Friday, 4 March 2011

Taking a Break From The Blog Untill After The Summer.

Just to let readers know, I'll be taking a break from the blog from now untill October.

I've got quite a bit to get done behind the scenes. Im going to try and add another section to the blog for other relevant articles, and I need to submit some Freedom of Information requests which may need following up.

I've also got some stuff of my own to get done, and I want to enjoy the summer too.

Over the next two to three weeks I'll be tidying up the blog, and adding updates to various blog posts, including a very important graphic for 'The Stern Review - blog owners opinion', dont miss that. A notification of any update's will appear at the top of the homepage.

When I come back in October we'll continue, every Friday.

Anti-feminist pro-male, audio, video, and documents, including:

  • Catherin Hakim's 'Feminist Myths and Magic Medicine' document (dealing with the pay gap myth). 

  • The Force (Channel 4 documentary following the work of 'Crystl', the specialist rape unit in Portsmouth).

  • The Equal Treatment Bench Book (guidance issued to judges by The Judicial Studies Board. Specifically the parts on women and 'equality').

  • Abortion Wars (BBC TV documentary).

  • Gareth Malones 'Extraordinary School For Boys' (three part BBC TV documentary).

  • Panorama 'A Very Dangerous Doctor' (BBC TV documentary).

And a lot more.

So have a good summer, and see you back here the first friday of October.


Friday, 25 February 2011

A Century of Fatherhood s1e03 - The New Father - BBC TV programme.

Watch or download:

'In the 50's dream of married life, the husband had a clear role of provider and protector in his new home. But this dream of suburban family life had far less appeal to the generation of the 60's.

Some who'd grown up in solidly middle class homes saw suburbia as a trap, and wanted to break free from all convention, to discover who they really were.

One of them was public school boy, Rashid.

Rashid: "I always felt, very clearly, the ridiculousness of the moral code by which we lived. It was stultifying. It was rigid. I perceived myself at the age of twenty as a stuffed shirt. I couldnt say or think anything that hadnt been put into me by school, my parents, my family. I felt myself as an automaton."

The young men that would become the next generation of fathers were embracing the values of the 60's sexual revolution, with its explosion of hedonistic music and fashion. First to go were the taboo's on sex before marriage, once regarded as essential in encouraging couples to marry and stay together for life.

Rashid: "I ended up jumping into bed with the first woman who would have me really. Herself, a product of that same society, so already its a totally unsustainable relationship."

To begin with, the sexual freedom was liberating. It was made possible by the invention and widespread use of the contraceptive pill, but there were still many unplanned pregnancies. Young rebels like Rashid, soon became young husbands and fathers.

Rashid: "For a while actually, it was wonderful. Maximum sexual temptation, with maximum opportunity to express it. Very soon she got pregnant, and I was very excited because I've always loved kids, I've always been able to relate easily to kids."

Some British families were giving up on traditional notions of dad altogether. In an extraordinary piece of reverse migration, they rejected the material world of the west, and travelled East looking for spiritual and sexual enlightenment.

In 1977, Rashid and his family gave up their small farm to start afresh in an ashram in Poona. They joined 'The Orange People', becoming disciples of Indian mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who christened them all with new names. This is where Rashid, formally called Patrick, got his new name.

Rashid: "For me, a lot of that time in Poona was to do with letting go of a lot of our conditionings to do with 'mine'. So we didnt have any possesions, we didnt want any possessions, we didnt need it. Ok, I had a record player."

Bhagwan's followers tried to free their minds from all ideas of western convention. Open and loving relationships were regarded as the key to enlightenment. But they soon found, it wasnt that easy.

Rashid: "In a sense I was sort of letting go of 'my' wife, 'my' son, and by that reverse logic, I was, in a way, expecting that I could be with a girlfriend, with my son there, and it wasnt a big issue for him that she wasnt 'my' mummy. Infact, it didnt work like that. But I didnt really recognise clearly how deep the old thing is. That this is 'my wife', and 'my son', and 'my mother'. How deep those are, or even that they are hard-wired into us."

The emotional importance of family ties proved stronger than Rashid imagined. Although he remained a loyal disciple of Bhagwan, his wife soon left him, and returned to England with the children.

Rashid: "At some level, I always felt that the relationship with Nicky (his wife) was ongoing, that we were still together, although we had to go different ways to do it. I lived celibatley untill I got a 'Dear John' letter from her, saying actually now, she's with Johnny, and its all over between us. And for me that was very painful."

Rashids personal quest would result in a painful separation from his children that would last for many years.

Rashid re-established close contact  with his children when he returned to Britain, and now has a large extended family.

Rashid: "They've given me unconditional love."

The 'swinging sixties' is a decade thats become legendary for its sexually daring and extramarital affairs. Of course, there was nothing new about adultery, but the permissive atmosphere encouraged young people to take a more open and honest attitude to sexual adventures. When the secret came out however, the feelings of anger, jealousy, and rejection that were unleashed, could destroy a relationship.

What was once a life time commitment, was ending in divorce, and the trickle of divorce cases became a flood, after the 1969 'Divorce Reform Act' made it much easier for a couple to split up.

But the new divorce laws also helped turn the marriage break up into a battle ground.

One glamorous sixties marriage which ended in a bitter divorce battle, was that of playwright Terence Frisby.

Terence: "She went to see a divorce lawyer. I said we dont want a lawyer, lets just try and sort this out between us. You've been unfaithful. I've been unfaithful. What does it matter. The lives we've been living, what big suprise is that? And she sort of concurred with that. But this man, Im pretty sure now, in retrospect, he fancied her, and he was determined to get her into bed if he could. And he made sure that no reconciliation occurred."

Terence was one of the sixties fathers who discovered how the new divorce laws put men in a vulnerable position when it came to access to their children. He had to fight hard to see his young son, Dominic.

Terence: "I turned up at my mother-in-laws house, and knocked on the door to see Dominic, and no one was at home, and I just stood on the doorstep on this summers afternoon. I thought I was going to see my son for the first time for months. And then afterwards an apology was made 'Oh, she wasnt well, sorry.' If she wasnt well, then where was she? She wasnt at home. And so, even then, every little trick and nuance was used to try and twist the knife, and I can remember the pain of it, of course I can, but I remember the rage I felt about it. I thought it was disgusting that the court should even let it happen, and my own lawyers just shrugged and said 'Oh well, thats what the courts do."

Paradise for Terence Frisby was simply being able to see his son Dominic. His legal battle with his ex-wife to get access to him continued. This made the time they were able to spend together all the more precious.

Terence: "One of the best things that happened when he was a kid, was swimming. I took him swimming twice a week, thats when I got to see him twice a week when he was five or something. I taught him to swim at a very young age, and he embraced the water as only kids can."

But these joyful moments were always cut short, by painful handovers.

Terence: "Coming and picking him up was ghastly, and taking him back was worse. I used to call it the Berlin Wall handover, you remember in those days in the Cold War, the spies that were handed over at Checkpoint Charlie."

For Terence Frisby, the separation from his son Dominic was so devastating, in 1974 he helped set up the group 'Families Need Fathers', which campaigned for equal parenting rights in divorce cases.

Terence: "Suddenly, we had an epidemic of men deprived of their children because of divorce, and I dont think that had ever happened before. Divorce before the sixties was very much a middle, and upper middle class affair. For the first time, we heard this murmur coming up from underneath somewhere, that 'its not fair', which it wasnt, Im sorry to say something so banal, but there you are. And, I think 'Families Need Fathers' gave a voice to that. I heard so many stories in their walk-ins of ghastliness. It was very good that people could come and hear it was happening to other people because as always in these things, its jolly good to find you're not alone in the world."

Meanwhile, the big influx of fathers who came to Britain as economic migrants from new Commonwealth countries like India and Pakistan, also felt the pain of separation from their children, but for very different reasons.

Laeeq Khan arrived in Bradford from Pakistan in 1967. His aim was to work hard, to create a new and better life for the family he had left behind.

Laeek: "It was a very big decision. I didnt want to do that, because that would mean leaving the two boys, but I had to take it because I was so ashamed of my earnings in Pakistan. Not to be able to afford what they want, and in future, what they will expect from me."

Laeek was a proud breadwinner, who's mission, like many other post-war immigrants, was to provide for his wife and children. By saving hard, he hoped one day to be able to afford to bring them over to Britain, so they could all live together again. Though this meant he had to live apart from his wife Ferhat and his children for years, there was no quesion about his loyalty and devotion.

Laeek: "There was no way I could send them a lot of money, which I didnt have, so the only thing which I thought I should do, was to keep writing to Ferhat. So that, she at least, have a link with me every day, or almost everyday. Before I used to go to sleep, I always had a letter beside me, in the envelope, stamped, so that when I got up in the morning, on my way, I post that letter to Ferhat."

The fathers who'd left their families in new commonwealth countries to make a new home in Britain, knew the agony of being apart from their loved ones all too well. In 1974, after seven years of separation, Laeek Khan's wife and three children set out from their home town in Pakistan to join him in Bradford.

Laeek's muslim cultural background forbade any public display of the deep emotions he felt. He couldnt wait to take his family back to Bradford, to the new home he'd brought for them.

Laeek: "Then I brought them home. I was very proud. To bring them in my house. They waited seven years, and I was very proud to be a dad then."

Laeek trained to be a television engineer, so he could earn good money and provide for the needs of his family in a way that had been impossible in Pakistan.

He embodied the best values of the traditional father.

Laeek: "The boys were waiting eagerly for me to come home, and when I opened the door, they were behind the door (cue 3 excited little boys). They all around me. And they loved me. As if nobody is more important in their life, than their dad."

Laeek and Ferhat Khan are now proud grandparents, and are happy with the new life they made in Britain.

