You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘women’ tag.
Yesterday, one of my readers, underground pewster, sent in the Yahoo!News link to the horrifying fatal stabbing of a Swedish social worker at a youth home for male refugees in Molndal, southwest Sweden.
Her murderer is a 15-year-old.
I replied that the young woman probably considered her work as a vocation.
It turns out she did.
The Daily Mail revealed that Alexandra Mehzer, 22, the daughter of Lebanese immigrants, anticipated returning to university to earn a Master’s degree in social science. One of her cousins described her as:
She told Swedish media: ‘It is so terrible. She was a person who wanted to do good, who wanted to be good.
‘And then he murdered her when she was doing her job. We have cried a lot. She was such a nice person, warm and happy.’
Alexandra’s mother, Cheméne Mehzer, said the same, adding that her daughter was
a just and fair human being. There were so many who loved her. She was my daughter, my friend.. my mate.
The fatal attack took place before 8 a.m. on January 25, 2016, when the attacker set upon her. Alexandra had been working at the small refugee centre for only a few months. The centre accommodates ten ‘unaccompanied’ youths between the ages of 14 and 17.
It is unclear where the other nine youths were at the time. However, soon after the attack happened, a group of them overcame the boy and held him until the police arrived. He was arrested on suspicion of murder.
Alexandra was rushed to hospital in Gothenburg, but doctors were unable to save her.
Police spokesman Thomas Fuxborg gave no information on the assailant’s nationality or motive. However, he did tell Swedish media:
These kinds of calls are becoming more and more common.
We’re dealing with more incidents like these since the arrival of so many more refugees from abroad.
Alexandra’s murder took place as National Police Commissioner Dan Eliasson requested 4,100 extra officers and support staff to cope with the recent spate of attacks and criminal activity on the part of newcomers to Sweden. Deportation is a real possibility, provided it can be arranged with the home country.
Eliasson said (emphases mine):
We are forced to respond to many disturbances in asylum reception centres. In some places, this takes significant police resources.
This was not the case six months ago and it means that we won’t be able to respond as effectively in other areas.
The Mail tells us:
According to the Swedish Migration Agency, the number of threats and violent incidents at asylum facilities more than doubled between 2014 and 2015.
In 2014, there were 148 incidents but in 2015 that number jumped to 322.
The article says that police are also struggling with spontaneous arson attacks on asylum facilities, stricter border controls introduced on January 4 and the higher terrorist threat level as a result of the Paris attacks last November.
Police union director Lena Nitz explained that Swedish police have long been underfunded and understaffed. She said:
It is obvious that the migrant situation is a great strain. It has become clear that the situation is completely unsustainable.
Last year, Sweden, with a population of 9.8m, took in 160,000 asylum seekers in 2015. Since then, the government has tightened asylum rules.
However, in Stockholm, unaccompanied migrant minors — boys — are already wreaking havoc at the capital’s largest aquatics centre Eriksdalsbadet and at the central railway station.
Over the past three weeks, four cases involving girls under the age of 18 have been filed. These are complaints of indecent assault experienced at Eriksdalsbadet. The incidents took place in hot tubs, swimming pools and in the changing rooms.
Another Mail article discusses the Moroccan boys’ gangs which are making Stockholm’s central railway station a no-go zone. The fearless groups of children are not above attacking security guards, either.
Police estimate there may be 200 youths in total. Some are only nine years old.
It is thought that the youths have run away from state homes for juvenile migrants. In the centre of Stockholm, they can live as they please on the streets, earning their way by stealing and amusing themselves with assaults on girls and young women.
One Stockholm police officer said:
These guys are a huge problem for us. They steal stuff everywhere and assault security guards at the central station …
They grope girls between their legs, and slap them in the face when they protest. All police officers are aware of this.
I would never let my children go to the central station. No officer would.
The theory behind this situation is explained in an article about Pakistani Muslim attacks on innocent Christian girls — a horrifying and highly recommended read.
The article quotes the late Majid Khadduri, the founder of Johns Hopkins’s SAIS Middle East Studies Program. He held a variety of ministerial roles in the Middle East then taught at SAIS from 1950 until 1980. He died in 2007 at the age of 98. He was widely respected for his knowledge of Muslim law and society. He explained the thinking behind the Muslim spoils of war:
The term spoil (ghanima) is applied specifically to property acquired by force from non-Muslims. It includes, however, not only property (movable and immovable) but also persons, whether in the capacity of asra (prisoners of war) or sabi (women and children). … If the slave were a woman, the master was permitted to have sexual connection with her as a concubine.
This belief has been applied against non-Muslims, ‘infidels’, in various European nations over the years and has escalated this year.
Westerners see the acceptance of migrants as being compassionate and merciful.
