The state is an enabler of sexual violence. So what hope for the victims? (The Guardian)

What does a perpetrator of violence against women look like? For many, the question still evokes images of shadowy strangers pouncing in the dark or thuggish drunken husbands stumbling home from football matches – stereotypes challenged tirelessly by women’s organisations and campaigners, especially throughout the current 16 days of action against gender-based violence.

In reality, women are statistically most likely to be assaulted by someone known to them, and domestic abuse can be, and is, also perpetrated by handsome middle-class professionals. Busting myths is therefore a crucial tool in the fight against a culture which relies on them. But for all these vital and urgent conversations about the true face of perpetrators, there is one that remains largely invisible in spite of both ubiquity and power: the state itself. … Read More

Teen pregnancy has plummeted. Why do the newspapers never celebrate success? (The Guardian)

Wander past a newspaper stand and you’d be forgiven for thinking the end was nigh. Panic abounds, be it over teenage pregnancies, childhood obesity levels, unemployment figures or the cost of immigration to the economy. Society is unstable; the country is teetering on the brink of another disaster.

Behind the headlines, though, lie statistics and stories jostling to disprove the worrying narratives the media feed us. … Read More

Freedom of speech: not what you think it is

As many readers of this blog will know, in 2014-15 I worked full-time as the elected Vice President of Edinburgh University Students’ Association. This blog therefore comes very much from that perspective although it was written it in a personal capacity.

Cast a cursory eye over the Google results for ‘student unions’ and you’d be forgiven for thinking we were the second coming of the fascist state, with coverage condemning everything from decisions not to host Dapper Laughs or stock The Sun Newspaper to the banning of Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines and Oxford Debates’ Union’s cancelling of an abortion ‘debate’ consisting of an entirely male panel. … Read More