Monday, 22 May 2017

You can't beat a woman to death because she wants a man who won't.

I rode number 37 of the rides in #Ride4MurderedWomen for Natalie Hemming on Sunday.

I read about her before I set off. The details are horrific. All the details of all the women I ride for are horrific because at the end of their stories a man kills them. A man they knew. A man they knew better than any of us. The thought of what they endured before he did kill them is nearly as bad. For those of us who have our own memories - we know that she was dying a bit faster and harder every day she spent with him anyway.

Natalie Hemming's ex partner beat her to death in their living room. He beat her severely, causing a fractured skull and damage to her arm (consistent with defending herself) and then wrapped her in a blanket. During this one of her two children, her son, came down and peeped through the door because he had been woken up by the frenzied attack. He was afraid of what he saw, he thought he might have been in trouble. Natalie Hemming's ex-partner then dragged her naked body out and took it to a wood. He dragged her through the ground by her ankles and left her face down to be found by whoever came by.

He them returned home and took his children to the zoo the next day as though nothing had happened.

3 weeks later her body was found by a man doing some work on the wood.

It does not really matter "why" he killed her. He killed her because he was an abusive woman-hater and had been for many years. He was controlling and violent and bullying.

Yet, when I read the details there were details which bothered me. The details which are constantly thrown around male circles to justify abuse.

She was embarking on a relationship with another man. A colleague. It had begun as "flirtation" and "developed into something more" so she was planning to leave her violent, controlling, manipulative partner with whom she had endured a controlling and coercive relationship/hell on Earth. In her view they had already split up. In his head - she was his possession.

I realised yesterday, whilst believing absolutely none of it, that some men hearing this would secretly say..... "Ah. She was unfaithful. I can see where he was coming from." Or worse, the men who say, "If my wife cheated on me I'd kill her and then I'd kill him" or "He has every right to smack her about, she's a slag."

I could hear some women absorbing those time-established judgement from within themselves thinking..... "oh but... she was seeing another man behind his back. That's not really allowed. It was bound to make him angry."

Over the years many women have sought refuge from an abuser by entering a friendship or relationship with another man. At the time they have been utterly destroyed. In all kinds of ways. They are not used to seeking women to help them. They do not know about feminism or refuges or escape plans. They feel intrinsically that the way to escape one violent bully is to seek another man who may be able to protect them from him. Women who are used to relying on a man who makes them totally reliant only see the escape route in yet another man.

It makes sense no? This man is hurting me. Who can help me? Where will my escape route be? Ah. A better man. A stronger man. A different man.

When another man shows interest in them it may be the only kindness they have had from anyone in years. A man saying "your hair looks nice" is like a thousand diamonds strewn at your feet after a man who makes it his life's mission to make you feel ugly and worthless.

She will have heard.... "Who on Earth would look at you? The state of you! You've got fat. You're old. You're ugly. You'd never get a man like me again. " She has heard this a lot. Her esteem is ridiculously low. I have seen the loveliest women with personalities like sunshine and eyes like oceans convince themselves they are as unattractive as gravel. They get new clothes. He says they make her look like a tart. She cuts her hair... he likes it short. They grow their hair. He thinks they're letting themselves go and trying to act "like mutton dressed as lamb". They wear perfume to make themselves feel prettier. He says the smell turns his stomach. They cook nice meals straight out of the cookbook. He says it makes him sick. What a waste of his money. They try to share details of their lives. He says they bore him and he's tired because he doesn't have the easy life they do.

In their heads they fantasise escape routes. One where he dies. They live a better life. They win the lottery. They leave him and live a better life. Or they meet someone who offers to save them and take them away from all this.

They are terrified. A man can get them killed. They know the rules. And yet.... a word of kindness and a smile can break their pain for a day. A gesture of care can lift their eyes. A simple offer of basic help or a sharing of emotion can lead them onto a fantasy world where they are free. A text returned can be the rope that hangs them or leads to freedom. Women faced with unbearable choices make unbearable choices. The man they turn their face to for the sun may also be an abuser sniffing out their vulnerability. Or he may be a good man. He may genuinely think he can help. He may unwittingly place her in danger.

