DISCOVER Why are Aboriginal women in Australia hit with racism and sexual threats for sharing their views?

Racial taunts. Body-shaming. Threatened with gang-rape and even death.

Indigenous women in Australia are still being menaced for speaking their views.

What do Lidia Thorpe, Jacinta Price and Tarneen Onus-Williams have in common? These three Aboriginal women share their experiences of being the subject of targeted attacks, by the media and public, after voicing their opinions.

Aboriginal women are facing threats of violence for speaking up about issues that affect their communities

By Nakari Thorpe

Original post

Source: NITV News

Racial taunts. Body-shaming. Threatened with gang-rape and even death.

Indigenous women in Australia are still being menaced for speaking their views.

What do Lidia Thorpe, Jacinta Price and Tarneen Onus-Williams have in common? These three Aboriginal women share their experiences of being the subject of targeted attacks, by the media and public, after voicing their opinions.


Attacked for speaking out


It was the deafening banging on the front door of Victorian Greens MP Lidia Thorpe’s electorate office, in Melbourne’s inner-north, that first raised the alarm.

Luckily the door was locked, but it didn’t stop an unidentified man from getting his message across.

“All Abos must die,” the note he slipped under the door read.

The incident was the latest in a string of graphic sexual violence and death threats Ms Thorpe received after calling for Australian flags to be flown at half-mast on January 26.

“I wasn’t shocked. I was more disturbed a little, I think, by the level of degree that they went to,” Ms Thorpe tells NITV News.

As a Gunnai-Gundtjimara woman, Lidia has grown up surrounded by women who’ve dedicated their lives to the Aboriginal cause; women with fire in their bellies.

As a result she’s become accustomed to being attacked for voicing her opinion.

“I’ve grown up in an environment where speaking out about Aboriginal people and our rights, [and] calling for land rights … has always meant that we’re attacked,” she says.


Feminism in Israel: 22 women from across Israeli society speak out about what feminism means to them

By Professor Alan Johnson

Feminism in Israel is a special issue of Fathom journal that brings together the voices of 22 women from across Israeli society. Secular and religious, academic and activist, Jewish and Arab, Israeli and Palestinian, together they offer a new map of women’s experience in contemporary Israel, and new insights into the changing structures of oppression women face today, the patterns of resistance they have developed to fight for equality in the Knesset and in civil society, the distinctive role played by women in the promotion of peacebuilding and a shared society, and the present state and future potential of Israeli feminism.

Three framing essays open the collection. Dahlia Scheindlin asks if the forward march of women in Israel has been halted, noting the profound challenge to feminism posed by a resurgent religiosity that rejects women’s equality, while Einat Wilf unearths the surprising affinities of anti-feminism and anti-Zionism. Elham Manea addresses two central obstacles to women’s equality in the Arab and Muslim world: authoritarian governance and Islamist ideology. She also reflects critically on ͚the failure of many western progressives, including many western feminists, to support oppressed Arab and Muslim women.

Embodying the refusal to accept any reversal of equality for Israeli women are Aliza Lavie MK, Chairwoman of the Knesset Subcommittee on Trafficking and Prostitution, and Rachel Azaria MK, of Kulanu. Both detail their involvement in ongoing reform fights within the Knesset. Their determination is matched in the sphere of civil society by many of our contributors, including the young activists of Darkenu: Israel’s Moderate Majority.

The distinctive role of women in peacebuilding is examined in several essays and interviews. Rabbanit Tirza Kelman reflects on the recent visit by national-religious leaders to Northern Ireland and the lessons she drew from that peace process for peacebuilding between Israelis and Palestinians. Sarai Aharoni  ciritically evaluates the much-discussed ‘women and peace hypothesis’. She also offers a detailed and critical analysis of the high hopes invested in UN resolution 325 to engender Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking efforts, and the rather disappointing results.

