Monday, 23 December 2013

Nigella, Joanne, witnesses, privacy and the Watkins case.

This week has been, in some ways, very depressing. I met Nigella fleetingly at a book signing more than a decade ago. She was kind and gracious. So what if she had the odd spliff? Her children are teenagers,it would have done little more harm than a glass of wine. But what makes me angry is the way women have been treated in the news this week. Nigella's been hung out to dry, Jo Nikita Mzadjelic has been questioned and interrogated in a way which treated her like some kind of evil doer. Nigella had had to face the same problems but at least she's had some back up. She is not perpetrator, she's a very cool looking victim. It makes me really

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Joanne Mjadzelics, forget Pretty Woman, this is the real hooker with a heart of gold.

Not written for ages, but I wanted to write something about the Ian Watkins case as I've been so affected by it

I don't want to go into the details of the horrific case, they've been done to death.  One of the mothers and her little boy lived about ten minutes drive from me and is less than a year older than my son and it chills me to the bone that this was happening so close to me.

But in the midst of the most awful, depraved, evil behaviour there's somebody who gives me hope about humanity.

Joanna Mjadzelics persisted for five years to bring Watkins to justice.  In the face of ill health, threats of criminal charges, violent attacks and reams of online abuse she persisted and kept on reporting and reporting until he was finally sentenced to 35 years this Wednesday for his horrific attacks on children.

The hooker with a heart of gold is a familiar trope in our society.  Wikipedia describes her as 'an ostensibly immoral woman who demonstrates virtues absent in others'.  I guess our modern favourite is Vivian from Pretty Woman who is a heroine simply for getting her man. The tart with a heart goes right back to Mary Magdelene through Verdi's La Traviata to Dickens.  Dicken's Nancy is probably the closest to our own real life version - risking her own life to help the child Oliver.

But despite the fact that we fetishise the 'tart with the heart' or the 'hooker with a heart of gold' in literature and on film in our society it seems frighteningly possible that part of the reason Joanne Mjadzelics was ignored was because of her profession.  But who do they expect to come into contact with the kind of people who commit these crimes?  It's certainly not going to be a nun or a church going nursery school teacher.  If someone committing these dreadful acts confides in someone it's going to be the escorts or the lapdancers or the strippers of this world, which it is why it is so important that what they say is listened to and not dismissed.

Mjadzelics is attacked online for being 'vengeful' or 'wanting attention'.  Do you know what, I have no idea if she is somewhat motivated by revenge.  Perhaps she does enjoy the attention.  But if she does what should she have done?  Decided that she shouldn't report terrible abuse of children because it would make her look a bit bitter?  Let it carry on because she didn't want to be in the press?  These attacks on her are nonsense, I don't care if she has enjoyed the attention or if she has had the satisfaction of revenge - she has saved two children from horrific abuse and if she has had the kick of attention or revenge then that's just a sideshow.  I suspect she hasn't - if what she wanted was attention or revenge there would have been far easier more profitable ways for her to do that.  People ask why she went back - but many women went back to Watkins and his magnetic charm again and again.  Only one of those women was consistently reporting him even though she sometimes fell for what was clearly a hypnotic personality.

Vivian from Pretty Woman is someone many young women idolize. Forget her, Joanne Mjadzelics is the woman I would tell a daughter of mine to look up to.  Vivian might have got respect shopping on Rodeo Drive but Mjadzelics has allowed at least two children to lead lives free from the most horrendous abuse.

Joanne Mjadzelics, I salute you.