The women say, you are really a slave if ever there was one. Men have made what differentiates them from you the sign of domination and possession. They say, you will never be numerous enough to spit on their phallus, you will never be sufficiently determined to stop speaking their language, to burn their currency their effigies their works of art their symbols. They say, men have foreseen everything, they have christened your revolt in advance a slave revolt, a revolt against nature, they call it revolt when you want to appropriate what is theirs, the phallus. The women say, I refuse henceforward to speak this language, I refuse to mumble after them the words lack of penis lack of money lack of insignia lack of name. I refuse to pronounce the names of possession and non-possession. They say, If I take over the world, let it be to dispossess myself immediately, let it be to forge new links between myself and the world.
As some people are aware, I was a Spokeswoman for the Women’s Equality Party’s (WEP) policy on Violence Against Women and Girls. As a result of my views expressed on the Moral Maze Radio 4 on November 15th, 2017 complaints were made by one or more party members, and I became the subject of a 3-month investigation. The Executive Committee upheld the complaints and on February 20th, 2018 my elected position was taken from me. I was informed I could retain membership but I declined to do so.
Many people have contacted me about the investigation, querying what the issues were and exactly what happened. I have thus far largely maintained silence, hoping that the WEP’s action would speak for itself. However, I have decided to speak out following an event held in London on 27th February by A Woman’s Place UK at which the current leader of the WEP Sophie Walker and I were both present.
On the Moral Maze, I had expressed the view that gender is a social construct while sex is a biological reality which families and society invest with meaning. While I believe adults can define their gender in whichever way they see fit, more caution should be exercised when it comes to the medical transgendering of children. I said:
“A genuinely progressive society would allow boys and girls to be whatever they want to be so I am absolutely perfectly happy if boys want to wear dresses…. but the problem comes when we decide that the child is genuinely internally and in some sense not a boy but a girl and that is where we get into trouble. So, I don’t believe there is anything wrong with a boy’s body if he wants to wear a dress.”
In the interests of transparency let me explain the original charges. One or more WEP members alleged the above views demonstrated:
“Discrimination against transgender people”
“Lack of suitability to represent the party”
“Fundamental disagreement with the core values of the party”
The Committee upheld the complaints and also concluded that my subsequent conduct had brought the Party into disrepute. I disputed the Committee’s findings. I did not accept that I had fundamentally disagreed with the Party’s core values. The Committee’s Report makes clear the core values with which I am fundamentally at odds is the Party’s core value of gender. I initially found this assertion nonsensical. At the time of the broadcast I believed my views were wholly commensurable with the Party’s stated position: “everyone has the right to define their gender or to reject gendered divisions as they choose”. The core value that a child’s biological sex could be socially constructed had not been made clear to me.
I was somewhat surprised to hear Walker state at the #WPUK event that she could not discuss the WEP’s decision to divest me of my role because of issues of confidentiality. This is extremely misleading:
Firstly, when I was interviewed I adamantly refused to be bound by rules of confidentiality. I feared that confidentiality would protect the complainant(s) and the WEP but ‘put me in the dock’ behind closed doors.
Secondly, although it did not name me, the WEP drew attention to the fact that, on the date of the broadcast, a complaint had been received and a Spokesperson was being investigated for conduct which promoted “prejudice against the transgender community”. There was no constitutional obligation to publicize the complaint or the ensuing investigation, but the Party chose to do so.
Thirdly, in today’s world of social media, it should have also been obvious that the moment the investigation was publicized I would be immediately named, and indeed that was the case. After the programme, Toni Harrison, a trans identified WEP member, tweeted to @WEP that my expressed views had demonstrated transphobia and that the WEP should divest me of my role.
The identity of the complainant(s) has been kept confidential
I was moved to exercise a right of reply when Walker refused to address some comments from the panel about the political significance of what had happened to me. She used the issue of confidentiality as the reason for her silence.
The purpose of the #WPUK event was to discuss the possible impact on women and girls if the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition ACT (2004) become enshrined in law. The law would enable men to self-identify as women through changes to certification, including birth certification, which would record natal female not natal male. Panelists variously explored issues of the increasing current de facto acceptance that transwomen are women by the Labour Party, the WEP, and other institutions. They did so with subtlety, and affirmed their respect for the rights of trans identifying adults. However, the following day Toni Harrison tweeted about the event:
It is becoming clear that sections of liberal society are persuaded by reductive binary logic: either you accept that men who identify as women, including those with unmodified male bodies, are not only transwomen but are women and have been sexed female since birth, or you are a transphobe (and worse).
