Axis of Evil J

Galloway’s Staffer, The Serjeant-At-Arms and Release of Parliamentary Data

Yesterday the news broke that IPSA, the Parliamentary regulators, having reviewed two complaints against George Galloway, the former MP for Bradford West, had referred them to the police.

It goes without saying that a referral is neither a conviction nor even a prosecution. But it does mean that Ms. Ali Khan’s complaint cannot be described as trivial, and that Parliament’s watchdog body agreed with her that there was a case the police should look at. Her lawyers, in statements, described ‘thousands of pages’ worth of evidence. Much of this evidence I have seen myself. Ms. Ali-Khan approached me last year and asked me to look at her case and see if I could help her.

As a footnote to the various articles, it was added in that I had also made a complaint which had been referred. The assumption by journalists was that I had complained on the same grounds. That assumption was incorrect.

Tom Newton-Dunn in the Sun broke the story that there was a pre-existing investigation by police into possible data protection offences which is currently being investigated after ‘a third party made a complaint’ in March. That third party was me.

On the same day that I made a complaint to the Metropolitan Police, I made an expenses-based complaint to IPSA against Mr. Galloway. This complaint, IPSA told me yesterday, they have also referred to the police (on the expenses grounds under which I made it).

It has nothing to do with how Mr. Galloway used the time of Ms. Ali Khan when she worked for him.

It has to do with how one of Mr. Galloway’s then parliamentary staff, Mr. Rob Hoveman, used his parliamentary email address and may have used parliamentary equipment and facilities, to seek data about Ms. Ali-Khan from various sources – including her parliamentary data as a House of Commons employee from the Serjeant at Arms, and including her Muslim divorce certificate – and passed that data to the Guardian newspaper.

If indeed this did happen with Mr. Galloway’s knowledge, it would be an appalling misuse of the powers, funds and office of an MP against a private citizen of the UK.

I regarded that as wrong both on grounds of data protection and on grounds of use of expenses.

My complaint to IPSA was rather different than Ms. Ali-Khan’s in that it did not contain thousands of pages of evidence. It contained one page of evidence – the email sent to me by the staffer in question from his then parliamentary email address, which I reproduce here, redacted as to references to third parties to protect their privacy:

 

From: Louise Mensch
Sent: 18 July 2014 16:45
To: HOVEMAN, Rob
Subject: Press Enquiry: Aisha Ali-Khan personal information

Dear Mr. Hoveman,

My name is Louise Mensch, and I am a journalist who writes for the Sun newspaper.

I have heard allegations that you improperly requested personal information on Ms. Ali Khan from the Serjeant-At-Arms, and that you passed on private and personal information about her to the Guardian newspaper.

Can you tell me if either of those allegations are true?

[redacted – questions about other allegations not relevant to this case]

I hope to receive a reply very shortly from you as to your personal actions relating to Ms. Ali-Khan’s data. If I do not receive one, I will send a Freedom of Information request to your office, to IPSA, and to the Serjeant-At-Arms’ office.

I will be most grateful for a contact to whom I should put my questions about Mr. Galloway, and/or if there is a direct and private email by which I can contact Mr. Galloway, or a good time at which I can speak to him directly.

I will give your office until this coming Monday, at 5pm, to respond to me.

Yours sincerely,

Louise Mensch

 

 Email received in reply:

Dear Ms Mensch,

I would not normally respond to any approach from a “Sun journalist” given what an atrocious paper the Sun is. I only have to recall the grotesque insult this paper made to the victims and the families of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster to feel almost physically sick at the thought of dealing with someone from this particularly unpleasant part of the gutter press. Nonetheless, I think it is incumbent on me to correct the tissue of lies and disinformation that you have been fed regarding matters concerning Aisha Ali-Khan.

 

Ms Ali-Khan was employed by George Galloway between April 1st and December 10th 2012 when she was summarily dismissed for gross misconduct. She was suspended from work on October 14th 2014. A police investigation into her activities and those of her lover former Detective Inspector Afiz Khan followed concerns raised in parliament and directly with the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and the Home Secretary. The result of this investigation was the summary dismissal of Afiz Khan from the Metropolitan Police and the conviction of both Afiz Khan and Aisha Ali-Khan for criminal offences. The two will be jointly sentenced on 31st July this year.