Young migrants might well see it as an invitation for invasion and an opportunity to exploit.
And where are the Christian refugees in all of this? Should we not have taken them in first then made a considered decision about Muslim migrants later?
Yesterday’s post examined the war-like robberies, grievous bodily harm and indecent or sexual assaults of hundreds of Germans who gathered in Cologne on New Year’s Eve 2015.
Other European countries embracing multiculturalism have also had similar episodes of shorter and longer duration. Because the perpetrators are of a certain world faith, a policy of omerta has descended on discussing the violation of young European women, which, in turn, extends to authorities ignoring it altogether.
Two of these countries are England and Sweden, where talking about a socio-sexual culture clash invites various responses. The mildest is one of verbal abuse, including being deemed ‘racist’. However, even fathers who try to rescue their daughters can be arrested, as will be explained below.
Why some embraced multiculturalism
In the days before conservative strains of Islam dominated the Middle East and parts of Asia, Westerners viewed those nations such as being exotic, hearkening back to ancient days of adventure and romanticism.
Europeans who were university students or well off sometimes travelled to these distant lands. They were favourably impressed by what they saw in an ancient world courtesy that did not exist anywhere else.
Theodore Dalrymple (a pseudonym) is a retired physician and psychiatrist who worked in England’s prison system for many years. His books and his columns in The Spectator and City Journal describing his experiences are must-reads.
In 2004, City Journal published his reminiscences of travelling to Iran and Afghanistan as a student (probably in the early to mid-1970s). Dalrymple concluded at the time:
On the whole I was favorably impressed. I thought that they were freer than we. I thought nothing of such matters as the clash of civilizations, and experienced no desire, and felt no duty, to redeem them from their way of life in the name of any of my own civilization’s ideals. Impressed by the aesthetics of Afghanistan and unaware of any fundamental opposition or tension between the modern and the pre-modern, I saw no reason why the West and Afghanistan should not rub along pretty well together, each in its own little world, provided only that each respected the other.
We all know how that turned out.
And, as we also know, fundamentalist Islam has spread throughout most Muslim nations. Any Westernised social influence on the 57 Muslim states has waned considerably since the late 1970s. This affects the type of Muslim emigrating to Europe.
Dalrymple has this observation:
The Muslim immigrants to these areas were not seeking a new way of life when they arrived; they expected to continue their old lives, but more prosperously.
He wrote that English prisons had a growing number of Muslims who were incarcerated. In this essay of 2004, he noted that they were relaxed about their faith. Although he acknowledges they had very conservative ideas about women, on the other hand:
Confounding expectations, these prisoners display no interest in Islam whatsoever; they are entirely secularized …
The young Muslim men in prison do not pray; they do not demand halal meat. They do not read the Qu’ran. They do not ask to see the visiting imam. They wear no visible signs of piety …
How things have changed.
Today, Muslim prisoners ask for — and receive — a number of faith-based concessions, including prayer meetings and halal meat. Interestingly, this New York Times article indicates they already existed in 2004:
prisons in England and Wales hold regular Friday Prayer and provide halal food in the daily diet.
By 2009, Muslims got their own cells so they did not have to be with non-Muslims in close surroundings.
Outside of prison walls, over the past several years, a number of larger companies in England have also installed special foot-washing facilities in washrooms, take care with what is served at corporate lunches and cater to prayer times, including allocating a special Muslim-only room.
At least 1,400 girls were victims of sexual exploitation.
The authorities — police and Labour Party member councillors, men and women alike — knew about it and did nothing.
It was thought that bringing it to light would encourage racism — a backlash from the town’s English population.
It is interesting — admittedly, perhaps coincidental — that the abuse, abductions and torture began in the year a Labour government was elected: 1997.
Labour were voted out of a parliamentary majority only in 2010. Oddly, again, perhaps coincidentally, that same year saw the first — perhaps only — convictions that carried prison sentences. Five men were jailed. Three of them are now back in society, having done their time.
In 2013, the Coalition government (Conservative-Liberal Democrat) appointed Professor Alexis Jay as the head of an independent enquiry into the Rotherham scandal. In 2014, Jay published a report on the enquiry’s findings. A handful of senior councillors and civil servants resigned as a result, including the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire.
Prior to this, victims or family members who spoke out or tried to bring the scandal to light ended up being threatened, harrassed or arrested:
- A victim, Girl J, now 30, told Sheffield Crown Court in January 2016 that social workers threatened to take her children away if she gave any further press interviews regarding her experiences in the hands of one of the perpetrators;
- Two fathers who attempted to rescue their daughters from their abusers were themselves arrested — with no arrests made of the abusers, according to the Jay report;
- The Jay report also disclosed that abusers threatened violence against young girls who wanted to testify; at least two families suffered harassment outside their houses, including broken windows; and other young victims returned to their abusers in the hope that would keep their families safe.
