The twisted logic of safety: Violence Against Women and Girls

Friday, 1 April 2022 — Institute of Race Relations

As the House of Commons reinstates most of the clauses of the Nationality and Borders Bill removed by the Lords, this is no time to give up. Months of brilliant campaigning and steadfast support in the Lords means that the legislation has now entered what is commonly referred to as the ‘ping pong’ stage, where the Commons votes, and the Lords, with its powers of delay, sends the legislation back. The bill, which relies for its legitimation on the Brexit state’s promise of ‘strong borders’, aims to further embed the hostile environment for migrants and refugees. But as research by Sophia Siddiqui, published this week on IRR News shows, it also emboldens far-right vigilantes to exploit gender issues, hunting down ‘immigrant criminals’, in the name of protecting women. In Weaponising violence against women, Siddiqui homes in on the far-right campaign that followed the tragic murder in Tullamore, Ireland, of schoolteacher Ashling Murphy, as well as the formation of a Polish so-called ‘citizens police’ which, in the name of ‘defending our women’, has attacked students and others, mainly from Africa and south Asia, fleeing the war in Ukraine.

If strong borders are justified as means of safeguarding women from migrant crime, then the same twisted logic of safety – this time in relation to protecting girls from ‘gangs’ and drugs – was presumably what motivated teachers at an east London school to call the police on a 15-year-old black teenager. The details of the strip-search by police officers of Child Q on school premises are now well known. Last week we published a resource, including a solidarity statement from Professor Gus John, on the case that has drawn attention to ‘adultification’ bias – where black and global majority children are held to adult standards.

More case studies of how racism impacts on women and girls can be found in our regular calendar of racism and resistance, from the NHS charges for maternity care for migrant women, that damage the health of mothers and babies, to warnings that the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme lacks safeguarding checks, putting refugees at risk of exploitation. We also provide a rolling update on developments in the Child Q case, including evidence that 23 of 25 children strip-searched in Hackney and Tower Hamlets last year, were black, and an admission from the Hackney Base Unit Commander that the Met has a problem with officers viewing inner-London children as adults and that the Child Q incident would not have happened to a child in the Cotswolds. These stories and thousands more can be found on our newly launched Register of Racism and Resistance – a searchable archive of all calendars dating back to 2014.

And finally, the IRR was delighted to have been asked to contribute to the Northern Police Monitoring Group’s (NPMG) 2022 report on Reflections and Resistance. An online launch will take place on Tuesday 26 April, with speakers from IRR, NPMG and Abolitionist Futures – register here to attend.

IRR News team

Yesterday was the launch of our long-awaited Register of Racism and Resistance, the first in a series of projects and activities as part of IRR50. The Register is a searchable archive of all calendars of Racism & Resistance dating back to 2014. If you weren’t able to attend, you can watch the launch event and demonstration back via Youtube and Facebook Live.

Watch Now

From Ireland to Poland Weaponising violence against women

Sophia Siddiqui investigates how the murder of Ashling Murphy in Ireland was used by the far Right to push a racist and misogynistic agenda, and how this follows an all-too familiar pattern across Europe, now replicated at the Polish border, that grassroots groups are pushing back against.

Read Now

IRR Vice-Chair Frances Webber writes in the LRB Destroying the Asylum System

‘In the Commons, the government pushed through votes striking down clauses and reinstating those the Lords voted down, destroying the system of asylum as we know it.’

Our Vice-Chair Frances Webber wrote about the government’s Nationality and Borders Bill for the London Review of Books.

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A solidarity statement from Gus John Child Q – a defining moment for schools

Last week, we published a resource and Twitter thread on the case of Child Q including a solidarity statement from Gus John, former director of education in Hackney, which focuses on the specific issue of accountability within the academy school system.

Read Now

In this week’s calendar, we record racist incidents across the UK, as well as the shooting dead of an Argentinian rugby player in Paris, plus the retraumatisation of Romani Ukrainian refugees who have now left the Czech Republic for Germany. Find these stories and thousands more on our Register of Racism and Resistance database.

Read Now


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Posted in: UK

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