Wednesday, December 27, 2006


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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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 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


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

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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Monday, November 27, 2006

Recipe Exchange.

This is a recipe exchange. Here's the deal. You post a comment to this entry, with a recipe for me. Ideally something simple, cheap and very tasty. You also include your blog URL in the comment, then reproduce this text in your blog and I will reply to your post with a recipe also.

Have fun, hope you get some great recipes!

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Misjudging Rape

Launch of: Misjudging rape

A Dossier of how adjudicators (now known as immigration judges)
flout international law and even their own guidelines when they consider the asylum claims of women and girls seeking safety and protection from rape.

Tuesday 5 Dec 2006 6.30pm

Hosted by Ian Macdonald QC

at Garden Court Chambers

57-60 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2 Nearest tube: Holborn

Speakers include:

Cristel Amiss, Black Women’s Rape Action Project

Sian Evans, Women Against Rape

Anver Jeevanjee, Member Asylum & Immigration Appeals Tribunal 1983-2004

Jovanka Savic, Sutovic Hartigan Solicitors

Louise Hooper, barrister, Garden Court Chambers

Sarah Kajumba, All African Women’s Group

In the UK, where at least 50% of women seeking asylum are victims of sexual violence[1], rape survivors face many obstacles in demonstrating how their claims for asylum relate to the Refugee Convention and why they should therefore be granted protection. The Asylum Gender Guidelines, published in 2000 by Immigration Appellate Authority (now the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal) are one of few official tools laying out how women’s claims should be treated at appeals. The Guidelines aim to: ”ensure that the procedures used do not prejudice women asylum seekers or make it more difficult for them to present their asylum claims.”

Yet when Black Women’s Rape Action Project (BWRAP) and Women Against Rape (WAR) analysed over 60 adjudicators’ rulings they found that:

· Few Adjudicators even referred to the Guidelines.

· Women raped by soldiers were told the rape they suffered was “simple dreadful lust” and therefore not persecution.

· Rape survivors told that it would be safe for them to return to their country of origin and live thousands of miles away from their homes.

· Women who did not report rape immediately accused of reporting in order to “enhance a fabricated asylum claim.”

· The testimony of “a pretty young woman” dismissed as not credible because she did not report rape in her country of origin.

· A woman detained under the fast track system told that three days was “ample time” to find a lawyer and her case dismissed because it was “riddled with discrepancies.”

· In identikit rulings, two women were told by the same judge: “Rape is a horrific crime which should not be utilised lightly merely to bolster an asylum claim.”

· Where the Guidelines were adherred to women reported feeling that they had a fairer hearing.


Hundreds of women come to BWRAP and WAR having been turned down, not because they don’t have compelling evidence of rape and other torture but because hostility, discrimination, disbelief, bullying and indifference meant they never had the chance to speak about what they suffered OR because legal aid cuts mean they were left with poor (or even no) legal representation and no expert or corroborative evidence was gathered to support their claim. This is especially true for cases assessed under the fast-track.[2]

Ensuring justice for women at Tribunal hearings is essential because, as appeal rights have been eroded, it is usually the last chance for a woman to describe why she was forced to flee. If adjudicators get their decisions wrong, vulnerable and traumatised women, children and men are sent back to face further rape and even death. Demanding adherence to the Guidelines and legal accountability from adjudicators, who frequently make arbitrary and unjust decisions, is therefore crucial to rape survivors getting protection and justice.

At a time when research into gender and asylum is proliferating but practical help and assistance continues to be scarce, this Dossier breaks new ground. By publicizing the Guidelines and therefore what women should be entitled to, it helps inform women about their rights and what can be done when preparing an appeal.

Other publications include:

Asylum from Rape petition published by BWRAP Rights & Information Sheet for survivors of rape seeking asylum in the UK, WAR

For more information:

Black Women's Rape Action Project
Women Against Rape
Tel: 0207 482 2496 or 07958 152171; Fax: 0207 209 4751


[1] Legal Action for Women (Dec 2005) found that 70% of women detained in Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre had been victims of rape or other sexual violence.

