police

Brexit was an opinion poll, nothing more

Brexit has caused ‘economic PTSD’!

Brexit has forced the Tories to retreat from austerity!

Brexit has broken everything.

Whilst these headlines are presented as facts they actually mean very little. What is economic PTSD? Do you suffer flashbacks to the EURef whenever your eye accidentally catches the Euro symbol on your keyboard perhaps? Maybe the Tories will start throwing cash at everything now, they couldn’t have foreseen the collapse of our economy, not even with all the world class economists on speed dial. Also, when they say Britain has broken *EVERYTHING*, define ‘everything’. Do they really mean ‘every’ ‘thing’ as in every little thing that ever existed? Or do they mean everything that exists to their knowledge, so anything outside their sphere of experience isn’t actually a ‘thing’?

I’ll tell you something else Brexit hasn’t caused; racism. In the days that followed the referendum racism became impossible to ignore, only because the racists widened the net to include Poles, other European ‘migrants’ and people who don’t ‘look Muslim’. Brexit did make one thing absolutely clear; Britain is racist, of this there can be no question now but did it actually cause the racist violence prevalent today on Britain’s streets? Of course not. The majority of people targeted by the far right have been Muslim and many thousands of these incidents occurred before Brexit, before Zac Goldsmith’s racist mayoral campaign, before the racist van even.

I was personally racially abused on a London bus in 2013. The passengers on the packed night bus sided with the racists on that occasion, it was a frightening experience for me and my white friend. When I shared the incident through social media right wingers and liberals alike decided I had no right to defend myself against racism and listed all the things they imagined had happened instead of my eyewitness account. In fact every time I spoke about racism on the internet I was either ignored or targeted in malicious campaigns to silence me. I reported racism to the police and they responded with an informal caution for saying ‘kill all men’. Where were the defenders of freeze peach when I was deemed ineligible for support because I exercised my right to say whatever I feel? What possible justification did West Midlands Police have for blocking me on social media? The authorities turned their back on me when I needed the law, racism is in fact illegal and a punishable offence. It went by unchallenged though and emboldened racists to escalate their attacks against me.

With every inaction, every no holds barred ‘debate’ on immigration and attacks on people the mainstream can’t stomach; disabled people, trans people, refugees fleeing catastrophes we caused, the proud British racist was given the nod to abuse anyone he doesn’t personally like. He thought the referendum would decide whether or not immigrants would be made to LEAVE, in fact he knew nothing about the EU and our part in it.  The violent racism we have all witnessed the past few days has been picked up because the people with the power to spread information (or misinformation if we’re being honest) decided to publish it on their platforms. They keep the spotlight on it. If they had done the same for Muhsin Ahmed, Mohammed Saleem, Nahid Almanea perhaps we wouldn’t be in this nightmare scenario today.

If Richard Dawkins et al hadn’t been so focused on bashing Muslims at every opportunity, maybe we wouldn’t have been quick to ‘other’ European migrants. If Helen Lewis and her ilk had listened instead of ‘literally not giving a shit’ and monstering, othering and silencing marginalised groups they might have heard how we were suffering for many years before the rise of fascism went mainstream. Heck they might even have tried including us in their ‘debates’ so we could provide a suitable counter argument instead of the circle jerk that is the neoliberal mainstream media. Had David Cameron refrained from making Muslim mums the target for his racist crusades, others may not have seen fit to abuse them too. If Katie Hopkins never existed in the first place brown people wouldn’t have been dehumanised and reduced to vermin in a national newspaper.

Despite the many comparisons on the internet between the ‘journalism’ we are subjected to today and the hate speech which was the norm prior to the Holocaust there were still liberals and lefties calling Godwin and accusing us of attention seeking cos we’re all after a book deal (says a lot about the accusers in my opinion). Various national treasures feigned ignorance, going as far as to defend their use of racial slurs with the argument it is not in fact racist to say the p and n words (John Terry, Prince Harry, Anton du Beke, Jeremy Clarkson, India Knight etc made it commonplace where once it was censored). Theresa May justified her creepy racist van asking foreigners how we could make it easy for them to go home, because the British people insisted it wasn’t racist to talk about immigration controls. She can make even a British person stateless, if they are suspected of ‘terrorism’. Britain First, even after their proven links with Jo Cox’s killer, is not yet referred to as the terrorist militia it clearly is so I can only imagine it will be non whites who live with the threat of statelessness. When you make a person stateless it becomes easier to dehumanise them.

