the Scottish Parliament for protesting when one of the Saudi Princes came to visit. He lent up with a cut to his head when he was wrestled to the floor by the police. Aye, money talks. If you are rich you really can get away with torture and murder!

Saudi court punishes rape victim
Human Rights Watch has called on King Abdullahto cancel the ruling on the woman [AP]
A Saudi Arabian court has doubled a corporal punishment sentence imposed on a rape victim after she spoke out about her case.

But the decision to give a woman who was gang raped a six months jail term and 200 lashes received only mild criticism from the US on Monday.
An official at the general court in Qatif, in Saudi Arabia's eastern province, said judges had increased the sentence because of the woman's "attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media".

The woman's name has not been released.
The case has drawn criticism internationally, with Canada saying on Monday it would complain to the Saudi authorities about the sentence.

Canadian reaction

Josee Verner, Canada's minister responsible for the status of women, called the Saudi ruling "barbaric" and said it would only further violate the 19-year-old victim.

Verner said Canada would formally express its condemnation to "the appropriate Saudi authorities".

But the US, which wants Saudi Arabia to attend its Middle East conference in Annapolis next week, did not condemn the ruling.

Sean McCormack, a spokesman for the US state department, said: "This is a part of a judicial procedure overseas in the court of a sovereign country," when asked to comment on the case.

"That said, most would find this relatively astonishing that something like this happens."

Asked whether the Saudi authorities should reconsider the sentence against the woman, McCormack said he could not "get involved in specific court cases in Saudi Arabia dealing with its own citizens".

'Illegal mingling'

In October 2006, the woman was sentenced to 90 lashes for what the court called "illegal mingling".

According to Human Rights Watch, the woman said she had met a male friend who had promised to return a photograph of her.

A Saudi woman can only have a husband ora male relative as an escort in publicAfter she met him in his car, the pair were attacked by a gang of seven men who allegedly raped them both several times.
The man was also sentenced to 90 lashes. Of the gang prosecuted in the case, four were convicted of kidnapping and sentenced to between one and five years in prison and between 80 and 1,000 lashes, Human Rights Watch said.

Abdul Rahman al-Lahem, the woman's lawyer and a human rights campaigner, criticised the court's decision publically and has subsequently had his licence to practise law suspended.

He is also facing a hearing by a justice ministry disciplinary committee in December for appearing regularly on television and talking about the case.


Farida Deif, researcher in the women's rights division of Human Rights Watch, said: "A courageous young woman faces lashing and prison for speaking out about her efforts to find justice.

"This verdict not only sends victims of sexual violence the message that they should not press charges, but in effect offers protection and impunity to the perpetrators."

The New York-based rights group has called on King Abdullah, the Saudi monarch, to cancel the ruling against the woman, drop all charges and order the court to end its harassment of her lawyer.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Saw this article and I thought Johann Hari has written a thoughtful and considered article - it is not the case that abuse of women is not condoned indeed it is often seen as justified particularly if you are "talented" indeed the abuse of women is often seen as a "character flaw".
Johann Hari: Why do we ignore the abuse of women?
Published: 15 November 2007
When is it okay to beat, rape and stab a woman? When it is okay to call these victims "whiny", "money-grabbing" and "bitches"? The obvious answer is never. But that doesn't seem to be the judgement we make, together, as a culture. No. If the wife-beater/rapist/attempted murderer can write novels, kick a ball, create songs or pose as a liberal politician, we treat their misogyny as an irrelevance or, worse, as a laddish affectation imbuing them with the testosteroney tang of authenticity.

You can see this by looking at four men – about as diverse as they come – who have been lauded as heroes: Norman Mailer, George Best, Tupac Shakur, and Bill Clinton.
For the past six days, we have been saturated with tributes to the "greatness" of Norman Mailer. Not just his work but his life. He has been called "brave", "determined to experience life's richness", "compassionate", even "nice". It is noted only briefly that he violently despised women. He said they are "low, sloppy beasts; they should be kept in cages". He campaigned to halt every move to give women control over their lives, including birth control – because he said he wanted to retain the "thrill" of knowing the woman he was having sex with might later die in childbirth. He said feminists wanted to "destroy men" and wrote a bizarre 300-page book – The Prisoner Of Sex – to "prove" it.