In conclusion, I utterly disagree that I promote transphobia, and I have found it shocking that the WEP has chosen to adopt this stance. The importance of this debacle goes far beyond the local, internal wrangles of a small Party. The issues upon which these events shed light are societal, and illustrate a deep belief system at the heart of transgender identity politics whose consequences are wide-ranging: Men who identify as women are women and this belief has to be accepted not only as rational and but as the irrefutable truth.
In anchoring transgender identity as inherent, outside of the social forces that have shaped it, and in describing any dissent as illiberal, free thought as well as free speech can be erased. Whilst the WEP and the Labour Party leave unremarked the chilling comments such as the ones made above, they discipline and expel women party members for any dissent from what has become an article of faith.
The significance of the WEP debacle is the larger terrible irony that a Party which had set out to be revolutionary for women has highlighted the very weakness of its own approach. The result of aligning itself with transgender identity politics is to obfuscate, drown out and suppress the very voices the WEP set out to listen to and to promote, namely the voices of women.
The more ‘the progressive left’ enshrines in its constitutions and policies its belief that transwomen are women, and that boys who do not conform to gender stereotypes are girls, and compels its party members and officials to faithfully adhere, the greater the need for women to resist such authoritarianism and to continue their historical struggles for bodily, intellectual and political freedoms.
De Wallen, the infamous red light district in Amsterdam, Holland, is under threat. Many of its window brothels, in which women are displayed like carcasses for the entertainment of sex tourists, are closing down. Most legal street prostitution zones across the country have closed, and soon they will all cease operation. A number of politicians and law enforcers are now accepting that legalised prostitution has been an unmitigated disaster. There is currently a proposed law being considered by the Dutch Senate which, if passed, would result in punters being criminalised if they pay for sex with a trafficked, pimped or otherwise coerced woman.
These changes are the result of a vibrant sex trade abolitionist movement emerging in Holland.
The Dutch legalised their brothel industry in the year 2000. The government promised that this would result in safety for the women, and an end to trafficking. It claimed that everything would be above board, safe and clean. The opposite happened. Sex tourism is now a major industry, with British men being one group of Europeans visiting the city to pay for sex. A number of punters I have interviewed told me that they wouldn’t have dreamt of using prostituted women back home, but that being in Holland gave them permission to do it.
The illegal and unlicensed sex trade has boomed under legalisation, trafficking of women has risen dramatically, demand is on the rise and the women are certainly no safer than they were when pimping was illegal.
I have been visiting Holland over the course of 15 years, researching the consequences of legalisation. I have interviewed sex buyers (including one who told me he first paid for sex when he was 12 years old), women in brothels, pimps and pro-legalisation lobbyists that make a profit off the backs of prostituted women.
Xaviera Hollander is a big part of the propaganda machine that promotes the notion that prostituted women under legalisation are having a great time. Hollander is known for her memoir, The Happy Hooker: My Own Story, which sold by the millions. I visited her at her home in Amsterdam, to ask if she thinks the women are happy under legalisation. She admits to me that trafficking is on the rise, and that legalisation is far from effective in removing criminality from the sex trade. Coming from a former pimp, this is quite something.
There are large numbers of tour guides offering tours around Amsterdam’s red light areas. I took one of these tours last year, and was told that legalisation is a perfect model, that the women are safe and happy and the public accept the window brothels as part of the architecture. I asked the guide where he got his information from, and he told me that the Prostitution Information Centre (PIC) provide, for a fee, information for all of the tour companies. The PIC is run as a business by women who claim to be “sex workers”. In fact they appear to be nothing of the kind, being a company charging for this advice and therefore profiting from prostitution.
What once looked like a revolutionary approach to prostitution is now clearly seen as a disaster, by all except those who seek to make a profit from prostitution.
Jolanda Boer is a senior public prosecutor specialising in human trafficking. Over the past decade Boer has dealt with more than 100 such cases in Amsterdam. “There have been cases where the girl has been raped by their pimps and threatened into working behind the windows. The women are not in a position to freely tell people when something is going wrong. But of course they’re smiling because if you don’t you’re not going to get a client,” says Boer.