[2] Where those who claim asylum are detained from when they enter the UK on the basis that their case is “straightforward” and capable of being decided quickly.

Sheffield Asylum Seeker Action
Destitute Asylum Seekers: At 2pm on Wed 6 December, the Liberal Democrats will put a motion to full Council expressing concern at the growing number of destitute asylum seekers in our city and calling on the Government to introduce legislation to enable asylum seekers to work and support themselves and the economy. This follows a letter along these lines from Church Leaders to all party leaders on the Council. Please join the lobby in the Gallery of the Council Chamber. Join up with Shaun Smith and other colleagues inside Sheffield Town Hall entrance at 1.45pm.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Friday, November 10, 2006

"I tend to think that if God wanted us to believe in him, he'd exist"

Linda Smith.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

I'm not ok.

The horrible realisation that in only 3 weeks time, it will be the first anniversary of my Dad's death.

It's a real, physical pain in my chest and it hurts like nothing else.

I read last night in a novel that the only things humans need to survive are water and hope. I think when the doctors told Dad that they couldn't make him better, his hope evaporated and that was that. I think that's why it was so much quicker than anyone had thought.

I miss him always. I'm doing a photography course, using his camera. It makes me feel closer to him, but it adds to the pain when each and every week there are more things that I need to tell him. Snippets of info and tips and facts. Same with my OU short course. There's so much in there that he'd love to know. And that I can't ever tell him.

I don't know how many times a day I scream inside my head, 'I want him back'. And I do. I cry so often, nearly always alone, and missing him seems to get bigger the longer it is since I saw him.

I still don't know how to cope with this. I can't believe it's so close to a year on. And that this is it, forever.

It really hurts.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

To the Woman in the Opticians

who made me feel shit.

You might have been feeling all superior in your pretty, spot-free thinness, but that is no reason to make me feel utterly dreadful about how I was looking.

Your job is to sell glasses, and yet you decided instead to tell me how little each of the pairs I tried suited me, resulting in me not only not buying any, but also in me feeling unpresentable to the point of wanting to run and hide.

It wasn't your fault that the day I had a load of new spots coincided with my opticians appointment where I would have to look closely in a mirror a lot, to try on new frames. But it was your fault that your whole attitude and reaction to everything I tried on - even the ones I told you I liked! - made me feel horrible.

Please don't do that again. To anyone.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Alas, a Bastard.

So alas, a blog (I won't do him the dignity of providing a link), a supposedly pro-feminist male, has sold out to pornographers. Great.

See Fuckery and Betrayal, Alas, a sell-out, The Revolution will be Commodified, No, really, I'm a feminist, Alas, an eruption, alas, a blog, sold out to pimp my ride and many, many, many more.

You probably don't want to see what he has done, but if you do an example is here. Needless to say, he has been 'de-linked' from my right sidebar. I don't want to be partial to funding any of this shit by links from hippie blog.

What is it they call men who profit from women's sexual exploitation? Oh yeah, a pimp.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Photo Friday: Thin.

Thin rays of light beamed through the narrow slats of shutters.

Photo Friday: Thin

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Quiet Just Now...

My Quiet Just Now list in my blog roll to the right was getting ridiculously long. It's where I list blogs I have once read and loved, but which closed or stopped or faded or disappeared or flitted.

The list will now live in this post. For the foreseeable future, links may be added again to the right side bar, to be merged into one post again later should that become necessary.

But the list, up to now, is:

  • ---
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    Happy 60th Birthday

    Woman's Hour. Here's to 60 more (and a bit more politics please)...

    Woman's Hour is great. There are the odd, predictable, whining complaints along the line of 'Why can't we have a Man's Hour?'. Well, the other 23 hours of the day are Man's Hour, ok? Deal with it!

    Anyway, a good proportion of Woman's Hour listeners are reportedly men, so maybe there is some hope.