She will cling to him. What trapped prisoner would not want the man with the key to their prison to befriend them? We women have grown up with fairy tales. We do not always realise that other women have the key too. That we have the key in ourselves. We are too weakened and beaten and lost.

If Natalie Hemming clung to a man... and I don't know if he was a good man... or if he was a man who would not have saved her.... I don't care the judgement about "adultery". You cannot commit adultery or be unfaithful in a relationship where you are already deceived. Abuse is deceit. It is one man convincing you he loves you whilst he steals your soul. You owe that man nothing. None of us do.

She may also have heard the words that Natalie Hemming did. "If I can't have you no one can." He was right. No one ever did again. Including her children and her friends and her parents. Never judge a woman for her escape route. Her escape route is the thing that she needs to stay with us in this world.

Let's keep women in this world.

JH x

Monday, 15 May 2017

Dear Tommy Robinson - Open Letter

Over the last few days I have been the target of a number of your "supporters". They are very keen to tell me how little I care for women rape complainants. Apparently you have suddenly become the saviour of said rape complainants. I therefore need to address this. Mainly because your concern, and theirs, seems woefully and transparently inauthentic in its intent.

Might I ask what statistics you are aware of regarding rape? Are you aware that the conviction rate for rape generally is so terrifyingly low that women spend years of their lives campaigning to improve it. Some women, like Jill Saward, died trying. The statistic hovers around 7% but with adjustments can be as low as 3%. The HMIC report of November 2014 ( Crime Recording - Making The Victim Count) states that 3.1% of reported crime is deemed "no crime" but for rape that statistic rises to 7.3% and the total for all crimes of sexual violence is 26%. I'll repeat, 26% of crimes where - and it is predominantly male on female crime - the result is that police don't proceed to court. You know this surely? No? Just this one case that you thought was valid? Because this kind of injustice happens to a lot of women. Roughly 76,000 of them per year achieve no justice at all.

Whilst I have massive sympathy for Chelsey - and should she seek feminist support it will be here in bucket loads and more - then it is important to see this as a systemic failure of women as a sex class.

In fact it can be seen as a male crime of violence which is routinely overlooked. Of course if you factor in the statistic that only 16,000 rapes out of 78,000 are actually reported to police and that only 1500 of them approximately proceed to conviction then .... you can sort of see why feminists get angry.

We even name the problem. We name it men. That includes men of all races, religions, immigration status and umm.... political motivation. There will be men among your own ranks who have raped women I don't doubt. There will be men among your own ranks who are keen to make it "othered" as a crime - (See Jock Young - The Vertigo of Late Modernity - 2007 would be invaluable to you on the concept of "othering"). However... it is dangerous to women and girls to do this. Yes, grooming gangs are a problem. Yes, there have been horrific institutional failures at every level from police to government and the judiciary, and yes... we must hold them to account. We cannot do this proceeding on the basis that only immigrant men or muslim men are to blame or that only white women are victim/survivors. This is narrow, naive and foolish. Or racist. Shall we stick to narrow, naive and foolish? Because as soon as you point a torch on a very small percentage of those 78,000 rapist men, as you are doing, then that allows a massive amount of men (including those white British men in gangs, or as individuals, who groom)  to slink off into the shadows quietly and continue their evil.

In the interest of sharing expertise which I don't think you currently have I will link the HMIC research document here.

That was my way, not too subtly of saying that you are a little under-informed and have wandered into an arena with a grudge against a specific section of the community and actually you don't have the correct weapons or the correct target.

Systemic injustice for women subject to sexual violence is not new. Resistance to it is not new. Local government collusion and police corruption in this area is not new. Neither is the opposition to it.  Infact.... nothing you are doing is new. The only supposedly novel angle is "muslim grooming gangs" and this is not new either. Andrew Norfolk highlighted the atrocities many of us knew were occurring in Rotherham years ago. This led to a major government inquiry in the form of the Alexis Jay report. This led to a greater awareness among the public and following investigations and revelations. I was alerting anyone who would listen to me about the dangers of the negligence of former Police Commissioner Shaun Wright many years ago. As were many other feminists. Feminist organisations have picked up the pieces of those atrocious crimes. For years. They are still doing so.