Other grooming gangs have also operated in other cities and towns across England.
We need to be very careful how we treat crimes termed to be either traditional behaviour or hearsay from dysfunctional girls.
It is unfortunate that, up until the Jay report was published, no one could mention this appalling scandal online or offline. I know of no one of my acquaintance who talked about it. Online, the most people could reasonably do was to make an oblique reference simply to ‘Rotherham’.
The Swedes are like the English in not talking about multicultural indecent or sexual assaults. Whether these are rapes in cities or crimes committed at organised events, the national response seems to be, ‘Nothing to see here, move along’.
However, the events in Cologne at last opened the way.
This year, it emerged that, in 2014 and 2015, young women were indecently and sexually assaulted at the summer music festival for youth in Stockholm, We Are Sthlm.
BBC Newsnight recently interviewed a police spokesman, the organiser of the event and a member of the Swedish Democrats (SD), a political party opposed to mass immigration:
Katie Razzall, reporting, explains that a number of girls who attended the festival — 17 in 2014 and 19 in 2015 — reported crimes against their person at the time, but it has only been now, in the aftermath of Cologne, that their complaints are coming to light.
Police kept quiet about the complaints because the perpetrators were allegedly young Afghan refugees.
Varg Gyllander of the Stockholm Police told Razzall that there was no cover-up because the police do not reveal racial or cultural details of suspects. He added:
It’s a cultural thing, we don’t go there, we don’t go in those dark places.
Roger Ticalou, who organises the festival, said that there were small groups of young men whose ‘only goal’ was to harrass young women.
Razzall mentioned she’d spoken with the police officer in charge of patrolling the Stockholm festival. Whilst we did not see him on film, he told Razzall that he did not want to publicise the ethnicity of the alleged assailants for fear that would:
play into the hands of the Swedish Democrats.
Over the past few months, and especially during the past three weeks, the SD have been gaining popular support, at least to the extent that more Swedes are realising that perhaps the party’s pronouncements are not racist after all, only based in the reality they can see for themselves on television and in the media.
Razzall interviewed Paula Bieler from the SD. Bieler gave intelligent, balanced responses. She said she did not blame the men as much as she did the culture in which they grew up and expected to continue to live in as adults. She said that Sweden has never before had a gang rape culture or episodes of mass indecent/sexual assault until now.
Around the same time as Razzall’s report, an article appeared in Nyheter Idag (‘i-Daily News’ (?)) which exposes how Dagens Nyheter (‘Daily News’), one of Sweden’s biggest newspapers, refused to report on what happened at the festival.
Nyheter Idag was appalled that, until Cologne happened, the paper ignored the assaults at We Are Sthlm. Now Dagens Nyheter opines:
The mere suspicion that the abuse has been considered as difficult to describe involves a betrayal of the victims.
However, as Nyheter Idag explains in detail, a police psychologist who was an eyewitness at the 2015 concert said he contacted one of Dagens Nyheter‘s investigative journalists — a woman, Hanne Kjöller — who pussyfooted around in several exchanges with him, making excuses as to why she and the paper could not run the story.
The psychologist revealed the reason:
She was very interested and listened until I told her that all the boys and men that were apprehended were young asylants (unaccompanied is the terminology used by Swedish authorities) from Afghanistan and Syria. I sensed that she changed the tone (of her voice).
The journalist from Nyheter Idag notes with irony:
Time passes and a new year begins – it’s now 2016 and the brutal and massive sexual assaults against young girls that August evening in Kungsträdgården is completely unknown to the public.
But then something happens, a rumor that goes viral on blogs in Germany spreads to the so-called “alternative media” in Sweden. After a day, traditional media in both Germany and other European countries start to report on the same issue.
It is, of course, the Sex Attacks in Cologne on New Year’s Eve …
Now something happens at newspaper Dagens Nyheter …
January, Saturday 9th 2016 Dagens Nyheter runs an article with the headline “Women’s right to party safely cannot be sacrificed”. The article is written by freelance writer Lasse Wierup, Hanne Kjöller’s colleague at Dagens Nyheter. In the article the incident in Kungsträdgården is now mentioned for the very first time …
More to-ing and fro-ing went on between the psychologist and Hanne Kjöller after Wierup’s article appeared. The psychologist had also contacted:
two other media outlets through e-mail to tell his account of the incident in Kungsträdgården. He didn’t get any response, thus he gave up on noticing media about what took place last summer.
Why does that not come as a surprise?
It seems that Western women can be safely sacrificed on the altar of Multiculturalism.
After all, they are ‘only’ women. Even other women — those in privileged left-wing positions, such as media — think that way.