These aren’t projected fears, these behaviours have been identified as dangerous because human behaviour is formulaic. If x happens then y is sure to follow. Human beings have proved again and again, through various historical genocides that ‘othering’, that is to say polarisation of groups, ‘us’ and ‘them’ inevitably leads to dehumanisation then mass killings. On the flipside this means we can prevent atrocities if we are honest about the horrors around us. Try and get an honest answer out of a journalist or politican though and you’ll see why we are condemned to this Tory enabled Brexit wasteland. They’re all in it together, to the detriment of us plebs.

At every twist and turn we have raised flags and pleaded with powerful people to recognise “we have far more in common with each other than that which divides us” (as the late Jo Cox once said) and they responded with control; denying our experiences, denying our very existence and charging on without us, full steam ahead. We’ve been discarded and abandoned for demanding equality. The same people carry on today as though they are innocent of any wrongdoing and as shocked as the rest of us at all the worrying reports.

It is never too late to admit you have white privilege and make amends with those you have wronged. If you cannot humble yourself and put others first, you carry us further down this beaten path of iniquity, still against our will. There are those who’d rather we all perished than relinquish even a little of their power and control, and this thought should frighten us all.

Twitter Death Threats are Tasteful and Decent

Kill all men. 3 words that erased all the times I was raped, sexually assaulted and beaten by men. These 3 words justify the death threats against me. In saying these words, I have confirmed that I am just as bad as the entitled men and any report I make of abusive behaviour against me is invalid.

I have just finished speaking to the police who called to update me with regards numerous threats to kill and the reams of racist abuse I have been subjected to on Twitter. They advised that Twitter, being based in California refuse to provide British law enforcement officers with any information even in cases where there are threats to kill because their laws around taste and decency differ from ours. Apparently they only concede for serious crimes like murder (not threats to murder).

I want to know how the Metropolitan police were able to investigate the abuse aimed at Twitter activist Caroline Criado Perez (and Stella Creasy) and were able to convince Twitter that the words used to threaten her did breach taste and decency standards even though she is also in the UK (like me). I asked the officer who called me (from West Midlands Police) why this disparity between activists on Twitter when we’re all women receiving death threats and whether she could blame me for thinking it is rooted in structural racism? She maintained that she was just passing on the message from their techie guy and it had nothing to do with race, more that Twitter was refusing to comply. She was also confused because they said it was about protecting their users from opponents of free speech and that surely this protection should be extended to me too, also one of their users.

Why would it though? The internet is awash with rapists and their apologists, misogynists who fantasise about murdering and humiliating women (and probably do in their relationships) and the overall response has been amusing for them. Social networking sites like Facebook will delete an image of a woman breastfeeding a hungry baby because it breaches standards of taste and decency (and sets them apart as somehow enlightened – Darwin award please – among the mammals) yet raging racists like Britain First get a free pass. Murdering entitled scum from the states get a shrine devoted to worshiping male power. Twitter hasn’t responded to the two tickets I got from them acknowledging I’d made complaints regarding gendered abuse and DEATH THREATS but why would they?

In a world where 50 women have been murdered by men this year in this country alone, am I really surprised that gendered abuse is still being ignored by the men in power? The kind of world where the reaction to homicide perpetrated because male entitlement is one of praise and in support of male privilege, not condemnation of the kind of society that allows sick individuals like these to thrive. In a society where rape victims are asked what they did to provoke a rapist into raping them, am I surprised that the 3 words I have at my disposal to empower me when I’m feeling weak (but angry still) are considered equally harmful to the sexual abuse I have been subjected to my whole life (the experiences I have on twitter being an extension to a collage my brain has collated over the years)?