 

[redacted as reference to 3rd party]

On October 19th 2012, the Guardian published an article largely based upon the testimony of Aisha Ali-Khan. We raised objection to the bias in this and another article published on 15thOctober by the same journalist. In response to this complaint we received a reply from the then Managing Editor of the Guardian, Elisabeth Ribbans. In that response reference was made to the Guardian journalist having been shown information contained in Aisha Ali-Khan’s Security Vetting Questionnaire which Aisha Ali-Khan had been obliged to complete in order to receive her security pass giving her access to the parliamentary estate.

 

The specific claim made by Ms Ribbans was that the SVQ contained details of Afiz Khan as her spouse. Subsequently it was established that an Islamic but not civil marriage between Aisha Ali-Khan and Afiz Khan in 2009 had been followed by an Islamic divorce in 2010 confirmed by a Sharia Council. In the light of this information, I raised with Serjeant at Arms concerns about aspects of the security vetting of Ms Ali-Khan. Serjeant at Arms wrote back to me saying that the SVQ contained no reference to a serving police officer, from which I concluded that there was a prima facie contradiction between what Ms Ribbans had written to us in 2012 and the information provided to me by Serjeant at Arms in 2014. Naturally I raised this apparent contradiction with the Readers’ Editor at the Guardian, who is, for your information, a kind of Guardian ombudsman. His investigations into this matter are currently ongoing, but as a Sun journalist, you will no doubt be aware of just how serious a misdemeanour it would be for a journalist to fail to check the veracity and the credibility of a source properly, and even worse give false information regarding the checking of the veracity and credibility of a source, when false information could cost a newspaper very dearly.

 

As regards any potential breach of the Data Protection Act, I would say this. The divorce certificate confirmed by Sharia Council [redacted for a reference to a third party ]are documents in the public domain not covered either by the Data Protection Act or legal privilege. Serjeant at Arms sought advice from Speaker’s counsel before responding to me. I cannot imagine that any breach of the Data Protection Act would have occurred in such circumstances. I raised my concerns in the light of the information provided by Serjeant at Arms privately and in confidence to the Guardian Readers’ Editor. I am extremely surprised that any legitimate party to my exchanges with the Guardian Readers’ Editor would then have shared any or all of that information with the likes of a “Sun journalist”.

[redacted]

I trust this will correct some of the misinformation and misrepresentation to which you have been subject and ensure that you do not waste any more of your or my time on this particularly fruitless line of enquiry. As for other matters of which I have no knowledge but which relate to George Galloway and the Respect Party, I would advise you email your questions to, respectively, george.galloway.mp@parliament.uk in the former case and contact@respectparty.org in the latter.

Yours sincerely,

Rob Hoveman

 

 

Ms. Ali Khan provided me with a copy of her SVQ form. It is absolutely clear on the form that the data an employee provides thereon can only be used for parliamentary purposes. This is written on the form itself. I am unsure about the legality of reproducing a parliamentary data form, even a blank one, so at this stage I am not going to do so. However, that warning is written on the form. I do not believe that when the Serjeant-At-Arms sought advice from Speaker’s Counsel they knew that the intention was to give this data to a newspaper. Be that as it may, I nonetheless believe this was not proper and hence my twin complaints.

As to whether this Muslim woman’s private religious documentation was covered by the Data Protection Act, I am not sure. That it would be improper to use parliamentary time and resources to seek this out on a private citizen and pass it to a newspaper, I most certainly believe. Eagle-eyed readers will note that that is not the first time allies of Mr. Galloway have used a Muslim woman’s religious documentation against her.

Clearly, I am stating here that I believe expenses were wrongly used and data was wrongly passed on. It is for the police to decide if they agree that is so. What I can confirm is that the police did decide to investigate my data protection complaint of March 25, and that IPSA did refer my expenses complaint, that of improper use of staff time of this staffer on Ms. Ali Khan, on separate grounds to the Met, yesterday.