Laeek: "Our birthdays come, we look forward to them. Any excuse to celebrate. I still kiss them. I still kiss them infront of their wives. It doesnt deter me. He's my son. And those are my grand children. So thats my life. Thats my happiness."

In the 1970's and 80's, the influence of feminism put further pressure on the traditional family based on marriages for life, in which the mother stayed at home and the father went out to work. It was hugely influential in persuading the younger generation that housework was demeaning and that their should be a more equal relationship between men and women.

Women now wanted a career aswell as a family, just like their husbands. The idea of feminism was embraced by many men too, who believed that becoming more involved in bringing up their children would also enrich their lives.

The traditional working class family was changing fast. A change closely tied to the decline of the manufacturing industries that had supported the male breadwinner. In place of the old nuclear family, came the rise of the single parent family.

The new father of the 90's was proving that he could be very successful as the principle carer of young children. But traditional attitudes that mothers were always best, meant there was an institutional bias against fathers taking on this role.

In 1995, Paul Lawerence became the proud father of his first child, Kareem. He was a devoted dad, but after he and his partner split up, Paul found himself powerless to get the kind of contact time with his son he wanted.

Paul: "What was peculiar for me, was that the entire system didnt seem to support the concept that a man could parent his child. Eventually after a few battles, we (paul and his ex-wife), had to go to court for access. When I went to court, I looked at the judge and I realized I could not win. Because I actually applied for full custody of my son. I realized I couldnt win because for her (the female judge), it was a stretch to imagine that a man would want custody of his child. And without being racist in the least, I suspect a 6 foot black man with a beard just didnt fill her picture of what a father looked like. And our society is more comfortable thinking of children with women."

After a protracted legal battle, Paul was granted an access order that allowed him to see his son, every other weekend. But the order was sometimes broken by Pauls ex-partner, and he soon discovered there was little he could do about it.

Paul: "I felt angry because I fulfilled my requirements. We had gone to court. The court said that I should have my son. All you have to do is bring him to the door at 7 o'clock on a friday. And you choose not to do that. And you choose not to do that because you know theres nothing I can do. Monday morning I can ring a solicitor, but in reality, theres nothing I can do."

Dan Gardners life was also turned upside down after his wife had an affair. The divorce that followed was part of a new trend in which women initiated more marriage break ups than men. Even though Dan was the childrens main carer, suddenly, his position in the family seemed under threat.

Dan: "In spite of having done the equalitarian, equal roles within the partnership and family thing, when everything was in such turmoil emotionally with me, I kind of returned to the traditional mans role. That somehow the mother has a right to the family home, in a way that the man doesnt."

And although he moved out of the family home, the risk of losing his children soon focused Dan's mind.

Dan: "It was non-negotiable for me. That we should have equal sharing in the lives of our kids. Carrie's initial assumption was that she would, of course, get the kids, which I resisted right from the outset. I was possibly a bit cruel actually. When she suggested that, my instant reaction was, well actually, I've been looking after the kids, I think any court would let me have the kids. And I think that spooked her. So that brought her around very quickly to the idea of having 50/50 care arrangements."

A new generation of fathers whose marriages split up, were now demanding shared parenting rights. This was rarely achieved, because the courts preferred the children to live with one of the parents, usually the mother.

The change from hands-on father with a day to day caring role, to weekend dad, was hugely painful.

Matt O'Connor was a loving dad with two young sons. When his marriage broke up, he saw how the legal system turned partners against each other, aggravating every grievance, and denying him his role as a loving father.

Matt: "I went from seeing my children every day, to seeing them in a contact centre, for what the judge described as 'a cooling off period'. Which was profoundly distressing. Not just for me, I think, but for the kids. Because your at home one minute, and you're sitting infront of the T.V, and the next minute you're in this cold, inhospitable landscape being watched by three people sitting at a table."

Matt abandoned the court system, and came to a friendly arrangement with his ex-wife, so he could have regular access to his children. Then in 2001, Matt formed 'Fathers 4 Justice', to bring the plight of fathers like himself into the public eye. They soon made the headlines with dramatic protests, in which divorced dads dressed up as comic book super hero's, and scaled famous public buildings.

Matt: "Guys. Get your super suits on, down the fancy dress shop. Get a ladder. Go. And that was it.

"People say, why do you do these things? why do you subsequently go off and start a campaign? I went off and started a campaign because the law wasnt being enforced, the court orders werent being enforced. The law is farcical, grotesque and abusive to all the participant's that go into the system, including the mums. But most of all children."

"What sort of person is gonna say, actually, you know what? We dont need fathers. What sort of person is gonna say, Well, we're gonna put you through 8-10 years of going through the family justice system, bankrupt the family, emotionally and economically, with no resolution. Its a fundamentally abusive system. What we're saying, is we cant necessarily go back to the traditional nuclear family, but the most important thing is two parents are better than one. Retain the love and care of both parents. And never, never, hate your ex more than you love your children."
With the divorce rate ot an all time high, family break ups were hugley disruptive to childrens lives. This was further complicated when the parents went on to form new relationships and marriages.

The 1990's heralded a new era of step-parenting. By then, 1 in 8 of all children were growing up in a step family. There was no more difficult situation for a step-dad, than to be regarded by the children as mum's 'toyboy'.

Fathers have come a long way in the last hundred years. Most modern dads want to enjoy an intimate relationship with their children from the beginning. And breaking the bond with their children is something they're less inclined to accept than before. Fathers in history have often been stereotyped as remote, distant, and uncaring figures, but across a hundred years of change, encompassing a social and sexual revolution, they've enjoyed much closer and more important relationships with their children than has been previously thought.

Those who did, have enriched their own lives, on the way, changing attitudes, and making new lives possible for their children.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

A Century of Fatherhood s1e02 Fathers At War - BBC TV programme.

Watch or download:

'The Second World War had a devastating impact on family life in Britain, with repercussions still felt to this day.

It brought grief and heartache to millions of people across the land. It wrecked marriage's, and turned decent fathers into broken men.

4 million men were de-mobbed during the war, many of them fathers. Thousands were scarred by their experiences, and struggled to return to civilian life, in a world that had changed beyond all recognition. But their home coming could be just as traumatic for their children, for who daddy was a stranger.

In the years that followed, austerity would be replaced by affluence, and as stable marriages flourished, fathers would at last enjoy the simple pleasures of time spent with their sons and daughters. But children of The Blitz would soon grow up to become the rebellious teenagers of the 50's and 60's, and reject all that their fathers has fought for.

This is the continuing story of how Britains fathers have fought to overcome many obstacles in their struggle to bring up their children.

These are the tales of love and war, rebellion and redemption.

This is 'A Century of Fatherhood'.

For many families in Britain, life in the late 1930's was a happy one. With unemployment falling after years of depression, and home ownership on the rise, the future was looking bright.

But all this would change with the outbreak of The Second World War.

At the start of the war, The British Army numbered less than 900,000 men, compared to well over 4 million in the combined German armed forces. Conscription was introduced for all able bodied men between the ages of 18 and 41, and by the end of 1939, more than a million men had been called into service. Given the age range, many were fathers.

Before September was out, the British expeditionary force had set sail for France, and in the months that followed, more volunteers and conscripts would leave Britain for the Middle-East, North Africa, and Burma. And unlike those that left to fight at the beginning of The First World War, this time they were fully aware that they might not be coming back.

Julie Summers (Author and Historian): "Its very easy to forget that The Second World War came hard on the heals of The First World War, so that young men who were going away to fight, and were young fathers in 1939-1940, had quite possibly have had the experience of losing their own fathers, or uncles, or cousins, or even brothers in The First World War. And they knew the impact that had on family life."

Family life was disrupted further, as the threat of aerial attack loomed large. Over 3 million people, mostly school children from Britains towns and cities were evacuated to the countryside. But against all expectation, the air raids didnt happen. During the months of 'phoney-war', a false sense of security spread across the country, and in time, thousands of children returned home. When The Blitz finally began, over 5,000 of them would be killed.

Sonny Leigh grew up in Bermondsey in London. As a boy, he'd had a difficult childhood. And when he married his sweetheart Daisy in 1938, they vowed that they would bring up a happy family together. In 1940, Daisy gave birth to their first daughter, Pamela.

Sonny: "You cant describe the feeling. Its out of this world. Especially when you want something, and you've got it. She was about 6 weeks old, and I said to Daisy "Dont you think we ought to see about getting her christened?", and she said "Im going to give it untill she's two months, then we'll go to the church."

Sonny had volunteered for the auxiliary fire service at the outbreak of war, but was off-duty when the Germans began their aerial bombardment on September the 7th (1940). This was the first night of The Blitz, and London's Docklands, close to where Sonny lived bore the brunt of the attack. As the bombs fell, Sonny and his family fled to an air-raid shelter close to their home.

Sonny: "This night was a bloody awful night. It was like a bloody battlefield. Daisy and her mother, and Pamela, they were all in the shelter, and she said "I've left my rings and everything on the dressing table." So I run upstairs, grabbed her stuff, run downstairs, as I bent down to give it to Daisy, so the landmine came down. And that was it. Inside the shelter was all buckled, and they dug us out. I looked at Pamela and she was lying in this womans arms. I wanted to go and kiss her, but she looked asthough she was asleep. I dont want to wake her. I didnt know she was dead. I've regretted it ever since, that I never said goodbye."

After the death of his daughter Pamela in The Blitz, Sonny Leigh volunteered for the Navy, and went to sea as a stoker. At the height of The Battle of the Atlantic. At home in London, his wife Daisy was expecting another baby.

Sonny: "The petty officer came up and said "There's a telegram for you.", and when I read it, it said 'Daisy very ill. Maybe dead.' I was numb."

Daisy had had a miscarriage. But when Sonny asked the petty officer if he could take compassionate leave, he found there was little sympathy.

