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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Result!

I emailed The World Tonight:
I listened to your programme yesterday evening in frustration. Please stop referring to the women killed in Ipswich and Suffolk as 'girls'. I presume this is because they are in prostitution but there is no need for this patronising and offensive term. These are not children, they are women. Please call them that.
.

They replied:
Dear Ms Willitts,

Thank you for your email and your interest in The World Tonight.

There has been a lot of discussion among both our editorial teams and our audiences about the use of language in relation to the murder victims in Ipswich.

As a whole, BBC News decided they should be described as 'women' on first reference and where relevant we also say they worked as 'prostitutes' or were 'sex workers'. 'Girls' is clearly inappropriate and we have reminded reporters and presenters to avoid this description when they have done so.

Thank you again for your email and your interest in The World Tonight.

Yours sincerely,

Alistair Burnett

Editor, The World Tonight

BBC News



With a nod to The Shouty Woman's post, To the Journalists Covering the Ipswich murders.

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Result!

I emailed The World Tonight:
I listened to your programme yesterday evening in frustration. Please stop referring to the women killed in Ipswich and Suffolk as 'girls'. I presume this is because they are in prostitution but there is no need for this patronising and offensive term. These are not children, they are women. Please call them that.
.

They replied:
Dear Ms Willitts,

Thank you for your email and your interest in The World Tonight.

There has been a lot of discussion among both our editorial teams and our audiences about the use of language in relation to the murder victims in Ipswich.

As a whole, BBC News decided they should be described as 'women' on first reference and where relevant we also say they worked as 'prostitutes' or were 'sex workers'. 'Girls' is clearly inappropriate and we have reminded reporters and presenters to avoid this description when they have done so.

Thank you again for your email and your interest in The World Tonight.

Yours sincerely,

Alistair Burnett

Editor, The World Tonight

BBC News



With a nod to The Shouty Woman's post, To the Journalists Covering the Ipswich murders.

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

A few days' catch-up.

You may be able to download most of the Christmas CD I made for last year. It may equally not work, I've no idea. Do let me know.

I've had a stressed and not entirely pleasant week, but with a few high points. Including bumping into, and hearing from, several people who I thought were totally lost from my life years ago. So, so good.

Things to read:
Maggie O'Kane investigates violence against prostitutes - while I don't agree necessarily with her conclusions, she tells us some useful and disturbing facts, figures and information.

Marksman called in to kill Kingston's Pigeons - not for the article itself (fascinating though it is), but for the most fabulous string of comments below. Love it.

Ministers deny it, but the truth is out there my Mary O'Hara, about the cuts to mental health services, and how they have been disproportionately affected.

Things to see:
150 worst album covers, discovered thanks to slow afternoon.


Special mention to Heino, there.

The 29th Carnival of Feminists - many amazing links to follow and new women's writing to discover.

About U - free online courses.

30 essential pieces of free and open software for windows.

National Drunk Blogging Day 'because there's a day for every single thing else'

PornFest let's keep it in the news!

Newly discovered blogs:
The Shouty Woman.

FeminisTIC, a bilingual (French - English) feminist blog.

Comment is Free: Julie Bindel - not entirely strictly a blog, and I don't agree with all she says and does, but some good stuff there.

Dead Men Don't Rape - a blog which has already caused controversy with its very name. Pippi explains the name. My comments on it are there and hopefully there, should that second one get approved.


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Nearest Book Meme

I was tagged by v at reSISTERance:

apparently this works by:

1. Get the nearest book in your reach and turn to page 123.

2. Go to the fifth sentence of that page.

3. Copy the next three sentences, then tag three people.

He spent his days making me tapes and writing love letters. He spent the family's money developing the photographs we had taken and telephoning England long-distance.
At the airport, his big hands pressed against the glass.

from Strangeland by Tracey Emin

I tag: McBeth, Anne and Yehovah Yireh.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Who are the mad ones?

So, the news is that £7 million is going to be cut from the budgets of mental health services in Sheffield. To 'balance the books', of course.

Losing 1/4 of the inpatient beds doesn't sound like a good plan to me. I intend to never be an inpatient on a psychiatric ward again, and I wouldn't wish it on others, but the wards are always chock full and people on 'leave' come back to the ward to find their bed has gone to someone else. Admission over. People who may want or need to be on a ward already can't always get a bed. And by my calculations, a quarter of the beds means one of the four acute wards. Closing one ward within two years, when all four are virtually always overfull, is ridiculous.