I should say that when I put various allegations to Mr. Galloway directly, his lawyers responded to me. One of my questions was if he knew of or approved of the actions of his staffer in the matter of Aisha Ali Khan’s information. Although his lawyers answered several of my questions, they declined to answer this one either to confirm or to deny it.

I am grateful to IPSA for looking into my expenses complaint and referring it to the Metropolitan Police. Despite Mr. Galloway describing me as part of a “New York-Tel Aviv axis of evil,” I will not be deterred in my reporting.

(as the matter concerns one ongoing police investigation, and possibly another should the Met Police decide to take up IPSA’s expenses referral, I am closing comments on the blog today).

Asian Grooming Gangs – where are all the other men?

 

don sutherland1In my Sun column yesterday I wrote in praise of Judge Peter Rook QC, a hero to women and children; a brave judge who ripped up the repellently low sentencing guidelines set by the Sentencing Council and threw them out.

Any serious advocate for sentences which reflect the real harm child abuse and gang rape does should read his sentencing remarks. I warn you now that they are unsparing in terms of detail on what was done to the victims, including when they were 12 and 13 years old.

http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Judgments/sentencing-remarks-hhj-peter-rookqc-r-v-dogar-others.pdf

It takes a lot of guts for a judge to tear up the loathsomely small penalties that the Sentencing Council think should be paid for gang rape of children. Be in no doubt that there is tremendous pressure on judges to pass light sentences, because jail capacity is full to overflowing. (the political answer is twofold – to remove custodial sentences where they are not necessary and to build more prisons. This is a capital infrastructure project that Osborne could usefully spend on; it provides a great many jobs, it means humane modern prison conditions, and it reassures the public who are crying out at timid sentencing).

His Honour Peter Rook QC had the necessary guts. He jailed these inhuman beasts for life, with minimum terms of 20 and 17 years etc. At the end of the blog I will excerpt the legalese with which he did true justice from the bench – the first time I can ever remember that gang rape received an appropriate sentence. God bless this judge; he has struck a blow against rape and child rape and torture that Parliament did not want and the judicial establishment did not want.

But let’s turn away from the brave determination of the man on the bench and on to the shabby cowardice of local police, local social services, and Oxfordshire county council.

We know how these children were ignored. WARNING – I am about to quote from the sentencing remarks of Judge Peter Rook to ask this question:

Why are only seven men in court? Why do the police, and Oxfordshire social services and council, not hunt down the hundreds of men who raped these little girls? Why have the phones and computers not been seized, why are the phone bills not being handed over by the mobile phone providers and pored over by analysts and detectives? WHERE ARE THE OTHER RAPISTS?

If we say “we jailed the ringleaders, job done” are we saying it is OK for a rapist of a twelve year old to walk away? It’s OK to receive a video of a little girl being gang-raped, get in your car and drive hundreds of miles to rape her yourself?

Thames Valley Police, WHERE ARE THE OTHER RAPISTS?

Saying “you let these little girls down” doesn’t being to cover it. You essentially colluded in their rape, trafficking and torture.

Let us look at the judge’s remarks on the other rapists:

“From the time when EF was 13 you started selling her to other men for sex. To use her words this happened “loads of times” over the next few years. Sometimes you would take photos presumably to entice further customers. Clearly it was a commercial operation. You would actually ask customers whether they were satisfied.”

Photos of a 13 year old girl. These photos were emailed, were texted. The men had phones and computers. WHY ARE THE RECIPIENTS NOT BEING HUNTED DOWN?

“There came at time before she (GH) was 13 that both of you Mohammed and Bassam Karrar started to bring strangers to have sex with her…many times…she had to endure depraved sexual demands…you, Mohammed, made videos…”

To whom were these videos sent? WHERE ARE THE OTHER MEN, RAPING A TWELVE YEAR OLD GIRL, TORTURING HER AND FILMING IT?

“Sometimes there were three or four men…Sometimes as many as nine or ten. GH thought that Bassam was taking lots of phone calls in relation to the Wycombe trips”

WHERE ARE THE PHONE RECORDS? WHY ISN’T EVERY ONE OF THOSE BASTARD RAPISTS BEING INTERROGATED BY THE POLICE?

