Until it Happens to You

Until it Happens to You


The UK was recently rocked when it was announced that the remains of Sarah Everard, who initially went missing on March 3, were found in Ashford, Kent. The 33 year old marketing executive had been walking from a friend’s home in Clapham to her own home in Brixton in South London when she was abducted.

Sarah Everard’s story started a nationwide, and now, global discourse regarding the safety of women. Beginning on Twitter in the UK, millions of women shared their experiences of worrying about their safety while walking home, encouraging a global discussion about the experiences almost every woman has had.

In an article published by The Guardian in the same week, it was found that 97% of young women 18-24 have experienced sexual harassment, with 80% of women of all ages noting they had been sexually harassed in a public space.

A poll by The Tab, which asked 14,000 students in Britain whether or not they had been groped in clubs, with the results showing that 91% of women who answered noting they had experienced sexual harassment and assault.

The issue wasn’t exclusive to women, however. Overall, 82% of University scholars, both male and female, told the Consent and Sexual Assault Survey that they had experienced groping, with 61% of men noting they had experienced groping. In the study, Cardiff University was found to be the second worst university in the UK for experiencing groping on a night out, with 95% of students saying they had experienced some form of sexual harassment.

Discussions around sexual harassment and sexual assault have been circulating for years, but following the case of Sarah Everard, it feels as though there has been a global resignation that it is an issue which can no longer be swept under the carpet.

Baroness Jenny Jones argued in the House of Lords last week that perhaps there should be a 6pm curfew for men. This comment has been heavily debated online, with many noting it would be unfair to stop men from leaving their homes at night. Many women have argued, however, that despite there not being a physical curfew in place for women, women have always been encouraged to stay indoors after dark, so as to not be in any danger.

Baroness Jenny Jones later clarified that her comments were not asking for serious policy proposal, but rather pointing out that London police had advised following the case of Sarah Everard that women “not go out alone”. She told LBC that it was a concern to her as it appeared that no one seemed to “bat an eyelid” at the assumption that women ought to change their actions in order to stay safe.

Of course, walking alone is dangerous for everyone regardless of their gender. However, as we’ve seen from various surveys, women feel they are in significantly more danger when walking home alone than men.

According to data from UN Women’s Sexual Harassment Report 2021, 71% of women of all ages in the UK have experienced some form of sexual harassment in a public space, with this number rising to 86% among 18-24-year-olds. The MP Jess Phillips last week read the names of the women killed by men in the UK over the past 12 months. compiled by the Femicide Census; in 2020 and 2021, the list amounted to one woman every three days.

The discussion surrounding safety is one everyone should have, regardless of gender. But it’s important that we listen to the women who are expressing their concern, and we begin to change the way we address the safety of women. Men’s stories deserve a platform – but should not be used in order to diminish the stories of women; each story is valid.

Using hashtags such as #NotAllMen not only dismisses the lived experience of women and girls, but also seems as though it is invalidating the stories men have too. Why only bring up the statistics about male rape and harassment in order to counteract the stories being shared by women? Think about it – would you still share those statistics if women weren’t having this discussion? Stories from men who have faced similar experiences need to be addressed, in their own right, not as a way of invalidating stories from women; that isn’t fair to anyone.

Women and most men are aware that not all men are dangerous and not all men would do these horrible things. When we’re walking home (during the day, but especially at night) and the man behind us has been walking in the same direction for a long while, we don’t have the time to make sure he’s one of the good guys – it could cost us our lives.

We know it’s not all men, but the problem is, we don’t know which men.

The world needs to have this discussion. It may feel uncomfortable, but if we don’t have the discussion nothing will change. It’s also vital that men are part of this discussion. Men are able to tell their friends when their behaviour or the things they say are inappropriate and could stop further harassment or assault.

The discourse surrounding the safety of women is underway, and it’s important we all listen. Almost every woman has a story or an experience. A lot of men do, too. So let’s listen to them, and encourage change, so that the next generation don’t have their own stories.

by Tirion Davies

 



 

Same Love

Same Love


February is LGBT+ History Month in the UK; a time where we can celebrate and amplify the voices of those within the LGBT+ community around us.

For those within the community, the struggle has spanned centuries, and their fight still continues to this day. Although the world is beginning to be more open about gender identity and sexuality, those within the LGBT+ community in many countries still face persecution, and many still face discrimination in the UK.

