Rape Reform

During the last six months we have witnessed massive changes proposed toward the authorities over the handling of rape cases. The ‘End to End’ rape review was published, putting forward substantial reform to the approach to sexual violence by the Police and CPS. Sarah Everand, the abduction, rape and murder of this blameless woman by a serving Police Officer saw convulses of dismay and colosal out pourings of grief. As a response, mass protests against violence towards women took place throughout the Nation. The most momentous was in Clapham Common, London, near to where Sarah was seized. Afresh, we encountered merciless treatment of the peaceful protestors by the Metropolitan Police. 

Are the reforms proposed being acted upon?

Are the Police force being monitored effectively?

Are women safe at the hands of the law?

The ‘End to End’ Rape review was published for public viewing in June of this year. The report proffers copious proposals, noatably; the figures for rape cases being prosecuted in court, return to the levels of 2016. Progress around survivor engagement and the timeliness of the procedure at all phases. Safeguarding more convoluted cases, ensuring they are not being forsaken due to the feasibility of a conviction. Cases steeped in merit to be referred to the CPS by the Police and the necessity to upturn public assurance of resolutions given by the prosecuting agency. An escalation of early guilty pleas culminating in reduced trauma for survivors. The level of trauma for court proceedings for a survivor surpasses that of the initiatory violation. Curbs on requests for information, mainly digital, to be limited to what is reasonable. Moves away from what was dubbed the ‘Digital strip search’ and further analysis of how the report eminently criticized the Police for focussing investigations on the survivor, contrary to the perpetrator.

The abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, in spring of thid year has marked a key junction in campaigning for the end of violence towards women. Sarah, a thirty-three year old female, disappeared while walking home through Clapham after spending an evening with friends. Her bludgeoned corpse was located a week later in woodland in Kent. A forty-eight year old serving Police Officer: Wayne Couzens, was arrested, charged and has subsequently submitted a guilty plea in court. Questions were asked as to why he was employed as a Police Officer. His nickname was ‘The Rapist’ and he has been suspected of indecent exposure on three occasions. 

On the evening of Saturday the 15th of March mass protests took place up and down the UK. The most substantial was concentrated around the bandstand on Clapham Common, close to where Sarah had been subjugated. The Duchess of Cambridge: Kate, attended the vigil earlier in the day to pay heed with flowers. Despite being peaceful, the gathering was deemed illegal due to covid restrictions. The Metropolitan Police pillaged the protest, women were lambasted and many detained needlessly. Notably, electrifying redhead: Patsy Stevenson, pommelled to the ground haphazardly, then brutishly handcuffed in full view of Global media. Calls for Cressida Dick, the Chief Constable of the Metropolitan Police, to resign were voiced. Apologies were given by herself but no offers to vacate her post were volunteered. There has been further speculation in her involvement in other Police corruption matters since the spring. 

In Liverpool, proposals to assemble for a kindred vigil were relinquished, the event was coerced into the virtual spectrum. The event organiser was issued with a ‘Cease to Desist’ letter by Merseyside Police, the former deputy Mayor; Anne  O’Byrne        who was assisting enabling the protest to go ahead received a similar warning from the authorities. The organiser was then to meet with Serena Kennedy who has superseded Andy Cooke as Chief Constable of Merseyside Police. Some optimism over the plight of Rape Survivors can be gained from female leadership.

Six weeks forward from the recommendations of the report in a Nation still in the latter days of the pandemic, real changes are implausible. Will any advances  be prevalent in six months and will there be hope for the next generation? Should the ‘Digital strip search’ have been allowed to submerge in the first instance? Is returning the prosecution of rapists to 2016 levels going far enough? Should the suitability of an individual for a Public Protection role not have already been considered before the deadly conduct of Wayne Couzens. What is coherent is that a corner has been turned and any actions and recommendations can only be considered positive towards the plight of rape survivors.

Fun in Acapulco: the Planter

‘Fun in Acapulco’ planter is artist: Alison Little latest commission. Bring colour, glory and a latino vibe to the streets of the UK.

‘Fun in Acapulco’ was the top grossing movie of 1963 in the US. A musical, starring Elvis as a lifeguard come hotel singer.

Presley didn’t actually travel to Mexico, a stunt double was used and filming with the star was completed in LA. The entertainer had been declared a ‘Person non grata’ by the Mexican authorities. This was due to rioting after an earlier release, his records had been banned from Mexican airwaves and publicly burnt in El Zocalo town square.

The planter delights in the film, replicating the billing poster. Lilies finish off the piece, blooming in full delight.

Commissions start at £80

Brunswick Bridge: Dock

A photo journey around Brunswick docks in Wirral.

Bridge pivots into place
Elevate, gravitate
Filtered access askew
Strength of the structure
Victorian gateway to dock
Now: thoroughfare: office lets
Hooped together
A set of three
Geometrics of modernism
Three again!
Life rings tossed
Discarded among waste
Road markings anew
Diagonals of direction
Graffiti of misguidance
Lined graphics, business park
Place to perch
Escape from conferencing
House of Wirral Water
Dropped into place
Palette loaded
Original features in place
Waters of dock, oiled by shipping
Backed by industries of old
Waterlogged short ways
Grit and weed engrained
Lined up, awaiting lifting
Once rang out
Masses flat-capped workers
Days start, days end

Photography and Words

Alison Little

Where the Crawdads Sing

If this is one of the books you were intending to read over lock down, but were yet to get to the novel, leave it no longer. A magnificent novel, covering so many proceedings from a young girl coming of age, to rape, to murder, to the justice system. A love story, a murder mystery and a courtroom drama intertwining through one narrative.

A love story, a murder mystery and a courtroom drama

This is Delia Owens: the author’s, initial fictional novel, although she has been published widely over the study of wildlife within Africa. She learned courage during her formative years in South Georgia from her parents. The title came from an expression of her mothers:

‘Go Play yonder where the Crawdads Sing’

An intensely illusionary use of the language, the wilds of marsh visualised within the mind of the reader. Characters which we get to know and see grow through the novel, those we miss when we have finished reading.

Go Play yonder where the Crawdads Sing

We follow the journey of a young girl: Kya from birth to her eventual death. The survival of abject poverty to becoming self-sufficient from a tender age. A lifestyle of isolation where only one day of school is ever attended, self taught and assisted by a boy who will become her lifelong partner. Artwork and literal understandings of her engagements with marine life are published widely. We encounter many aspects of marginalisation, but ultimately ‘Swamp Girl’ was to the waterways of North Carolina, what ‘Stig’ was to the dump: where she belonged and thrived. 

‘Swamp Girl’ was to the waterways of North Carolina, what ‘Stig’ was the dump.

Where the Crawdads sing is to be made into a film to be produced by Reese Witherspoon. Delia has met with Reece and is very optimistic about the movie and the portrayal of Kya. Filming in the marshlands of North Carolina is due to start later in the year. She has also begun work on a second novel, again set in remoteness, but this time the wilds of Florida.

A narrative of twists where the justice of literature wins in righteousness over the legal system of mid-century America. Literary fiction at its greatest, but could easily be read on a rainy day of your staycation. Don’t leave it on your ‘Next lock-down’ list and get reading!