Two men were convicted at the same time as the five ringleaders who were jailed for life; just two. The names of the pigs are Assad Hussein and Zeeshan Ahmed. For their sexual offences against the victims they were jailed for seven years apiece.

Not one of the men who raped the children in High Wycombe. Paddington Station, Shotover Woods, etc, who paid money to torture and rape them, has been arrested.

No social worker has been sacked. The chief constable refuses to resign. So does the chief executive of Oxfordshire county council.

Where are the rapists? Where are the “customers”? Where is justice? WHEN WILL THE SYSTEM SAY EVERY RAPE COUNTS?

How Hillary Can Have the Last Laugh

Image

If Hillary Clinton wins the Presidency, it’s going to be a case of Barack Who?

Hillary Clinton joined Twitter yesterday in a moment of social media fabulosity that had me thinking @CoryBooker should watch his back.

First, there was the unadulterated awesomeness of her Twitter bio.

“Wife, mom, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD…”

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. The humour “hair icon, pantsuit aficionado” – the CV “lawyer, women & kids advocate, US Senator, SecState” the humanizing… “Wife, mom” – special props for putting “wife” before “mom” – the history… “lawyer, FLOAR, FLOTUS…” FLOAR is such a nice touch… First Lady of Arkansas… reminding us she’s been in the game a long time, some props to Bill’s home state, deprived and unglamorous. It’s the global victrix’s “Jenny from the Block” moment. “Dog owner” – well, if you hate Hillary you just hate puppies. And the glorious ending, “…TBD…” To be determined.

You know what this is? This is Daily Show, Stephen Colbert politics. And I’m not really even using that as a metaphor. So many Americans get their only politicial fix from those shows that she is heading like an exocet missile for the demographic that matters.

And now let’s move on to the avi. And her first tweet. Which was:

Thanks for the inspiration @ASmith83 & @Sllambe – I’ll take it from here… #tweetsfromhillary

This is a reference to the Texts from Hillary tumblr, the funniest political meme in years. She used their main photo as her Twitter avatar. She checks them for inspiration. She @s them. One of the creators responded with the perfect Onion-esque “Area Tweeter Doesn’t Know What To Do With Himself.”

Why does any of this matter? Well, she’s definitely running. I said as much in my Sun on Sunday column months ago after meeting fundraisers who had been at her house discussing the PAC. Secondly, it shows how she is running. She has used her time away from politics to become a kind of legend. Obama graciously gave her clout, but she kept her distance; when Susan Rice was messing up over Benghazi Clinton just stayed quiet.

I know about the Benghazi scandal; it will be old news in 2016. Old, old news. Attempts to revive it by the GOP will have voters rolling their eyes. Unfair? Sure. But there’s no crying in baseball.

Clinton is using humour and feminism “women & kids advocate, glass ceiling cracker” to show the authentic her; to take away any age-related beefs, because her humour makes her seem the most on-it, hippest candidate around; and to pitch to women, who defeated Mitt Romney en bloc.

She’s going for youth. Traditionally a worthless vote. Not last election. Not this election. And she’s going for women. “Glass ceiling cracker, pantsuit aficionado, TBD.”

I’m dead serious about the Daily Show pitching. When my stepdaughter arrived at a university in the key swing state of Ohio last autumn, they were registering the students to vote the same day they arrived. Youth turned out for Obama last election. First election it has ever really shown up. And that is a sea-change in the electoral mathematics.

I think she will run and I think she will win. And it would be very very hard not to vote for her. Even though I support Governor Christie, and he is the best the GOP has got, running against a woman, and one as popular and competent as Hillary, is a tough, tough battle.

If Clinton wins, she will be the most successful woman in history. Barack Obama slaughtered her in a primary that she was supposed to win at a canter, but none of that will matter if Hillary Clinton becomes the first woman President. His achievement would then remain historical, and vital, but it would be dwarfed by that of a woman becoming the most powerful person alive for the first time in history. Obama’s second term is being horribly tarnished right now, with the IRS, AP, PRISM, and Benghazi scandals, with Eric Holder, and the costs of Obamacare kicking in. When Bill Clinton took the stage for Obama at the DNC during the Presidential campaign he was greeted with more enthusiasm than Obama himself. And rightly so; as good as Obama is, Clinton is galactic distances better.