These two events in England and Sweden demonstrate one of the things leftist men and women and fundamentalist Muslims have in common: a blatant disregard for women and girls.
One wonders whether the events in Cologne on the last evening of 2015 would have seen the light of day around the world had they not been reported on independent socio-political websites.
Although a Cologne newspaper and German media outlets covered the evening to some degree at the New Year, elsewhere, it took until January 4 or 5 for the story to emerge in mainstream media.
The BBC’s coverage is dated January 5. It provides a good overview of what happened, although it does not explain why German men were unable to fight back or defend their women. Excerpts follow, emphases mine:
The scale of the attacks on women at the city’s central railway station has shocked Germany. About 1,000 drunk and aggressive young men were involved.
City police chief Wolfgang Albers called it “a completely new dimension of crime”. The men were of Arab or North African appearance, he said.
Women were also targeted in Hamburg.
But the Cologne assaults – near the city’s iconic cathedral – were the most serious, German media report. At least one woman was raped, and many were groped.
Most of the crimes reported to police were robberies. A volunteer policewoman was among those sexually molested.
The page has a video where:
One woman described how a firecracker put in her hood has left her scarred for life.
One man described how his partner and 15-year-old daughter were surrounded by an enormous crowd outside the station and he was unable to help. “The attackers grabbed her and my partner’s breasts and groped them between their legs.”
A British woman visiting Cologne said fireworks had been thrown at her group by men who spoke neither German nor English. “They were trying to hug us, kiss us. One man stole my friend’s bag,” she told the BBC. “Another tried to get us into his ‘private taxi’. I’ve been in scary and even life-threatening situations and I’ve never experienced anything like that.”
What the report leaves out about the man unable to help is that some of these men were also set upon by groups of men who assaulted and robbed them.
To date, according to The Guardian, 838 people have filed criminal complaints. These include 497 of these being from women alleging sexual assault, however, some women jointly filed a complaint. This means that, in total:
the number of alleged crimes stands at 766, of which 381 are sexual offences, including three rapes.
As of January 18, only 21 suspects have been arrested. These include three Algerian asylum seekers. One of them is charged with sexual assault and the other two with robbery. Eighteen other people have been accused of committing crime on New Year’s Eve. Eight of them are currently in custody.
On Monday, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) agreed to declare Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia safe countries. This means that anyone from there would be very unlikely to be able to claim asylum. Finally.
More on the story
Russia Today has a very good 27-minute report on what took place in Cologne:
The British reporter interviewed a local bouncer — a martial arts champion — who was on duty at a 5-star hotel in the same square as the cathedral and the railway station. He figured it would be a quiet but festive night, as only people aged 40 and over could afford to spend a few hundred euros to attend the New Year’s Eve event at the hotel.
He tells the interviewer (approximately 2:00 into the video) that between 9 and 10 p.m., a stabbing took place in the square. Police and ambulances rushed to the scene. From that point, he said that things ‘escalated’ (subtitles from the video, caps below in the original):
these people that we welcomed just 3 months ago, with teddy bears and water bottles on the Munich main railway station, they started shooting at the dome [Cologne Cathedral], started shooting at the police, which then had to come equipped with helmets onto the dome platform, to brake that potential for violence.
Well, seasoned police officers then confessed to me, that they never saw [any]thing like this in their entire life. They called it quote ‘A CIVIL WAR LIKE SITUATION’.
He deplores the lack of thorough press coverage of the evening, especially as:
again and again female persons came to me and asked if they could just stand next to me, so I could look after them — still didn’t quite know what that was all about — and said, ‘We are being chased by these and [those] guys. Well, these guys that chased them, then really tried to attack me. I beat ’em all up, I have to tell you honestly … [B]ecause I never witnessed [any]thing like this, I always thought this stuff was some ‘right wing propaganda’ but this was all REAL.
Later that evening, more rampages happened. They beat the sh*t out of the head from a guy that was lying on the ground, they then jumped on his head, riot police came on site and we also started to react.
After that, the bouncer says, things were quieter for the next 90 minutes. The suspects were rounded up but, as all police transport vehicles were occupied, none came to take the men away. And, even if they had, Cologne’s jail cells were already full. As a result, police had to release these men they had arrested and detained. They, in turn, began yelling obscenities at the police and spat on the windscreens of the police cars. There was nothing the police could do in those circumstances.
The bouncer went on to say:
I never witnessed anything like this before and I’m sure it will escalate further — by Carnival [pre-Lenten celebrations] at the latest in Cologne … It will really explode here!
And I hope, well, you do know that I’m no right wing person or something along those lines … I always stayed out of that stuff … No, folks, this was REAL! …
They attacked the hotel guests, they sp[a]t at the hotel guests, they sp[a]t at the police …
A number of assailants carried a small piece of paper with a list of several obscenities in German with Arabic translations. You can still see a large version of it here on a German media site.