And, as if it wasn't ridiculous enough,
Proposals include reducing the number of hospital beds for mental health patients by a quarter, whilst at the same time delaying investment in community-based services intended to avoid expensive treatments such as hospital admissions.


So, get rid of an inpatient ward. THEN get rid of the services which try to help people stay as well as they can, as a way of preventing admissions.

So... fewer beds. Less help to services which help to avoid filling beds.

So... more beds needed. More beds needed.

If they are going to get rid of acute inpatient beds, then the services which can help to provide preventative, or respite, or community day-to-day support (which can help keep people out of hospital) need to be increased, bloody idiots, not cut. Oh, sorry, delayed investment. Hmmm.

And, all of this is happening when the government says it is focussing on mental health as a priority. When the government wants to throw disabled people into poverty, aka get people off disability benefits and into work. With no care and support, right? Yeah, that'll work.

Outcry over £7m mental health cuts
By Kate Lahive
HEALTH chiefs are at loggerheads over plans to slash £7 million off mental health service budgets in Sheffield, it is claimed.
Plans have been drawn up for a series of financial cutbacks over the next two years, which could result in the number of hospital beds for mental health patients being reduced and investment in community services being delayed.
The Liberal Democrats are accusing Sheffield Primary Care Trust, which holds the purse strings, of forcing the savings on Sheffield Care Trust, which delivers mental health services.
Proposals include reducing the number of hospital beds for mental health patients by a quarter, whilst at the same time delaying investment in community-based services intended to avoid expensive treatments such as hospital admissions.
Health bosses say discussions on the finances remain underway.
Councillor Ian Auckland, the Lib Dem's shadow cabinet member for adult services, said: "In targeting mental health services, a vulnerable group is being attacked through cuts imposed by the Labour Government.
"This disagreement between local health bodies is a direct result of the NHS cash crisis brought about by government reforms. These cuts, which are being forced through, will be bad news for local service users and will have a detrimental effect on local services."
Kevan Taylor, chief executive of Sheffield Care Trust, said discussions are continuing.
He said: "This week we have received some very detailed proposals from Sheffield Primary Care Trust regarding their funding proposals for mental health in the year ahead. We are now carefully considering these proposals before making a final response."
In a statement Sheffield Primary Care Trust said it needed to reduce its spending by around five per cent over all its service areas, including mental health, and it has a duty to achieve financial balance.
But it says the reductions in the Trust's budget are in proportion to the overall budgets.



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Thursday, December 14, 2006

You Can Get Anything on Ebay.


I had to take a screen shot of hippie blog when I saw this in my right side column. How fucked up is that?! I'm not a huge fan of ads on my blog but for various reasons they're there at the mo. Clicks get me minute amounts of pennies. Kind of. But buying battered women on ebay? Fuck.


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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Googlebomb Gains?

Maybe this googlebomb business works. Two of my most recent referrers were the first pages of search engine results for Britney Spears crotch shot:

and www.free extreme porn:

You'll notice on the second one that we've got an anti-porn essay in the top ten results as well. Shame that in between hippie blog at #8 and the essay at #10 there's a forum for incest porn.

The link there is of course to my post, not the fucked-up forum. As many links to the porn post as possible will only help.

If you want to see, or join in the porn googlebomb, do it here!

Enough links already?!

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Terror on our streets

From The Guardian
The Ipswich murders have raised disturbing parallels with the Yorkshire Ripper case, writes Julie Bindel

Wednesday December 13, 2006
The Guardian

The news barely registered at first - just a passing story in a local newspaper. The naked body of a woman had been found in a brook in Ipswich, Suffolk, on December 2. Her name was Gemma Adams. She was 25. She had been working as a street prostitute. Few seem to have been too worried by this story - apart from those who loved Adams, of course, and the other women left working on the cold Ipswich streets. Many people still wrongly believe, just as they did during the hunt for Peter Sutcliffe (the so-called Yorkshire Ripper) that men who harm and kill women in prostitution are no danger to "respectable women". The reasoning goes that these killers simply have a pathological hatred for prostitutes, despite the overwhelming evidence that they have a pathological hatred for women in general.