Hillary lost the primary, the Presidency, and got the consolation prize of State. But if she wins in 2016, she will have the last laugh. It will be her face, and not Obama’s, that defines the modern era, progress, and liberation. And she has the chance to do it right, and to achieve great and centrist things for America, and for women’s rights across the globe. And on the latter point, I believe she’s enough of a feminist to actually do that; to hold the Saudis and others much more accountable.

And even though Michelle Obama kicks major league ass, Bill Clinton will be a much, much cooler First Gentleman.

You go girl.

photo by SSkennel

The Campaign to Ban Rape Porn is Far Too Broadly Drawn

Image

I have been campaigning, and will continue to do so, for the Sentencing Council and the law to reflect the severity of possessing and distributing child rape images.

Women must also demand far tougher sentencing guidelines on rape and trafficking into rape.

As a reminder, to own large numbers of images of children being sadistically tortured or forced into bestiality, the starting point is one year.

For many women gang-raped daily in brothels in the most serious case, the traffickers got eight years. Out in four.

That’s the landscape on which British law operates, and which we must rise against.

However, over the last week or so campaigners I normally support and whose natural ally I am have launched a petition which makes me nervous and which I could not, in conscience, sign.

They want to ban all depictions of rape in acted pornography.

There is already a requirement in law that such depictions be obviously staged with “production values”. If that sounds comical, it isn’t – it’s designed to catch youtube videos of women being actually raped and assaulted.

Campaigners say they want to prevent or ban the following things; “extreme” rape scenarios featuring torture, pretend incest scenarios, scenarios where actresses who are eighteen are dressed or digitally altered to look far younger.

I think there is a case for banning at least the latter two categories. The law in Britain already makes it illegal to own digitised or altered or traced or drawn images of child rape/abuse (distinguishing itself from the US). This is because of the harm that could arise to children by feeding such fantasies. On the same basis, actresses pretending to be far younger or in incest scenarios are feeding the precisely same harm as traced or altered images of child rape or abuse. So far, an important addition to the law.

But to ban all images of rape itself goes far too far.

Campaigners already say that art or fantasy depictions in movies, books etc would be exempt. Consider many scenes from “Rome” for example. If classified by the BBFC they are not porn.

However, campaigners against rape – which I hope we all are – MUST be aware of free speech and where the line of incitement is truly drawn.

Not too long ago, a most dignified man, the barrister Simon Walsh, 50, was put through a disgraceful obscenity trial for owning pictures of violent pornography consenually taken, including “fisting”. He was cleared, but not before public humiliation at having his private life and sexuality exposed.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/aug/08/boris-johnson-aide-extreme-pornography-cleared

This is not a scenario feminists should campaign for as it affects other men and women. Pornography of rape that is clearly dramatized, and consensually made and shot, and does not involve imagery of children or incest, is not necessarily an incitement to actual rape. This campaign would criminalise all those indulging in consensual BDSM pornography. Yes this is embarassing to blog and talk about, but it is a lot better than having somebody like Mr. Hughes go through the dreadful national humiliation of his pornography trial.

Rape fantasy is an incredibly common female fantasy. It is VITAL that we distinguish this fantasy from rape apology, rape excuse, or anything to do with real rape. Psychologists have various explanations for the prevalence of rape fantasy in women, from its being a way for strong women to surrender control to the simpler variant of the woman who wishes to think of herself as a quote-unquote good girl, a virtuous woman, and in her dreams is simply overpowered so that sexual activity is not “her fault” and her “virtue” remains intact. In these fantasies the rapist looks like Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones and the woman finds it an enjoyable experience – it could not be more different from supporting or wishing for an actual rape in real life. Women are not stupid, and they can draw a perfectly clear distinction between fantasy and reality. The women who purchased 50 Shades of Grey – and no, I am not one of them – did not really want to be hurt by an aging billionaire.