The shifting patterns of women’s inclusion and exclusion from the Israeli public square is the bitterly contested subject addressed by Miriam Zalkind and Michal Gera Margaliot of the Israeli Women’s Network. Yofi Tirosh also raises the alarm about the threat to equality from religiously inspired sex-segregation in Israel’s public institutions. Rachel Tevet Vizel, ‘gender advisor’ to the IDF Chief of Staff from 2011 to 2017, addresses these concerns. She sets out first the dilemmas – how to successfully integrate women into the IDF at the same time as the national-Religious and ultra-Orthodox conscripts, and how to attend to the imperative of equal-opportunity as well as the imperative of winning wars – before defending the coherence and balance of the resulting middle way, as embodied in the Joint-Service Ordinance she helped to draft.

Different kinds of challenges to the unequal position of women within strands of Orthodoxy are set out. Elana Maryles Sztokman, author of The War on Women in Israel: A Story of Religious Radicalism and the Women Fighting for Freedom, and the former Executive Director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance contributes a sparkling personal essay about her decision to leave Orthodoxy and train as a Reform Rabbi. Pnina Pfeuffer, a Haredi feminist, sets out how the combination of rapid social, economic and cultural change in Israel, as well as the revolution of the internet and social media, are beginning to create openings for the emergence of a new and exciting Haredi feminism.

Arab and Palestinian perspectives are not neglected. Fida Nara and Sarit Larry of Mahapach-Taghir, a feminist Jewish-Palestinian organisation, set out the organisation’s unique and truly innovative blend of critical pedagogy, feminism and Jewish-Palestinian partnership for social justice. Palestinian-Israeli Samah Salaime of Arab Women in the Center (Na’am in Arabic) maps the causes of the appalling gender-based violence against Arab women in Israel, and suggests the changes needed to combat it, from a revolution in Israeli state policy and practice to a cultural revolution in Arab society. West Banker Huda Abu Arqoub, Director of the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP) and a leading supporter of Women Wage Peace, spoke to the editors about the challenges faced by a Palestinian feminist engaged in conflict-resolution activism.

Professor Alan Johnson, for the editors.



Princess Sophia Duleep Singh: the Sikh princess who took on the Suffragette struggle

Princess Sophia Dhuleep Singh was a tireless campaigner for women in the UK to have the right to vote- she ended up with a criminal record for her efforts

Princess Sophia Jindan Alexdrowna Duleep Singh was the daughter of Maharaja Duleep Singh, the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire. He had been deposed from his throne at the age of 11 and exiled to Britain two years later. He became a great favourite of the royal family and Princess Sophia was brought up among the British aristocracy. Queen Victoria was her godmother.

She could have had an easy life and could have spent her time enjoying luxury, including foreign travel. However, Sophia decided to become involved in the movement for Women’s Suffrage (being allowed to vote). She attended meetings and joined in demonstrations, including the famous Black Monday demonstration when the Suffragettes clashed with the police and many were injured. She joined the Women’s Tax Resistance League, this led her into court, twice, having the bailiffs visit her house and take her belongings. She also went out on the streets, giving out leaflets, alongside her fellow suffragettes.

Later, she was a newspaper delivery girl for the paper The Suffragette. Sophia would regularly deliver the paper by horse and cart around the theatres of London to help raise awareness and funds for the Suffragette cause.

After the war she joined the Suffragette Fellowship led by Mrs Pankhurst. Sophia was a very active campaigner. After Mrs Pankhurst’s death in 1928, she was appointed President of the Committee. The Princess Sophia remained a member of the Suffragette Fellowship to the end of her life.

Princess Sophia could have spent her days living in the lap of luxury as afforded to her by virtue of her status (Queen Victoria was her godmother) but she chose not to. She was a true campaigner who could not stand by and let others fight for a cause she passionately believed in and paved the way for many other women of colour to fight on after her.


Sharia marriages satisfy religious requirements without offering any real legal protection.

Sharia marriages satisfy religious requirements without offering real legal protection.