Of course I’m not. This doesn’t change the physiological effects of silencing and legitimisation of abuse has on me. I had a panic attack and had to cut the call short. This was after I explained that I would not be deleting my online profiles because I will not let them succeed in their campaigns to silence me. I won’t let them have the satisfaction and to insist I am complicit in abuse against me if I do not is victim blaming, nothing more or less. It’s not like I have a choice, I do the things I do so that the world is a safer place, one that I can be a part of. Unfortunately this whole incident has served to remind me that I can’t expect this and that attempts to change the status quo will be met with reinforcements from the oppressors.

I’ve advised the police I would like for this complaint to be escalated to their superiors and to find out how it was possible that 2 people were sent to prison for similar offences against a blonde woman.

I’ll let you know how that goes.

TW: Would you report your rape to the police?

I have a Google email alert for sexual offences police corruption. It’s been a busy week for a few bastard coppers. I created the alert after the case brought against Ryan Coleman Farrow who was convicted of 13 counts of misconduct in public office (THIRTEEN) yet received only 16 months in prison for his crimes despite the fact that one of the victims killed herself following his negligence. They described him as a ‘rogue officer who set out to deceive’ implying that victims should not be alarmed by his practice, as though he was the exception not the rule (even though there was some vague reporting of a coinciding case where the defendant could not be named for whatever reason). Another of Coleman Farrow’s cases involved the rape of a 96 year old woman (she died without justice) by her son, in her own home. I would imagine if you were going to make an example out of anyone to serve justice as a reminder to the rest, this would be the one but I cannot say that 16 months is a particularly effective deterrent especially given that he could be released in half that time.

I want to prove that this kind of conduct is endemic in police forces across the world. I want to point out how ridiculous it is for us to expect these people –among the most likely to demonstrate their entitlement – to protect us from the worst of violations. We can start by having a look at this pig. Here we have the judge using the Polanski Defence in his ruling; the poor sod was so grief stricken due to the death of his wife, he couldn’t help but molest a 14 year old child. He was given a reduced sentence because of the effect on his own 11 year old. Here is a court identifying two counts of indecent assault against a minor yet all the while subtly condoning his behaviour in the form of a lenient sentence of 18 months and actual fucking praise for having done “so much for the public in North Wales”. The defendant, Donnelly, had told the girl she reminded him of his late wife. Now, I cannot be the only one alarmed at the fact that this man has been given a reduced sentence because of his own underage child (who is probably more likely to remind him of his late wife if the child is from that pairing?). The judge said that he hoped the public would understand “the balance the judge has to make in these cases” to which I put this; he is now a schedule one sex offender. Will social services and probation follow up these offences and supervise his contact with any minor given that he has a conviction for subjecting a child to cruelty, exposing them to ‘moral and physical danger’ and will be on the sex offenders register for the next decade? Doubt it.

A lot of victims don’t get to court because of how the system is set up to favour perpetrators (rape culture) or through fear that the case will play out as the one above. Many more make the decision to report abuse but then fall back after their first encounter with the cops. I can understand why. As a general rule they aren’t the most sympathetic in nature nor friendly, their job is to contain disorder so that it protects the surrounding area (buildings mainly). It is a huge leap to entrust these (mainly) men with sensitive information when we are afraid they are capable of the same things.

As a DV worker I was aware of a few ‘rogue officers’ in my line of work. We knew one of them was quite a sadistic abuser, all the while giving the impression he took domestic violence seriously but we couldn’t let on because his victim was also a colleague. Imagine that; working for a domestic abuse organisation, unable to point out the perpetrators in your midst because mendacity. If the truth had been outed, she would have probably lost her job. Imagine reporting your abuse to someone like the copper I worked with. What do you think he’s going to do? I would think he probably couldn’t care less and depending on how vulnerable you were, might try this. Then imagine that the Met refuse to accept responsibility for an on duty uniformed police officer (one who has been convicted and dismissed from the force for his actions) for taking advantage of a vulnerable drunk woman who was unable to consent. What will their defence entail? She shouldn’t have been so drunk she was unable to protect herself? But.. The police are supposed to protect us. We don’t see them as individuals; they are the police (plural). With this stance are they in fact reminding us that the police are free to act with impunity? No accountability? No responsibility? It certainly seems like it. I’m yet to see the term ‘rogue officer’ applied with this recent spate of predatory coppers. Perhaps because it would be an unashamed blag and at this juncture, career suicide for anyone stupid enough to stand by it. The Sapphire Unit (since “overhauled and renamed” allegedly) has been exposed for its corruption yet again. A detective constable and police constable facing claims that they faked records (perhaps in a bid to boost detection rates a la Coleman Farrow). The public are not waning in confidence, they are livid with anger at this blatant disregard for victims of patriarchal violence. These perps are not just the knuckleheaded cap toting Neanderthals we find at demos but senior officers; detectives at the top of their game. Like this prick. Of course the police will not be commenting at this stage because anything they do say, can and will be given as evidence.