It is important that in protecting women and children we are quite clear about what actual rape is and what incitement to hurt children is. Legislation to criminalise a community of fetishists is not right. I may not share their fetish nor am I in the same boat as Mr. Hughes, but adding ordinary, filmed, and consensually dramatised rape scenes – even involving, as in his case, some consensually undertaken depictions of pain – the government should NOT ban it, and as a feminist and one who will be concentrating on rape sentencing and the judges and quangoes who minimise it, I cannot support the campaign as it is written. It is illiberal and wrong and tramples on sexual rights.

photo by Rocketeer

Why doesn’t UK law understand rape and child abuse?

Image

Following my blog on child rape, and multiple gang rapes in brothels being labeled “prostitution”, and multiple rapes within the home being labelled “forced marriage”, I wanted to show why all of this matters in practice.

It’s not just some PC blog about nomenclature. It’s about the fact that in the UK, rape and sexual abuse is happening every day and literally being ignored by the law.

The news in Britain today is of a teacher who has been given a police caution for viewing 143 sexually abusive images of children on his computer. A civil service panel, independent of politicians, has decided he will be allowed to return to teaching. Here is the story:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jun/06/teacher-child-images-schools-panel

The focus of most news coverage is why the “independent panel” said this man can work again in schools. I hate almost all quangos; I believe politicians should be in charge whenever possible, and/or positions should be elected. You can fire your MP or councillor, but not a quango. This panel is unaccountable to anyone.

But I don’t want to digress. Politicians are saying they will attempt to intervene, but what happens to this individual child abuser is not as important as demanding a change in the law.

He received a police caution, for:

1. Visiting a website and viewing six images of child abuse

2. Accessing, downloading and viewing 143 sexually abusive pictures of children at the lowest end of the scale [the COPINE scale, which means pictures of children viewed for sexual gratification]

3. Having a further 46 images of children being sexually abused by having nude or underwear photographs taken of them secretly in places they are supposed to be safe, such as playgrounds or nurseries

For all of this, the abuser receives a police caution. Of course there are gradations in the severity of child sexual abuse, just as there are aggravating factors to a crime as horrific as rape. Gang rape or twenty instances of rape are even worse than one instance of rape. There are gradations to any crime. It is even worse to murder twenty people than one person, it is even worse to torture a person before murdering them than to murder them.That does not mean, however, that the initial crime is made less severe because there are even worse gradations of it.

Here are the CPS’s gradations of abusive images:

Level one: Images of erotic posing, with no sexual activity;

Level two: Non-penetrative sexual activities between children, or solo masturbation by a child;

Level three: Non-penetrative sexual activity between adults and children;

Level four: Penetrative sexual activity involving a child or children, or both children and adults;

Level five: Sadism or involving the penetration of, or by, an animal.”

Here are the sentencing guidelines. Prepare to be very shocked.

http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/s_to_u/sentencing_manual/indecent_images_of_children/

I understand if you cannot bring yourself to read the insanely low sentences mandated for owning child abuse pictures, so here is just a single example:

“Type/nature of activity: Possession of a large quantity of level 4 or 5 material for personal use only Large number of level 3 images shown or distributed  

Starting points: 12 months custody  
Sentencing ranges: 26 weeks – 2 years custody”

The British public is often being accused of being in a “paedo panic” or of Brass-Eye type hysteria being whipped up where no child abuse exists. This may be true. But these links I am posting are not tabloid exaggeration. They are Crown Prosecution Services sentencing guidelines.

Children are abused and tormented for photographs and films because there is a market for those photographs and films. Any man (and the occasional woman) who deliberately, and for gratification, views one of these images is guilty of the abuse in the image.

There are real, actual children in these images. At present, for owning a “large number” of images sadistic, penetrative rape of children by adults and animals, the Crown thinks you should get a year in jail. With good behavior, out in six months. Top sentence, two years. Out in one.

What the hell?

For viewing and owning pictures of children viewed abusively, this child abuser, who fully admitted they were child abuse pictures, received a caution. A caution. For abusing 143 children, or a smaller number of children abused 143 times when photos, like swimwear, are grouped in the context of gratification. A police caution. And the right to go back to his job.

I would like you, the reader, to try to imaging one hundred and forty three children. Is that, for example, half the children in your local village primary school? Every child in your local nursery school? This man abused that many children by creating a market for abusive photos of them, and he gets a caution.