It wasn't until it emerged that a friend of Adams's was also missing then -and that she was a prostitute, working the same beat - that the case made the national press. The friend's name was Tania Nicol, and she was 19. Her body was discovered six days after Adams's, partially naked, in the same stretch of water. On Sunday, as journalists were piecing together the facts from police, and trying to ascertain whether reports of a possible serial killer were mere speculation, the body of a third woman, Anneli Alderton, 24, was discovered in the woods. Today, the post-mortem report concluded she had been strangled. On Monday, police expressed concern regarding two other missing women, Paula Clennell, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29, also street workers. As this piece goes to press the bodies of two more women have been found, and are yet to be identified.

Prostitutes regularly turn up dead, and, when they do, they are lucky if their stories make the local papers. Murder is often regarded as an occupational hazard of street work. We barely notice if the murderer is caught, and few care that prostitute murders have the lowest clear-up rates of any type of homicide - it is estimated that 90 prostitutes have been murdered in the UK in the past 12 years, a figure that hardly dents the national consciousness.

Once it came to light that there was potentially a serial killer stalking the streets, though, the tabloid press started having a field day. Over the past few days front-page headlines have included "Ripper", and "Vice Girls Missing", accompanied by the usual photographs of women in mini-skirts peering into cars on deserted streets.

And when police gave a press conference after Alderton's body was discovered, advising women to "stay off the streets. If you are out alone at night, you are putting yourself in danger", we could have been right back in 1977, when police effectively put a curfew on women during Sutcliffe's killing spree. In issuing that curfew, women in West Yorkshire were made to feel responsible for preventing male violence, just as women in Ipswich are now. "It makes us feel as if we are to blame," one street prostitute in Ipswich noted on the news yesterday, "but it's him who is making the streets dangerous - not us."

During the 1970s and into 1980, Sutcliffe killed 13 women and left seven others for dead. The body of his first victim - 28-year-old Wilma McCann - was discovered in 1975, and, from the beginning, the West Yorkshire police were guilty of dragging their feet and bungling the investigation. Complacent police officers overlooked vital clues, and inadequate technology was used to collate the thousands of interviews and intelligence. Amidst all this, Sutcliffe just kept killing - with hammers, screwdrivers and knives - and police were no further forward by the time the body of his fifth victim, Jayne MacDonald, was discovered in June 1977.

MacDonald's murder was described by police and press as a "tragic mistake". The previous victims had all been prostitutes, and therefore, in the eyes of many, complicit in their own demise. MacDonald was 16 though, and described by police as "respectable and innocent". Victims were duly divided into deserving and not-so-deserving victims.

Five years after the Ripper's first murder, the only solution the police had come up with was to impose a curfew on women. We were urged to "stay indoors" and told, "Do not go out at night unless absolutely necessary, and only if accompanied by a man you know." (Sutcliffe himself gave the same advice to his sister.)

My women's group mocked up police notices and flyposted them all over the city. "Attention all men in West Yorkshire," the notice read, "there is a serial killer on the loose in the area. Out of consideration for the safety of women, please ensure you are indoors by 8pm each evening, so that women can go about their business without the fear you may provoke." For one night only (until the police discovered our scam and the posters were taken down) the Chapeltown area, where many street prostitutes worked, was free of foot punters.

Whether police have learned lessons from the Yorkshire Ripper inquiry remains to be seen. Certainly they seem to be taking each new development extremely seriously. However, some things - and not just the issuing of a curfew on women - remain the same. Police have not thought to advise men not to go out to buy sex in Ipswich, but they should have done, just as the police during the Yorkshire Ripper inquiry should have. Men need to be told that their presence can mask and protect men who go out in order to harm and kill.

Gemma Adams has been described in the press as a "loving daughter" from a good home. Her father says he had "no idea" she was involved in prostitution. And yet the image that will stick in our minds has been shaped by the photograph used in all the newspapers: her police mug shot. Staring blankly at the camera, she looks, in many ways, like a stereotype of a hard-faced prostitute. Recently, Wilma McCann's son Richard said that the photograph used of his mother made her look totally unlike the mother he knew. The photographs used of Sutcliffe's non-prostitute victims look like warm human beings, not stigmatised criminals.