Sonny: "He took the telegram, and went and saw the First Lieutenant, the Lieutenant went and saw the old man. So the captain said "Tell him to get back on duty, he maybe dead himself in the next hour, a convoy is being attacked." And thats all there was to it. I couldnt cry because it hurt me so much."

Before the war was over, Daisy would lose another baby in child birth. The experience would have a devastating affect on Sonny.

Sonny: "I seized up, I suppose. I dont know. I was like a machine on automatic. I couldnt think straight."

In Billinge in 1942, Heather Burnley's mother recieved a telegram informing her, that her husband had been captured by the Japanese.

Over a quarter of around 50,000 British Servicemen taken prisoner in the far-east died in captivity. Mostly from starvation, punishment, or disease.

Heather's father couldnt know it, but at least the odds were in his favour.

Julie Summers (Author and Historian): "The statistics show that it was the married men in the prison camps, those men in their 20's and early 30's who generally did better, because they had some life experience behind them, and had children. So they had something to look forward to, something to live for, something to go back to. And even though they hadnt been able to communicate with them because the Japanese wouldnt allow them to write letters, never the less, some of them had kept diary's They had actually written so that they had something to show their children later."

Heathers father was imprisoned in Kuching prisoner of war camp in Borneo. Against all the rules, he kept a journal in which he recorded the suffering he endured at the hands of this captors. It was only found after his death in 1992.

Heather (reading from the journal): "1st of November, 1942. Theres an outbreak of dysentery in the camp, and today, I find myself a victim. So today I go to hospital, and I've got to get over it somehow, although they have no medicines, as I've just got to get back to Wyn and Heather."

"Two of the men died in the ward today, and two more are expected within the week. When they are known to be hopeless cases they are put in a small adjoining room, known as 'the death cell', and left there to pass out."

"Have been here three months now, and still hanging on. I mustn't let it beat me, although I have to crawl on all fours to be able to move. I have no strength left at all, and a beard six inches long".

Heather: "It just brings tears to the eyes to think of this strong human being, nice man, cuddly man., reaching this state of being in a prison camp. Its just so very very sad."

In the months that followed the end of the war, there were many happy reunions, as 4 million men were de-mobbed from the armed forces.

But for the thousands of prisoners of war who returned from the Far East, to a Britain slowly recovering from war, there was often very little sympathy.

Julie Summers: "The men who came back from the Far-East didnt come back untill November 1945, and they were told by the army that they were not to talk about their experiences. And they came home, and they were simply expected to get on."

With nationwide destruction, there was a nationwide housing crisis, and many newly weds found an unenviable choice between slum housing and sharing their home with their in-laws. This shortage of housing put great pressure on young fathers, who found themselves unable to fulfill the basic paternal role of providing decent accommodation for their children.

Part of the solution was the creation of towns like Stevenage, Basildon, and Glen Rothis. In the heart of Fife, work on new housing for 30,000 people begin in Glenrothes, in 1948. By the early 1950's, David and Rhoda had moved into their dream home.

David: "We couldnt really believe it. Lounge. Big kitchen that you could eat in. Bathroom. Garden back and front. I think it was the best time in my life, coming to that place. It was really great."

Nicknamed 'Nappy Valley', Glenrothes quickly became the ideal place for young fathers like David to raise families.

David: "The people next door to us had 7, we had 4, there were 3 next door to us on the other side, and 5 on the end, and that was quite common, that was the norm. We loved the children, the children were our life. They always had something to do. They were out, they were playing, down the bank, up in the play-park. This was it. They didnt have to be at home to play. They were out most of the time. I think they had a wonderful life."

These were the 'never had it so good years' of modernity, domesticity, and happy stable marriages.

This was the Britain the countries fathers had fought for.

But just when the generation of fathers who had lived through the war finally felt that life was regaining some sense of normality, a new phenomenon appeared in households up and down the country. One which would seek to undermine a dads place as head of the household.

They were called Teenager's.

The new idea of teenager's began with the beatniks and Teddy Boys in the early 1950's. On street corners, in coffee bars, and in jazz clubs up and down the country, there was a revolution in music, fashion, and idealism, as the young turned their backs on the old way of life.

In their search for identity, and self-expression, the new teenage rebel's questioned all that the previous generation believed in, and all that their fathers fought so hard to defend.

Julie Summers (Author and Historian): For the fathers that had come back from the war, and had adjusted to life back in Britain, and who had really started to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, suddenly, that their teenage children were turning around and rebelling against them, was quite a shock, and one in the eye for them, because they in some ways, even if subconciously, felt that they had made the world a safer place through the sacrifice they had made in The Second World War.

What you ended up with of course, is terrible clashes of personality between fathers and children, because the fathers still wanted to have some control over the children, but the children felt that they didnt owe their fathers anything."

Peter Lambert: "I wanted to be the business. Which at the time in the 50's, was the Teddy Boys."

"Nobody could touch me, not even my dad. And I got to the stage where I turned on him. I ended up smashing a milk bottle on the fireplace. It stunned him so much, to think that his own son could do something like that."

After a series of petty crimes, Teddy Boy Peter Lambeth ended up in prison. Peter went on to have children of his own, only to lose contact with them through drink.

Peter lost his children, he'd also lost contact with his own father. And like many of his generation, it wasnt untill he got older that he began to question his past.

Julie Summers: "Men and women now in their retirement age, are looking back at what their fathers did for them, and actually are beginning to appreciate it. The numbers of people that one hears saying "I wish I'd understood my father better", "I wish I'd asked him more questions", "I wish I'd shown more interest in his life during the war", is very sad. So its not too late now, if your father is still alive. But sadly, many of them are not."

In 1983, twenty-five years after leaving his childhood home, Peter arranged to meet up with his father. They spent the weekend together, and when Peter left, they vowed to make it a regular event.

Two weeks later, Peter's father passed away.

Peter: "You think to yourself, why didnt I say it to him when I saw him? Why didnt I say this, why didnt I say that. You live and learn, dont you."

Friday, 18 February 2011

A Century of Fatherhood s1e01 The Good Father - BBC TV programme.

Watch or download:

(This is a great programme from the BBC. I havent been able to summarize the interviews with the old men and women who talk about their fathers when they were children, because it would take up too much space, but they really make the programme something special. If you havent watched a programme from this blog before, I encourage you to watch this one. This is the BBC at its best.)

'Becoming a father is one of the most important events in a mans life. And the relationship he has with his child will shape both of their lives for years to come.

Untill relatively recently, very few historical or academic studies have explored this crucial relationship, and its impact on family life. And for too long, negative stereotypes of the father have persisted.

But now in this three-part series, we bring together personal testimony and expert opinion to help us set the record straight.

Beginning at the turn of the 20th century, this series will examine the social changes that affected dads in the hundred years that followed.

We will show that despite the tragedy of two world wars, the privations of economic hardship, and the upheaval of the sexual revolution, most dads have always striven to do the best for their children, as provider, protector, teacher, and playmate.

In this first programme, we journey back in time as far as living memory will allow, and hear from the children of Edwardian fathers, and from dads that raised families in the interwar years.

There are many negative images of fathers from this period, but these are largely exaggerated or inaccurate.

These are tales of struggle and sacrifice. Of tenderness, redemption, and above all, the enduring love that bonds father and child.

This is the extraordinary story of 'A Century of Fatherhood'.

One of the most enduring stereotypes we have of the father from the past, is of the distant, uncaring patriarch, who expected his children to be seen and not heard. But this image is for the most part a myth. A creation of literature, propaganda, and historical studies, that have focused almost exclusively on the mother.

One of the first academics to challenge the negative stereotypes of the father from the past was professor Joanna Bourke, of Birkbeck College, University of London.

Bourke: "We have this idea that fathers in the past were these rather stern patriarchal figures who bossed everyone around. Bossed the children around, did corporal punishment, bossed the wife around. And rather tyrannical type figures. Those images, I really do think need to be broken down."

"When I started to look at fathers in the past, one of the things that immediately jumped out at me was, "hang on, this sort of negative image of fathers simply cant be true, I have a great dad". Infact, all the people I know have fantastically warm, loving fathers. My dad, for example, had to juggle lots of things, he was a medical missionary, worked very very hard, but he was always a hands-on dad. He was always loving and affectionate, and I think that was one of the reasons why I thought, well, is the stereotype true?"

At the beginning of the 20th century, the social landscape of Britain was very different from what it is today. With around 80% of the population considered to be working class. Focusing her research on this section of British society, Professor Bourke set out to uncover the truth. Her findings, drawn from oral histories and autobiographies was suprising.

Professor Bourke: "When I looked back in the archives and actually looked at ordinary dads, of the 250 working class autobiographies that I used in my work, for every 1 who said their dad did not do childcare, 14 explicitly stated that he did."

This was an era when fathers often worked long hours in dangerous conditions to earn what was called 'the family wage'. And mothers were expected to stay at home with the children. It was a division of labor that would remain intact in peacetime Britain for the next 40 years. But although he was away from the family home, the fathers main responsibility was to his children.

Dr Julie-Marie Strange (University of Manchester): "In Edwardian Britain, we think very much of fathers being absent from family life, and they're absent because they're in work, being providers. However historians have tended to think that fathers arn't intimate in family life in any way, but in childhood memories of their dads, children actually constitute father's absence as evidence of his presence in family life, because father's away, working for his children. For his family.

"We see lots of images of men leaving in their hundreds, the mills, the factories, the mines. Often very dirty, often very weary, and we tend to leave them at the factory gates, but if you read childhood memories, children anticipate father's return home with real excitement. They know fathers been away all day, working for them.

Men cant resist their children. They love that tactile involvement with children, and are delighted to be welcomed home with such excitement."