In my more serious example, you can actually distribute large numbers of  Level Three images of children being sexually abused by adults (note terminology “sexual activity between children and adults” – there is no such thing, there is “non-penetrative sexual abuse of children by adults” – and your maximum sentence is two years. Out in one.

Now let’s look at sentencing for the ongoing gang-rape of women trafficked into brothels (CPS language – “forced to “work as prostitutes” ie to be daily gang-raped by men).

http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/h_to_k/human_trafficking_and_smuggling/#a09

Here is their sentencing guideline for the most serious cases.

“The following cases provide guidelines on sentencing and reflect the degree of coercion, force and violence used in the exploitation of their victims:

R v Plakici [2005] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 19, Attorney General’s Reference (No 6 of 2004) dealt with a series of individual offences that amounted to an extremely serious case of trafficking. The offender had arranged for the illegal entry of women and young girls into this country in circumstances that involved both deception and coercion and forced them to work as prostitutes. Counts of illegal entry attracted sentences of 5 years, of living on immoral earning 5 years, of kidnapping 10 years, and of incitement to rape, 8 years. A total sentence of 23 years was imposed.”

Right, so, what we have here are human traffickers who kidnapped girls and women and had them raped again and again, every day, in their brothels. Try to imagine being one of those girls. Being raped perhaps ten times a day. Every day. Year in, year out. Knowing other women are suffering as you are suffering.

“Who’s counting?” says the British justice system. For all of those rapes together, the convicted gang rapist gets…. eight years.

This is the reality of rape and child sexual abuse and rape in the UK today. We don’t have a “pedo panic” we have institutionlised, state-sanctioned blind eyes turned to horrors Stephen King would shy about describing. We have joke sentences for the worst crimes imaginable against the bodies and dignity of women and children. Don’t settle for “Level One images”. Fuck your clinical terminology. Those are actual children being actually abused. A thousand rapes deserves life in prison, no parole.

When will get judges and politicians who see rape for what it is? Women must rise and demand a change in the law.

My Top Ten Rock Memories: (Rock Icon Saturday June 1, Sky Arts, 8pm)

brian car

So tomorrow night on Sky Arts, 8pm, I’m coming out of the closet as a fully-fledged metal head.

This shot is of me getting into a race car with Brian – one he’d reassuringly told me was called “The Widowmaker” right before I got inside. I’m trying not to hyperventilate.

You haven’t lived til you’ve been fighting the G-forces on a Florida racetrack with your life in the hands of Newcastle’s biggest megastar.

So to celebrate, my top ten memories in rock (that I’m prepared to print, anyway)….. click post to read!

Read More

Reality based feminism?

Image

This blog was inspired by two of my favourite feminist opponents on Twitter, @pennyred (the journalist Laurie Penny of the New Statesman and the Guardian) and @jonanamary, the activist, who was so delighted by my comment about her that she “raises intersectional bollocks to an art form” that she put it in her Twitter bio.

There has been lots of debate about Conservative feminism but I want to talk about the way that most of the modern feminist movement, at least on line, appears to be wasting most of its time in frenzied internal debate about absolutely nothing, and in the process, solving absolutely nothing. It has come to be alien to the vast majority of women, who do not self-identify as feminists, and yet who, if asked, would support feminist goals.

“Intersectional bollocks”, in other words. “Check your privilege.” “Cis”. “Are white middle class stories the only ones worth telling?” and so on and so forth. Notable from their absence from these debates about terminology and frame of reference are male feminists; at some point even the most left-wing and right-on guy just tunes out. We have the unfruitful spectacle of some of the most left-wing commentators in Britain wondering if they are being left-wing enough, or if their background even gives them the right to make an argument. “Check your privilege”, for example, is a profoundly stupid trope that states that only those with personal experience of something should comment, or that if a person is making an argument, they should immediately give way if their view is contradicted by somebody with a different life story. It is hard to imagine a more dishonest intellectual position than “check your privilege”, yet daily I see intelligent women who should know better embracing it.

