Tag Archives: justice

Everyday Victim Blaming – a new campaign

30 May

Reviewing media coverage of violence against women and children, we’ve found an overt victim blaming tone in many of the news reports.  Men are described as being unable to ‘help it’.  They are ‘driven to it’.  They kill their children (and sometimes themselves) and it is a ‘tragic isolated incident’.  They murder their children and it is because of a ‘difficult divorce’.  They rape children because she was ‘drunk’ or ‘out at 4am’ and so ‘asking for it’.  They rape girls who are so drunk that they cannot stand up, yet these men claim sex is consensual.  There are so many excuses that we’ve read recently – none of them considering that the abuser has choices.  All the choices are around women (and children) behaving differently in order to avoid being abused.

The media reports cases of violence against women and children with an almost wilful avoidance of the actual reasons for these acts.  Power, control, women and children being considered ‘possessions’ of men, and avoidance of personal responsibility all contribute to a societal structure that colludes with abusers and facilitates a safe space in which they can operate.

A clear example of this has been the Oxford Gang case.  The victims were cross-examined by a number of barristers (which is to be expected in a fair trial, of course) with repeated accusations of lying or consenting to the rape, sexual assaults and violence.  As we have seen, some of the girls were too young to consent under law and were effectively purchased by their abusers.  Dr Aisha Gill writes an excellent critical analysis of this situation.

Almost immediately after the completion of this trial, we heard of the tragic murder of two children in France by their father, a man who should have protected them from violence.  Julian Stevenson, a British man who has lived in France for approximately 10 years, killed his children on his first unsupervised access visit following a divorce.  His access to the children previously had been in the presence of either his ex-wife, or a social worker due to his violent behaviour.  The prosecutor’s office has released a statement confirming that Stevenson has admitted killing the children, but would ‘not discuss his motive’.  Media reports about this case have been littered with excuses and apparent explanations, including using the issue of child contact being ‘insufficient for his needs’.

In the UK at least, child contact orders under the Children Act 1989 should consider the welfare needs of the child as paramount.  This should mean that the courts consider the emotional and physical safety of the child(ren) when making a decision for a contact order.  If we assume that the law is adhered to and that contact with a non-resident parent is set up in order to meet the needs of the child, being at risk of violence or in this case, murder, is certainly not about the needs of the child(ren).

The combination of these cases, in addition to the almost constant victim blaming in the media, prompted us to set up this campaign.  We regularly discuss issues around child protection, violence against women and children and domestic abuse with other women.  This campaign is about changing the culture and language around violence against women and children.  We aim to challenge the view that men cannot help being violence and abusive towards women and children.  We want to challenge the view that women should attempt to ‘avoid’ abuse in order to not become a victim of it.

We are utterly frustrated.  We know other women and men who feel powerless and voiceless against mainstream media and we are aiming to change that.  We believe that the only people responsible for violence and abuse are violent abusers.  We do not believe that victims are in any way responsible for the choices that are made by those who abuse them.  Societal change is not easy, but it happens.  With persistence and dogged determination, we can succeed.

You can help by submitting your experiences, thoughts or views about victim blaming via our website www.everydayvictimblaming.com.  We will accept submissions that are personal, if you’ve written a critical analysis on gendered violence, written about media coverage of rape, abuse, sexual exploitation or if you just want to have your voice heard.  Submissions can be anonymous and we will soon be able to signpost to organisations offering support around these issues via our website.

Wish us luck!

Follow us on twitter @EVB_Now

The Shrewsbury 24 call for government to clear their names

23 Jan
The Shrewsbury 24

The Shrewsbury 24

Ricky Tomlinson, along with 23 other building workers who were imprisoned for picketing following the 1972 building workers strike, is calling for the Government to lift the veil of secrecy over prosecutions.

In a press conference at the House of Commons today, Ricky and fellow former pickets will be speaking along with General Secretaries, Frances O’Grady (TUC), Len McCluskey (Unite) and Steve Murphy (UCATT), MPs Tom Watson, Steve Rotheram and David Hanson, and film director Ken Loach. John McDonnell MP will be chairing the conference.

The conference comes as the Shrewsbury 24 step up their campaign to clear their names following the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling’s refusal to release documents relating to the 1972 Shrewsbury trials. Grayling recently informed the pickets that the documents will be withheld from public scrutiny for another 10 years, and the ban will not be reviewed until 2021. His reason? Grayling cites ‘national security’, holding the documents under Section 23 of the Freedom of Information Act.

Ricky Tomlinson, speaking on behalf of himself and his fellow pickets, says:

Ricky Tomlinson

Ricky Tomlinson

 “We were building workers who were trying to get decent wages and working conditions. What’s that got to do with ‘national security’? We were convicted for conspiracy in 1972. We knew we were innocent. The government continue to throw a security blanket over what really happened during the 1972 dispute and the role of the security forces. We believe that the prosecutions were directed by the government.”

The Shrewsbury 24 case began following the major construction strike in 1972, when construction workers faced hostile and powerful employers, lump labour, and isolated workplaces that changed constantly whenever a contract finished. The building workers’ unions organised the first ever national strike in their industry. Due to the nature of the industry, the strike involved the use of picketing of building sites that were spread throughout the country. At the end of the twelve-week dispute, in September 1972, they succeeded in winning the highest ever pay rise in the history of the industry.

Five months after the strike ended, 24 pickets, who had travelled down from North Wales to picket at a site in Shrewsbury, were picked up and charged with over 200 offences including unlawful assembly, intimidation and affray. Six of the pickets were also charged with conspiracy to intimidate. None of the pickets had been cautioned or arrested during the strike. Approximately 70 police had accompanied the pickets on the Shrewsbury building sites at all times. No complaints were laid against the pickets at the time.

At the first Shrewsbury trial three of the pickets were prosecuted and found guilty of conspiracy to intimidate, unlawful assembly and affray. They were sent to prison: Des Warren was sentenced to three years on each charge, Ricky Tomlinson was sentenced to two years on each charge and John McKinsie Jones was sentenced to nine months on each charge, all sentences to run concurrently.

Jailing these building workers remains one of the most notorious acts of the state in recent times. All the might of the police and judiciary were used to stop trade unionists from organising effectively. The Government has used section 23 of the Official Secrets Act to prevent the pickets from gaining access to papers that show the extent of the campaign to send them to prison.

The Shrewsbury 24 Campaign was established in 2006. Their aim is to overturn this miscarriage of justice. All power to them.

To support the Shrewsbury 24, please sign the e-petition calling for the full disclosure of all Government documents relating to the 1972 building workers strike and the conspiracy trials at Shrewsbury.

Diary of a ‘Rogue Officer’

20 Jul

Diary of a 'Rogue Officer'

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