This isn’t just A Thing we have to endure in Britain, police officers in forces all around the world are guilty of almost identical crimes. The intention is to maintain patriarchy, by keeping vulnerable people afraid, teaching them that the state controls what happens to their bodies, it decides your value and whether you can access justice. The same people we are consistently forced to trust with our most intimate violations are in fact the same ones who keep rape culture alive. These officers in America used their authority in exactly the same way ‘rogue officers’ do in every corner of the world. They are in a position of immense power (one where they are perceived to be fighting the forces of evil) and instead they use it for its intended purpose; one of power and control in a hierarchy determined by the patriarchy. Even when they are caught red-handed the preferential treatment they receive in sentencing compared to say, black males, is an overt display of double standards and a reminder that they still win even when you throw the rule book at them. We need a different system.

The rise of fascism in Great Britain (Tower Hamlets)

In the months since the murder in Woolwich, there is a familiar conversation being had by conscientious activists keen to avoid the predictable backlash against a marginalised group of peoples. I’ve heard the same questions being asked; the uncomfortable realisation that current day Britain is echoing the horrors of Nazi Germany. Of course, those on the right are quick to minimise and dismiss genuine concerns with Godwin’s Law but it has also been established this is not relevant when discussing actual fascism. BBC News has been reporting on the number of arrests at yesterday’s counter demo against the fascist EDL. Whilst I wish it were true, sadly their estimate of 2 anti-fascist arrests is grossly misleading when the numbers were in fact closer to 250+.

If you have a heart, you may have wondered how Nazi Germany came to be so organised and how, HOW ON EARTH so many were systematically murdered by the state. Why wasn’t there an outcry much sooner? How did people not notice this was happening right under their noses? It’s simple really. The media and government filled people with propaganda and the atrocities were downplayed. Exactly what the BBC appears to be doing now. 250+ of my comrades were arrested yesterday under sections 14 and 16 but here’s the thing; none of them were aware these orders were in place. People were arrested by deception.

Section 14 gives the police the right to confine protests to a particular space. Now, if this was the case yesterday, tell me why the police allowed us to march through the streets in our 100s whilst they stood idly at the sidelines? Surely a section 14 would have prevented us from leaving Altab Ali Park? How can people be arrested for a crime they did not know they were committing? What of the innocent passers-by who happened to be caught up in the brutally enforced kettle and were then arrested for simply occupying the same space as anti-fascist activists? Of the 15 people I helped support at Colindale police station, 3 of them were adamant they had nothing to do with the demo. It did not matter that they protested the unlawful arrest; they were not given the chance to explain their circumstances. The police acted with impunity, as though these facts were never going to be relevant. Doesn’t that scare you? It scares me. I can be plucked from a crowd of people in a public area and thrown into a cell for as long as they like, though 12 hours seems to be the standard.