He acted on this hate. He beat his young wife, Adele, punching her in the stomach when she was six months pregnant, and coerced her to have group sex with his friends. One night, in the middle of a party, he picked up a knife and stabbed her. He cut through her breast, only just missing her heart. Then he stabbed her in the back. As she lay there, haemorrhaging, one man reached down to help her. He snapped: "Get away from her. Let the bitch die."

Adele never really recovered. She developed pleurisy and started hacking up black phlegm several times a day. She was too scared even to press charges. She became an alcoholic, sank into poverty and could never trust a man again. When, years later, she told her story in the book The Last Party, the reviews slapped her down. They called her "whiny", "a shrill lush", and "nauseating". The subtext was: how dare this uppity bitch complain about Our Icon? Some even seem to believe that stabbing her made him a better writer – as if one woman is worth sacrificing on the altar of "genius", and it is churlish of her to keep speaking.

(Of course, I believe an artist's work should be assessed entirely separately to his personal life. If we discovered tomorrow that Shakespeare was a child molester, King Lear would still be a masterpiece. But Mailer's misogyny infests his work. As the feminist writer Kate Millett pointed out, his 1965 novel An American Dream "is an exercise in how to kill your wife and be happy ever after". It is revealing that his only genuinely brilliant novel – The Naked And The Dead – has no female characters.)

If Norman Mailer had said black people should be kept in cages, if he had said the civil rights movement wanted to "destroy white people", if he had stabbed a black man in a racist fury, the first line of every obituary would have mentioned it. So why is hatred of women taken less seriously?

It is not only novel-writing that gets you off the hook: if you can kick a ball, we don't seem to mind if you kick a woman. George Best first beat his wife Alex on her 25th birthday, when he punched her to the floor and kicked her six times in the chest and face. Then, on Christmas Day 2003, he gave her a bruised lip and swollen face. "So what if she's in hospital? It's the best place for her," he snapped at the press the next day.

When Paul Gascoigne admitted to having hospitalised his wife, Sheryl, "Bestie" leapt to his defence. "We all give the wife a good slap. I know I do," he said. When Alex finally left him, the press swooped – to attack her. One typical columnist said she had "not done badly" out of him, and claimed Best and Gazza's only flaw was that "they are suckers for romance".

I can almost find traces of this impulse to look away in myself, when it comes to people who have done a few things I admire. The rap artist Tupac is now revered as the messiah of the ghetto, "a man who stood up for black people" with tracks that bordered on genius. So everyone wants to forget about a 19-year-old girl called Ayanna Jackson. In 1993, Tupac met her in a club and coaxed her back to his hotel – where he and his friends gang-raped her. At the trial, the judge called it "a brutal attack on a helpless woman". Tupac did not "stand up" for her, he pinned her down and trashed her life. And Bill Clinton? He has indeed been targeted by right-wing hit machines, trying to take him out for his few liberal policies. And yet, and yet ... Juanita Broaddrick, an Arkansas nurse and supporter of the Democratic Party, told NBC's flagship show Dateline that, in 1978, when she volunteered for his campaign, Clinton lured her into a hotel room, raped her and tore her lip by biting down on it. She has five witnesses who saw her wounds straight after the alleged attack. Broaddrick has never profited from the story, and told it only after she was "outed" by one of the friends who'd heard the tale.

She is only one of several women who have claimed without profit to have been sexually abused by Clinton in strikingly similar ways. As Christopher Hitchens has asked: "What are the chances that three socially and politically respectable women, all political supporters of Mr Clinton and none of them known to each other, would invent almost identical experiences?" (Clinton's spokesman, in effect, claimed these women were liars).