Section 28, a law passed in 1988 to stop councils and schools from “promoting the teaching of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship” was only abolished in 2003. For many, this law still feels as though it exists in many communities even in 2021.

In a time where sexual and gender identity is mostly celebrated in the media, it can be easy to forget that although celebration online is one thing, danger still lurks for those in the LGBT+ community.

Hate crime still occurs in our everyday society and many people feel afraid to be themselves because of the violence many of the LGBT+ community have faced, and continue to face.

Media, thankfully, has embraced the LGBT+ community, and we are beginning to see more representation on our screens. From Drag Race to Pose to It’s A Sin, the stories of those within the LGBT+ are beginning to be amplified.

Yet, shows like It’s A Sin, the Russell T. Davies drama which has been dominating headlines and television screens for the past few months, are still gaining backlash. It’s A Sin revolves around a group of friends who identify as queer battling through the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and has been praised by many as not only an accurate depiction of the LGBT+ community, but also of the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS present during the period in question.

But headlines in the media have shown that although we’re more tolerant as a nation than we have been, stigma surrounding homosexuality and the presentation of LGBT+ relationships still persists even if it’s unintentional.

Juxtaposing articles from tabloid newspapers have hit social media recently, with many drawing comparisons between the discussion of sex scenes in Netflix’s hit show Bridgerton, compared with the discussion of Channel 4’s It’s A Sin sex-scenes. Bridgerton shows mainly heterosexual sex-scenes, whilst It’s A Sin has predominantly same-sex sex-scenes.

Yet, hundreds of people noted that while Bridgerton’s sex scenes were branded ‘the hottest sex scenes ever’ by The Sun, the same tabloid newspaper called It’s A Sin sex-scenes ‘explicit’ and ‘raunchy’, claiming that there was ‘So much sex’.

Although it may not seem too significant a headline, it can be misleading. Even unintentionally, headlines

like these can form a narrative that homosexual relationships are taboo, and that heterosexuality is the norm. It shouldn’t matter who loves who, should it?

The Sun has since apologised for the misleading headline and has since updated it to include words such as ‘Liberating’. Yet, it’s unlikely the juxtaposing headlines will be forgotten anytime soon.

It’s A Sin has become Channel 4’s most watched drama series in its history, indicating that the stories of the LGBT+ community are stories millions want to see. Creating and producing stories with LGBT+ characters creates a community of tolerance, rather than bigotry and hatred.

Some shows have decided against the traditional ways of encouraging love and acceptance. It’s A Sin covers homophobia at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, but there are shows which choose not to address homophobia.

Schitt’s Creek, which features prominent LGBT+ characters and a healthy gay relationship at its core, swept awards at the 2020 Emmys for its final series. The show has garnered worldwide adoration for the fact that the show celebrates the LGBT+ community without showing homophobia.

Showrunner and actor Dan Levy, who plays main character David, noted at Vulture Festival 2018 why there was no indication of homophobia in the show, “I have no patience for homophobia… [in Schitt’s Creek] we show love and tolerance”.

There are still stories which have yet to earn a platform, but as shows with LGBT+ representation gain in popularity, there is a hope that there will be more opportunity for these voices to be heard. As shows like It’s A Sin, Pose and many others continue to do well, it indicates to studios that these are the stories we want to see. It indicates further that amplifying these voices should not be a ‘risk’.

We must also amplify the voices of the BAME members of the LGBT+ community, a section of the community often under-represented.

NBC News announced recently that, according to US LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD’s annual “Where We Are on TV” report, it is the first time we’re seeing more LGBTQ people of colour than white LGBTQ characters on our screens.

The report did note, however, that there are still improvements to be made. LGBTQ activist and editor for the queer media outlet Xtra, Tre’vell Anderson noted, “until there’s every type of LGBTQ person represented on screen, there’s still work to be done”.

Changes still need to be made to the way the LGBT+ community is treated. Understanding is becoming more a part of everyday life, but more still needs to be done.

During this year’s LGBT+ History Month, I implore you to use the time to learn about the LGBT+ community and to amplify their voices.

By Tirion Davies

 



 

A Think Tank For Wenvoe

THE WENVOE WELL OF WISHES AND WISDOM
A THINK TANK FOR WENVOE


Dear Wenvoe Residents

Firstly my apologies for the cheesy title, I have a penchant for alliteration and I find giving something a name seems to help it take shape. I have been wondering about floating this idea for a few months and now as we turn to March, Spring and soon hopefully, to slightly less restricted life I think it is time. I’ve consulted with a few people and they’ve said “Give it a go!” so …

Is anyone interested in forming a Wenvoe Think Tank?