The events of the day disturb me. I wasn’t personally arrested but I was treated with suspicion. When the police closed in from all around us, the natural reaction was for people to flee the scene. Who wants to be kettled? As experienced activists we know what a kettle means. Surrounded by officers built like brick shit houses, comrades are pulled out of the kettle, beaten and arrested for simply being there. How does one react in such a situation? Well, you’d want to avoid a beating obviously but if you so much as push back, there’s an assault charge with your name on it. I was trapped in a crowd of activists, all pushing and straining to avoid police brutality and I froze. I was being carried along, I couldn’t afford to push anyone myself, I have a historic spinal injury. Maybe this is why the female officer chose to bash her baton into me. It was frightening. I couldn’t feel anything, the adrenalin was pumping but I was aware I might have been injured. At the first opportunity, I and my buddy retreated to as safe a space as was possible but it was too late, we were in the kettle. It was another 20 minutes before the adrenalin subsided and I felt the pain and tingling creep in. I approached the officers at the end of the police line and expressed my wish to leave the kettle because of my medical condition. They jokingly suggested they’d put in a request with the big boss. An arrestee who was nearby would later tell me how those officers were mocking me for lying and of course, I only wanted to leave the kettle to join the UAF in Altab Ali Park. Anyone who knows me or anyone with any grip on reality would know that this was the last thing on my mind. Another 10 minutes passed and I pleaded with them again to let me leave the kettle, this time lifting my top so they could see the old surgery scars. This time the big boss was asked to have a look at my back. He advised that, unless I need immediate attention I should sit down on the floor to avoid exacerbating the condition. Again, anyone with an iota of intelligence would probably know that sitting down on a hard floor with this kind of complaint is probably not advisable. When my back is inflamed, my body stiffens up. If I’m sat down, it becomes difficult to stand. About half an hour after my initial complaint I asked to be seen by police medics. There were horses and dogs straining on their leashes and then the familiar red bus (Sullivan’s of Potters Barr – ‘a small friendly bus company’) designated for arrestees turned up. Experience has taught me that this is when things take a turn for the worst. When I asked officers why they were stood sideways, holding on to the backs of each other’s belts and why we were being kettled when we were peaceful, the response I got was astonishing. Apparently this was not a ‘kettle’ but ‘containment’. I didn’t fancy being sat on the floor unable to move quickly if things were about to become violent. The medics checked my pulse and it was higher than they would have liked. Suddenly these men in their padded suits and hard hats were being sensitive and attentive. They lifted me out of the kettle. They gently placed me down on the ground around the corner from the rest of my comrades. I watched with heavy heart as they pulled people onto the arrestee bus. Young people, gentle people. They didn’t stand a chance.

There are those that will tell me I deserved this predicament because I should know better than to attend a protest with a medical complaint such as mine. Well, in recent months I have been racially abused more than ever before. The threat has escalated and hateful people have become brazen as you like. I know that I prefer to confront things head on and defend my right to a non-threatening life. The alternative is a deep depression spurred by feelings of hopelessness and vulnerability. I have been agoraphobic once before, I am damned if society does that to me again. It’s why, after I was allowed to return home without further police interrogation and able to take my pain meds, I volunteered – with many of my close friends – to provide arrestee support. There is a growing solidarity between people from all walks of life who are prepared to sacrifice their own mental/physical health to ensure true equality for all. We are anti-fascists and we mean business.

We chose to attend Colindale copshop as it’s the arse end of nowhere for most and being in North London it was easier for us. When we arrived, one arrestee had been released. His eyes were bloodshot and he was shaking. He hadn’t been given any food and was extremely grateful for the supplies we’d brought. We read his bail conditions in disbelief.

“Not to engage in demonstration within the boundaries of the M25 where the English Defence League, English Volunteer Force or British National Party are present”

Are the police effectively enabling fascists by stifling dissent? Why were over 250 anti-fascists arrested in this manner? Who are the police trying to protect? Of the 15 we processed, most of them were given bail conditions to the 21-22nd of the month and a couple had 24th. I’d be interested to find out whether there is a planned fascist march before these dates. It would certainly explain why such a large number were arrested and then released without charge. I would also like to understand why one of our arrestees at Colindale had had his flat raided by the police. This all feels unlawful. I haven’t the legal knowledge to challenge any of this but there are many of you who do. It is our duty to halt the creeping fascism infecting this country of ours, lest young people of the future ask the same questions of the once Great Britain the way we do now of the Holocaust.

*Worth nothing, there were only 2 fascist arrests. Whose police?

** Update – 14 EDL arrests

All Coppers Are Suspicious

#TrustYourInstincts say Metropolitan Police without a modicum of self-awareness. They want us to trust our instincts to help them clamp down on troublesome individuals who might be involved in terrorist-y activities. I might be wrong but Britain’s a funny old racist at the best of times. Britain instinctively blames the weakest whenever it’s in a spot of bother, whether it’s all them braaaahn people taking all the jobs or the sick and disabled after an easy ride, I wouldn’t trust Britain’s instincts to boil an egg without a timer.