Elsewhere in Germany
The Telegraph has a list of other German cities — and towns — where similar events took place that same night. Sexual or indecent assault was the common denominator in all cases. Near the town of Weil am Rhein on the Swiss-German border, two girls aged 14 and 15 were held captive for several hours and allegedly gang raped by a 21-year old man and two 14-year-old boys.
In the days that followed
The Telegraph reported that Bild and Der Spiegel leaked police reports of interviews with the unrepentant suspects allegedly saying there was nothing police could do to them:
… one of those involved told officers: “I am Syrian. You have to treat me kindly. Mrs Merkel invited me.”
Another tore up his residence permit before the eyes of police, and told them: “You can’t do anything to me, I can get a new one tomorrow.”
On January 8, Wolfgang Albers was removed as Cologne’s police chief. He is currently suspended from duty. The Telegraph told us:
Wolfang Albers was told he was being suspended from duty as allegations continue to mount of a police cover-up of asylum-seekers’ involvement in the attacks.
Ralf Jäger,the interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia state, said his decision to suspend Mr Albers was “necessary to regain the public’s trust”.
“The Cologne police now have the vital task of investigating the events of New Year’s Eve. People rightly want to know what happened, who the perpetrators were and how such incidents can be prevents in the future,” Mr Jäger said.
The new mayor of Cologne, Henriette Reker, about whom I wrote in October 2015, was equally reprehensible in insinuating that the assaults were the fault of the women victims.
I’ll get to that in a moment.
However, prior to her election last October, she had been the head of Cologne’s social integration department for five years. Just days before the mayoral elections, a 44-year-old German said to have been opposed to further immigration stabbed her in the neck. He also lightly injured three other people with her at the time.
After New Year’s Eve, Reker advised women to adopt a new ‘code of conduct’ to keep themselves safe. This also involved ‘keeping men at arm’s length’. The Telegraph‘s Alison Pearson unpacks this for us:
It soon became impossible to ignore the gravity of what had happened. Even then, the authorities’ default position was denial. On Tuesday, Henriette Reker, the Mayor of Cologne, made a statement which I sincerely hope will haunt her till her dying day. Asked how women were supposed to cope with this menace, the mayor proposed a new “code of conduct” for young women and girls “so that such things do not happen to them”. In particular, she suggested that women maintain an arm’s length from strangers. This caused a storm of sarcasm on Twitter where the German for arm’s length – #einearmlange – was soon trending. The idea that a woman ambushed by a Moroccan gang should inform them, politely and Germanically, that she was staying at arm’s length to avoid sexual harassment would have been a joke, had the threat not been so real and frightening. Meanwhile, reports of similar attacks were coming in from Hamburg, Dusseldorf and Stuttgart.
if anyone needs a “code of conduct” it is not German women, but men from conservative societies who must learn sharpish what our values entail, or return from whence they came.
I hope that I am wrong, but I fear that the grotesque mass attack on women in Cologne was not an isolated incident, but the first of many battles in a clash of civilisations.
A new term entered Western vocabulary which explains what happened on New Year’s Eve not only in Germany but also in a few other European countries, including Finland.
This Arabic term is taharrush gamea, or taharrush jamaʿi, which, is, as Wikipedia explains:
a type of sexual harassment and sexual assault of women by groups of men on the street that may involve rape, beating and name-calling, groping, sexual invitations and robbery. The assault usually happens under the protective cover provided by large gatherings or crowds, typically mass events, including protests, rallies, concerts, and public festivals.
American reporter Lara Logan was the unfortunate victim of taharrush gamea in Egypt during Arab Spring. Whilst such brutality shocked Westerners, to a segment of Egyptian men, it was perfectly normal. In fact, Eid — a holy but joyful religious day for Muslims — is also a time for sexual assaults in Egypt, namely in 2006.
Wikipedia goes on to say:
Early on Egyptian security forces were blamed for using sexual harassment on female activists and participants of public demonstrations and rallies. The behavior then spread and was used by crowds of young men to harass women in public spaces. According to Farhana Mayer, senior researcher at the Quilliam Foundation, theology department, Taharrush is a symptom of misogynous ideology in which women are punished for being in public.
Since the Paris attacks in November, those who were previously more or less indifferent to migrants — the vast majority of whom are young, healthy men — are now beginning to examine the situation more closely.
The events in Cologne have only added to this. Spiegel Online has an excellent analysis in English.
An article in The Week explains that several things could happen in 2016 that would see the European immigration ideal turned on its head. Hungary and Poland have moved towards more conservative politics, and Slovakian politicians have said that recent migrants are unlikely to be integrated into broader society.
