Women’s Issues January 2023
On Monday 16th January, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack took the unprecedented step of using powers under s35 of the Scotland Act to block Scotland’s recent gender reform legislation. It is the first time this power has been used, and the Scottish government has vowed to fight it. Jack objected on the grounds that the legislation would adversely affect UK-wide equality laws, would substantively change what is a ‘man’ or ‘woman’ for purposes of the Equality Act and the process would be ‘open to abuse and malicious actors’. Just the objections which women voiced but were ignored.
Researchers from Aberdeen University say that women’s experiences may be missing from the analysis of drug trials, leading to disparities in the effectiveness of drugs which are primarily developed for men. The Health Services Research Unit of Aberdeen University says evidence shows that women are less likely to survive lung cancer after chemotherapy than men.
A recent study of 27 drugs found that after having received a standard dose, women and men’s absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of drugs differed significantly from men, as did the action of the drug on the body, and that women remained exposed to higher concentrations of substances made or used when the body breaks down food, drugs or chemicals for an extended period, with adverse reactions and side effects more common.
Women are historically under-represented in cancer clinical trials partly because it was assumed women’s hormonal levels might slew the results, and from research into treatment results due to caring commitments making women less able to attend ongoing analysis.
Glasgow University Sports Association is cracking down on predatory behaviour in its gyms by asking students to report those who stare, flirt or offer uninvited advice to women. ‘Ask for Angela’ mirrors a scheme used in pubs and clubs to alert staff to what is happening. Thirty percent of students reported feeling uncomfortable or unsafe in the Glasgow University gym. There are emergency phones in the gym, or users can speak to staff, go to the duty manager, or scan QR codes placed round the gym, or report online later on. The university has an hour on Wednesday set aside for those self-identifying as female, non-binary or transgender, but it is not clear if the three are together or separate. It also does not address the fact that predators can self-identify too.
Domestic Violence Deaths
A review system is being introduced to examine killings linked to domestic abuse. Caroline Lyon started campaigning for this after the death of her daughter Louise Aitchison, who was murdered by repeat domestic abuser Darryl Paterson in April 2020. Police Scotland have admitted to 18 failures in their involvement with Louise. The multi-agency taskforce will involve Cosla, Police Scotland, social work, Scottish women’s Aid, health boards and victims’ representatives.
Louise met Darryl during lockdown but had no idea he had a history of violence against women, and due to administrative mistakes and a lack of awareness Police Scotland repeatedly failed to warn her she was in danger. They had been called to her flat to remove Paterson, but soon after they left her flat, they let Paterson remain free and he returned and killed her. Because they failed to properly follow-up on safety visits to her, she lay dead three days while police left calling cards.
Professor Jane Monckton Smith’s book ‘In Control – Dangerous Relationships And How They End In Murder’ draws on her former career as a police officer and sets out eight stages to homicide. A third of female suicides may be hidden homicides. In Scotland last year there were 16 female victims of homicide with 56% of them killed by a partner or ex-partner.
One year prior to her death, Adrienne McCartney from Irvine spoke to the Sunday Post to reveal domestic abuse and what she regarded as the continued failings of police and prosecutors to protect her (‘For Adrienne: A victim betrayed’, Marion Scott, 20/11/22). Weighed down by the feeling that she was being continually let down, in August 2022 she took a cocktail of drugs and alcohol and died. She had seen the most serious charges against her husband dropped and due to an error the fiscal failed to ask for a Non-Harassment Order which she had requested.
The police were not so tardy though in later arresting her for a ‘social media post’, although she was never charged. She felt let down by NHS Ayrshire and Arran when she asked for a psychiatrist or counsellor, instead offering her an online cognitive behaviour course. She made allegations against Police Scotland for their treatment of her, but got nowhere.
Women Won’t Wheesht!
A woman wearing a purple scarf was told to remove it or leave Committee Room 6 during deliberations of the gender reform bill. Sporting the green, white and purple of the suffragettes, she was deemed to be acting politically. The Code of Conduct for visitors bans banners flags or political slogans including on clothing and accessories, but apparently does not apply to MSPs.
As far as I am aware, no politician wearing a rainbow lanyard has ever been asked to leave. Rainbow lanyards and pink and blue ties as sported by Ross Greer are not political. The Presiding Officer belatedly apologised for the woman being asked to leave but did not clarify why the request had been made or by whom.