Marching through streets shouting about muslim men does not put women back together after the trauma of rape. You will find that it is feminist women who do that. You will find that it is women who fight for funding. It is women who give their time voluntarily to helplines which are often the first point of contact when a woman has been raped. You will find that it is a feminist organisation that is campaigning to educate juries on rape mythology to ensure better justice for women.

Rape Crisis funding has been, and continues to be, slashed under government austerity measures. More specialist sexual violence trauma units are desperately needed in hospitals. Juries are woefully under-informed/misinformed by judges. The entire law around past sexual history and Section 41 of the Youth and Criminal Justice Act needs reform so that no such devastatingly painful and questionable testimony is allowed to deliver such a terrible lack of justice as that for the complainant in R v Evans occurs again. Women need fair access to justice from first point of entry into the criminal justice system which begins with the police. You might be surprised to know that feminists push for this all the time. Rape Crisis England and Wales. EVAW, and many, many, many other women are keen to see improvements. Funnily enough, despite the recent incoming Twitter attacks I have seen relatively little declaration amongst your political affiliates that they will fight for justice for all raped women?

And yet, here we are. Standing accused of inaction by men. I would laugh at the ridiculous lack of awareness - but it seems more sensible to politely point out the staggering arrogance and comic delusion in such attacks.

You will find that, contrary to the accusations your followers level at me, I am more than willing to name those responsible for the failures on muslim grooming gangs in Rotherham. The last time I properly wrote on it was in 2016. Here.;postID=5473051222306346921;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=44;src=postname

It was not just the predominantly pakistani heritage males who were to blame. It was also powerful white men and a woman, who have all conveniently evaded any accountability. The Pakistani heritage community in Rotherham are mostly just as angry about the lack of justice and accountability as anyone else. They are the majority. The male perpetrators are a minority.

I raised £27,000 ( a tiny amount I admit) last year to support rape victims and complainants. I'm still proud of that. It will help to support women of all religious, racial and political backgrounds. Because there is not a designated rape demographic. Other than - predominantly female victim and entirely male perpetrator. Are you aware that Rape Crises England and Wales statistics for 2015/2016 revealed that 27% of service users were from black or ethnic minority backgrounds. This is a rising figure. up from 23% in 2014. I am aware that male on male rape occurs. Are you? Do you know those statistics. Do you know how male violence sweeps through lives? Do you not think that perhaps challenging a culture where men raise other men to see females as sexual objects is problematic? Do you watch porn for example? I would like you to think about where the attitudes to seeing women as disposable humans for sexual gratification comes from? If you watch porn - you collude. Women are raped on camera in that porn. Men take that message into real space and enact it upon women. The sex men watch is violent. Rape is a common scenario.  I'll ask again... do you watch rape on screen routinely? Do you think it is "ok because she likes it"?

So, back to Chelsey Wright. I think this poor woman may have been treated appallingly by men. I think those men have subjected her to sexually violent atrocities and I think it does look as though the criminal justice system is failing/has failed her. Unfortunately I have little knowledge of her case as I do not accept Rebel Media as a trustworthy or truth-validated news source. I have been waiting for more credible information.

I am keen to distance myself from you and your band of followers. Most feminists will do that. We see that you are using a young woman, who appears to have been exploited in the most vile of ways, for a politically motivated agenda. What feminists will do if Chelsey approaches us is take care of her. We would offer her signposting to specialist services and we would demand justice if a lack of justice is shown to be the case.

Crucially, male sexual violence against women and girls is not an issue we can confine to one victim or a small group of perpetrators. The problem is much more extensive than that. If you really want to help Chelsey you will hope that she picks up the phone that will link her to women with specialist counselling knowledge. I don't have it by the way. I am not a trained Rape Crisis counsellor. Largely, I'm just a gobshite like you. Just more adequately informed.

You can thank me for the information. Just don't do it in person.

Kind regards,

Jean Hatchet.