Elsewhere, questions are now being asked about the wisdom of Angela Merkel’s policies.
In the UK, we should be having a referendum on our membership of the EU this year.
May wise leadership — and voting — prevail.
On January 18, 2016, the House of Commons debated a petition signed by 570,000 Britons asking that Donald Trump be barred from entering the UK for saying that Muslims should be temporarily excluded from entering the United States.
Actually, America’s no-fly list is alive and well under the Obama administration. A British Muslim family was forbidden from entering the US before Christmas by Homeland Security.
In the end, parliamentarians concluded:
There will be no direct action as a result of the debate and there was no vote on the issue, but MPs agreed they ‘duly considered’ the petition.
That same day, another Muslim-related controversy arose. Prime Minister David Cameron urged Muslim women born overseas to learn English. A £20m language fund is being established for this purpose in England in an effort not only to help these ladies but also to reduce the possibility of extremism. Not being able to speak the local language can result in social isolation and may lead to discrimination.
Elsewhere in the UK — Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland — the Daily Mail tells us:
Muslim women in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be liable to deportation if they fail to improve their language skills, but will not benefit from the new financial support for courses unless the devolved administrations decide to follow Mr Cameron’s lead.
With regard to the level of proficiency required, the Daily Mail article states:
Asked about the threat of deportation, Mr Cameron said: “What we’ve said is that if people come here on a spousal visa, to be a husband or a wife, we’ve now said they have to learn English in order to get that visa.
“But after two-and-a-half years, halfway through the programme of getting settlement, they should be improving their English, and if they don’t do that then they can’t be guaranteed to be able to go to the full stage and retain their visa.”
Women arriving in the UK under a spousal visa are currently expected to have English skills at the internationally-recognised A1 beginner level – roughly equivalent to a native-born child starting primary school.
Under the PM’s proposal, the women would be expected to have reached the A2 – elementary – level after two-and-a-half years, and B1 – intermediate – after five years.
However, many Muslim spokespeople and prominent Labour Party MPs accused the Prime Minister of ‘stigmatising’ and ‘demonising’ Muslim women.
Julia Hartley-Brewer wrote a good analysis of the situation for The Telegraph. Excerpts follow:
two guests on the BBC’s flagship Radio 4 show … helpfully informed the nation that the Prime Minister is not allowed to talk about issues concerning Muslim women …
It turns out that since Mr Cameron is white, Christian and – worst of all – in possession of a Y chromosome, he is simply not qualified or entitled to talk about people who aren’t any of those things …
Cue the Today’s programme and their two angry guests this morning.
First Zubeda Limbada, of the Connect Justice charity, which tackles extremism and radicalisation, insisted the Prime Minister was wrong to target Muslim women.
“I feel that this isn’t just a Muslim women issue. It affects all of us,” she told the nation. Well, not all of us, actually, Zubeda. Most of us already speak the native language and while there are of course Poles, Romanians and others who live and work here without speaking a word of English, their children are not heading off to joining jihadist death cults in their hundreds, so I’m afraid their lack of integration is not a top priority quite yet.
The other Anjum Anwar, of Women’s Voices, also objected:
calling Mr Cameron’s comments both “unacceptable” and “extremely unhelpful”. She felt “demonised” and, what’s worse, it was “being done so blatantly”.
Yet, here’s the irony:
It was wrong for Mr Cameron to call for more Muslim women to learn English despite the fact that, Ms Anwar informed us, her own immigrant mother had advised her that her education was vital[,] got her empowerment and … Ms Anwar herself had personally helped organise Muslim women’s language classes in mosques.
The Conservative government’s plan is to appoint:
Louise Casey, the Director General of the Government’s Troubled Families unit, to lead “a comprehensive review into boosting opportunity and integration to bring Britain together as one nation” …
Ms Casey is expected to set out the framework for a new ‘Cohesive Communities Programme’, which will “improve integration and extend opportunity” among Muslims.
A Government source said: “David knows that the traditional submissiveness of Muslim women is a sensitive issue, but the problems of young people being attracted by extremism will not be tackled without an element of cultural change within the community.
“At the moment, too many Muslim women are treated like second-class citizens who may speak only basic English at best, and have no jobs or independent financial standing. It means they are in no position to speak out against the influence of the radical Imams, however strongly they feel about it”.
However, the Government is attempting to change intransigent social mores which have existed for over a millennia. It is unlikely, therefore, that a woman who must submit to her husband or, in his absence, another male seen to be the putative head of the household, will not soon be challenging him — or an imam.
It’s a bold move on Cameron’s part, but I do not see things changing in that area any time soon.
That said, one can only hope that women who need to improve their English language skills are given permission to do so from the men in their family.