Today’s report is a real milestone for campaigners and activists who want to see the practice of nikah-only marriages given the added protection of a civil marriage. (Nikah: Islamic marriage ceremony)

For many, these marriages are an important expression of our faith that no one should deny, but there has been a increase in the number of nikah only marriage; it is difficult to put an exact figure since sharia councils and mosques do not keep centralised records that are open to the public. Some estimates range from around 40% to as high as 70% but again there is not real way of establishing whether any of these figures are correct.

I should know a thing or two about sharia marriages; I have had two and both ended pretty badly.

My first divorce was over in 30 seconds after my then husband gave me a triple talak (binding divorce) in a fit of anger. Suddenly, I was a divorced single mum to a four year old.

I vowed I would not make the same mistake again, and when I met the person who would become my second husband, I was very open and clear about my first experiences and that I wanted a civil marriage. He was more than happy to oblige, but wanted a nikah first. That should have sent off alarm bells; I later found out (a few months after my nikah) that my now ex was actually married. The ease at which we got married (12 weeks after being introduced for the first time, my ex made a phone call in the morning, by the evening, our nikah was complete) meant that there was very little time to think or ask questions.

And that is not the only danger.

After a sharia divorce, women are often turfed out onto the streets and have no recourse through the courts because their contributions to the ‘marital’ home are not recognised. Both parties are dealt with as co-habitees by the courts, if it ever gets to court. Legal aid is not available; the expensive and scary nature of legal proceedings means that women can’t fight for their rights legally. I have come across many cases where women are denied recognition of the financial contributions they have made or even a portion of their former husband’s future earnings or pensions (as a wife married under civil law is entitled to) because their relationship was not registered.

It is evident that some men use the nikah as ‘evidence’ of their commitment yet it is a very hollow promise; these men can easily be married to other women (as in my case) or get married again but not fall fowl of the bigamy laws (it is illegal to be married under civil law to more than one person in many countries including the UK)

In some cases, men have moved on by marrying other women and even having children yet refuse to grant their former wives a divorce, leaving them hanging in emotional limbo until they can obtain their Islamic ones.

There have been some dissenting voices in light of the report; some Muslims argue that the UK sharia courts are moving with the times- they no longer are the drab and scary places that women dreaded going to secure their divorces. For example, the sharia based Dewsbury council have had a female support worker employed for a number of years, who gives advice, support and encouragement in an otherwise male dominated environment.

There are also some women who want to protect their right to enter into a polygamous marriage if they choose to, which would be impossible under the recommendations of the report. Other women, especially those who own property and other assets, may feel vulnerable should their marriage break down and they are forced to share their hard earned wealth with their former husbands. For them, a nikah only marriage is the best option.

I, for one, am glad that sharia councils are to be regulated more than simply being eradicated. In 2016, I was involved in a sharia divorce case being heard in Pakistan. The wife was accused of having had sexual relations before marriage after her husband cited her lack of bleeding when they consummated their marriage as ‘evidence’ in the open court.

In 2014, I became involved in a campaign to reunite a British mother with her child, whose custody had been given to the French father after a sharia court in Dubai ruled she was an unfit mother because she had gay friends and because the child had eczema. The father, having decided that a sharia court would be more favourable due to their questionable record of recognising women’s rights, was initially able to convince both courts in the UK and in France to recognise the documents as legally binding. The two cases are now before the Supreme Court in Paris and the Courts of Appeal in London, outcomes of both will have a lasting impact on future custody, divorce and maintenance cases.

Translated, it means that if a Muslim mother petitions a divorce in say, Saudi Arabia, she may also lose custody of her children (under some interpretations of sharia law, sons are handed over to the father after the age of 7 and daughters after the age of 11) The father can then have the document ratified (recognised) in UK courts and enforce the rulings.

It is without doubt some sharia courts in many different countries are inherently unfair to women but at least we have the added protection of a robust legal system in the UK that recognises the rights of women, and mothers. It is about time we made use of that protection. 