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    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    Photo Friday: Anger

    Photo Friday: Anger

    Originally uploaded by incurable_hippie.

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    Lunatic Enters Number 10.

    That was the headline I saw when I rushed by a newsagents today. It was something along those lines and was on, I think, The Sun (junk).

    My genuine first thought was 'He's been there for years'.

    My genuine second thought was 'Has there been an election?'

    It was only after considering the above that I realised they were talking about a guy that nearly broke in with a knife, or something.

    I think I was right with the first thought actually. (And that's not even going into the appalling language which only feeds fear and prejudice against people with mental illness...)

    Good photography-type news is that Schmap have used four of my photos for their Sheffield guide. Quite odd selections, but I'm not complaining!

    I got a £50 cheque from yougov today. Marvellous!! They do surveys - some market research, a lot political - and it's taken a while to get to the £50 (which is when they'll send the cheque), but blimey was it nice to receive! The main reason I do their surveys, though, is that periodically the results of a survey you take part in get onto the news or the topical comedy programmes, and you can only exclaim "I DID THAT ONE!" and be joyous! (Small things may amuse small minds, but that's fine by me). So yey, £50, that will help pay my rent. Fantastic!

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    Monday, October 02, 2006

    Pierrot Passed Away. Bless.

    Pierrot hamster left us for hamster heaven on Saturday. He was quite an astonishing little blokey, not least for living until a couple of months before his 4th birthday (hamsters generally live until about 2 years old). He was a very gorgeous and cute thing, and sadly he had become quite ill and deformed in his last days. He had a great life and my house is trying to get used to just having the one hamster in it.

    Here he was in his glory days:

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    Friday, September 22, 2006

    Photo Friday: Girl

    Otherwise known, by us on the beach, as The Seagull Worrier.
    Photo Friday: Girl.

    Originally uploaded by incurable_hippie.

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    Wednesday, September 20, 2006

    Amazingness on the InterWebNet.

    You can write yourself an email which it will send to you at a time in the future - I went for a year today.

    I am in love with this idea and may do more of them. I have written about today, and wondered about this time next year. I quite hope that by next year I will have forgotten all about it, so when I get the email (from myself) I'll be surprised.

    Special mention also to Eiffel Tower panoramic view like, truly panoramic.
    and George Carlin on God.

    (Quickie today. I'm around, just not so loquacious).

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    Friday, September 15, 2006

    Monday, September 11, 2006

    5 Years Ago Today.

    A lot of the online chatter today is 'what were you doing on 11th September 2001?' I can join in with that.

    I had been at a day centre that morning, and a member of staff had organised a cinema trip for service users, and was quite upset that virtually nobody wanted to go. In the spirit of improving her mood, I agreed to go with her, and thus I sat through the incredibly dull and ridiculous Planet of the Apes. (Which one? The one that was out on 11/9/01!)

    It was even more appalling than I had anticipated and I hated every minute. I have never been so glad to leave a cinema. We had a quick coffee in a nearby cafe, and then I returned home.

    I sent a text to various friends, something about having just seen Planet of the Apes, and it was one of the worst films I had ever, ever seen. What a waste of a few hours, etc.

    I received a bewildering reply from someone I didn't know so well, along the lines of 'How can you complain about that at a time like this??' but I had no idea what she meant. In the end, a friend phoned and told me to turn on the TV.

    'Which channel?', I asked.

    'Any', she replied.

    At that stage I realised there was something very big happening. My friend on the phone was explaining what had been happening (two planes into big tall buildings, another crashed somewhere else, another into the Pentagon) and all I could think was that it was some kind of Armageddon (planes falling from the sky and all).

    I didn't actually know what the World Trade Centre was, but as the news reports went on I got an idea of what they were, what they represented, and how many people this would have affected. This knowledge led me to believe that this was some kind of anti-capitalist attack. Wrong again (kind of).

    I, like many others, watched hours of TV, mainly made up of the same few minutes of footage again and again and again and again. It looked horrific, the numbers injured and killed looked like they could have been going into the tens of thousands, and there was a huge underlying feeling of 'is it over? who's next?'.