I can’t understand why erotic retailers like Ann Summers have persisted into the twenty-first century. The store claims to be “sexy, daring, provocative and naughty”, and somewhat predictably positions itself as empowering for women. As a feminist of the unfashionable type, I can’t help but be suspicious of any form of sexual liberation that can be bought or sold.
And yet, I’d never really thought of Ann Summers as being particularly threatening to the rights of women, more just a faintly depressing reflection of heteronormativity. This changed when I saw they’d teamed-up with Pornhub. The website is reputedly the largest purveyor of online pornography in the world. Pornhub guidelines state that content flagged as “illegal, unlawful, harassing, harmful, offensive” will be removed. Nonetheless, the site still contains simulated incest and rape with some of the more easily published film titles including “Exploited Teen Asia” (236 million views) and “How to sexually harass your secretary properly” (10.5 million views.) With campaigns such as #metoo and #timesup are sweeping social media, it seems bizarre that a high street brand would not consider Pornhub merchandise as toxic.
I have no doubt that some reading this will be burning to point out that feminist pornography exists. In name of course it does, but then again, Theresa May calls herself a feminist when it suits. Whether you believe feminist pornography is either possible or desirable, it is worth remembering that what is marketed as such comprises a tiny portion of the market. This won’t make me popular, but it is worth remembering feminism is not about celebrating every choice a woman makes – it is about analysing the social context in which choices are made. Furthermore, that some women also watch porn is evidence of how patriarchy shapes our desire, not that pornography is woman-friendly.
Ann Summers parts the net curtains of nation’s suburban bedrooms and offers a glimpse into our peccadillos and preferences. That a mainstream high street retailer blithely offers guidance on hair-pulling, whipping and clamps, as well as a full range of Pornhub branded products is disturbing. This is not about women’s empowerment or mutual sexual fulfilment, it is about eroticising women’s pain.
We are living in a world saturated with images of women and girls suffering; to pretend that there is no connection between pornography and the four-in-ten teenage girls who say they have been coerced into sex acts is naive in the extreme. For too long the state claimed that violence in the home was a domestic matter. Women and girls are now facing an epidemic of sexual violence behind bedroom doors and it is not a private matter. We need to ask ourselves which matters more: the sexual rights of men or the human rights of women?
Gail Dines has reported that, in 2002, the ‘Free Speech Coalition’, a lobby group for the LA based porn industry, won the case of Ashcroft vs. Free Speech Coalition by arguing that “the 1996 Child Pornography Prevention Act – which prohibited any image that “is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct” – limited the pornography industry’s free speech, the FSC succeeded in narrowing the law to cover only images of actual minors. The path was cleared for the porn industry to use legal-age performers but make them look much younger. Following the Ashcroft decision, Internet porn sites featuring young (and very young-looking females) exploded, and the industry realized that it had hit upon a very lucrative market segment.”
There is no ambiguity here, that is pornography that is meant to be consumed as child porn; the performer may be over 18, but she is dressed up like a child, and she is child-sized compared to the man.
Image found on tumblr, where I commented: So this is virtual child porn, being sold as ‘teen’ porn. And ‘teen’ is consistently one of the most popular porn search terms. And people use the fact that ‘teen’ is one of the most popular search terms, as ‘proof’ that porn is harmless.
Now, the Labour Party has appointed Munroe Bergdorf to its LGBT+ advisory board, Bergdorf’s ‘activism’ involves telling women to shut up about their bodies, because this excludes men (I have yet to see, anywhere, a post-menopausal or post-hysterectomy woman complain that reproductive rights activism didn’t ‘centre’ her enough):
I’m hardly the first radical feminist to point out that these accusations of ‘white feminism’ are absurd, as if abortion access, maternal mortality rates, FGM, and child sexual exploitation doesn’t disproportionally affect non-white women globally.
Trans model and recently appointed member of the LGBT+ advisory board for the Labour Party, Munroe Bergdorf, recently demonstrated his allegiance to New Feminism by demanding those formerly known as women stop talking about our bodies at our feminist marches, lest we alienate mankind by acknowledging the fact that all of mankind comes out of our vaginas (also by advocating empowerment through cutting up your face in order to appear more feminine and buying makeup).
Today, he has further demonstrated his generosity towards ex-women, gifting us his feminist leadership via an article for Grazia about how the vagina’d are getting vagina all over his feminism.