This image of the gentle Edwardian working class father is at odds with contemporary reformist propaganda, which often portrayed dad as a brutal drunk. Whilst its true that some men liked a drink, and a few drank to excess, the idea that many drunken fathers regularly abused their wives and children is a myth.

Dr Julie-Marie Strange: "These negative stereotypes are perpetuated by very particular groups in society. So, not suprisingly, one of the key groups that perpetuates this stereotype is the 'Temperance reformers'."

By the early nineteen hundreds, the Temperance movement which advocated teetotalism, was flourishing in Britain, and so social reform groups like 'The Band of Hope' were spreading the word against the perils of alcohol, and its effects upon the working class family. As a direct result, 3 million signed the pledge in support of abstinence. Yet the myth of the brutal drunken father persisted.

Dr Julie-Marie Strange: "One of the reasons, I think, they are so keen to promote this negative image of working class fathers, is that it justifies their own position within working class communities. For Temperance societies, to justify their existence, they have to have a folk-devil to target, and it is the working-class man."

Perhaps the single most significant event to affect fathers in the first part of the 20th century, was the First World War. As war fever spread across the country in August 1914, hundreds of thousands of men took up arms in the name of duty and patriotism. But as the threat from Germany grew stronger, it wasnt only the young and the reckless that took the King's shilling.

Richard Van Emden (Author and Historian): "In 1914, you get this enormous rush to the colours. In the first instance young men, unemployed, disaffected, keen on a sense of adventure. What you get then is a second rush of older men, of fathers, who wanted to make sure everything is ok at home, wanted to make sure the government was going to pay proper allowances to their families when they went to fight. Now these men were motivated, of course, by a sense of patriotism and of duty, but it was more parochial than that, they had read the newspapers, they had seen evidence that Germany threatend not France and Belgium, but threatend England itself, and it was their job to stop the Germans oversea's before they come and stood on their own front door."

At the beginning of the war, the army postal service was handling some 650,000 letters per week. By 1916 that figure had increased to 11 million. Many of these letters and postcards have survived to this day, and have provided historians with a rich source of material evidence, which show that although far away, fathers still took a great interest in the daily lives of their children.

Richard Van Emden: "On the morning that these fathers would have left home, they would have kissed their wives goodbye, hugged their children, got their kit, walked to the gate, and then they were going to go. And they knew what they were going back into. They'd been wounded once, or perhaps they were back on leave. They knew the nature of the Western Front. They understood what happened to an infantry battalion when it went over the top. And that moment when they leave their family for the last time, can you imagine, what that moment must have been like. For these men, they had every prospect of never seeing their family again. The children that they had read bedtime stories to, taken to the playground, taken to church, and all of a sudden an arbitrary shell, a bullet, was going to end all that."

It is estimated that a quarter of a million British fathers were killed in The First World War.

During the interwar years, a new spirit of optimism began to spread across the country. After a government promise to provide homes fit for hero's, 'The Housing Act' of 1919 led to the development of new council housing on modern cottage estates.

This was the golden age for the new suburban father. One where he could enjoy simple pleasures with his children, in a clean and safe environment.

Birth rates which had been falling in the early part of the century temporarily increased after The First World War. Yet for most men, child birth remained a mysterious and frightening event. An experience from which they were often excluded.

In the first decades of the 20th century, welfare agencies and health visitors were on hand to offer instruction on the basics of parenting. But their services were provided almost exclusively to the mother.

Dr Julie-Marie Strange: "You have milk depots, training classes, health and welfare visitors who come to the working class home, all aimed at the mother, teaching the mother to be a better parent. Fathers are completely, actively, and deliberately excluded from this movement."

But all that was to change with the creation of a new movement in parenting, which would last into the 1940's, called 'Father Craft'.

Adrienne Burgess (Director of Research, The Fatherhood Institute): "The Father Craft movement has untill recently been completely lost to history. It started in London in 1920. It was some male doctors that started it, they thought it was very important to draw fathers in to the care of infants and young children.

"The movement quickly spread. Soon there were centres in Bristol, in Birmingham, in Glasgow, in Liverpool. It sprang from developments in child psychology which had begun to recognise the important role played by fathers. This was a turning point in the history of modern fatherhood. The first time that fathers role's were really recognised by members of the health profession."

Its always been the hope of every new father that their child succeed's in life, and even better's their own achievements. In the interwar years, as new babies grew into young children, many fathers willingly took on one of their most important roles, that of educator.

This was particularly true in working class communities which often had a strong autodidactic tradition. One which encouraged home education and self learning. Rather than the cliche of spending hours in the pub, many fathers would prefer to be at home schooling their children.

Adrienne Burgess: "There's been this widespreed assumption that working class fathers havent been interested in their childrens education. Infact, historical records have debunked this myth. Its perfectly clear that woking class fathers, especially more highly skilled workers, such as miners, were very interested in their childrens education. There was a strong tradition of self education. Miners Institute's, librarys, working mens educational groups, and it was these fathers greatest joy to pass on their learning to their children. And for some of them it was their greatest dream that their sons would be able to escape this hard life in the pits, risking their lives every day, by being able to go on to finer things."

Whilst its true that some men did use corporal punishment against their children, the image of the brutal disciplinarian, popular in contemporary films and novel's is largley inaccurate.

Most fathers disliked punishing their children, and their involvement in discipline was often seen as a last resort.

Professor Joanna Bourke: "If we look for example at the role of discipline within the home, what becomes very very clear, is that, it really was and remained the mothers job to discipline the children. The mother was responsible for the day-to-day disciplining, controlling, ensuring that everything went according to plan."

Evidence of dads reluctance to discipline their children is supported by the observations of many social commentators, and in particular a district nurse turned author, called 'Margaret Loane', who wrote about her experiences in working class households in London.

Dr Julie-Marie Strange: "Margaret Loane says that a lot of mothers discipline is actually undermined by indulgent fathers, who are so pleased to see their children, they dont want to be the one who has to use their special time with their children, to be disciplining them."

"Margaret Loane also comments that one of the reasons mothers use 'Wait Till Your Father Gets Home' as a threat, is because children desperately dont want to disappoint their dads. And so actually, the 'wait untill your father gets home' threat is quite an empty threat.

Its very useful because children dont want father to know. Not because they're frightened he's going to beat them, but because they dont want to disappoint him."

(A Century of Fatherhood s1e02 'Fathers at War', will be posted on Tuesday 22nd february)

Friday, 11 February 2011

Feminist Judges - Womans Hour BBC Radio programme.


'In 2001, Natallie Evans and Howard Johnston were a couple who planned a family.

Natallie developed ovarian cancer.

Before treatment, some of her eggs were fertilized using his sperm and frozen. They separated, but she still wanted to have children. The frozen embryo's were her only chance.

Her former partner refused.

Natallie Evans: "He chose to become a father the day we created the embryo's. That was his choice to become a father, and now he doesn't want it. He cant just turn around and say that."

Howard Johnston: "The key thing for me was just to be able to decide when and if I start a family."

Natallie: "I still think he's wrong in what he's doing. I just want him to reconsider and to actually think about the implications. I know he's thinking of the implications on himself, but the implications to me aswell. He's able to go on and have children of his own, Im not."

Well the courts decided that Natallie Evans should not have the right to use the embryo's without her former partners permission.

Would the outcome have been different if a female judge had been hearing the case?

A new book, 'Feminist judgements: From Theory To Practice' suggests that a woman with a feminist tendency would have found in favor of Natallie Evans, and looks at a number of other well known cases to see wether the argument holds true across the board.

But is it any more acceptable for a woman to be influenced by her political prejudice, than it is for a man to follow his?

Baroness Ruth Deech is chair of The Bar Standard Board. Claire McGlynn is professor of law at Durham University.

Interviewer to McGlynn: "Claire why would a feminist have found in favor of Evans?"

McGlynn: "What happened in the Evans case, and Sonia Harris-Short's judgement (a feminist barrister and co-author of the book), is that she foregrounded Natallie Evans experiences. But its important to say here that what she was doing was foregrounding the experience of infertile people, and that could be an infertile woman, or an infertile man. But its also important to say there are a variety of different feminist perspectives. This feminist judgement would have found in accordance with Natallie Evans, another feminist judge could have reached a different outcome. The point is about bringing a range of values and perspectives to the judicial decision making process."

Interviewer to Deech: "Ruth, how different might the judgement have been if you had been on the bench?"

Deech: "I probably would have given the same judgement (to deny Natallie Evans), but we really are between a rock and a hard place. I think you really have to understand that there is a difference between being a woman judge, and being a feminist, and this book which is absolutely brilliant and should be on everyones shelf perhaps doesnt make that quite clear, but it does admit that a man could be a feminist judge, and a woman judge might not be.

There are two different arguments here. One is for having more women on the bench, yes, and another is to have more feminist judgements, where there is a something of a risk of subsituting one set of stereotypes for another.

Now, in the Evans case, the way the judgement is rewritten in this book, it's very womb-centered. A woman wants to be a mother and thats much more important than a man wanting to be a father. And it kind of plants this new perspective on them. But I feel a bit sorry for the male partner in that case, he said he only wanted to be a real father. He didnt want a child to be brought into the world without him there, as a single-parented child.

You can only really go for Natallie Evans wholeheartedly if you see all women as walking wombs, and its much more important for them to be mothers, than for men to make their decisions aswell."

Interviewer to McGlynn: "Claire, how did you select the cases you were going to look at (in the book)?"

McGlynn: "Well, the cases were chosen by the judgement writers who wished to be involved in the project, and they chose cases that were fundamental to womens interests, and feminist interests, across a whole range of issue's. We wanted to cover the traditional cases, those case do to with equality law, rape law, but also cover cases which might be seen to be indirectly related to womens interests, contract law, property law, etc."

