In the news: women in prison, criminalising rape victims, Kevin Spacey, and Jo Brand
Short prison sentences punish children too, by Lucy Baldwin & Rona Espstein
In our recent study, Short but Not Sweet, we highlighted, not only the harm caused to mothers by their short, and very short custodial sentences; but additionally, the significant impact on their children. The 17 mothers in the study had between them, no less than 50 children, most of whom were in the mothers’ care immediately prior to her sentence.
Children are often called the ‘innocent’ or ‘invisible’ victims when a parent is imprisoned. In our study, through the voices of their mothers, the impact on children, sometimes in particular the older children, was clear. Three teenagers in the study (two aged 17, one 19), cared for their siblings whilst their mothers were in prison, two leaving full time education to do so. The implications for their futures is not difficult to imagine.
Mothers felt guilt at their older children’s ‘lost childhoods’, and for the responsibilities their older children ‘’had been forced’’ to take on; one mother described her daughter now as ‘’old beyond her years’’. Several mothers felt their older children were left without formal care arrangements or spent long periods of time unsupervised or ‘’staying with friends’’. One 16-year-old became pregnant whilst her mother was inside, the baby was subsequently adopted – her mother felt sure her daughter would not have become pregnant if she was ‘home’. ...
Child benefit rules in Northern Ireland may criminalise women, by Peter Walker
Women in Northern Ireland who seek exemption from the government’s new two-child benefits limit on grounds of rape could face prosecution, along with social workers and medical staff, prosecutors have confirmed.
Changes to child tax credits and universal credit place a limit on claims to a maximum of two children, with a handful of exceptions. One of the exemptions is where a woman can show an additional child was conceived through non-consensual sex.
This exemption, known by opponents as the rape clause, has prompted huge controversy, but has a particular repercussion in Northern Ireland where it is an offence to not report a crime to the police. The offence carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison. ...
A Pattern of Abuse: How Kevin Spacey used the closet to silence his victims, by Adam B. Vary, Susan Cheng, and Dara Levy
In the five days since Anthony Rapp came forward on Oct. 29 with the first public sexual misconduct allegations against Kevin Spacey, more allegations have surfaced spanning four decades and two continents.
Now, three more men — including one who was a minor at the time — have told BuzzFeed News that they met Spacey in professional settings but soon became targets of inappropriate sexual conduct. Their stories and others’ reveal a pattern of behavior that goes back decades, suggesting a reckless disregard for personal and professional boundaries. They also share a core characteristic with the stories of men who are alleged to have sexually harassed and assaulted women, like Harvey Weinstein, Brett Ratner, James Toback, Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, and Bill Cosby — namely, a gross and persistent abuse of power.
Whether as simply an older, admired actor taking advantage of a much younger one, or a star with significant clout on a set or elsewhere, Spacey is alleged to have consistently used his sexuality in a way that was unwanted and unwarranted, and often unrelenting. In Spacey’s case, these stories also demonstrate the complex effect the closet can have for men of any sexual orientation when talking about sexual misconduct by another man.
Spacey appears to have discovered how to weaponize the closet, shielding his own behavior from scrutiny under the guise of merely protecting his privacy. ...
... Most of us can recall at least one incident, ranging from serious assault to messages from a professional contact that the sender probably considered “flirty”. Such “misunderstandings” are easy to come by in journalism, where boundaries between professional and social are increasingly blurred, networking often takes place over a coffee or drinks, and the need to stay friendly with contacts makes those affected reluctant to confront or report.
Whisper networks can help; warnings from other women can make sure you avoid last orders with a man who everyone knows will assume he’s going home with you. They provide a pressure valve for women to vent and a reassuring sense that, if this is happening to you, you are not alone. They help women to navigate the system a little more safely, but they don’t change it.
This is the gap The Second Source was created to bridge; using the support of a women’s network and creating a means to take action. Co-Founder Rosamund Urwin explains: “This isn’t – as some have bizarrely framed it – a ‘witch hunt’. What we want is cultural change in our industry – and we hope this call will spread beyond the media to other workplaces too.” ...
We'll be watching this on repeat this week:
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