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Letters—Why sexual harassment of young women is normalised

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Issue 2759
Take back the night protesters march in Montreal in 2013 to demand an end to sexual harassment and misogyny.
Take back the night protesters march in Montreal in 2013 to demand an end to sexual harassment and misogyny. (Pic: Howl Arts Collective/Flickr)

I wasn’t surprised by the latest report describing the scale of sexual harassment faced by young women. No young woman would have been.

The report from education inspectorate Ofsted said harassment was the norm, the expected experience.

If you want to get a sense of what people face again and again go to the Everyone’s Invited website.

Cop pleads guilty to kidnap and rape of Sarah Everard
Cop pleads guilty to kidnap and rape of Sarah Everard
  Read More

There are so many testimonies of how young people are treated in horrible ways and it damages them for a long time, perhaps forever.

At my school, there are boys who touch girls, leer at them and make “jokes” about them. And nobody does anything about it. Am I making this up? Look at what Ofsted said. Nine in ten of the young women they surveyed said they or their close friends were often sent explicit images or faced sexist name-calling.

Commonplace experiences included being repeatedly asked for nude images or harassed with “rape jokes”.

And it also found there was little official response, let alone a plan to deal with it.

Students spoke of teachers not “knowing the reality” of their lives. The report found schools “consistently underestimate” sexual harassment, and fell short in providing adequate education on relationships and sex.

One girl quoted in the report said, “It shouldn’t be our responsibility to educate boys.”

I’m sure there could be better ways of teaching about sex and consent and relationships at school. Openness and honesty would be a start.

But there’s something much wider going wrong. Didn’t we learn a few weeks ago that fewer than one in 60 rape cases recorded by the police last year resulted in a suspect being charged?

Aren’t women, especially young women, sexualised all the time in the media? Didn’t the police attack women and men remembering Sarah Everard’s murder?

I want change. But I’m scared enough I can’t even sign this with my real name.



Palestine solidarity in schools

The outpouring of solidarity with Palestine is feeding a challenge to the long chill exerted by the establishment through antisemitism allegations.

Students hold protests at schools in solidarity with Palestine
Students hold protests at schools in solidarity with Palestine
  Read More

School students have painted Palestinian flags in and out of art lessons, on their bodies, and on school property.

They have worn badges, held solidarity protests and demanded to be heard in the classroom.

Head teachers are floundering. Letters and meetings assure parents that schools are places where self-expression is encouraged in a safe environment where all views can be respected.

Except many of those parents and students know this is not the case.

Prevent has targeted Muslim pupils for years. Mainstream media overwhelmingly reference Muslims as being involved with violence, conflict, and terrorism.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson’s letter expressing concern with the rise in antisemitism and directing heads to use Solutions Not Sides, and Education Against Hate—Prevent—is not going unchallenged.

But schools are conservative institutions. I suspect we will have to rely on students to keep challenging the dominant biased narrative in standing up for Palestine.

It is vitally important socialists support them all the way.

Miriam Scharf

East London

Footballers taking the knee has to be political

It’s great to see so many people opposing those who booed footballers taking the knee.

But we need to be careful of the arguments.

Sport and the system—whose game are we playing?
Sport and the system—whose game are we playing?
  Read More

Some people say it’s OK to take the knee because it’s not political.

They say it’s just a “moment of unity” or something.

If that’s true it’s meaningless.

Anti-racism is definitely political.

We should be proud to say it is and it targets racists everywhere—including in governments.

And I don’t agree with England manger Gareth Southgate that we are necessarily “heading for a much more tolerant and understanding society”.

Perhaps we are, and certainly Black Lives Matter has opened up discussions that lots of people want closed.

But there are big battles ahead and that includes fighting the rotten culture that is often put forward as “Englishness”.

Sue Bowes


Outrageous students? Bullingdon Club

Tories are getting very angry about Oxford students voting to remove a portrait of the queen from their common room.

Members of Magdalen College rightly deemed the image a symbol of “recent colonial history”.

But education secretary Gavin Williamson branded the move as “simply absurd”.

Wait until he hears about the Bullingdon Club.

That was the elite Oxford students’ set that Boris Johnson, former prime minister David Cameron, and former chancellor George Osborne were members of. One student claimed that his friend was allowed to join, but only if he set fire to a £50 note in front of a homeless man.

Club members smashed up restaurants, pubs and university buildings. But they could get away with their crimes by paying off their victims.

This club encapsulates all the most disgusting arrogance and class privilege of the public schools.

Yet the Tories seem to think the real problem is students who want to make a gesture against colonialism and racism.

They just wanted to make their living space welcoming to all.

Let’s hope Johnson and his mates go the same way as the portrait of the queen.

Simon Scott


Johnson bad, Thunberg good

Greta Thunberg sailed from Europe to the United States to attend a conference. It was a solid example of keeping down emissions.

Boris Johnson flew from London to Cornwall for a conference. It was a solid example that he doesn’t give a damn about the climate change.

Leah Murphy

by email

Case to lift fox hunt ban

Normally, I’d oppose fox hunting.

However, every time Lawrence Fox opens his filthy mouth I feel compelled to support the lifting of the ban.

John Curtis


Call to break law is ignored

Andrew Lloyd Webber has said he is determined to open his theatres on 21 June, even if he risks arrest.

Imagine if it was a black musician saying the same. Prosecution might follow.

Carlton Lewis


Bioweapons— a threat to all

Governments may not be telling the whole truth about coronavirus.

Remember the lies which led to the Iraq war. We were told of “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, “bioweapons laboratories on wheels” and so on.

The mayhem from Britain, the US and Nato led to a fear of bioterrorism in the US.

Labs sprung up all over for “biodefence” handling dangerous pathogens.

Other governments followed suit. As with nuclear weapons, the global defence elite puts all of us in great danger.

Nigel Norman

East London

Maths of Tory school spend

Catch-up funding for each pupil in England whose education was disrupted by Covid-19 is £50. It’s £1,600 in the US and £2,500 in the Netherlands. Enough said.

Margaret Peterson


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