My instincts tell me not to trust an authority with as much coercive power as the police. My instincts are somewhat better informed than your average Josephine in that I’ve worked closely with the police and know how it feels to stumble into a copshop canteen minus the blue uniform. As a child I would instinctively reach for the phone and dial 999 whenever I felt the people around me couldn’t do anything. We had the emergency services visit us at school, as small children you are frequently reminded of what to do if you feel unsafe. But working with the police initiated a shift in my instincts. I instinctively knew the bits of information I had to keep from them. Emotions mainly, they couldn’t understand how a woman beaten by her partner could still be in love with him. I would instinctively withhold such information because I knew they would judge my client differently. They wouldn’t be as prepared to go the extra mile or as I like to think of it, the bare minimum of human decency. I instinctively distrust an IPCC investigation because let’s see, it’s hardly independent. I instinctively distrust a shootout between the police and a member of the public; after Jean Charles De Menezes this is hardly surprising.

I’ve been thinking about and discussing the role of the police a lot recently, especially in my work and in my role as a woman working for women. There were many success stories and without the cooperation of the police, these would have been impossible. Thanks to organisations coordinating the joint efforts of agencies, there are more systems in place to make all accountable. But they don’t police inappropriate interaction between agencies, especially when there is an unspoken belief in keeping the other ‘sweet’. Despite this I spent a long time advocating for the police with people who believe them all to be bastards. “But what about all the clients they’ve helped?” and “What about the time I got burgled?” I even wanted to be a copper once upon a time, in the vain hope that I could be the bridge between the brown people in my community and the white people in power. And yeah, they did these things, they helped get some of my clients into safe houses, they were sympathetic during a rape exam, there was a feeling of solidarity whenever a prolific perpetrator went down. But it’s only recently dawned on me what I would need to do in order deserve cooperation. And the reaction I would get if I ever dared complain about inappropriate conduct.

There was a lot of flirting and I was banned from saying I was a feminist working for a feminist organisation. One copper would tell me he wouldn’t employ because at age 27 I was only liable to get pregnant. Also, it was really funny that I used the turn of phrase “kettle of fish” cos it was a really British thing to say (what the fuck am I if not British?) Another would always refer to me as madam but not in the hierarchical copper way but more like a sleazy you’re-a-female-and-one-that-thinks-she’s-a-princess-therefore-I’m-gonna-make-a-point kind of a way. At another one of my agencies, the DS used to call me up for a chat every coupla days and sometimes turn up unannounced at the safe house just so he could give me a lift to the station (5 minutes down the road). Despite all this, I was convinced the police were a force of good. I just wasn’t radicalised enough yet, I guess.

That all changed during the counter demo against the EDL in Walthamstow. “Who protects the Nazis?!” “The police protect the Nazis!” That chant will stay with me forever. I had a bruise on my arm where I was grabbed and pushed along for unfurling a banner. What the fuck kind of threat am I? Their instincts tell them to use aggression against me, 5ft1 and 55kg. But the skinhead, swastika tattooed coked up meatheads of the EDL got themselves an escorted tour of a town they have no business being in. A particularly scary cop in a blue cap threatened to do me for using the word “fricking”. That’s a word I use when I don’t want to swear. His instincts were to arrest me. What was the justification there?

I have an instinct that the police maintain the patriarchy. Every time they issue a press release and use language to describe a child victim of statutory rape as having had sex with a perpetrator, they are reinforcing patriarchy and its use of women’s bodies. I have an instinct that the police only see black and white and none of the bits in between and that black is usually troublesome whereas white is to be believed. My spidey sense is on high alert when perpetrating police types are routinely acquitted of crimes they have committed but then sacked for gross misconduct because a member of the public was in fact killed, or given appallingly inadequate sentences for using their immense powers to pervert the course of justice. Ryan Coleman Farrow being case in point.

What do your instincts tell you about the Alfie Meadows trial? Does anyone remember what actually happened to him?

Instincts are dangerous, they are biased.

Instincts are personal and they are bigoted.

And so are the police.