In another crucial area of English-language gaps, doctors — and now nurses as well as midwives — who wish to practise in the UK must be able to speak the language well enough to ensure safety.
Since the requirement for doctors came into effect 18 months ago, four out of ten physicians applying to work in the UK have not met the necessary standard of English.
Those living overseas might wonder why Britain would need to import medical staff. However, a Daily Mail article from 2014 states that for the £70,000 it costs to train a British nurse, for example, the NHS can hire three foreign nurses, each of whom would earn a salary of £23,000 per annum.
Yesterday’s post looked at how Islamic extremism has developed in England over the past decade.
Today’s entry continues the theme, in a less dramatic way although a more personal one with regard to women. Emphases mine below.
The ‘Sharia’ driver
The Evening Standard Theatre Awards were held in London on November 21, 2015. (The Evening Standard is London’s local newspaper.) The English actress Frances Barber, 58, attended the ceremony.
She was wearing a long-sleeved ankle-length black gown with a high neckline and a shawl; click on the link for the full photo.
Afterwards, Barber got into the Uber taxi she had booked. She made small talk with the driver, remarking that it was a cold night.
The driver told her:
Well if you weren’t so disgustingly dressed…
He also told her that women should not be out alone at night.
She got out of the car, slammed the door and sought alternative transport.
Just had a sharia Uber driver, first time in London. Shocked. Reported.
And, she ended her second tweet — which recaps what I’ve already told you here — with:
THIS IS LONDON.
Uber are looking into the matter. We do not know what, if anything, happened to the driver. Barber’s next tweet was on November 26:
Thankyou for so many messages of support.Uber have taken this seriously & am grateful.But clearly there is an issue.
Frances Barber was not the only one who had a negative experience with an Uber driver. Her Twitter feed included tweets from another lady — from the Asian Subcontinent — who wrote:
My sister was told an Asian woman should not be out in late evening. Even tho with kids.
Uber must insist that their drivers refrain from making comments of a misogynistic nature, just as they would refrain from offering opinions on social or political matters.
The problem is that these drivers have no professional driving qualifications. As Ed West pointed out in The Spectator:
… if people want a fully-trained driver who knows what he’s doing, has invested both his time and money in his career, and is licensed, then get a black cab. Uber is not a taxi service; it’s merely a mechanism to hire some random guy to drive you around for a pittance – don’t be surprised if he’s not quite possessed of a Morgan Freeman level of repartee and diligence.
There is also the mind-set that goes along with celebrities and upper-middle class people flocking to Uber instead of black cabs in the capital. Uber attracts these passengers, nearly all of whom are left-wing. There is a case of cognitive dissonance here, as West explains:
Janice Turner recently pointed out in The Times that her friends ‘wouldn’t grind an unfairly traded coffee bean, they champion the living wage and want to tax global evaders like Starbucks and yet Uber leaves such principles squished in the road’.
The Times is behind a paywall, but West’s article has a legible photo of Turner’s article which says that Uber wants to flood London with drivers. Indeed, the Daily Mail article cited above says that they already have 15,000. Turner says that Uber drivers from Manchester (North West England) are going up to London to work weekends.
West rightly notes that there seems to be a British bias against drivers of black cabs. They are satirised as opinionated blowhards. In reality, like West, I have had very few conversations with them. Most prefer not to talk.
West points out that foreign taxi drivers also have political views:
I’ve had some interesting chats – most recently there was a lovely Iranian guy who hated the religious authorities and wanted to restore the Shah, which I’m totally down with – but I’ve also spoken to people who believe the Mossad were behind 9/11. Imported prejudices are not so much a target for Radio 4 comedy, but as Europe is finding out, these days they are much more extreme and dangerous.
Other news stories
Frances Barber’s unfortunate Uber encounter took place in the aftermath of the Paris attacks when Brussels was on lockdown and a day before Channel 4 broadcast Women of ISIS.
There were other related news stories. The Sun received fierce criticism for their poll taken in the wake of the Paris attacks. It shows that 19% of Muslims have ‘sympathy’ for those who go to Syria to fight for IS. The percentage is higher for those aged between 18 and 34.
Oddly, no one criticised the more dramatic results of the BBC’s poll of Muslims which followed the Charlie Hebdo massacre in January — 27% of respondents had ‘sympathy’ for the terrorists.
Why? Is it because The Sun is perceived as being a white working class paper? Is it because most people find Charlie Hebdo a repulsive publication? I think so. Therefore, both can be safely ignored.
Biased BBC has a good post on the subject, including the Frances Barber story. Incidentally, Barber is currently starring in a BBC series, Silk:
… if a non-Muslim spoke like that to a Muslim woman in a Niqab that would be classed as hate speech…why the difference? The BBC would be all over that story …
The BBC has not reported this story of ‘racial’ abuse….even though the victim is one of its own employees….the BBC would rather cover up for a Muslim extremist than defend its own employee in the interest of ‘community cohesion’.