Tania Nichol has also been stereotyped as a "tarty" dresser. The photograph of the same pink, sparkly shoes she was wearing the night she disappeared are the sort many would associate with women in prostitution. Was it necessary to show these? Surely, people are not remembered by passing members of the public by their shoes?

Some men found the Yorkshire Ripper amusing. Outside Leeds football stadium badges were sold with the slogan, "Leeds United - More feared than the Yorkshire Ripper." During one match, when police had hassled Leeds fans to stop taunting their opponents, loud chants of "Ripper 12, police nil" rose up from the crowd. During drinking sessions they would sing, "One Yorkshire Ripper, there's only one Yorkshire Ripper."

How much has changed? On my way to work this morning, two men were chatting at the bus stop, reading the coverage of the Ipswich case. "My sister lives in Ipswich," said one. "Yeah, but don't worry - he's only doing tarts," came the reply.

Just as in the days of the Yorkshire Ripper, there are suggestions that regulated brothels are the answer, so that women do not have to walk the streets. But there is more that could be done to prevent these women from being murdered, such as helping them exit prostitution, and vigorously pursuing men who are violent to street workers, before they kill someone.

Just after his conviction, when Sutcliffe was asked by his brother why he had committed the murders, he said, "I were just trying to clean up the streets, our kid." Whether police in Ipswich will choose to clean up the streets properly - by ridding them of violent men and potential punters - remains to be seen. The echo of the Yorkshire Ripper will continue to surface as long as women such as Adams, Nicol and Alderton are seen as easy prey by the men who want to kill a woman and choose - simply because it is easiest - to pick on a street prostitute.


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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Ipswich.

Two more women have been found dead in Ipswich. This is a fucking emergency.

They haven't confirmed yet that it is the two prostituted women who were reported missing, but it is looking likely.

Where are we? What can we do?

And why are the police telling women not to go out at night. Let's actually put a curfew on men going out at night. Any men out in the dark are suspected of wrongdoing - for a while at least - NOT any women out at night are asking for trouble.

If men can't be trusted to not be mass murderers, let's keep *them* inside, not us.

Angry? Yes.

(yesterday's post).

Murder Police Find Two More Dead - BBC
Two more bodies have been found by police investigating the murders of three prostitutes.

A woodland area around the village of Levington, near Ipswich, in Suffolk has been sealed off by officers.

Police said it is likely the two bodies are those of two missing women - Paula Clennell and Annette Nicholls.

The area is close to where the body of Anneli Alderton was found on Sunday. The bodies of Gemma Adams, and Tania Nicol, were also found near Ipswich.

Suffolk police officers were called to Levington shortly after 1500 GMT on Tuesday.

Ms Clennell, 24, and 29-year-old Ms Nicholls, have not been heard from since Sunday.

Det Ch Supt Stewart Gull said: "We can only fear the worst.

"The natural assumption is that these are the two missing women."

The body of Anneli Alderton, 24, was found in woodland at Nacton on 10 December. She had been strangled.

Ms Adams' body was found on 2 December at Thorpes Hill, Hintlesham, near Ipswich.

Police divers recovered the body of Ms Nicol, 19, six days later from the same stretch of water at Copdock Mill.


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Monday, December 11, 2006

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(NB the most important thing with these things is to reproduce them often and click the links a lot)

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PS Most of the links above go to feminist and anti-pornography websites. Some go to other suitably diverting and apt things. If you are linked to, and would like not to be, please let me know and I'll remove you straight away. However, the more anti-porn links that can be clicked on with these headings, the more of a tiny chance there is that we can steal some of their google rankings. Other fabulous feminists who started this bomb idea did it slightly differently, with more provocative wording on their links. That is probably a more effective way of doing it but it was making me feel sick so I couldn't bring myself to. I have linked to several of these women above, though.

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Women On a Continuum.

Possibly four prostituted women have been murdered in the last few days. Two women were found naked in the same stream, one woman was found in woodland a few miles away, and a fourth woman has not been seen since Saturday.

from the BBC.
Police have appealed to prostitutes to stay off the streets of Ipswich after three women were found dead and a fourth reported missing from the town.

The naked bodies of Gemma Adams, Tania Nicol and a third woman have been found near the town in the past eight days.

Suffolk Police said they were now looking for prostitute Paula Clennell, 24, last seen late on Saturday.

Assistant Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer urged women, particularly in the party season, not to go out at night alone.