Lenient sentencing in race hate mum case sends wrong messages


West Yorkshire


Magistrates’ Court and all Domestic Abuse work

4th Floor, Rose Court

2 Southwark Bridge

London, SE1 9HS

1st February 2018

Dear Sir/ Madam,

I read with great alarm and distress the sentence given to Ms Cheryl McKeown today for making threats to kill to the daughter of her Muslim neighbour, blowing cannabis smoke into the face of a child, and further shouting racist abuse, telling her victims “this is becoming an Islamic Estate, get your children out of this country” and “f*** off back to where you belong”.

She further made ‘gun’ gestures with her hands in front of the terrified victim’s children and even filmed guests entering and leaving the property of the victim without their consent, and went on to make lout ‘vomiting noises’ as she did so. Further incidents of harassment are outlined here.

In an impact statement, the victim outlined the traumatic and long lasting effect Ms McKeown actions had had on her emotional and psychological state. The pattern of behaviour of the defendant also shows that her conduct was not a one off, nor that she acted in self-defence. It is clear that Ms McKeown intended for the victim and her children to feel scared and in fear of imminent attack. They could not even feel safe in their homes, due to the defendant’s ongoing harassment.

I am therefore astounded that Ms McKeown has been handed a suspended sentence today along with a restraining order. I believe this sentence to be lenient in the extreme and will only send out a worrying message to those who hold bigoted, racist views of Muslims and other minority communities living peacefully in the UK that they can harass, intimidate and threaten without any real penalty.

Earlier today, Darren Osborne was found guilty of ploughing his vehicle into a crowd of worshippers outside a mosque in Finsbury Park, killing a man and injuring 12 others. He is to be sentenced at a later date. We have seen a huge rise in Islamophobic hate crimes in recent years, yet sentencing for such crimes does not reflect the seriousness of the crime nor the impact it has on the victims, who often suffer from psychological damage including flashbacks or PTSD.

District Judge Michael Snow used Ms McKeown alleged mental health issues as a reason to suspend her sentence; this is simply not acceptable. There are many, many people who suffer from mental health issues yet they do not embark on a lengthy, vicious hate campaign against their neighbours. It is paramount that the UK legal system sends out a strong message to victims of race hate crimes and their attackers otherwise victims of similar incidents will simply not bother to come forward and report any incidents.

I ask that you review the suspended sentence immediately, and impose a custodial sentence so that the penalty can reflects the seriousness of the race hate crimes committed.

Please confirm to me that the sentence handed to Ms Cheryl McKeown is to be reviewed by email or by post.

Kind regards

Aisha Ali-Khan

Asian Mums Network.


Pankhurst school’s worrying links to ‘misogynist’ Lawrence Jones

Last week, Manchester High School for Girls, a school with a long and illustrious history with Emmeline Pankhurst and her family, was forced to do a U-turn over a speaker that they had invited to speak at a forthcoming prestigious ‘Founders’ dinner. The speaker was none other than Lawrence Jones, the CEO of various companies including UKFast.

If you’re wondering why that name sounds familiar, let me help you. UK Fast, and Lawrence Jones recently hit the headlines after the University of Bradford were compelled to return an award after attending a ceremony which featured scantily clad women wearing little more than corsets, performing Moulin Rouge-esque dance sequences. The company behind the event was UK Fast, and it soon became apparent that Mr Jones’ penchant for using semi naked women as part of his business ventures was not a one off. In 2016, a picture showing a female naked from the waist down was used to advertise a hotel that Mr Jones owns in Verbier. (Although there have been rumours that Mr Jones had taken the picture himself, there is no way of verifying this)

During communication between the school and concerned members of public, it has become known that allowing Mr Jones a platform to speak at the dinner was merely the tip of the iceberg; MHSG has many close links to Mr Jones and his company and were not afraid to outline these.



Thank you for your email regarding our Founders’ Lecture. Mrs Hewitt has asked if I would be able to respond to your concerns as a matter of priority today. 