    There were reports that London was being evacuated (which turned out to be wrong), and everything came to a halt for all the attention on New York.

    I hadn't heard the word 'unprecedented' on the news so much since the death of Diana ('unprecedented outpourings of grief'), and the shock from America at having been attacked for the first time was almost audible.

    I remember thinking, 'Well now they know. Horrific as this is, they will see that sudden random killing attacks are devastating and they will surely never, ever do this to anyone ever again'. I really did think that. Me and my eternal bloody optimistic mind.

    I thought, how could America attack anyone after this? How could they consider bombing a town anywhere in the world, when they know how it feels to be under attack.

    I didn't think I was being naive and idealistic, but the follow-up proved that I was.

    Hugely revengeful attacks on Afghanistan followed, then Iraq, and God only knows where else. Increase in hate, increase in terror, exploiting terror and fear to get away with whatever Bush bloody wants. Increase in racism, in US and UK abuse of human rights and allegations (ha!) of torture.

    What the hell did we learn that day? Nothing, clearly.

    Over the last few weeks there have been various documentaries about September 11th, of which I have seen / heard a couple.

    One I was watching, contained the only footage of the attacks from inside a tower. A French guy who had been filming a documentary following New York firefighters, and found himself in the midst of all this.

    Watching the footage - actual video of inside the buildings during the attacks - was terrifying (especially because, unlike we're supposed to with movies, I did know what was gonna happen next) and made me question how I would have coped, reacted, saved myself, or not. Would I have jumped from a window with no hope of surviving? Would I have been able to outrun the fog of dust?

    That kind of footage - films of the apparently inconceivable events that happened - filled our TVs at the time of the attacks. People were witnessing these events as they happened. How many times did we see those planes go through those buildings? A hundred? A thousand?

    And it struck me. Would the world be so complacent if we had seen footage, a hundred times in a day, of a bomb going through an apartment building in Lebanon, or if we had seen footage, five hundred times in a day, of a hospital being blasted in Iraq, would we be so complacent? Or would we be memorising the dates and reminiscing and weeping for those people so far away?

    Because we bloody should be.

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    Thursday, August 31, 2006

    Music Meme.

    Open iTunes/iPod or Windows Media Player to answer the following.
    Go to your library.
    Answer, no matter how embarrassing it is.

    How many songs? 2273

    Arrange by artist:
    First artist: Abdou

    Last artist: Zorba the Greek!

    Arrange by song:
    First Song: 4st7lb US Mix - Manic Street Preachers

    Last Song: Zither - Doves

    Arrange by time:
    Shortest Song: Latin - Father Ted (6 seconds)

    Longest Song: La Mer - Debussy (24:02)

    Arrange by album:
    First Album: 1967-1970 - The Beatles

    Last Album: Women's World Voices 2

    First song that comes up on shuffle: Pay Attention to Me - Orlando Brown (Thirteen)

    How many songs come up when you search for "sex"? 2

    How many songs come up when you search for "death"? 1

    How many songs come up when you search for "love"? 103

    Arrange by play count:
    Which is your most frequently played song? Free like a flying demon - E-type

    PS, you can see what I generally listen to here at

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    Tuesday, August 29, 2006

    Are you feeling naughty??

    Edited to add: Apparently they have caught on, and now if you offer to pay less than their 'suggested amount' they won't let the transaction go through. Nice while it lasted though, eh?!

    Well, get rid of that filthy mind, and read on...

    Shopping Spree

    How to Get Free Books, CDs, and Movies from Focus on the Family—Thereby Taking Money out of the Pockets of Anti-Gay Bigots—in 12 Easy Steps by Noel Black.