'Come home together'

In a direct appeal to prostitutes, she said: "Please stay off the streets, if you are out alone at night you are putting yourself in danger.

"We are coming up to the party season and up to Christmas.

"There will be groups of women going out and I would say you have really got to look after each other, plan how you are going to get there and come home together.

"Whatever happens on your night out, do not leave your friends alone and make sure you get home safely."

Map: Where the bodies were found.

Ms Adams, 25, and Ms Nicol, 19, worked together and went missing from the red light area of Ipswich.

Ms Adams vanished on 15 November and her body was found in a stream at the village of Hintlesham, Suffolk, on 2 December.

Ms Nicol disappeared on 30 October and her body was discovered on Friday in the same stream at Copdock, near Ipswich.

Det Ch Supt Stewart Gull said: "While we can't formally link the discovery of the body at Nacton with the two murders, the facts speak for themselves.

"I do not know who we are looking for. He may be local, he may be from away. We could draw a number of conclusions as to where the bodies have been deposited and found. Anything is possible."

Det Ch Supt Gull said Ms Clennell was reported missing by a friend.

"We know that Ms Clennell uses a number of addresses in Ipswich and we are currently checking these to establish her whereabouts.

"We would urge Paula or anyone who knows of her whereabouts to call us immediately so that we can be reassured that she is safe and well."

This is so horrific, in many ways. And it's all very well the police advising prostituted women to stay in, but women do not do this lightly - they are exploited and abused by pimps, and are in financial desperation. If the women *could* stay in and not be prostituted, I'm sure they would in any case, not least at the moment.

Z heard on the radio that the police warned 'prostitutes and women' to not go out alone at night. What the fuck? The fact that people won't accept that prostitutes are women is one of the ways in which this kind of crime and murder can take place. If we dehumanise (and de-woman-ise?) these women enough then it doesn't matter. They can be murdered and abused and raped and exploited because they are different, they are other. God forbid that we should ever realise that these women are our sisters, mothers, friends, daughters, US.

Just think, if we all saw these women as at one end of a continuum, on which we all are somewhere too. Just how far is the jump from me to her? You to me? It's frighteningly close, and we need to insist that people see this.

We need to make men and women see that it is the very partitioning away of prostituted women away in their minds, that allows their abuse to continue.

Seeing prostituted women as so very different means that the fact that they are purchased and bought and sold, that they are used and abused, that they are exploited, raped, murdered, pimped and battered - is ok. The status quo is fine, dandy, 'oldest fucking profession' and 'it's them exploiting the men really'.

Four women could have been murdered in the last few weeks in Ipswich. Three have been. This is terrifying and desperate.

What can we do? I know I want to do something, something tangible, but I don't know what. But our ongoing goal, always, must be to force people to see beyond their happy, patriarchal blinkers, to see that those women are us. Me, you, them, us.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bits and Bobs and Campaigns and Carnivals and Poles and Photos.

hippie blog has been mentioned in the 12th Carnival Against Sexual Violence. There are some amazing and inspiring links from that post which you should read. Now!

Also, I want to draw your attentionto an anti-lads' mags action from Stormy. I'm definitely going to take part, not least for the sneaky photographing involved ;)




From The Guardian's Northerner:
A Polish restaurant in Sheffield, meanwhile, has been basking in a
kind of fame it could never have expected. The Polonium restaurant
has been doing a roaring trade ever since it became apparent that
Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned with Polonium 210. The Sheffield
Star reported the restaurant's fame in its diary column and has since
watched the story go round the world.

"Polish TV and newspapers want to fly me and my wife Jolanta out there
for interviews," the owner Boguslaw Sidorowicz told the Star. "The
story has really caught people's imagination. It's unfortunate
because someone has died, but the story has made it a very
interesting week for us.

"For years people have been asking me what the name means and I keep
explaining. Now I don't have to. I was surprised by the response at
first - with so many radio and television stations and newspapers
getting in touch. We'd only ever been known locally before.

"I did wonder, when the Polonium poisoning story came out, if the
restaurant would attract any more attention, but I never expected
anything like this! Trade at the restaurant has gone up by 50 per
cent, but we're not having to turn anyone away yet."





I finally gave in my assignment on Night Photography for college this week. If you want to see the six photos I submitted in the end, click here.


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