Honour Based Crime: It’s Their Cultural Right

Domestic violence is illegal in this country. The term domestic violence extends to threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) and it doesn’t just affect spouses but also family members or members of the same household, irrespective of gender or sexuality. When an assault or threat of an assault is reported the police have a duty to investigate. Except in some cases they say they cannot undertake their duty lest they offend on grounds of cultural differences.

I am yet to encounter a culture where domestic abuse is enshrined as one of their respected practices. As in any culture across the world, the majority of people are peaceful and benign in their actions. They can be reasonable and resolve issues without resorting to harm. Islam, a religion that is touted as punitive and regressive to the development of women is often held up as an example by right wing pressure groups and media in the West of how men in the East continue to control their women because their holy book says so and somewhere in this book, it is alleged that God decrees domestic abuse as the right of man, it is not apparently a religion of peace as its followers believe but one of violence and control, oppressive and archaic. I’m not a Muslim by a long stretch of the imagination but I was institutionalised once upon a time. And I was victim to such abuses. However, I cannot say that I was abused because the good book said so. I was abused because the men in my family were hellbent on control.

Having arrived in the 60s, my grandfather (ex-army) had to muddle his way through British life by himself for the first few years. He found work as a foreman for British Steel. Without their wives and children, groups of men in their tens would share grotty bedsits in an effort to stay alive on the meagre wages they were paid but also to save so they could bring their families over. It was a time of deprivation and disorder; they were not wanted in this country. I think my grandfather was a very angry man, put upon and controlled by other men he could not afford to say boo to. And so the cycle began. They would bark orders at him and he would beat it down to her, my grandmother. She was a poor village girl he’d fallen in love with and eloped. Strange that my grandparents had what we term a love marriage whilst they forced most of their own children into marriages they did not want. I believe they did this because they felt they had to protect their culture. I remember my mother laughingly telling me how my gran had reacted to the news a distant relative had recently got married to a white man. My grandmother was adamant my sister and I should not hear about it, just in case we did the same.

Whenever any group migrates to new shores, they become insular, protective of who they are and where they come from. The culture in the Motherland will continue to move on and adapt, becoming modernised and globalised. When I went to Pakistan in 2002, I was shocked to find my girl cousins wearing short sleeves and getting their eyebrows done at the local beauticians. We were forbidden from doing such things. When your culture is not being oppressed, it is easier to move with the times. My cousins were not beaten, they were all studying and one was even going into engineering. Domestic abuse is not part of South Asian culture.

It is not part of Islam either. You’ll get the fundos with their beards and cropped trousers offering dawah, with their various takes on Islam and the role of the woman. One offered “if God did not exist (wait for him to finish saying his astagfirullahs) then woman would look to her man as her God”. Wait a minute, last time I checked it was women who had the power to create. If God did not exist (sorry god), then surely it is woman who takes the place of creator?

In relation to abuse, I have found two teachings which shed some light. Firstly, there is a passage on chastisement (domestic abuse to you and me). It is recommended, if the woman should speak out of turn (my mind usually wanders at such a sentence) then it is permissible to strike her on the arm with a ‘miswak’. A miswak is a twig from the Salvadora Persica tree which is used to clean the teeth. It is no bigger than your hand and about the thickness of a standard pencil. Texts are largely open to interpretation but I believe this to mean, you shouldn’t hit your wife. There is another teaching from the hadiths which suggest that if an argument ensues and your opponent is not a physical match to you, one must lay down on the ground. The change in stance has a calming effect. Perhaps I have chosen to focus on the bits where confrontation and violence are discouraged but when Muslims the world over call it the religion of peace, maybe it’s time we started listening.

Domestic abuse is not a cultural practice. It is the worst manifestation of control by people who feel the need to exert their control. I personally believe that statutory agencies are using this excuse to avoid having to deal with people they might not understand or actually care for. This excuse has gone on long enough, why are these agencies not putting some of their budget into courses designed to tackle culturally sensitive issues? For if they did, they might realise that saying domestic abuse aka ‘honour’ based crime  is a cultural thing, they ‘d be saying the same about us Brits. Where one person has intentions to harm another’s body or state of mind, the state has a duty to protect. Irrespective of the excuses the perpetrators think up.