Laurie Penny is an absolutely prime example; she does it all the time. The other day on Twitter she told people not to rise to what she felt was a race-baiting article by Rod Liddle in the Spectator. She was quite right. Everybody with a blog knows what “don’t feed the trolls” means. However, she was angrily contradicted by the black comedian @AvaVidal who told her that people of colour were striking back and they should rise to it. Instead of defending her position, Penny caved, recanted, and commented mournfully that “having your privilege checked” was painful. Not for a minute did she consider that another person of colour might have agreed that you shouldn’t feed the trolls. Or that she was just as entitled to her opinion as her interlocutor. No, the woman debating with her was a woman of colour and therefore, despite being clearly and obviously correct, Penny had to back down.

@jonanamary (to give an example I’m just pulling directly out of her twitter stream) approvingly RTed an article by one Shelly Asquith, objecting to mockery of the racist EDL (English Defence League) thusly:

What #EDL really represent:
Beer bellies
Bad tattoos
Thuggery
Tacky ‘designer’ clothing”
We mustn’t do this, she says, because it is a class-based insult. Now we must watch how we insult racists. Never mind that a) the insult is a bang-on accurate description of EDL members and b) she is effectively saying that all of the above epithets are somehow working class, which seems more classist to me than the purported original insult.
 Jonanamary took issue with an early unfashionista blog over on Jux in which I said in passing that “vertical stripes don’t make you look thinner, jogging on the treadmill for half an hour five times a week makes you look thinner.” Why would I want to look thinner? This was fattist. Why should anybody want to have a healthy body weight? How dare I say that fashion models aren’t “normal women”. What about those women who are just naturally the size of spaghetti sticks? Anyway, what are normal curves? This is cis-ist to transsexual women who don’t have wombs…
At this point, I had drifted off into Monty Python’s Life of Brian, where Stan and Judith are debating whether they should stick up for Stan’s “right to have babies” even though he can’t have babies.
And that is what the modern feminist movement has become. Full of intersectionality, debates about middle-class privilege, hand-wringing over a good education (this is again “privilege” and not well deserved success), and otherwise intelligent women backing out of debates and sitting around frenziedly checking their privilege.
It does nothing. It accomplishes nothing. It changes nothing.
American feminism gets organised. It sees where power lies, and it mobilises to achieve it. It gets its candidates elected. Feminism here is about running for office, founding a company, becoming COO of Facebook or Yahoo. It is power feminism that realises that actual empowerment for women means getting more money, since money and liberty often equate, and being able to legislate or influence. Hillary Clinton shifted from First Lady to Senator. Before that she was a powerful lawyer. Before that she went to Yale. Today’s keyboard valkyries would be sneering at the graduates of Yale and asking them to take a long hard look at their privilege before offering an opinion to somebody not as high-achieving as they are.
Ultra-feminism’s mournful obsession with words and categories is making the movement a joke. In my piece below about What Men Want: Identity  I pointed out that Penny’s recent article on how masculinity oppresses men (yes really) had come up with the eye-popping “myth of the male breadwinner”, when men have been the primary breadwinners in all cultures at all times in history. Today, we must apparently check not only our privilege, but also reality, at the door. Men are not providers and are oppressed by the idea of providing, we would like to thank Big Brother for the increase in the chocolate ration and we have always been at war with Eurasia.
And by the way, reality-based feminism – where you achieve, try to earn lots of money, run for office, campaign for measurable goals like defeating Sen. Todd Akin – is not a province of Conservative feminism alone. When I think of a true feminist of the left that I admire I think of Stella Creasy MP and her campaign against payday loans. She’s doing something. She ran for office. She got involved in the Labour party. She matters immensely. She will change things.
This is not to say I don’t admire the two women I’ve singled out – I do, because they both write very well. But for now, they and all those like them leave the impression of a feminist version of Monty Python’s splinter groups – the Judean People’s Front screeching “Splitters!” at the People’s Front of Judea.
The picture at the top is of me at school aged 14. Big glasses, nerdy, feminist, ambitious, idolising Thatcher, and determined to be famous, to be an author, and to be rich. I was at private school my parents couldn’t really afford because I bust my ass and won a 100% academic scholarship. I always believed in myself and I had and have no intention of checking my privilege for anyone. I earned it. I hope the next generation of young women feel the same.