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



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



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


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

A Change In The Law


A Change In The Law


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




This is America


This is America

Thousands of people across the world have gathered to protest the killing of unarmed African American George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Floyd was killed on 25 May, as four officers detained him, with one officer – Derek Chauvin – kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, despite Floyd calling out repeatedly that he could not breathe.

It’s definitely not the first time black Americans have been killed in police custody, and it’s unfortunate that it’s unlikely George Floyd will be the last.

The protesting which has taken place across the world has made some significant changes – it’s hard to deny that. Derek Chauvin’s charges have been elevated to second-degree murder, and all officers involved in George Floyd’s death have now been charged, following pleas from protestors worldwide.

Six police officers in Atlanta have been charged, after a video went viral showing the officers using a stun gun and dragging two young Black students, Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim, from a car following protests.

Miami police have banned officers from using a “carotid restraint”, otherwise known as a chokehold. San Francisco’s city supervisors have introduced a resolution to prevent the police department from hiring officers with records of serious misconduct.

Cities across America, including Minneapolis, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Texas have begun the process of redirecting part of the budget of each of their police departments to serve Black communities and communities of colour.

But there is still work which needs to be done.

Breonna Taylor was shot eight times by Louisville police after officers forced their way inside her home; the officers had a no-knock warrant. The Louisville metro council unanimously voted to pass an ordinance called “Breonna’s Law”, banning no-knock search warrants. But the officers who killed Taylor have not been arrested nor charged.

Police officers have ‘qualified immunity’ (or legal immunity as it’s called in Britain). Qualified immunity is a judicial doctrine which makes it difficult for people whose civil rights are violated by police officers (such as in cases of police brutality) to obtain money damages in lawsuits.

Essentially, it’s impossible to sue police officers unless the victim can show that the officer violated a right explicitly recognised by a prior court ruling. Even if the exact same incident that happened to George Floyd happened to another, unless it happened in exactly the same place, even if the difference is a matter of metres, it is not possible to find officers liable.

I know that many of us will be looking at what happened in America as a matter of ‘us versus them’.

I’m not saying racism in the UK is in any way the same as it is in America, but it is naïve to think racism does not exist in Britain.

As Martin Luther King Jr once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere… Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly”.

Mark Duggan was shot by Metropolitan police in London in 2011; he was unarmed when facing police officers before he was shot and his death sparked riots across London. Black people account for 8% of deaths in police custody in the UK, despite the black community accounting for only 3% of the British population (as reported by the Guardian).

Jimmy Mubenga’s death on a plane on a Heathrow runway in 2010, while being restrained by three immigration officers, saw the immigration officers later acquitted of manslaughter, despite Mubenga’s death counted as unlawful.

Rashan Charles’ death in 2017 in Hackney, after being restrained by a police officer, and Edson Da Costa’s death under similar circumstances in the same year saw all officers from both cases cleared.

Of course, Britain is nowhere near as bad as America when it comes to the issue of police brutality. But it is impossible to deny there is no reason for the Black Lives Matter Movement in Britain.

For many, the conversations about race which have been sparked by recent events may be uncomfortable. But these conversations need to be had, because if it is uncomfortable for you to talk about, imagine living the uncomfortable reality. We need to have these uncomfortable discussions about race so that five-year-olds no longer need to be informed that a police officer may treat them badly because of the colour of their skin.

Black Lives Matter as a movement was founded in 2013, in response to the acquittal of the police officer who killed Trayvon Martin.

The movement is seen by many as controversial, as putting the importance of black lives above the importance of every other life. As Barack Obama once said, “‘Black Lives Matter’ simply refers to the notion that there’s a specific vulnerability for African Americans that needs to be addressed. It’s not meant to suggest that other lives don’t matter. It’s to suggest that other folks aren’t experiencing this particular vulnerability”.

All lives do matter. But currently, black lives and the lives of people of colour are the lives we need to concentrate on. Imagine if you broke your leg and went to the doctor. Whilst all your bones matter, right now, your broken leg is the priority for treatment.

“There are very few hardships out there that hit only people of colour and not white people, but there are a lot of hardships that hit people of colour a lot more than white people” – Ijeoma Olua, ‘So You Want to Talk About Race’.

By Tirion Davies




Twenty Years


Twenty Years

2020 has been bizarre. From wildfires destroying much of Australia’s landscape, to floods which devastated much of South Wales to these unprecedented times – all within a handful of months.

It’s impossible to forget the pain and suffering so many have unfortunately had to face this year alone, with barely five months under our belts.

I can’t help, however, but contemplate the last twenty years of my life and hope for better days ahead. As dramatic as it seems, I think we’d all like for this year to be done with.

Twenty years ago, the world was celebrating a new Millennium. The world entered the twenty-first century, and within ten years, leapt to heights not many could predict.