I think it’s clear that life has changed as a result of Covid 19. We are going to have to adapt our own behaviours and many people who have had their lives altered dramatically will need support. Climate change, a different sort of internationalism, rethinking the economy be it global, national or local all point to change. It is probably also true that we will not be able to rely on Government and its resources to put everything right, it’s too big a task. I think we need to do what we can for ourselves and over the past year especially, the Wenvoe community has responded so positively in so many ways to circumstances I suspect we can do more.

I could have added Wealth to the alliteration as it seems to me that Wenvoe has a hugely resourceful community. So many activities, just read your WWO, are already run by community members who give time, skill and energy and during the trials and tribulations of the last year many have stepped up to the plate to organise and deliver life enhancing activities. I am hoping that people with skills, experience, energy, ideas and even dreams will join me, those already active in the community, those who would like to be, anyone with a stake in Wenvoe’s future. By bringing together the right people some of those ideas might develop and some of the dreams might become a reality. It’s much easier to make something happen if it is a team effort and that team needs to include people of all ages, interests and passions.

Wenvoe could develop new projects or revive or extend old ones, ranging in size from organising a seed and plant swap, to developing a green energy supply for the whole village and varying from a tutoring scheme to help children and young people to catch up on their education to an investment and mentoring scheme supporting those who have lost jobs to set up businesses. But these are just a few of my thoughts on facing the future as examples, but think big, think small this would be about sharing everyone’s ideas.

If anyone, of any age who has ideas, dreams, experience or resources would like to be part of a first on-line meeting to see if a think tank can be useful, then please get in touch. You don’t need to have grand plans or lots to offer, sometimes just being there is enough. E-mail me at eirwenwctf@gmail.com or pop a note, giving me a contact method, through the door of 24 Old Port Rd. If you are not on-line I will try to arrange for you to join the meeting by phone or link in somehow.

I don’t have a plan beyond the first meeting, I’m seeking to provoke action not lead the charge. The future of the Think Tank and maybe of Wenvoe, will be up to those who are there.

I look forward to hearing from some of you.

Eirwen

 



 

La La Land

Play Hard Work Hard

La La Land


ITV recently showed a three-part short series The Pembrokeshire Murders, based on the real-life story behind the conviction of serial killer John Cooper.

The series, which included a cast led by Luke Evans and Keith Allen, showed the brilliance of Welsh storytelling, and offered ITV its biggest drama launch in five years. It has even led to the reopening of further cases previously deemed unsolved.

The Pembrokeshire Murders was the first time in a while a television drama led by an all-Welsh cast had been so successful; for many it felt like the first time they’d heard so many authentic Welsh accents in a crime drama since BBC One Wales released Keeping Faith in 2017.

Yet, there may be a reason for this. Although an abundance of TV shows and films are filmed in Wales, very few are actually set here and include Welsh characters.

We all want to see iconic Welsh locations shown on our screens, but very few shows filmed in Wales which may be shown worldwide are, in fact, set here. Although there are many brilliant Welsh programmes on our screens, very few will make it to homes outside of Wales.

There has been some change, at least, in the past few years. In 2008, the BBC launched the ‘Beyond the M25’ initiative, to solidify a more sustainable production base across the nation, in an attempt to ‘bring production closer to the audiences they serve’.

Shows like Hinterland, Keeping Faith and The Pembrokeshire Murders have been testament to the telling of incredible, Welsh-centric stories. When The Pembrokeshire Murders launched on January 11, it saw an immense 6.3 million viewers, with a third of people watching television across all channels tuning in to the first episode.

Keeping Faith saw around 9 million BBC iPlayer downloads after its initial Welsh-language release earlier in 2017 and prompted the BBC to show the programme on all BBC One channels across the UK, as opposed to simply BBC One Wales, as was the case when it first aired.

Programmes such as Belonging and Baker Boys have since been forgotten but were further examples of the representation of Welsh communities from a fervently Welsh lens.

Wales does get some representation on our television screens. However, the problem is that it is often kept to one character, or the programmes depicting Welsh life and culture are shown only in Wales.

A lack of representation is an issue for many groups, and so a lack of representation of Welsh life and culture should, of course, not take precedence over more representation for other groups, though it does feel important.