“Feminism: the advocacy of women’s rights based on the equality of the sexes. A simple enough concept, right? Wrong!”, Bergdorf writes. “This is 2018 and if the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that feminism isn’t for women, it’s for everyone except women, and it’s particularly not for women who have human female bodies, which came out of the box defective, full of holes and with missing parts.” Perhaps not a direct quote, but my ovaries are really a pair of extra eyes that allow me to read between the lines. Neat!
[…] To Bergdorf’s shock and awe, his pre-Women’s March lecture did not go over well with the vagina’d. And to be fair, it is truly amazing that in a world wherein females have been rendered invisible in politics, art, literature, and history, for centuries, we wouldn’t center the feelings of men in our activism. Bergdorf “longs” for the day more non-men who have clawed their way into positions of power and visibility use those platforms to talk about issues affecting men who are now dictating what we are and how we may discuss our bodies and liberation. And I, for one, cannot wait. The reign of vaginas and old bananas has gone too far. Not all knitted pink hats with cat ears are literal vaginas, and not all owners of no-elastic leopard print thongs from 2005 are women!
A veteran feminist and opponent of government plans to streamline how people can legally change their gender aims to set up a “new women’s liberation movement” to lobby a future Labour government.
Ruth Serwotka, convener of the Socialist Feminist Network, said she and others on the left had been “frozen out” of voicing their concerns to the party leadership about what they believe would be the impact of the government’s proposed Gender Recognition Act. The act would make it easier for people to self-declare their gender without having to be assessed by clinicians.
Nearly 500 people from Labour, the Greens, the Women’s Equality party and trade unions attended the latest meeting of the group, which took place in London at a location that was kept secret because of what the group alleges is intimidation by trans activists.
“I think that in time there will be an impact on Labour’s support among women and trust in the party from women,” said Serwotka.
Further meetings are planned around the country, she said, and will lead to the establishment of “a new women’s liberation movement” later this year.
“It will talk about wider issues than just transgender issues and really go back to the founding principles of the women’s liberation movement, look at whether they are fit for purpose, and consider what any new founding principles might look like. We want to do that because we certainly want to be able to influence a Labour government.”
The campaign by Serwotka and other feminists comes against the backdrop of divisions in Labour over whether transgender women can be included on all-women shortlists for parliamentary seats. The party is embarking on a consultation after confirming they are welcome to stand without a gender recognition certificate.
Divisions threatened to spill over on Saturday at the annual meeting of an influential group on the party’s left, whose membership includes Jeremy Corbyn and Jon Lansman, the activist currently involved in a separate power struggle to become Labour’s general secretary.
Factions in the bitter split had both been encouraging supporters to join the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, which met in central London.
They include CLPD member Jennifer James, who has established a crowdfunding campaign to bankroll a potential legal challenge in relation to Labour policy on all-women shortlists. The crowdfunder states that the election of self-identifying transwomen as women’s officers and their inclusion on all-women shortlists is reducing and undermining female representation in the party.
James issued a call for allies to attend the campaign’s annual meeting after a young Labour activist, Max Shanly, called on people to join the group in order to “clear out the transphobes and cranks”. James’s online campaign, which has now raised more than £23,000, has been criticised as “transphobic” with figures such as the MP Clive Lewis supporting trans women being allowed on to all-female shortlists and describing James as “wrong”.
In the past few weeks I have been called trash, disgusting, despicable, f**ing scum, compared to a Nazi, a white supremacist, and a supporter of apartheid South Africa. I have had the insults ‘TERF’ (trans exclusionary radical feminist), transphobe and bigot aimed at me too many times to count.
I am one of the women Labour Party members who recently put my name to a crowdfunder to raise money for a legal examination of whether Labour is abiding by the Equality Act 2010. Currently the Gender Recognition Act states that a transgender person wishing to legally change their sex must meet certain criteria – to ‘live as’ the opposite sex for two years and a have a doctor’s diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Once they’ve been through this process they are given a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), can change their birth certificate to say female instead of male, and access sex-segregated spaces currently reserved for women such as female dorms in backpacker hostels, hospital wards, women’s prisons or domestic violence shelters (basically spaces where women are likely to be vulnerable or in a state of undress).