I was born in May of 2000. Which means I’ll be twenty this month. But what a weird twenty years of life to have lived. Countless events shocking the world, to now, living through a global pandemic.

People my age have seen so much, and yet our lives are barely even beginning yet. We’ve seen war and terror attacks on our screens; we’ve seen political upheaval (and countless arguments over such upheaval); we’ve seen technological advancements so vast it’s often seen as surprising that I lived through a period of life where I didn’t have an iPhone.

Twenty years is a long time – but it’s also not. Not really. My life is only now really beginning, but I still don’t have many life experiences. Twenty seems so old, but also so young all in one go.

A few weeks ago. I was announced as the new Editor in Chief of my university’s newspaper. And yet in that same week I was hoping my Mam could ring the doctor for me. It seems so mind-boggling to me that I am gaining these opportunities to advance my career, but I still feel like a child.

There’s an expectation that by twenty years old you should have your life in order. That being in University or having a job or a family should mean that you’re an adult. But it doesn’t feel that way, really.

It feels a little as though I’m playing House. I know what I’m doing when it comes to Uni and the newspaper, but then, somehow, I still feel as though everything else is a big guessing game.

I’ve seen so much change in twenty years. Enough change that my ancestors would likely feel my twenty years was more than three lifetimes. Twenty years which feel like centuries, but also like no time at all.

I mean this generally of course – my lifetime is only so different to that of any other twenty-year-old. But these past twenty years have been rough, no?

It’s not all bad, of course. Although we’ve had some terrible times, we’ve had some advancements, too.

Opinions are evolving, and acceptance is more readily available. It would be naïve of me to say there is no evil in the world, or that prejudice is non-existent; but it is possible to say that the world has changed for the better and more people are having open discussions and checking their own prejudices.

Hard topics are being discussed, and topics such as women’s rights and reproductive health; mental health; racial stereotyping; gender norms; LGBTQIA+ rights, and the mental wellbeing of men are reaching new audiences.

Twenty years ago, it seems unlikely a popular television programme on a big American network, such as ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’, would have such open discussion about sexuality, racial prejudice, sexual harassment and even male mental health. The show takes place in a New York police department – an unlikely background for such open discussions to be had twenty years ago.

Twenty years ago, the world was a different place. It’s not the first time this has been the case, and it won’t be the last. But it has been remarkable to see. The world still isn’t a great place, but by some means it’s a better place than it was twenty years ago.

I don’t know what the next twenty years may bring. I don’t know whether the world will have bettered itself or deteriorated. Honestly, I don’t know if the world will still be here, given the threat of World War III at the beginning of this year.

Twenty years is a long time in the grand scheme of things.

I wonder what the children born in 2020 will have experienced by the time they reach twenty years old



International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day

It was recently International Women’s Day, so Happy International Women’s Day!

I have always been surrounded by incredible women. Between my Mam championing STEM and balancing a full-time career with twins, to my aunt who has raised my three cousins solo since they were young and doing so whilst starting her own business, to all of my cousins who are clever and brave and beautiful. To another aunt who, as a nurse, has spent Christmas Days caring for others, and another aunt who spends her life making everyone’s lives better by being attentive and caring.

To my Nana, whose life was spent supporting and caring for my dad and his siblings and attempting to better their lives and my Mamgu, who was a teacher and has travelled the world and who is always there to brighten my day with her stories. To my friends, old and new, who show me every day that the future truly is female.

I will always be surrounded by incredible women. Because I’m lucky enough to not only have role models within my own family, but also within popular culture. Between Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousufzai, Serena Williams and Taylor Swift, Stacey Dooley and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka there are plenty of women to look up to.

I’m glad I have these role models. They’ve made me a better person. I’m keeping myself informed on important matters and I’m learning how to improve myself each day. I’m not perfect and I still find it hard to ask for help when I need it, but having the support of the amazing women around me and being able to look to these role models allows me to look to them for guidance and ways of improving myself.

I see the young women around me, and I have hope for the future. They are witty and bright and have the power to change the world if they want to. From my friends hoping to be doctors and save people, to those who want to pursue a career in teaching so that they can shape young minds. To my friends who want to be translators or writers or bankers or actors. To my friends who, like me, are pursuing a career in journalism and hope to change the world through the press and media.

They have the world at their fingertips, and I cannot wait to see them reach their full potential.

International Women’s Day is never about bashing men. It’s about celebrating the women who are often left in the shadows and don’t make it to the history books. It’s about celebrating the women who have survived domestic abuse and supporting their journey. It’s about remembering the young girls who are married before they even start their period; the ones who deserve change because they deserve better lives. It’s about remembering the women who have shaped the world without the world even knowing. It’s about celebrating the women who live with conditions like endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome but remembering that often, their pains weren’t believed. It’s about remembering that most women aren’t believed when they report sexual assault. It’s about encouraging the new generation of women to break through glass ceilings and showing them, they have the power to do so.