Often, it seems as though we rely on channels like S4C and BBC One Wales alone to provide authentic Welsh representation.

We’ll often see Welsh characters in television and film, but it seems as though the roles go to actors from other countries, leading to dodgy accents and a personality filled with stereotypes.

Sometimes, even within shows written by Welsh writers, such as Russel T. Davies’ Years and Years on BBC One, and his upcoming Channel 4 drama It’s a Sin, only one Welsh character is shown in each. It’s better than nothing, and at least the actors in both shows truly are Welsh, but it feels slightly as though this was a battle Russell T. Davies had to fight.

Even without talking about dramas, Wales can often feel like the butt of the joke for showrunners eager to get ratings. ITV’s most recent series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! was filmed in Gwrych Castle in North Wales, and ahead of its release ITV were warned of the impact of using cheap Welsh stereotypes to fuel its script.

Thankfully, the public were listened to and ITV were sure to give Ant & Dec Welsh lessons and stereotyping was rare. There were, of course, the odd annoyances, such as the Joker’s poor attempt at a generic Welsh accent and the whole ‘Tecwyn’ fiasco, but on the whole it was respectable.

Although Wales is the smallest of the four nations, with only 3.1 million residents, it can still seem unfair to limit our screen time. For a nation which is used as the backdrop for hundreds of stories, it seems unfair we don’t often get to use those backdrops for stories of our own. Have you seen the quality of the Mabinogi? A series on them alone could gain you millions of viewers, I’m telling you.

Perhaps the success of The Pembrokeshire Murders could indicate to TV bosses that Welsh storytelling is just as valuable as any other nation. If a show set in Wales with a Welsh-led cast can attract such a large viewership, there’s incentive there to commission more programmes; I’m sure Michael Sheen would be happy to be part of a show if the problem was a famous lead!

As a country part of the four nations, with so much history and culture, Wales is bursting at the seams with stories to share. It’s time we started seeing more of them.

Tirion Davies

 



 

Graffiti – A Bridge Too Far?

A BRIDGE TOO FAR?

Many of us walked over the Port Road pedestrian bridge in the last few weeks only to be distinctly unimpressed by the graffiti which appeared on it. It would be a shame though if this experience caused us to develop a general dislike for all street art.

Art is of course about opinions and the line between art and graffiti can be blurred. Work about the coronavirus by Banksy (left) was removed from a London tube carriage by cleaners who had no idea of its worth. There does though seem to be general agreement about what constitutes acceptable street art. The term ‘street artist’ has evolved because the work of skilled illustrators is far more detailed and artistic than your average graffiti scribble.

Most street artists use their work to make social or political commentary. Communicating directly with the public allows them to present socially relevant content while at the same time beautifying the local area or improving a building in urban decay. Where it is considered an act of vandalism, this is usually because the graffiti is less skilled and the ‘artist’ does not have the authorisation or seek permission from owners of property before scrawling their work onto walls. Graffiti is often disliked when it is associated with a spray-painted tag or moniker. Genuine street art is a different thing altogether. Renowned Cardiff street artist Bryce Davies (who works under the name Peaceful Process) puts it this way, ‘There’s a big divide between graffiti and street art. A lot of what people see on the walls which puts it in a more positive light is street art – graffiti is letter-based

Authorities in Cardiff are working with artists actively commissioning their work and providing tolerated ‘free walls’ where complete freedom is allowed. Artists like Bryce Davies, Shep Fairey and others are pushing boundaries, often not just painting walls but entire building blocks over several floors. These murals are extremely complicated pieces and require planning, imagination and funding all of which often mean involving local councils. Maybe Cardiff will be able to exploit the new trend of ‘graffiti tourism’ in which artists travel and paint across the world and tourists visit notable street art sites in cities like Bristol (home of Banksy), Liverpool and Melbourne.

Bryce Davies argues that social media has helped to change attitudes to street art by helping people to understand and explain it. Dan Pearce a mixed media artist who has created work for the likes of Anthony Joshua and Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, argues ‘graffiti is a ‘fantastic new form of creativity.’ But he says, there is a moral line which should not be crossed. ‘Graffiti is simply vandalism when it is a random tag on any old wall.’ The graffiti which appeared on the Port Road bridge recently has now been cleared. So, what conclusions can we draw from the incident. One Wenvoe resident seems to have summed up the general view. ‘Graffiti artists are talented, so I enjoy looking at their work when it’s in a place where people can appreciate it and it looks good rather than someone just spraying the bus stop or a bridge as they go by.’