Although the Equality Act does allow providers of women-only spaces and services to disqualify transwomen (even with a GRC) in certain circumstances (such as where privacy or the likelihood of distress are important considerations) these exemptions are underused and poorly understood. The Equality Act also is clear that only those who are legally female may stand on all-women shortlists. However we believe Labour have overridden the Act and are allowing those who are legally male to stand on all-women shortlists and as women’s officers, although there has never been any policy discussion or debates about this in the party’s usual democratic way.
Trans rights activists have been lobbying hard for changes to the Gender Recognition Act so that those who wish to change from male to female can simply ‘self-identify’ as women, with all the currently required checks and processes removed. Any man could simply sign a form and become, legally, a woman.
Every single person outside politics I have spoken to about this can see quite clearly and quickly why many women may not want to be naked around naked, male-bodied strangers – in spaces such as communal showers in swimming pools or prisons, for instance. But that is already happening with the current checks in place, and could stand to increase significantly with the introduction of transgender self-identification.
One in five women have been sexually abused as children. The same number have experienced sexual assault or attempted sexual assault as adults (compared with one in 25 men). In the UK, male sex offenders outnumber women sex offenders by 50 to one. That’s why women have rightly learned to be careful around men – not because all men are a threat but because they represent a vastly higher threat than people of their own sex.
There are no officially collected statistics on the crime patterns and rates for transwomen. Some studies suggest that for sex offences it is equally as high as males, reports in reputable news outlets in the past couple of years show sex offence convictions are at least 10-20 times the rate that of biological women.
Prison Officers Association reps have voiced concerns about the potential for abuse, and as the British Association of Gender Identity Specialists puts it, it would be “rather naïve” to suggest that male prisoners wouldn’t pretend to be transgender in order to access women prisons.
These kinds of dignity and safety issues are just one aspect of the proposed law changes. I put my name to the crowdfunder in part simply as a matter of principle. The Gender Recognition Act hasn’t been changed, and the Labour Party should be abiding by current law.
But what’s happened to me, and every other woman I know in the Labour Party who has publicly stated they want to examine the impacts of these proposed changes, is an onslaught of abuse of the type I mention above. My name has been put on a ‘hit-list’ and an active campaign launched by a number of Labour members to have us expelled for ‘transphobia’. Two women on the list have been suspended from Labour, one for saying ‘women don’t have dicks’. So far nobody in a senior position within the party has spoken up for the many, many women (and good numbers of men) who have serious concerns about these issues.
Meanwhile women have had their employers contacted by anonymous activists accusing them of transphobia for simply questioning the trans rights agenda – every single meeting that women have tried to organise to discuss the issues has been targeted by activists attempting to shut it down.
Labour’s current position on trans self-identification is a huge mistake. I have had so many messages from women in the Labour Party saying thank you for speaking out on this, that it is important to them but they feel too intimidated to voice their thoughts about it. But I shouldn’t be being congratulated for being ‘brave’ for calling for evidence-based policy making where those who are affected are allowed a voice in the process.
It shouldn’t be ‘brave’ to say that women who are vulnerable or in a state of undress should not be forced to share private spaces with male-bodied people, nor to question whether those same people are women simply because they say they are.
There are realistic solutions which could ensure safety and dignity for both women and transwomen, such as the provision of third transgender/gender neutral spaces – we need to be able to discuss these. It’s not radical feminism to say this, it’s a matter of safety, fairness and common sense. Everyone outside politics I’ve spoken to about it agrees this needs some proper thinking through. The 6% of women voters who say they may switch their voting intention away from Labour seem to agree too.
The High Court today handed down judgment in a ground breaking judicial review brought by three women formerly involved in prostitution, challenging the Government’s Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Regulations. They argued successfully that the disclosure of their convictions for soliciting is disproportionate and a breach of the right to respect for private life.
The women, who had all been groomed into prostitution as teenagers presented evidence of the far-reaching impact of prostitution-specific records on all aspects of their lives. The DBS scheme requires mandatory disclosure of ‘spent’ criminal records when applying for jobs or volunteer activity in prescribed areas, primarily involving contact with the vulnerable. Following previous legal challenges, there is a filtering mechanism but it only applies to single convictions. As the women had shown in evidence, soliciting by its nature almost invariably results in multiple convictions. Their evidence showed that the disclosure of such records was deeply stigmatising, impacted on the ability of women to exit from prostitution and adversely impacted on employment opportunities, volunteering, education and training opportunities.
The Judges provided a strong judgement recognising the disproportionate nature of disclosure and the significant violation of their right to private life. It should result in the women being able to have their DBS records filtered to remove the soliciting offences – though the mechanism for this is not yet clear.