Regardless of whether you were born a woman, if that is how you identify you deserve to have people use the correct pronouns and treat you with respect. Regardless of whether you are able to reproduce or whether complications mean it might never be possible or whether you never want children, you deserve to have your value seen as more than just your womb. Regardless of the colour of your skin, you deserve the same rights as anyone else. Regardless of any disability, you deserve to be treated with respect.

Being a woman can be hard. Between inequality and periods and misogyny, it’s a tough world. But women need to support women. Men need to support women and women need to support men, too. Everyone needs to support everyone. Imagine how much of a better place the world would be if we all supported one another in achieving our goals, instead of building up barriers and causing roadblocks.

Regardless of your gender, you have a right to equal pay and equal opportunity.

By Tirion Davies



Hoping For a Career in the Media

It’s not news that I’m hoping to follow a career in the media. Although I currently work for Cardiff University’s newspaper, Gair Rhydd, I don’t think I will pursue a career in newspapers.
But despite my aspirations to become a journalist, it doesn’t mean I can’t hold the media accountable. Recently, more so than ever, I’ve been more aware of the media’s perception of certain celebrities. The way some are attacked and vilified. How some media outlets will do everything in their power to gain a story.
With Taylor Swift’s tell-all documentary hitting Netflix at the end of January and with the recent and sudden death of television presenter Caroline Flack, it’s time we realise that targeting certain celebrities creates a mob mentality – and can often cause serious harm.
Most people by now will likely know I’m a big fan of Taylor Swift. Since her Fearless album, I’ve followed her career and enjoyed her music. I feel I’ve grown up with her and her music and getting more of an inside look into her private life in her documentary has been fascinating. I feel I relate inherently with the way she reacts to how others perceive her. She mentioned how she’d built her entire belief system on being liked. But when the world turned against her, she had to rebuild.
Taylor Swift has been criticised her entire career. Either because of who she’s dating or how she reacts to situations. She’s been scrutinised and clearly it meant she had to think about everything she did in her life. Which seems normal – to a point. It seems she put so much pressure on herself to be ‘perfect’ that she even considers her album Reputation a failure because of its lack of Grammy nominations – despite many, myself included, counting the album as one of her best.
The media has spent many of Swift’s years creating her as a ‘love to hate’ personality. During 2016, following Kanye West’s Famous song debacle, and Kim Kardashian West’s recording, the world quite literally turned on Swift. The media seemed to join in on this mass hatred of Swift, to a point where, when she was dealing with a sexual assault case, numerous media outlets were continuing to criticise her. Even as Taylor Swift was going through one of the hardest things anyone might have to go through, many media outlets were capitalising on her hardship.
I understand that the world has an obsession with celebrity culture, and that celebrities are seen as the ‘elite’. However, to an extent, the media can be perceived to be out for blood. I recently saw a viral video of Selena Gomez leaving a restaurant where she said, ever so timidly, ‘do you mind leaving me alone, please?’ to paparazzi. Their response was simply ‘we got here first, there’ll be more in a second’, but Gomez even mentioned how they were scaring her.
Of course, celebrities put themselves in a position where the world scrutinises them. It’s, unfortunately, part of the deal. However, there is certainly a point where things can go too far. And it often does.
Caroline Flack was charged last December with assaulting her boyfriend. Overnight, her life was upended. I sincerely believe that an abuser should be punished for their actions. However, the vindication Flack received during her assault trial was not the first time Flack was targeted by some media outlets.
As with many female celebrities, everything Caroline Flack did was scrutinised. It feels as though the media were thrilled when her assault charges hit the headlines in December.
Flack’s boyfriend dropped the charges against her, and yet the trial continued on (Flack was meant to stand trial next month). Although I believe assault trials should be carried through even despite charges being dropped – it’s notable that Flack’s trial was not dropped, when sadly, in most cases, the charges being dropped would mean the trial would be over. It seems like Flack’s trial not being dropped is in part due to the fact she was famous.
It seemed unlikely, due to her persona on ITV’s Love Island and BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, that she could be an abuser. And in part, I think the media loved that. It was a story which seemed so unlikely – which meant it would sell.
Again, I’m not saying Caroline Flack’s abuse of her boyfriend ought to be excused. I am however saying that the way her trial and the allegations were handled seemed targeted in a way which was different from how abusers are often perceived by the media.
Of course, it is not entirely the media’s fault. In order to sell papers and gain more clicks to websites, you must make sure your content is what the public will want. If the world is hating a certain celebrity, the media will capitalise on this. It is both the media buying into this mob mentality which is harmful, but also the public’s creation of the mob mentality which can cause severe damage.
Everyone should be accountable for their actions. However, if these celebrities are being held accountable, then so should everyone else, and that includes the media, too.
No one else should feel like ending their life is the only way out of the hounding from social media trolls and the media.

By Tirion Davies



1 2 3 5