Women are always told to be kind and wheesht for indy. But even then we must be wearing the right colours.
the UN rapporteur for women, wrote a scathing 4500-word letter criticising the Scottish government particularly for ignoring the evidence of women who had suffered violence at the hands of men. She urged pausing the bill, saying there was no safeguarding in place.
Despite this the Scottish government passed its gender reform bill 86 to 39, with the unedifying spectacle of Scottish ministers turning and applauding the trans people in the gallery at Holyrood. Almost all of them were trans women while the Scottish government threw 52% of the population under the bus. The logistics of it were particularly stark, the trans lobby in the gallery, the politicians beneath them, turning to gaze up at them and applaud.
The government ignored social workers, UN experts (except a man who agreed with them), copious evidence presented by Murray Blackburn Mackenzie and For Women Scotland, and filled the Holyrood Committee with personnel largely already in favour of gender reform. They returned the bill to that same committee for consideration of 150+ amendments, which they mostly ignored. Alsalem was probably internationally the most important person the Scottish government ignored, joining an illustrious list of parties, politicians, women’s groups and individual women to be told by the government we were just wrong.
Dundee road crossings gone Woke
Dundee is the latest locality to forget or ignore the impact on visually impaired people of different coloured road crossings, installing pale pink and blue road crossings on Union Street. It is not clear whether the council carried out any Equality Impact Assessment on the effects on visually impaired people. Guide dogs have become confused by this and refused to move, possibly endangering those they are guiding. These crossings have been tried numerous times across the UK and each time they seem to be done with no reference at all to the disabled.
Roads and pavements are becoming a minefield nationwide of overlapping cycle, pedestrian, car and bus lanes where pedestrians have to cross several different lanes to get on a bus. It is also becoming easy for motorists to be caught transgressing into bus lanes (because you have no choice), or for pedestrians, particularly visually impaired ones, to be injured because of the confusing road layout.
Alexa, Spy on my Ex for me
A male was convicted recently in Livingston Sheriff Court for using an Alexa smart device to spy on his ex-partner. The Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee is considering the potential for bad faith actors to abuse new technology. Alexa is supposed to play a warning tone when someone connects remotely via ‘drop-in’, but if you are in a different room when this happens, you may not hear the warning.
The microphone may be muted but that prevents it hearing the trigger words which activate it. Professor George Loukas, cybersecurity expert from the University of Greenwich told the committee that ‘tech-assisted abuse at home is common nowadays’.
Welsh Parents Win but Lose
Parents exposed the Welsh government’s new compulsory RSE (Relationships and Sexuality Education) curriculum evidence in Cardiff High Court by showing the curriculum is not homegrown but part of a global rollout of Comprehensive Sexuality Education promoted by UNESCO, which the Welsh government had been denying till then.
Like many gender-critical women and opponents of gender identity ideology, the parents were accused of links with far right extremists and religious zealots. Their barrister exposed the Welsh government belief that children should be viewed as sexual from birth, they were biased towards LGBTQ+ ideology, sidelined protected characteristics and erased parental rights. The government said if parents did not like it they could always home school their children or send them private (more of an option for Welsh government ministers than ordinary people).
But Mrs Justice Steyn of the High Court in Cardiff ruled just before Christmas that the parents of children in the state school system have no right to safeguard their children from compulsory RSE education in school, which will allow gender identity narratives to dominate. This is in contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that parents’ religious and philosophical convictions are to be respected. Compulsory gender ideology, human sexuality, sexual activity and sexual development can all now be taught to children from age 3 in Wales.
Needless to say, the parents’ groups involved intend to appeal this draconian stripping of their parental rights.
- An NHS Highland contraception guide aimed at young people recommends the Pill and hormone implants but does not say they should not be used on men or boys, being suitable only for biological females. The leaflet mentions the uterus and womb but does not specify that they are only found in biological females;
- Katie Dolatowski, who was found guilty of crimes against small girls and imprisoned in the men’s prison estate, went on to attack another inmate there and was transferred to the female estate at Cornton Vale. A recent protest there by women’s groups against the gender reform bill saw the protesters set up a life-size cardboard cut-out representing Dolatowski at 6’5’’, as a stark visual representation of the injustice which women in jails are facing;
- A sex offender who abducted and raped his care worker is demanding to be known as Claire and demanding lipstick and eye make up at HMP Edinburgh. Albert Caballero is now eligible to apply for parole and wants a transfer to a women’s prison before release. Release is automatic at half-sentence for those serving less than four years, but those serving longer terms can be held until 6 months before the end of their sentence, if the Parole Board for Scotland thinks they are not safe to release.