Fiona Broadfoot, one of the claimants, who waived her anonymity in this case and has been fighting this battle for over 20 years said, “Finally, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders – it’s a vindication. I have carried these convictions around – 8 pages of them – all my life and it’s a disgrace. Not one of those men who bought and used and abused me – even the ones who knew fine well I was a child when first put on the streets – has ever had to face the consequences of his actions. It has been a long fight but worth it.”
Harriet Wistrich the Lawyer for the women said, “This is an important judgment – although there were only three claimants in this case, the judgment will benefit all women in these circumstances and has the potential to bring about real change for a sex trade survivors who should never have been criminalised in the first place. Unfortunately, the court were not persuaded by our argument that the practice discriminates against women or is in breach of duties with regard to trafficked women. We will be seeking permission to appeal in relation to those broader points. It is not easy for women with a history of prostitution to come forward and advocate for themselves and others – so much stigma attends them – so the courage and determination of these women is to be applauded.”
Karen Ingala Smith (CEO for nia a women’s charity supporting the women) said, “We feel strongly that these women should never have been convicted in the first place prostitution is symptomatic of women’s continued inequality and discrimination and a form of violence against women. These women were exploited and coerced and yet it is their lives, not those of their buyers and pimps, that were blighted with convictions. They should not have had to take up this fight, but they did and it is to the benefit of all those exploited in prostitution”.
This is the complaint I left, feel free to copy or use as a template:
“The use of the term ‘sex work’ in a piece relating to the commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls. Fiona Broadfoot was 15 when she was first commercially sexually exploited, 15 is below the age of consent so this was statutory rape, rape in not ‘work’. Broadfoot has said clearly on twitter that she was never a ‘sex worker’. ‘Sex work’ is a partisan term and should be used with caution, and should never be used to describe the commercial sexual exploitation of children.”
Buzzfeed has also reported on this, and managed to do so without calling a commercially raped child a ‘worker’, so a website I associate primarily with listicles has done better than the British Broadcasting Corporation:
“I met a pimp aged 15, and two weeks later I was thrown into the violent and abusive world of prostitution,” Broadfoot, 48, from Bradford, West Yorkshire, told BuzzFeed News. “Rape became an occupational hazard but I was arrested, charged, and criminalised for loitering for the purposes of being a common prostitute.
“After more than 20 years out of prostitution, I am still having to explain my criminal record to any prospective employer. It feels like explaining my history of abuse.”
She told BuzzFeed News that she sobbed when she heard that her legal challenge had been successful after the judge’s decision was handed down today.
“Finally, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders – it’s a vindication,” she said. “I have carried these convictions around – eight pages of them – all my life and it’s a disgrace. Not one of those men who bought and used and abused me – even the ones who knew fine well I was a child when first put on the streets – has ever had to face the consequences of his actions. It has been a long fight but worth it.”
She added: “I’m absolutely delighted about the decision. A huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I can now live my life with dignity and not in the shadow and stigma of abuse.”
Broadfoot said she was also pleased to have won the case “for the hundreds of other women who have been convicted” under similar circumstances.
“It’s about time that the powers that be take a look at the legislation surrounding the sex trade,” she said, “and put the criminal focus right where it belongs: on the sex buyers and pimps and traffickers.”
The evidence presented by the women showed that the disclosure of their records was deeply stigmatising, impacted their ability to exit prostitution, and had adversely affected employment, volunteering, education and training opportunities.
In August, Broadfoot told BuzzFeed News: “I couldn’t get on a university degree, a social work degree, I couldn’t get into child development at college. They said I could get on to the course but I wouldn’t be able to find a placement because of my criminal record.
“I’ve been discriminated against in my workplace – I wouldn’t even apply for some jobs. I wanted to be on the PTA at my son’s school and I had to tell the headteacher. It was really embarrassing.”
Each time she has to disclose her criminal record it’s “humiliating”, she said. “I feel so exposed. They say it’s about safeguarding – safeguarding who? After all the hell I’ve been through.
“When I was pregnant with my beautiful son I was watching over my shoulder. I was petrified they’d take him off me. I’ve had ‘prostitute’ daubed on my house. It’s horrible being treated like that.
“What that does to me is make me feel like I deserved that abuse – it messes with your head in terms of your recovery.”
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