Why do we so carefully turn a blind eye to the bruised bodies of so many abused women? This selective blindness isn't confined to news coverage; it informs our political life. Imagine if in Britain today, hundreds of thousands of men were being pinned down – in hotels, living rooms, and back alleys – and anally raped by their "friends" or acquaintances, and virtually no one was ever punished for it. It would be one of the biggest issues in British politics. Yet it really does happen to women – so it is a third-tier issue, wheeled out once a decade.

This shrugging reaction to the stabbing and raping so enthusiastically carried out by these men is a reminder that millennia of misogyny aren't wiped away in a few decades of progress. Lying dormant beneath the polite feminised surface, there is an atavistic belief that violence against women like Adele Mailer and Alex Best and Ayanna Jackson doesn't quite count. "Let the bitch die," Mailer growled, his hands covered in blood – and still we applaud him to the grave.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

The Edinburgh Feminist Network organised a Reclaim the Night march on 11 October 2007 - some people commented (correctly) that women were more at risk from men they knew and it therfor was not good politics to have a "reclaim the night" march as it might make the "stranger danger" be over focussed on - I argued against this as women modify their behaviour because of their fear of men's violence. Why can we not reclaim the streets or the night. The march put out a really good message that women will not just put up with men's violence. However it looks like women are at risk from men they don't know. This article was in the Evening News on 21st November 2007.

A WOMAN was raped behind the Playhouse Theatre as revellers headed home just yards away.
The 27-year-old victim had left a nightclub when she was befriended by her attacker at a taxi rank outside the Omni Centre.

She walked down Greenside Lane with the man, who then raped her.
The attack took place in the early hours of Sunday morning, as the city was packed with drinkers who had earlier watched Scotland's defeat to Italy in the Euro 2008 decider.
It was the latest sex attack to take place in the Hillside/London Road area following a string of incidents earlier this year.
Police today appealed for witnesses who were in the area around the Playhouse and taxi rank at the time.
The suspect spoke broken English with a foreign accent. He is described as black, 20 to 30 years, 5ft 8in, of medium build, with a goatee beard, and wearing a cream coloured jumper with horizontal stripes and blue jeans.
The victim had left a club at the top of Leith Walk at 2.30am.
A police spokesman said: "This was a serious sexual assault that left the victim in a considerable state of distress.
"We would appeal to anyone who was in the area at the time and noticed the victim and the suspect speaking to get in touch."
Following the match on Saturday, a man also had his jaw broken during a football-related assault in the city centre. It is understood an argument had broken out between him and a woman with an English accent near the Scotsman Lounge on Cockburn Street.
After the exchange of words, she returned with four friends who assaulted the man, leaving him with a broken jaw. After the assault he was taken to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, before being transferred to St John's.
In September, a teenage girl was indecently assaulted by a 6ft 6in attacker after being dragged into woods off London Road.
The 18-year-old had been waiting for a taxi home at around 2.30am on Leith Street, near the Omni Centre, when a man grabbed her arm. She struggled and her attacker ran off towards London Road. Her attacker spoke with an Eastern European, possibly Polish, accent.
In April, a 17-year-old girl was indecently assaulted by a man after he forced her into his car.
The 17-year-old victim was walking along London Road, when a silver-coloured car pulled up and a man of Turkish appearance jumped out.
And in the early hours of New Year's Day, an acne-scarred attacker indecently assaulted a 28-year-old woman as she walked home from a party. She was pushed against a wall at Sunnybank Terrace, and indecently assaulted before she managed to struggle free.

Another Witch to Burn

Decided to open up a feminist blog based in Edinburgh. I want to catalogue the incidents of men's violence against women as I just don't think it is being taken seriously and I am aware how much there is out there. Please feel free to comment and if you see anything in the press that I haven't posted up please let me know. Please be respectful, though I don't mind robust debate however anything abusive will be taken off.