 



 

Sustainable Fashion

Sustainable Fashion

Since the Sunday Times investigation in July of this year, which uncovered that workers for the clothing brand Boohoo in Leicester were being paid as little as £3.50 an hour, a discussion about sustainable fashion has begun online.

For many young people, the conversation began a long while ago. Sustainability in fashion has been a longstanding issue, with companies having been called out for their use of sweatshops for years. But for many, the Sunday Times’ exposé of Boohoo was the turning point. Everyone was forced to face the reality of cheap, fast fashion, within our everyday society.

Many of us have turned to online shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic, with clothing brands seeing a significant rise in online orders, especially fast fashion brands such as NastyGal, Pretty Little Thing and the infamous Boohoo.

But more recently, there has been a trend of brands offering sustainable fashion as more and more people begin to fully understand the impact these brands are having on the world. Online websites such as ASOS and H&M now include a drop-down section where it is possible to select clothing that is made ethically, recycled and environmentally responsible.

The rise in climate activism is no doubt a factor as to why many young people have turned to sustainable fashion and shopping ethically. The clothing industry has one of the highest impacts on the planet; water usage, chemical pollution from dyeing, and disposing of unsold clothing in landfill sites and incineration creates an incredibly hazardous impact on the environment.

According to a House of Commons report on the sustainability of the fashion industry, the UK WRAP estimated that around £140 million worth of clothing goes to landfill every year, with items on average only being worn around 7 times.

Yet, some fashion brands still are not doing enough to ensure their products are created ethically. Although September 2015 saw a global agreement at the United Nations to implement seventeen Sustainable Development Goals, fast fashion, and unethically sourced materials continue to be a big issue amongst UK retailers.

A 2016 report found that of the seventy-one leading retailers within the UK, 77% were believed to have a likelihood of modern slavery occurring at some stage within their supply chains. Many of the workers work up to six or seven days a week, serving long hours and often being so physically exhausted that they are unable to continue the work past their 30s.

For the youth of today, those kinds of figures have meant an increase in sales by charity shops, and a boost in the use of the app Depop, where many sell their pre-owned clothing. Apps such as Good on You have become popular, as a way of discovering how environmentally friendly and sustainable our favourite brands are.

Climate activism has been mostly driven by the younger generation, and for many, there has been a call for more options within sustainable fashion.

Two sisters from Cardiff even took to making their own Welsh sustainable clothing brand, Clecs, over the period of lockdown. Worried about the environmental impact fast fashion has on the world, Imogen and Bea Riley tried their hand at making a sustainable fashion brand, selling t-shirts and jumpers which are ethically sourced, and therefore ensure fair trade.

Within days of releasing their jumpers, the items sold out in numerous sizes, proving that their audience – young adults – are eager to see sustainability amongst up-and-coming brands. The pair have since gone on to continue expanding their product range and have launched accessories such as sustainably sourced phone cases.

Imogen and Bea are not the only young people starting their own companies, as hundreds of new businesses are emerging ever day to introduce sustainable alternatives to everyday items.

But why are we only looking at it now?

Coronavirus has been an opportunity to expose cracks in the system; with time to reflect, many have been more cautious about what it is they are buying into when it comes to the fashion industry. Although low prices and sales are selling points for online fashion brands, COVID-19 and the rise in climate activism have given many the opportunity to research the ethics of the brands they once favoured.

Sustainable fashion still presides on the higher end of the market in many cases, which can often lead many to stray away from ethical brands. Brands that offer lower priced items are often those that many shop with but are often the same brands which have a troubling, unethical background.

It’s unfortunate, therefore, that the brands many flock to are the same companies that employ under-paid and overworked garment workers. Yet perhaps that’s why consumers have turned to ethically sourced sustainable fashion – to buck the trend.

The tide is changing when it comes to fashion, and consumers are being more cautious when it comes to the decisions they are making when shopping.

As sustainable fashion becomes more accessible, with high street brands like H&M, Zara, Monki, and Marks & Spencer taking further steps to ensure more ethical trading, sustainable fashion could soon become the norm.

Hopefully, it will soon be an option to shop ethically without having to break the bank.