Interviewer to McGlynn: "And how often, Claire, did you come to a different conclusion, and how often the same conclusion?"

McGlynn: "To highlight the differences, in about half of the times, the feminist judgement would have come to a different conclusion. But there are also very interesting aspects. Four of the feminist judgements disagree with the judgement of Brenda Hale, who of course is one of our feminist judges. Another range of judgements would have reached the same outcome with a different form of reasoning, often about telling the womans experiences more clearly. So there was a whole range of different outcomes and perspectives."

Interviewer to Deech: "Ruth, how ready are you to accept that there is a gender bias in legal doctrine and judicial reasoning?"

Deech: "Im not sure about that. I mean first of all the public must be reassured that if they're infront of a judge, and that judge is black, or a woman, or red haired, or catholic, it doesnt matter. A judge must speak for everybody, and it would be a big mistake to give the impression that if theres a woman judge on the bench, she's only going to pursue a particular gender biased way of thinking. That would be absolutely wrong, and undermine confidence in the judicial system. Diversity across the board, of course, but once a judge is sitting there, they've got to be a judge for everybody. And then there are lots of inconsistencies. I would have liked to have seen this book go for some of these shocking anti-feminist high maintenance awards. What does the feminist judge say about a case where a pretty model has been married to a footballer for a couple of years, and they get divorced and she walks away with more millions than the average woman will ever see in a working life? And again on the rape front, there are some real difficulties here, the book says we need to tackle the laws understanding of rape, so that when a woman says 'I was raped.', the law says 'I believe you.' Well, this morning, Im looking at the stories about Mr Assange, and the celeb's are flocking in to bale him out. Of course they say the rape accusation against him is political, well, you've got to be true to your principles if rape is rape."

Interviewer to McGlynn: "Claire, the question is, why do you seem to be suggesting that its acceptable to bring a feminist prejudice to a judgement, but not a misogynist one?"

McGlynn: "What we're talking about is cases in the highest courts, where the law effectively runs out. Judges could reach a different conclusion depending on which view of the law they take. When they have to make choices, they are inevitably making those choices based on their values, assumptions, views of the law, and views of their judicial powers. So what we're saying, is when making these choices, we should be taking into account a range of values and perspectives. That can be feminist perspectives, but can also be about a very wide ranging and diverse judiciary, but we need those different perspectives in that judiciary now because often they are not there."

Interviewer to Deech: "Ruth, we need a range of people who are bringing prejudices, perhaps to the bench, but its a range of prejudices?"

Deech: "I agree in range, I wouldn't want prejudices. And actually, I think the quality of the judges we have today, because of the way they've been educated and chosen, is fantastic, and they're very concious of this sort of issue. And sometimes, to my mind, they actually bend over backwards to try and be kind to women, in their light, which results I think in these actually very unfortunate mainenance cases that I've spoken about. But many people would get quite upset if a judge sat there and said its time to bring a religious perspective to this case. We've got to be careful. A judge has got to be neutral when it comes to it, and a judge must be seen by everyone who's concerned as speaking for everybody, not speaking for a section of the community only."

(At this point, the feminist McGlynn trys to get the last word, but is cut-off by the interviewer.)

Friday, 4 February 2011

Britain's Missing Dads - Panorama BBC TV programme.

Watch or download:

(Dont be put off by the first 10 minutes of dad-bashing. This programme goes a long way to explain the real reasons behind Britain's 'feckless fathers')

Declan Lawn:

'Over the last two decades in Britain, there's been a sea-change in attitudes about fatherhood.

Dads in this country are spending more time with their children than ever before. Im a dad myself. Like most fathers, I see it as the most important part of my life.

Meet Keith McDonald. The papers have dubbed him Britains most feckless father. Keith has 8 children by 8 different women. He never see's them.

Here's the question: How representative is Keith of the phenomenon of feckless fathers? We all know he's become a tabloid freak show, but is he really that unique?

A recent study based on a sample of children under-5, found that about 1 in 8 of them never saw their father.

Feckless fathers are now becoming a political issue, because there is a correlation between absent dads and poverty. Last year David Cameron asked former Labour minister Frank Field to report on the life chances of poor children.

His conclusion? bad parenting plays a major role.

Birkenhead, Merseyside. This is Frank Field's constituency, where he says he's seen a growing number of feckless fathers emerge over the course of a generation.

Im here to find out why it is that so many men are missing from their childrens lives. In this part of the world, nearly half of all households with children are headed up by single parents, thats nearly twice the national average.

The Tranmere community centre in Birkenhead. Its a charity run by the Methodist Church that supports young parents. This morning a group of expectant mums are learning how to look after their money. Most of them rely on benefits like income support.

All of the young women in this class told us they were still involved in a relationship with the father of their child. So far, so good.

But there is a twist. According to the centre's director, in too many cases, dads who are around in pregnancy are not around after the birth.

Jill Quayle: "When we first meet them (the mothers), they nearly always have a partner involved in their lives. When they become young mums, and we see them again, very few have partners that are involved."

Interviewer: "So at some point, the young men, around the time of birth, are disappearing?"

Quayle: "Yes."

Just ask this lot. These are the mothers who've had their children. And as predicted, most of these young mums say the fathers are no longer involved.

Becky is one of them.

Becky's 20, and she's the head of the household. Today, she and her children are moving into a council house. (Her son) Terrance is just 8 weeks old. John-Paul is 2. She also looks after her 10 year old half-sister, Adena. Its their sixth move in 2 years. This time they're hoping its for keeps.

Interviewer: "So Becky, you're moving in here today because you needed a bigger house basically, is that right?"

Becky: "Yeah, because we were overcrowded in the old house, because we only had 2 bedrooms, and a boy is not allowed to share with a girl over the age of 10."

This is the house of absent fathers. Becky and Adena dont see their dads. The boys fathers are not even on the birth certificates, and Becky tells us that Terrance's dad denies he's the father.

Becky: "John-Paul's dad doesnt have much contact at all, but Terrance's dad has no contact whatsoever."

Interviewer: "How do you feel about that? Do you ever think your sons are missing out? Do you think they need their fathers around?"

Becky: "I dont think they need them around, but they should know who they are."

Adena, Becky's 10 year old half sister, has never met her dad, although we're told he does pay maintenance for her. She lives with Becky, because her mother found it difficult to cope with looking after her.

Interviewer to Adena: "What do you think of living with Becky? Do you like it?"

Adena: "Yeah."

Interviewer to Adena: "And what does she do for you, how does she look after you?"

Adena: "She feeds me."

Beckys case may be extreme, but the issue's are far from unusual. Just around the corner lives her friend, Kayleigh.

Kayleigh is bringing up her son Callum alone. She says Callum's dad was gone before the child was born. Kayleigh, like Becky, didnt see much of her own dad when she was growing up. And so far, Callum has only seen his dad 3 times in 19 months.

Callum's dad says thats because the few visits he did have felt awkward.

Some families here in Birkenhead are now on their second or third generation without a father. The jobs lanscape for young men here in Birkenhead has changed completely over the last couple of generations. This once great ship building and sea-fairing town, has been stripped of that industrial employment base. And recent research seems to suggest that there is a correlation between high male unemployment, and absent dads.

Frank Field: "One of the reasons why we've had such a big increase in very young single mums, has been the unemployment rates amongst young dads. We've de-skilled them in their social role, aswell as their economic role."

What this adds up to, is that in Birkenhead, many young women are opting for parenthood, just not with a father as a part of the deal. And what makes that decision possible, is benefits.

Becky: "I get about £250 a week."

Interviewer to Becky: "And thats for you, and the three children. Does that include rent? or is that after?"

Becky: "Thats after, because the council pay the rent aswell."

A single-mother is entitled to income support, child tax-credits, and child benefit.

But if there were a man in the house, they would lose money, about £30 pounds a week if he's unemployed, much more if he's in work. Its a powerful incentive for young women to stay alone, and for dads to keep their distance.

Economics is one thing, but I've always thought there is more to fatherhood than just bringing home a wage.

So I decided to ask the experts. My own daughters (who are about 5).

Interviewer: "Girls, can I ask you a question?"

Daughters: "Yeah!"

Interviewer: "Whats your favourite thing your daddy does ever?"

Daughter: "Comes back home from London."

Interviewer: "What else?"

Daughter: "I like daddy coming here to the park."

Daughter: "I love, erm, daddy, for him giving me a hug."

So is there a cost to Britains missing dads that goes beyond the material issues?

I returned to Beckys house a week later.

Interviewer to Becky: "What strikes me is, your getting by fine financially maybe, but a dads role is not just about that, is it?"

Becky: "What else do they need? All they need is food on the table, clothes, toys..."

Interviewer: "But isnt there more to being a dad than just putting food on the table? Speaking from my own experience, dads can do so much more for children and spend so much time with them, and give them so much apart from just material support. Do you not think that?"

Becky: "No."

But perhaps because she's a child, Adena see's it differently..

Interviewer to Adena: "Do you think dads have a role to play in peoples lives?"

Adena: "Yeah."

Interviewer: "What do you mean? What would you like? Why do you want your dad?"

Adena: "I dont know."

Interviewer: "You dont know. But would you like to?"

Adena: "Yeah"

Kayleigh doesnt mind the idea of Callums dad involved to some extent later in his life.

But Callum's grandmother, Christine, thinks aslong as a child has a loving environment, it doesnt need a father around.

Christine: "I dont think its 100 per cent necessary. Yes, its nice if they are there, yes its nice. But when people say that you should have a male, I dont agree anymore. If you've got a strong family, community, around you, who lives close by, who can support you, I think thats just as important as having a father."

What strikes me about what I've heard here, is this lack of expectation that dads should be involved.

Speaking as a father myself, I cant help but feel that this must have implications not only for the children involved, but also for the community, and society as a whole.