    Gay marriage is on the ropes and you may be feeling despondent about the tedious process and dim prospects for any kind of meaningful change in the near future. And why wouldn't you? There are a total of eight states in the U.S. that don't have Defense of Marriage amendments either on the books or in the works, and Massachusetts is still the only state that permits same-sex marriage. The Washington State Supreme Court handed down its anti-gay-marriage decision several weeks ago and Washington's gay community is licking its wounds and contemplating an incremental push for civil unions.

    When I'm feeling despondent over the state of gay rights in America—or the concurrent assaults on reproductive freedom, science, and rational thought—there's just one thing that helps me overcome my feelings of despair: getting free shit from Focus on the Family!

    Few people know that Focus on the Family — the powerful evangelical Christian para-church based in Colorado Springs—will give you, absolutely free of charge, books, CDs, and DVDs. Usually people pay for these products, and the millions of dollars raised helps Focus on the Family produce yet more books and CDs featuring Dr. James Dobson and other Focus "experts." (Focus on the Family's experts, when they're not chatting on the phone with Karl Rove, run around the country teaching people how to stop being so gay and when it's appropriate to kick their kids' asses.)

    Not only does ordering free stuff from Focus on the Family—sent to myself or people I don't like—satisfy a deeply juvenile impulse, it has the added benefit of taking money directly out of homo-hater Dobson's pocket. The one drawback is that getting free shit from Focus on the Family is a tad time consuming and a bit tricky, but it's well worth the effort.

    Here's how to do it:

    1. Go to and you will see their home page.

    2. Once you're at the home page, look for the "Resources" link in the blue bar on the left-hand side, right above the "Search" box, and click it.

    3. Under the "Resource Category" menu on the left-hand side, you'll notice categories such as "Homosexuality." Go ahead and click that for shits and giggles.

    4. It's time to start shopping! Scroll down a little bit and feel the homophobia flow. How about a nice copy of A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality? Go ahead and click the "Add to Cart" button.

    5. Now comes a tough decision: Do you have the book sent to yourself so you can sell it on eBay for cash (my personal favorite) or do you keep it on your mantel as a high-larious conversation piece to point at and laugh when your friends and family come over? Or do you send it to a jerk? I always opt for sending it to myself. Yes, you may end up on the Focus on the Family mailing list (though I've been doing this for some time and have never received anything beyond what I ordered), but reading Focus on the Family's junk mail is a good way to keep tabs on their activities and it will cost them even more money in postage.

    Please note: Focus on the Family won't send you more than $100 worth of materials for free in any given shopping trip, so be sure to keep it reasonable and return often.

    6. Select "Add New Shipping Address" and click "Proceed to Checkout." Or, hell, continue to shop and pick up a box set of The Chronicles of Narnia on CD.

    7. The next screen will ask you to sign up for an account and give your information. Don't worry, they don't ask for your credit-card number. Enter whatever name and address you like, because you won't be paying. You might want to make up a phone number, too.

    8. Once you've filled out all the required fields (you can also create a fake e-mail account if you're super paranoid), click "Proceed to Checkout" one more time. You'll now find yourself at the "Here Is Your Cart" field. Annoying thing alert: You may have to reenter your info again after this field to actually set up your account. But just keep going until you get to the "How Much Would You Like to Donate?" page.

    9. So, how much would you like to donate? Zero dollars, obviously. Don't be fooled by the field in the lower-right-hand corner that shows you the suggested donation amounts. Simply select "Enter other total amount" and enter 0.00 as the amount you would like to pay. (Don't put in a dollar sign or it will ask you for credit-card information!) Proceed to checkout.

    10. You'll now be led to a screen that will try to make you feel guilty about the amount you haven't donated. But don't feel bad! Just proceed to checkout again.

    11. Jesus! Here you are on the twelfth step and you still don't have your self-hatred materials! And you thought preventing homosexuality was supposed to be easy! Click "Checkout Now" and you're done.


    You have just removed a few dollars from the coffers of a major anti-gay organization. You can further capitalize on your brief investment of time by selling the item/s on eBay. You'd be surprised how much money you can get—a friend of mine makes a few hundred extra dollars every few months on this perfectly legal activity.