 

By Tirion Davies

A Level Grades, No One Cares

PLAY HARD, WORK HARD

Let Down

Walking into school two years ago to retrieve my A Level results was terrifying.

Worrying whether I’d done enough in exams and coursework to gain the results that would get me into my university of choice is unlike anything I’d experienced at that point. My results were the be-all and end-all of my life at that point.

The truth is that A Levels mean nothing once they get you to your next step.

I know that probably isn’t what students want to hear if they’re now getting their results, but honestly? Bar maybe someone asking you out of curiosity in conversation about your A Level grades, no one cares. Truly. It’s incredibly rare that it comes up.

I spent the last two years of my school career putting all of my faith into my results. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret it – it got me to my uni of choice and now I’ve achieved far more than I anticipated two years on. But as we have nothing comparable, we’re told that these exams will be something that is linked to us for the rest of our lives.

Again, I’m not saying your A Levels don’t matter and that you shouldn’t put in the effort. For one, most university degrees have essays similar to those you write at A Level; your grades still go on your CV (although from my experience, the A Level results on your CV are only helpful if your subjects are relevant to the job you’re applying for).

I am saying, however, that perhaps we put too much emphasis on A Levels. Of course, we must encourage students to do well, but apart from getting you into university or getting you to your next stage of life, A Levels don’t mean much.

I remember thinking that once I went to uni, it would be as though my A Level grades would be tattooed to my forehead and that everyone would judge my worth based of the grades. I had this recurring dream that lecturers would split you based on your A Levels.

It seems ridiculous – I’m aware. Yet, that was how it was for years. It’s how it continues to be. A Levels are advertised as the be-all and end-all of a teenagers’ life. It isn’t that A Levels aren’t important, but the amount of pressure we put on the results can put enormous amounts of pressure on students.

I can only imagine therefore how students feel this year. With an algorithm created due to an unprecedented global pandemic, thousands have been left disappointed. Students in lower socioeconomic backgrounds have been impacted, and the unfair algorithm has left many without a place at university.

I realise we can’t give each student an A*, yet this algorithm seems flawed. Regardless of this – we’re in a global pandemic, give the kids a break! Although I wasn’t thrilled with my results, I’m certain I would have lost my place at university had I been impacted by this algorithm.

Yet, I had a part to play in my own success. I had exams and essays to base my grades off. For students this year, they’ve put their faith into a system which seems to have failed them. If you’re basing your entire future on your A Level results, having the outcome be entirely out of your hands must be incredibly difficult.

You can’t give all students A*s. You shouldn’t be able to penalise students based on factors they can’t change. It’s a global pandemic where the governments across the UK have stopped students from sitting exams. If the grades are uncommon this year, so be it. This year itself has been uncommon.

Equally, you can’t downgrade students from a lower socioeconomic background if you’re not downgrading students from Eton and Harrow. It’s hardly fair to claim the algorithm is the fairest way of calculating results if you’re penalising students from being from poorer areas.

Although the Welsh Government attempted to remedy the situation before results day by exam board WJEC suggesting that students would not receive grades lower than that they received at AS, there’s no doubt the damage has been done.

Governments across the United Kingdom have since changed their decisions and have decided that A Level students will now have their grades based on teacher predictions.

But what does that mean for students who lost out on their place at university the first time around?

I’m glad they’ve changed their minds, but it’s partially a matter of too little too late. It all feels a bit chaotic. What happens to universities trying to accommodate the students who’ve had their grades changed?

It seems unfair for all involved. Although the algorithm was well-intentioned, it’s left a wave of confusion in its wake, which will undoubtedly have a profound effect on many.

In a year filled with inconsistencies and flash decisions, it’s no wonder many would be left disappointed by the government’s decision.

 

By Tirion Davies

They Think It’s All Over

They Think It’s All Over

They think that it’s all over, this virus put to bed

“Don’t listen to the science, it’s party hard instead!

We’re young and fit and in our prime

The old and frail have had their time.

So we’ll all flock to the beaches, Go drinking in the park,

We’ll litter lots of beauty spots and party after dark”.

I pray that it’s all over and Corona’s put to bed,

But fear has not ended, simply waiting to rear its head,

With Winter fast approaching, dark days and nights descend,

This vaccine can’t come soon enough, to bring Covid an end.

Please learn the lockdown lessons, our heroes’ selfless acts,

Just take the time to ponder and listen to the facts.