Brixton, south London. Part of a borough with the highest rate of single mums in the country.

Im here to visit a pioneering project which is having remarkable results in reconnecting absent fathers with their children.

What they're finding challenges the idea that there are lots of truly feckless fathers.

Sue Pettigrew of the St. Michael's Fellowship: "We see dads who really want to be the best dads that they can for their children. We see young men who are finding it difficult maybe not knowing where they can get support."

The St. Michael's project say they've succeeded in reconnecting more than one hundred dads with their children over the last two years. They've tried to help many more be good fathers, and they've acquired a powerful admirer.

Frank Field wants more like it, but he says there are bigger issues.

Field: "If you actually think that if we have enough St. Michael's projects to change opinion of young blokes, to help them be dads, your in cuckoo-land."

Interviewer: "So what do we do? What is the answer?"

Field: "Well part of the answer is trying to address the government ear, saying the whole of your welfare reforms have concentrated on the mums, one of the the reasons why we've had such a big increase in very young mums has been the unemployment rates in young dads."

Last year, Frank Field suggested that young fathers who refused to work to support their children should lose their benefits.

So how will his theory's play out in real life amongst real fathers? We've arranged for some young dads from St. Michael's to meet him in Westminster.

What the St. Michael's group say they need are jobs that pay them enough to support their children.

Kieran to Field: "How the benefit's system is set up in this country is that when you start work, after all the deductions, the disposable income is just about what you'd be getting on benefits."

Khaleb to Frank Field: "There is more advantage being a single parent, than a stable home. Mummy, daddy, kids."

Frank Field: "On the benefits issue, I totally agree with you, and I think the tide's turning on this, because people are actually seeing what the consequences on children are, where you have a benefits system that pays parents to remain apart. If you were designing a crazy system which to mess up kids, you'd come up with the system we've got now."

Friday, 28 January 2011

The Stern Review (2010) - A Report by Baroness Vivien Stern CBE Of An Independant Review Into How Rape Complaints Are Handled By Public Authorities In England And Wales (Part 1 of 2).

(Because this is a big report, I have decided to summarize it in two parts. After that, I will publish a third part containing my thoughts on the report).

The first part explains what The Stern Review set out to achieve, and its main conclusions. In this part, I will also summarize the section of the report concerned with the 6% rape conviction rate myth.

In the second part in this series of blog posts, I will summarize the reports findings on 'The Sexual Offences Act 2003', and the section on false rape allegations.

In the report itself, important linked information is sometimes on different pages, or in different chapters. In this blog summary, I have tried to organize that information in a logical way for the reader, which means you may see a block of text from [p.26] followed by a block of text from [p.8].

This is a big 156 page report, and I've only had so much time (and space) to summarize it. There is a link to the official document (in .pdf format) at the end of the blog post should you wish to read it yourself.

Summarized foreword By Baroness Stern:

'I was privileged to be invited by the Government Equalities Office and the Home Office to carry out this independant review into the treatment of rape complaints by public authorities. For over forty years I have been involved in work to improve the way society responds to crime and criminals. During that time I have often voiced concern that we have failed to understand what a caring society should be doing to respond to those who have been harmed by crime. This review has allowed me to study at first hand how one particular group of victims, the victims of rape, are treated, and to recommend how we can do better.'

'It has been an extraordinary experience. In the course of collecting evidence I have met many people with an important story to tell. Sadly I have met some whose treatment by the authorities was appalling. Examples of such shockingly poor treatment are described in this report. John Worboys and Kirk Reid were men who managed to rape and assault many women before they were stopped, because the police in London did not take the victims seriously enough when they came to report what had happened to them and rape was not a sufficiently high priority for some of the police at the time. These cases must have done great damage to the confidence of victims in reporting what has happened to them and many lessons needed to be learnt.

But I have also come across a wide range of deeply dedicated men and women whose work has helped to bring a traumatised person through a most terrible experience. Across England and Wales there are examples to be found of the very best practice that can be envisaged in dealing with rape victims. Many in the police and the prosecution service are working hard to change the way they deal with this most difficult of crimes, and I have been impressed by their commitment and the quality of what many of them are doing.

The way rape is understood and delt with has changed considerably in recent years. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 brought in a new definition of rape. In all 43 police forces in England and Wales there are specially trained officers to deal with rape complaints. About a third of forces have special rape units. The Crown Prosecution Service has appointed specialist rape prosecutors. Only judges trained in sexual offences can hear rape cases. A new and very successful post of victims advisor has been created to offer support in some places to those who report rape.

My report looks broadly at these changes and assesses how far, when they are implemented everywhere, they will lead to a better resonse by society to rape victims. I hope my report will encourage those who have embarked on the path of change to do more, and convince others that this is an important priority. This report should make clear what anyone who has decided to report a rape, whether a man or a woman, can expect from a public authority

Baroness Vivien Stern, CBE.

[p.26]: 'This review began at the end of September 2009 and concluded in March 2010. In the six months available to carry out this review, we were able to carry out nine regional visits across England and Wales and meet and listen to over 200 people. The people we met included police officers, prosecutors, judges, lawyers, Independant Sexual Violence Advisors, staff from Sexual Assault Referral Centres, academics, those who provide counselling and support to victims of rape, court service staff, local authority representatives, victims of rape themselves and members of the public.'

[p.26]: 'In addition to meeting a large number of people to discuss the issues, as part of this review we carried out an online call for evidence to which 69 people responded. Over the course of the last six months the review has also recieved over 100 written submissions and correspondence from a variety of people interested in this issue. The findings from the regional visits, meetings and written evidence submitted to the review have been used to inform and support the findings of this report.'

[p.7]: 'They provided us with a picture of some outstandingly good treatment alongside appalling failure.'

[p.8]: Our Main Conclusions:

'The policies are right. In dealing with rape complaints a substantial amount of change has been introduced in recent years by the public authorities that carry responsibilty in this area. Attitudes, policies and practices have changed, fundamentally for the better. In England and Wales we now have a system with specialization in dealing with rape at the police, prosecution and judicial levels.'

[p.8]: 'We have a programme to provide state-of-the-art medical centres in every police force area, where vicitms of rape can be examined and assisted. The extensive research about rape makes a number of suggestions for ways to increase the number of rapes that are reported to the authorities and ensure more successful prosecutions. These suggestions have informed the new policies. Detailed guidence on an effective response to rape complaints has been issued to the police and CPS (Crown Prosecution Service).

[p.103]: 'When we come to dealing with the interaction between the victim, the criminal justice system and all the other essential agencies (such as Rape Crisis Centers, which provide help and support, a major contribution can be made by the provision of Independant Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs).'

[p.103]: 'The Home Office which has taken the lead in developing the ISVA service, describes the ISVA role as 'A pro-active service to victims of sexual violence though risk assessment and safety planning; enabling victims to access those statutory and other services they need; and ensuring victims are kept informed and supported as their case progresses through the criminal justice system.'

[p.103]: We found in every part of the country, and from every organisation, unanimous praise for the work done by ISVAs. These men and women support complainants through the process, wether or not the case goes to trial (and indeed their support is particularly welcomed when dealing with the reactions when it is decided that the case is not going to trial), and afterwards. We found ISVAs based in Sexual Assault Referral Centres, Rape Crisis Centres, and local police stations. There is an accredited training program for them.'

[p.104]: 'We heard that ISVAs reassure victims that they have been believed when a case is not taken to court. ISVAs stay with the victim throughout the trial, take them home afterwards.'

[p.105]: 'ISVAs can deal with a whole range of matters that no one organisation would be able to do. For example:

  • Arrange home security checks on properties, seeing to lock changes and incorporating spy holes;
  • Sorting out housing problems with the local authority or housing association;
  • Meeting the social care agencies to establish how to provide adults with learning disabilities with appropriate support; and
  • liaising with police forces out of the area when the details of a case span more than one police force.

[p.106]: 'We have heard nothing but support for the work of ISVAs. It is clear to us that its been a successful pilot. They have had a substantial impact on the experience of the victims they have supported to date. It is equally clear that such a successful pilot should merit continued funding. We are operating in times of financial constraint, but this is an area of funding which, above all other forms of support, should not be constrained to the detriment of victims reporting rape.'

Important Stats:

[p.8 & p.85 BOX 11]: Data from the CPS:

12,129 recorded rapes in 2008/9 - 3,495 prosecutions - 2,021 convictions. (58 per cent conviction rate)

[p.85]: 'Where a defendant has been charged with an offense of rape but convicted of another (including a less serious offence) CPS data counts that conviction as a conviction of someone charged with rape.'

[p.85]: 'Convictions rose from 55 per cent in 2006/7 to 58 per cent in 2007/8 and remained at the same level in 2008/9.'

[p.25]: 'It was suggested to us that changes in the criminal law have been taken almost as far as they can go in regulating this most complex area of human behaviour. Further more, whilst all those who spoke to us who worked in the criminal justice system felt that the number of cases which were taken to court and ended in a conviction could be increased, no one argued that the increase could be substantial.

[p.17]: 'The data on convictions by juries in rape cases do not suggest that juries are particularly unlikely to convict rape defendants. Analysis of all 4,310 jury verdicts for rape from October 2006 to March 2008 across all courts in England and Wales finds that rape does not have one of the lowest jury conviction rates. With an overall jury conviction rate of 55 per cent, juries actually convict more often than they acquit in rape cases. Other serious offences such as attempted murder have lower jury conviction rates than rape.'