The aim of the Founders’ Lecture is to enable members of the Manchester High community to engage with topical debates and we feel that the gender imbalance in the tech sector is certainly worthy of discussion.

We could not agree more that it is important for young women to have positive female role models in the technology sector…In terms of our work with UKFast, over the past three years Arlene Bulfin, Director of People and Development, and Aaron Saxton, Director of Education and Training, have visited the school to deliver 15 Well Being sessions to different year groups. These sessions have not only focused on helping our pupils develop technical skills but have also highlighted the attributes that women have that the tech industry so drastically needs.  Over 10 of our pupils have completed work experience placements at the company…

The company has also played host to two of our Year 12 Away Days which encourage students to explore vital 21st century skills such as resilience, pragmatism and the ability to relax. Students also undertook a series of team building activities aimed at helping them bond together, not just for support during their crucial Sixth Form years but into adult:

 As with all external organisations/companies that we work with, we did research UKFast beforehand and have seen a business that has a 50/50 gender split at both board and senior management level and guarantees pay equality across all its departments. The business also offers crèche facilities, a flexible approach to childcare arrangements and both substantial maternity and paternity pay.

 You may be aware that the business has recently launched the UKFast Education Trust aimed at consolidating its investment in STEM. It is this mission, to balance in equalities in the tech sector, that Lawrence has been asked to speak about at the Founders’ Lecture. The business will admit that it has learned many lessons along the way on its journey from a back bedroom start up and this story will be shared at the lecture.

The significance of the above email cannot be understated, especially as we are celebrating the 100 year anniversary this year of the Suffragettes movement that led to women finally being given the vote. Emmeline Pankhurst will forever be remembered as a leader of the Suffragettes, and for inspiring generation after generation of young women to carry on the struggle for gender equality. Even after the vote for women was granted, generations before us still had to fight for women’s reproductive rights, education rights, employment rights, the rights to be safe from sexual harassment, sex discrimination and gender bias etc. The list is endless, and the struggle never ending. All three of Mrs Pankhurst’s daughters were deeply involved in the suffragette movement, with Sylvia Pankhurst a notable campaigner against fascism.

Young, impressionable teenage girls who are entering the fields of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) should be given all the help and support they need. However, the kind of message UKFast are promoting when using images of, say a naked woman standing behind a stack of servers, seems entirely at odds with their so called commitment to gender equality.

Did Emmeline Pankhurst and her family really sacrifice so much for our rights to see such close partnership between the school that she chose for her daughters to attend and a company that insists on using gratuitous images of naked women to sell products?

MHSG prides itself on its links to the Pankhurst legacy, as can be evidenced from the Pankhurst Bursary Appeal (…”to enable bright girls to fulfil their potential regardless of their ability to pay”) and various other references on their website In fact, in March 2017, a dinner was held to raise funds for a statue of Mrs Pankhurst, with Helen Pankhurst, the great granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst herself, as a guest speaker. How can MHSG allow a known ‘misogynist’ such as Mr Jones a platform given the illustrious historical connections to Emmeline Pankhurst, her daughters and the Suffragette movement.

Although, MGHS did rescind their invite to Mr Jones to speak, WU have sent a letter asking the school to confirm whether this is a short term measure or a long term ban as UKFast are still continuing to use images of semi naked women for advertising purposes.

Perhaps, in light of the recent media coverage of Mr Jones, it is time for a review. And not a moment too soon, given we are still fighting a hundred years on for women to be treated more than the objects of men.


‘Indecent proposals’ from Presidents Club gropers

Another posh dinner, another rather sordid tale of wandering hands, being treated like a piece of meat, indecent proposals with copious amounts of alcohol, requirements to wear navel slimming dresses, and a lengthy non disclosure agreement thrown in for good measure.