    And if your conscience begins to bother you, think of it this way: Focus on the Family would probably like for you to have the materials anyway, because there's that minute chance that, once in your hands, the materials may inspire you to have a personal relationship with Jesus.

    Finally, don't forget to pass this information on to all your friends. Proselytizing isn't just for Christians, you know. Go gay!

    (NB, not that I'd know anything about it, international postage adds $10 to the cart, so account for that in the $100 limit...)

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    Monday, August 28, 2006


    Tony Blair's popularity is currently lower than Thatcher's was during the poll tax riots!


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    Saturday, August 26, 2006

    Reading like it's going out of fashion.

    I have been reading quite voraciously lately. Some cruel combination of depression and medication means that a lot of the time I cannot focus on reading much more than short magazine articles. So when I find I am capable of books, the temporality of that ability weighs heavy and while I love the reading which ensues, I never know when, all of a sudden, I'll be looking at the pages blankly and the ending of whatever I am reading will have to await my next phase.

    I love reading, I love books, and I have been trying, and enjoying, genres of books which I have never totally embraced before. Let's say that trying to work out who the murderer really was does keep the pages turning!

    Here's some of what I have consumed...

    Refugee Boy, by Benjamin Zephaniah - A beautifully written and thought-provoking book which I bought for pennies in a charity shop. I knew I liked Zephaniah's poetry, and actually did not know he had written novels.

    The book centres around a boy whose parents are Ethiopian and Eritrean, and suffer persecution where they live. The father takes his son on a 'holiday' to Britain, then seemingly abandons him in the hotel they are staying in, with a letter explaining it is for his good and safety, and he can seek asylum and be well-treated there.

    Already the reader is experiencing the dilemma of whether that is the kindest thing a parent could do, or whether in fact he has actually been abandoned. His exploits and tales are beautifully and convincingly told, and I adored this book.

    Book reviews to hopefully follow...
    The Devil's Feather, by Minette Walters

    We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver

    The Sculptress, by Minette Walters

    The Abortionist's Daughter, by Elisabeth Hyde

    Fear and Trembling, by Amelie Nothomb

    Want to Play?, by P J Tracy

    and I am currently reading Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, by Thich Nhat Hanh.

    See also pippa reviews blog

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    Wednesday, August 16, 2006

    Hello For Now.

    I've been on my first holiday in 6 years! A few days in Scarborough, by the seaside, has been a lovely, and exhausting, break away from day to day life.

    More to come, but just hello for now.

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    Friday, August 11, 2006

    Book Meme: Tagged.

    1. One book that changed your life?
    All the Rage: Reasserting Radical Lesbian Feminism - my first real introduction to radical feminism, totally inspired me and fired me up!

    2. One book you have read more than once?
    The Best Little Girl in the World by Steven Levenkron. A story about an anorexic teenage girl that, as a teenager, I read and re-read obsessively. I was very disappointed, on re-reading it a couple of years ago, how twee and simplified and unrealistic it actually was.

    3. One book you would want on a desert island?
    Outdoor Survival Handbook: The Classic Indispensable Guide to Surviving the Outdoors by Ray Mears. Seems the obvious choice.

    4. One book that made you laugh?
    Join Me: The True Story of a Man Who Started a Cult by Accident by Danny Wallace - strangely compulsive book which I found difficult to put down, even though in many ways it was driving me mad. Many laugh-out-loud moments though, making it great.

    5. One book that made you cry?
    Life and Death by Andrea Dworkin. Devastating, but essential reading.

    6. One book you wish had been written?
    How to Change the World by incurable hippie.

    7. One book you wish had never been written?
    Any of these.

    8. One book you are currently reading?
    Want to Play? by P. J. Tracy. I have phases of reading thrillers, and I'm in one at the moment. This one is fitting the bill nicely!

    9. One book you have been meaning to read?
    The Idea of Prostitution by Sheila Jeffreys.

    10. Now tag five people.
    Anais Nin
    slow downloads
    travelling punk

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