Stop the sacrifice of many, being squandered by the few,

So that, they’re lucky, the young can grow old too!

 

Beverly Mackintosh

 



 

A Change In The Law

PLAY HARD, WORK HARD

A Change In The Law

Justice

At the beginning of July, the Government announced a change in the law to ban men from claiming that fatal injuries inflicted on women were at her request during intercourse.

Following the death of 26-year-old Natalie Connolly at the hands of her boyfriend in 2016, a campaign to ban the ‘rough sex defence’ began. Connolly was reported to have suffered more than 40 injuries and was left bleeding before she was found in their Staffordshire home.

John Broadhurst claimed that Connolly, a mother of one, was injured during sexual activity which was consensual but fuelled by alcohol and drugs. Although the pathologist’s report had described bruises littering Connolly’s body, Broadhurst had claimed it was what she had requested, and that she liked being beaten. She, of course, was unable to defend whether this was true or not.

The murder charge was dropped, and despite pleading guilty on accounts of manslaughter, Broadhurst managed to persuade the prosecution that the beating Connolly had received was what she had wanted and requested. Instead of a life sentence, Broadhurst got only three years and eight months.

Although the ‘rough sex defence’ was formerly a provocation defence, it quickly became one exploited and used by many. Men who had killed women in this way continuously sought to blame the victim, using the provocation defence to lessen their charge from murder to manslaughter, claiming he was always the “victim” of their partner’s behaviour.

After Natalie Connolly’s death made national headlines, many began an online campaign, identifying at least 60 British women who had been killed in episodes of “consensual” sexual violence since 1972, and at least 18 women dying in the last five years.

The campaign, called “We Can’t Consent to This” found that 45% of these killings saw a claim that the woman’s injuries were sustained during a sex game “gone wrong”, which either resulted in a lesser charge, a lighter sentence, an acquittal, or the death not being investigated.

Defendants are not only using the defence more often, but before the law was changed, courts were becoming increasingly likely to believe this defence.

It’s a simple defence, of course. How can it be argued when the only other person who knew what had happened in detail is no longer able to give their account?

Natalie Connolly’s case wasn’t the first time the defence has been used in a high-profile case. The murder of 22-year-old Grace Millane, a young woman who was killed on a Tinder date in New Zealand in December of 2018, has also received much attention in the media.

Thankfully, the jury in Millane’s case didn’t buy the ‘rough sex defence’ and her murderer was sentenced to life imprisonment. Her family had to listen to intimate details of her private life read to the courtroom, details she was unable to refute.

The amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill are vital. Amendments to the Bill included making it clear that consent can no longer be used as a defence – especially in cases of serious violence and murder.

Thankfully, these amendments were accepted by the Government and will soon come into effect. No longer will families have to listen to the defence ‘it’s what she wanted’ when attempting to explain serious bodily harm. No longer will parents have to watch their child’s murderer walk away free-of-charge after having their child’s intimate private life spread across the papers and used as a weapon which they were unable to refute.

It could be argued by some that these instances were a number of ‘accidents’ when things have gone wrong. This may be the case for some of these murders, but many of these killers have a long history of perpetrating violence against women. For others, it had been a culmination of years of domestic abuse.

It’s hardly surprising that this defence has been used so often. Unfortunately, cases of non-consensual intercourse are difficult to prove – especially when non-consensual acts (such as violence, like choking or slapping) occur during otherwise consensual intercourse.

Under Chapter 3, Section 74 of the CPS Rape and Sexual Offences guidance, ‘Conditional Consent’ was the closest legal clause before the ‘rough sex defence’ was abolished. Chapter 3, Section 74 includes instances where consent was revoked when agreements were broken, but there is no clear ramification in this section of non-consensual acts of violence during otherwise consensual intercourse.

Which is why amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill and revoking the ‘rough sex defence’ is so important. Without these changes, many people would lose justice to these defences, which allow for no dispute, as the victim is no longer able to give their account.

It’s surprising that there has been a defence which was so widely used, where the victim was unable to dispute the lurid details about their private lives which would have been widely read to the jury. It’s strange that it’s taken so long for this defence to be reviewed; it’s a defence which allows for people to blame their victim for their own violence.

I’m glad the defence has received review and that the law has changed. But I can’t help but feel it’s come too late, with over 60 perpetrators in the UK having benefited from the ‘rough sex defence’.

By Tirion Davies

 

 



 

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