[p.9]: The Conviction Rate Has Taken Over The Debate:

'Conviction rates for rape are the subject of considerable political and media attention. Much is said about the conviction rate for rape being six (6) per cent in England and Wales. The six per cent figure is widely quoted. We found in carrying out this review that it was known and used by almost everyone in the field. Some have found it helpful as a campaigning tool in arguing for an improvement in the way rape cases are dealt with. Others found it misleading and deeply unhelpful in building confidence in victims and increasing the number of cases reported to the police that could possibly go forward to a prosecution. Many expressed concern at the widespread use of this figure without analysis or explaination.

'The way this conviction rate figure (6%) is calculated is unusual. Conviction rates are not published or even measured in this way for any other crime so its very difficult to make a comparison. The term 'conviction rate' usually describes the percentage of all the cases brought to court that end with the defendant being convicted. When dealing with rape the term has come to be used in a different way and describes the percentage of all the cases recorded by the police as a rape that end up with someone being convicted of rape.

We have looked closely at the information about conviction for rape and it is clear to us that the figure for convictions of people of all ages charged with rape (as the term is normally used in relation to crime) is 58 per cent. The confusion arises from mixing up the conviction rate with the process of attrition. 'Attrition' is the process by which a number of cases of rape initially reported do not proceed, perhaps because the complainant decides not to take the case further, there is not enough evidence to prosecute, or the case is taken to court and the suspect is acquitted. The attrition rate figure has been the cause of considerable concern, and attempts to reduce it are behind many of the reforms that have been introduced in recent years.

[p.46): 'It is clear to us that the way the six per cent conviction rate figure has been able to dominate the public discourse on rape, without explaination, analysis and context, is extremely unhelpful. There is anecdotal evidence that it may well have discouraged some victims from reporting.'

(The Stern Review Part 2: 'The Sexual Offences Act 2003', and false rape allegations.)

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The Stern Review (2010) - A Report by Baroness Vivien Stern CBE Of An Independant Review Into How Rape Complaints Are Handled By Public Authorities In England And Wales (part 2 of 2).

(In this second part of a two-part series of blog posts on the 'The Stern Review', the sections of the report concerned with 'The Sexual Offences Act 2003', and false rape allegations will be summarized.)

[p.13]: The Sexual Offences Act 2003 - Is The Law Understood?

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 brought in a new definition of rape. It says that rape occurs when someone 'intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with his penis'; that the other person does not consent to the penetration; and the perpetrator does not reasonably believe that the other person consents.'

[p.13]: 'It is important that the 2003 law is understood. It says that one person having sex with another when that person has not agreed to it is rape. The law does not say force has to used for it to be defined as rape. Violence is not part of the definition. The absence of consent is the defining factor.'

[p.13]: The court will not be satisfied if the perpetrator thought that there was consent but that belief was unreasonable.'

[p.37]: 'The Act says: 'Wether a belief is reasonable is to be determined having regard to all circumstances, including any steps A has taken to ascertain whether B consents.'

[p.37]: 'The inclusion of 'reasonable belief' is considered by some to be one of the most significant changes brought in by the 2003 legislation, where an honest but unreasonable belief in consent can no longer result in the accused's acquittal.'

[p.37]: 'All these legal changes have been in a similar direction, to move from the underlying presumption that victims are likely to be lying or were somehow negligent in letting the rape happen towards a standpoint that sex without consent is rape and all other factors about a person making a complaint of rape are irrelevant to that central fact. In the law of England and Wales there is now no question that sexual intercourse without consent, where there is no reasonable belief in consent, is the crime of rape, whether the people involved know each other or not, have had a previous relationship with each other or not, or are married to each other.'

[p.38]: 'How far there can be consent to sex when one or both the people involved are very drunk has been a controversial matter, and the Court of Appeal made some comments on it in a case called R v Bree in 2007. When the person complaining of rape is 'unconcious as a result of her voluntary consumption of alchol, the starting point is to presume that she is not consenting to intercourse'. That, says the Court of Appeal, is 'plain good sense'. The Court also said that if, through alcohol (or any other reason), the person has temporarily lost her capacity to choose whether to have intercourse, she is not consenting. If on the other hand, despite having drunk a lot of alcohol, the person is still capable of saying yes or no and agrees to sex, then it is not rape. Wether or not the victim has voluntarily drunk too much does not lead to the conclusion that he or she voluntarily agreed to have sex.'

[p.39]: 'These matters are complicated and difficult to understand for those who are not trained in the law.'

[p.29]: 'Lady Justice Hallet began her judgment in a case in the Court of Appeal with these words:
'This is yet another sad example of what can happen when young people roam the streets of our cities vulnerable through drink and/or drugs. A 16 year old girl came to London to celebrate the New Year. She got drunk, she become separated from her friends and she ended up with strangers. She had sex with one of them. [She said she did not consent.] The defendant is accused of being that person. He is now in the charge of a jury on a single count of raping her, contrary to Section 1(1) of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.'
The defendant was convicted.

[p.50]: 'Rape is often discussed within a framework of broader questions about relations between men and women, responsibility and blame. Who is to blame when someone is raped is a key question, with a range of opinions on a spectrum from 'obviously the rapist is to blame' to 'often women are to blame because they flaunt themselves, or take risks, or drink too much.' In between will be those who think women are sometimes to blame if they get into bed withsomeone who subsequently rapes them.'

[p.50]: 'A number of polls, conducted by various bodies, give a flavour of the range of views and the balance of public opinion. They tend to show that the majority of people have a view of who is to blame for rape that is in line with the definition of rape found in the law, and this is good news. However, the polls also show us that a substantial minority hold women partially responsible for the crime.'

[p.51 BOX 5]:
  • 26-29 per cent (male and female) feel that a woman is at least partially responsible for her own rape if she had been drunk or was behaving in a flirtacious manner (2005).
  • 39 per cent of 18-24-year-olds think a person should accept responsibilty for being raped if they go back to the assailants house for a drink (2010). 
    • 64 per cent of people feel that a person should take resonsibility for being raped if they drink to excess/blackout (2010)

    • 66 per cent feel that a person should take responsibility if they get into bed with that person (Opinion Matters 2010).
    • 73 per cent of people feel that a person should take responsibility for being raped if they perform another sexual act on that person.

    [p.39]: 'The Sexual Offences Act 2003' constituted a radical overhaul of the law, based on a modern set of attitudes about equality in sexual relationships. Much still remains to be done to present that thinking to the public.'

    [p.39]: False Allegations

    [p.39]: 'The law also deals with those who make false allegations. Making a false allegation of a crime is unlawful; it is perverting the course of justice. False allegations are often raised in discussions about rape and strong views are held. Some suggest that false allegations are particularly common when rape is the issue. The image of the rejected woman seeking revenge by making a false accusation is to be found far back in history and literature.'

    [p.13]: 'It was suggested to us that women often make false allegations of rape. Beliefs that many allegations are false are said to affect the way rape complaints are dealt with by the police, prosecutors and juries.'

    [p.39]: 'Certainly, cases of women being convicted of trying to pervert the course of justice by alleging rape are well reported in the media.'

    [p.40 BOX 3]: Prison 'inevitable' for false rape claims (30 October 2009). The Court of Appeal said that false allegations damage conviction rates of genuine rapes and are 'terrifying' for innocent victims. The judges spoke out as they dismissed an appeal by a former nurse who was jailed for two years after falsely accusing a man she met online. Mr Justice Henriques read out the words of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, made in a previous ruling relating to a false rape claim. Lord Judge, pointing out that such an allegation involved more than the individual victim. He said: 
    "Every false allegation of rape increases the plight of those women who have been victims of this dreadful crime. It makes the offense harder to prove and, rightly concerned to avoid the conviction of an innocent man, a jury may find itself unable to be sufficiently sure to return a guilty verdict."
    He said it was an offence which not only causes great problems for the victim, but also damages the administration of justice in general in 'this extremely sensitive area.'

    [p.40]: 'How common are false allegations? It is not possible to establish an exact figure and the research that is available gives a wide range of suggested percentages. Some research suggests that a figure of eight to ten per cent of reported rapes could well be false reports.'

    [p.41]: 'Wether there are more false allegations of rape than other offences is not known. But we do know that the effect on those who are falsely accused can be severe. The public holds very strong views about sex offenders. Those who have been under suspicion, maybe for months, perhaps remanded in custody awaiting trial, are likely to suffer considerably from the allegation having been made. Even when they have been cleared and the allegation has been established as false, they may still face suspicion from those they know.'

    [p.41]: 'The question of false allegations comes up time and time again in any meeting or discussion about rape, with some arguing that the number is large and others insisting that the prevalence is grossly exaggerated. Faster progress could be made in improving the treatment of rape complainants if more solid evidence was in the public domain.'

    [p.41]: 'In view of the controversy surrounding false allegations, the strong feelings the subject arouses and the part the controversy plays in the response to rape complainants, we recommend that the Ministry of Justice commissions and publishes an independant research report to study the frequency of false allegations of rape compared with other offences, and the nature of such allegations.'

    [p.41]: Linked to the matter of false allegations is the question often raised of allowing defendants in rape cases to retain their anonymity unless they are convicted, a proposal supported by the Home Affairs Select Committe in 2003. The current law protects complainants by granting them anonymity throughtout the legal process. Their names cannot be published from the time of the allegation for the rest of their lives. It is often argued that this anonymity should be extended to defendants unless and untill they are convicted. It was put to us by some we talked to that even when defendants are acquitted, 'If you throw mud it sticks.' A legal practitioner told us, 'It would be a serious advance if we did provide anonymity for both parties.' It was argued that the newspapers give a great deal of coverage of the opening of a trial with full details of the defendant, but by the time the trial ends, if the defendant is acquitted it has ceased to be newsworthy and the acquittal is not reported. On the other hand it is suggested that the acquittal gives 'public vindication' and that should be sufficient, and defendants in other cases do not have anonymity.'

    [p.42:] 'We make no recommendation on anonymity for defendants but note that it is often raised and the concerns will undoubtedly continue. A full examination of the issues would be helpful to the debate.'