Welcome to the annual Presidents Club dinner, a prestigious event that boasts the creme de la creme of London high society and which this time included an auction prize of lunch with the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (himself quite partial to quite degrading attitudes towards women) and tea with Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England. The Financial Times sent in an undercover reporter (female) to lift the lid on the sleazy antics of men with prestigious jobs but little or no regards for women. It makes for deeply uncomfortable reading. (Disclaimer: not all men who attended the men only shindig would have let themselves down in the manner reported but those who witnessed sexual harassment yet kept quiet, shame on you)

This weekend saw the UK’s second Women’s March, which I was honoured to help organise. The title of the March- ‘Time’s Up’ which called for an immediate stop to sexual harassment, silencing of victims, and a host of other forms of gender discrimination. It couldn’t have come sooner.

Newly appointed England Women’s football coach Gary Neville was forced to apologise today for sexist tweets from 2011. Over in the US, sports doctor Larry Nasser, who admitted abusing 156 young girls under his care, was given 175 years after admitted his depraved acts. In Pakistan, a national outcry over the rape and murder of a child, Zainab, is still reverberating through the usually staunch conservative society where discussions of rape and child abuse are always hushed under the carpets.

A few weeks ago I wrote about an awards ceremony organised by UKFast which featured women in corsets and a host of smutty jokes. One of the attendees, the University of Bradford, whose students had won an award, handed back the gong after feeling ‘uncomfortable’ during the ceremony.

Sadly, as proved by the Presidents Club dinner, the UKFast awards ceremony and I’m sure other low key events that never make it into the press , sexual harassment & sexist behaviours disguised as ‘entertainment’ or ‘for charity’ are not unique one-off events.

What is unique, of course, was the stance taken by the University and now, FT in lifting the lid on these ‘dinners’. Now that there is a similar outcry following the report published by the Financial Times, leading figures are coming forward to say they either didn’t ‘witness anything’ (Host David Walliams) or that they condemn the conduct towards the women forced to wait on the men at the event. It makes one wonder, if it hadn’t keen for the FT expose, would we be hearing about resignations (David Meller, trustee of the Presidents Club and now ex- non-executive board member at the Department for Education) the condemnations which have been ringing out all day? The answer is no, not very likely. This event is in its 33rd annual year- and I bet there are stacks of NDAs that have bullied women into years of silence through fear of the undeniable legal threats conveyed in the five plus pages the hostesses where forced to sign. Some of these young women were students trying to earn a bit of extra money.

Since going to press, Great Ormond Street Hospital have pledged to return all donations they have received while numerous other organisations have disassociated themselves entirely from the Presidents Club.

Are these outcries across the world symptoms of political correctness gone mad in light of the recent events surrounding MeToo, TimesUp and Women’s March movements, given impetus following Donald Trump’s victory and Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment coming to light? Or could this be a real watershed moment in recent history, compelling us to talk about the notions of consent, self control, verbal and non verbal messages that are transmitted by all genders every day and of course, mutual respect.

Growing up, I always believed that it was only in my culture that men and women were raised with different styles and expectations: men to go out and conquer the world, taking whatever and whoever they wanted while women/ girls constantly told to keep their heads down, accept everything from everybody without a fuss, don’t speak out, say yes at all times, sacrifice your own dreams and goals so that the menfolk can fulfil theirs… did I say ‘never say no’?

But now, having witnessed one of the most startling upheavals to modern day society in terms of sexual harassment I am both heartbroken and pleased to say, ‘no’ it wasn’t just us.

Heartbroken because this is a real endemic that has crossed boundaries, ages, religions, cultures and traditions. But pleased because we are all now discussing this openly, not just whispering behind closed doors and passing on coded messages to other, potential victims.

The issue of consent cannot be denied to satisfy self gratification. If she or he have not said yes, then it’s a no. Not the other way round, where if someone hasn’t said no, then it’s ‘open season’.

Today’s expose of the Presidents Club dinner and other recent scandals, are forcing the debate, and change, forward. Which in my opinion, can only be a good thing.

Soon, there will be no place for sexual harassers and abusers to hide.