    [p.15]: Conflicting targets for the police and the CPS were blamed for bad performance. The police targets require the police to charge a certain number of suspects.'

    [p.87]: 'It was suggested to us by some that the CPS had become nervous about deciding not to take a rape case, and would prefer to take it and see it collapse for lack of evidence rather than turn it down. We heard that on occasion the CPS seems to prosecute rape cases where the evidence is so flawed that the prosecution is doomed from the outset.'

    [p.87]: 'It was put to us that the CPS is under great pressure from politicians and pressure groups'.

    [p.87]: 'We agree that the current performance measures applied to the police and the CPS are likely to result in unintended consquences.'

    [p.88]: 'We also heard some criticism of the CPS from judges. They felt cases are sometimes not properly prepared. It was suggested that the CPS lawyers are often not ready for what might be disclosed about the complainant and do not deal with it well when the defence lays out such material.'

    [p.88]: 'Concern was expressed by a range of people we met that evidence is disclosed and used by the defence in a trial, for example CCTV or mobile phone evidence, that contradicts what is in the complainants interview and the complainant is quite unprepared for this. The result can be that the complainant is discredited.'

    (The Stern Review - blog owners opinion.)

    Friday, 21 January 2011

    The Stern Review (2010) - A Report by Baroness Vivien Stern CBE Of An Independant Review Into How Rape Complaints Are Handled By Public Authorities In England And Wales (blog owners opinion).

    Blog Owners Opinion.

    I think Baroness Stern and her team have done an incredibly good job, and I learned a lot from reading this report.

    I thought it was balanced, thoughtful, and educational, particularly in regards to 'The Sexual Offences Act 2003', and the section on false rape allegations.

    It would have been very easy for Baroness Stern to not have addressed these issues at all.

    As someone who previous to this report, assumed rape was rampant in Britain, I was suprised by the statistics:

    '12,129 recorded rapes in 2008/9 - 3,495 prosecutions - 2021 convictions'

    I do have some criticisms of The Stern Review, but overall I think Baroness Stern does a good job in refuting some of the misleading statistics submitted, no doubt, by certain womens organisations, particularly the 6 per cent conviction rate myth.

    However other dubious statistical claims are allowed to stand as fact. One of those being the British Crime Survey statistics.

    [p.32]: 'The most recent survey, The British Crime Survey from 2008/9, show that the lifetime prevalence for rape and attempted rape in those over 16 was nearly one in 24 women'

    This is a contentious claim, and its one seized upon by feminists. Look again at the offical figures for 2008/9:

    '3,495 prosecutions - 2,021 convictions'.

    In the British courts, almost half of all prosecutions do NOT result in a conviction. That means that a large number of those cases of rape tried before a jury, did not pass the criminal standard set by British law to gain a conviction. So in that regard, I Think the figures from The British Crime Survey cannot, I think, be relied upon to give us a an accurate picture as to wether a woman has actually been raped. There have been instances reported in the press where a female has been intoxicated through alcohol, consented to sex at the time, but in the morning had no recollection of events the night before, and thought she must have been raped. Rather than focus on a statistic from a survey (which may infact represent womens own subjective experience's), I think by taking into account the official prosecutions versus conviction figures, we might get a better understanding of the prevalence of rape. So could it be that actually 1 in 50 have been raped? 1 in 100? or more? The problem is that we just dont know. I think results from the British Crime survey, on the specific issue of rape, should be seen in a skeptical light. I dont think we will ever be able to say, with any certainty, exactly how many women have been raped. In that regard, the most responsible thing to do would be to omit survey results like this. We certainly shouldnt be stating them as fact.

    Another statistic claimed by feminists, and the Stern Review, is that only 11 per cent of rapes are ever reported. This assertion is based on the fact that on average, only 11 per cent of crime as a whole is thought to be reported to the police. My problem with this 11 per cent figure, is that being raped is a far more serious crime than, say, having your car vandalized. Most people that have their cars vandalized in some way simply claim back on the insurance. They dont report the incident to the police because its not that serious. Most, I expect, think involving the police would be a waste of their time over something they would view as trivial. Rape, on the other hand, must be a very traumatic and life-changing experience and not trivial at all. I could understand some women not wanting to report due to their specific circumstances, and perhaps shame, but with anonymity for the complainant, and the full range of services on offer to vicitms of rape, I find it hard to imagine that almost 90% of women dont even report their rape to the police.

    Now, lets take another look at those official figures:

    '12,129 recorded rapes in 2008/9 - 3,495 prosecutions - 2021 convictions'

    These figures inevitably lead to the question: How can it be, that of 12,129 recorded allegations of rape, only 2,021 result in a conviction?

    Its quite clear that something is happening here.

    Campaign groups such as WAR (Women Against Rape), who are regularly seen in the British media, and which submitted 'evidence' to The Stern Review, would have us believe that the conviction rate for rape is incredibly low, they say that the conviction rate is 6 per cent, and that its the result of institutional sexism from the legal authorities. They claim that victims of rape are being failed by both the British police force and the judiciary, on the strength of this 6 per cent figure.

    While its technically true that the conviction rate for reported rape is 6 per cent, this is misleading, and does not give us the whole picture.

    Baroness Stern explains this best:

    [p.9]: 'The way this conviction rate figure (6%) is calculated is unusual. Conviction rates are not published or even measured in this way for any other crime so its very difficult to make a comparison. The term 'conviction rate' usually describes the percentage of all the cases brought to court that end with the defendant being convicted. When dealing with rape the term has come to be used in a different way and describes the percentage of all the cases recorded by the police as a rape that end up with someone being convicted of rape.'

    Baroness Stern goes on to say:

    'The confusion arises from mixing up the conviction rate with the process of attrition. 'Attrition' is the process by which a number of cases of rape initially reported do not proceed, perhaps because the complainant decides not to take the case further, there is not enough evidence to prosecute, or the case is taken to court and the suspect is acquitted.'

    WAR do not even acknowledge men that have been acquitted by the courts, as a factor within the attrition rate.

    WAR imply that the 94% attrition rate figure is overwhelmingly due to a failing police and legal system.

    But how, for instance, can the police be held accountable if a woman decides she wants to withdraw her allegation? The police have no control over that issue. Its a matter for the complainant and her alone.

    WAR barely recognise false-allegations within this process of attrition. They claim false-allegations are rare. The studies that have been done on false allegations show a range of figures for false-rape reporting, including Kanin's figure's of 41% and 50%, and McDowell's figure's of 27% rising to possibly 60% on further analysis).

    Women are rarely prosecuted for false-allegations because its difficult to prove, unless there is undeniable evidence such as CCTV or mobile phone evidence. Cases without clear-cut evidence that the complainant has made a false-accusation are just dropped by the police, and help make up part of this 'process of attrition'.

    So WAR's assertion that the 94 per cent process of attrition grey area (all cases that dont end in a conviction) can be accounted for due to a failing sexist police and judiciary simply does not hold water.

    What is clear, is that the vast grey area of the attrition rate includes many different factors, which WAR seem reluctant to accept.

    What is not clear, is wether the use of the 6 per cent figure by WAR is a deliberate attempt to mislead the British public, or an honest but ignorant understanding of the subject they espouse to be experts in.

    A full 6 months after publication of The Stern Review condemned the use of the misleading 6 per cent figure, WAR were still using it. Here it is on their website in response to an article in the Daily Telegraph dated December 2010:

    'the conviction rate is 6.5% in the UK' (Here).

    Baroness Stern also says:

    [p.46]: 'It is clear to us that the way the six per cent conviction rate figure has been able to dominate the public discourse on rape, without explaination, analysis and context, is extremely unhelpful. There is anecdotal evidence that it may well have discouraged some victims from reporting.'

    So WAR, either intentionally or though ignorance (again, I'll leave it up to the reader to decide), may itself have discouraged victims of rape from reporting to the police.

    At the same time, they have contributed to the demonization of ALL British men as potential rapists, in the eyes of British women.

    Baroness Stern also reports that:

    [p.9]: 'Some have found it helpful as a campaigning tool'

    It seems WAR have recieved two grants from The National Lottery Fund:

    In 2005 they were given a general grant of £192,273.

    In 2008 they were given another sum of £10,000, 'to replace their existing website'.

    WAR have been awarded public funds and have promoted (either intentionally or through ignorance) misleading figure's on the issue of rape, which has given the British people a false picture of a failing police force and judiciary.

    But the 6 per cent figure is not the only dubious statistic WAR uses. At the bottom of their homepage they state '1 in 6 women has been raped.'

    The Stern review has this to say:

    [p.32]: 'The most recent survey, The British Crime Survey from 2008/9, show that the lifetime prevalence for rape and attempted rape in those over 16 was nearly one in 24 women'

    And again, even the 1 in 24 figure is contentious because its a survey, for the reasons I talked about earlier. So where have WAR got the '1 in 6' statistic from? I emailed them to ask them this question 5 days ago, I am still awaiting a reply. Be assured, as soon as I get an answer (if I ever do) I will publish it on this blog..

    WAR were even against anonymity for defendants accused of rape.

    From the WAR website:

    'We are glad the government has been forced to back down on the proposal to give anonymity to men accused of rape. Since the day it was announced we publicly opposed the proposal, and the fury of women all over the country has snowballed' (Here)

    In November 2010 the British government ditched a key pledge to grant men charged with rape anonymity untill conviction.

    A British newspaper source said that Justice Secretary Ken Clarke had taken 'the path of least resistence', after an outcry from feminist labour MP's, and feminist campaign groups.

    The Stern Review Part 1: main conclusions, and the 6% 'conviction rate' myth.

    The Stern Review Part 2: 'The Sexual Offences Act' 2003, and false rape allegations.