They mention the difference in perception of the two aforementioned surveys.
As for Women of ISIS:
You may remember the BBC also totally ignored the astonishing expose by C4’s Dispatches programme ‘Undercover Mosque’ which revealed what the extremists were saying behind the closed doors of British mosques. The BBC instead spent the same week trashing Jade Goody for a ‘racist’ comment she made in the heat of the moment during an argument in the Big Brother house…great to see what the BBC’s real priorities are….never mind extremist Muslim hate speech, instead launch an all out, week long attack on a white (with a mixed-race father), working class girl.
Odd isn’t it what the BBC prioritises and what it seeks to hide. Three Muslim girls go off to be Jihadi brides and the BBC is there for them and their families….however, Muslim women aiding and abetting the radicalisation and recruitment of such girls in the name of Islam and the BBC ignores it.
This is the problem England will continue to have regarding Islam and why extremism is likely to increase rather than decrease in the short term.
The BBC are partly to blame. The BBC have a huge hold on the British public. Our neighbours religiously watch their news programmes and adopt the Beeb’s perspective on everything. There are millions more just like them.
At least the newspapers came out in support of Frances Barber. However, they need to also find out about other Uber drivers and anyone else who is telling women to stay off the streets at night.
We are not too different to Belgians and Swedes who attempt to brush a real problem aside in the name of tolerance with unenviable consequences. Belgian Jews are now beginning to leave the country. Nearly all of Sweden’s rapes are committed by one demographic. However, these are seen as minor issues which have been exaggerated.
At least France’s Muslim pundits are now beginning to speak out firmly against radicalisation. Mohammed Chirani, a political analyst and anti-terror specialist, is one such example. I have often heard him on RMC (radio). He speaks sense on many subjects. After the Paris attacks, he appeared on France’s iTele with this message (English subtitles at the MEMRI link). He says, in part, to the notional ‘caliph’ of IS, his followers and the Paris attackers:
We are the ones who will be kept firm. Truth is on our side. You are the wrongdoers. Know that our dead, the innocent French citizens, are in Paradise, and your dead, the terrorists, are in Hell. Know that Allah is our Protector and that you have no protector.
I’d like to tell you that you will not succeed in igniting the fire of strife in France … I’d like to tell you that we will wage jihad against you with the Quran. I’d like to tell the traitors who deceived France, betrayed their country and burned their IDs that we are kissing our ID documents.
At that point, he kissed his French passport.
England could use at least one, if not several, Mohammed Chiranis.
Last week, Britain’s Channel 4 broadcast ISIS: The British Women Supporters Unveiled, available to replay for the next three weeks.
When I saw it, the programme was part of the Dispatches series and was called Women of ISIS. I checked the television schedules, which had no listings for it. Just as well, perhaps.
The documentary shows how a young undercover reporter, Aisha, infiltrates extremist women’s groups led by two women. The women’s groups were hard to penetrate, and, yes, at the end, Aisha was uncovered. I hope she has a few minders around her for safety, as this material — which took a year to collect — is still quite recent. Aisha finished her report in October 2015, a few weeks before the Paris attacks. The Telegraph has a good summary. Their readers’ comments are also informative.
Since then, The Asian Centre in Walthamstow (east London) has cancelled the ladies’ tea afternoons. However, there is still at least one other centre which allows these women to meet. It is near Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, also in east London.
Channel 4’s press release has more information about the programme, which contains hateful language that one of the analysts looking at excerpts said might merit a visit from the police.
However, we have yet to find out whether these women have been questioned by the authorities.
The women persuade other females, including teenage girls, to fight for the new caliphate in the Islamic State. It did not surprise me, although I did learn three things:
1/ According to extremists, a ‘true’ Muslim does not obey the laws or customs of his/her country because they are man-made. Allah is the only one who must be obeyed. Therefore, voting, poppy-wearing and so forth are, in these women’s eyes, akin to apostasy.
2/ For the reason stated above, extremist Muslims are fully opposed to democracy, which, as a man-made concept, runs counter to Allah’s laws for mankind.
3/ ‘Die in your rage’ is the IS message/slogan to unbelievers. IS and their sympathisers practise the psychological phenomenon of projection, whereby they are the angry people, yet they accuse us of rage. In any event, the slogan explains the videos which came out after the Paris attacks where victims’ families politely countered, ‘I am not angry’.
My British readers will note that none of this is new. In 2007, Channel 4 aired the documentary Undercover Mosque, which you can see in full on Vimeo. That documentary, along with its 2008 follow-up (see YouTube below), explores the men’s side of extremism. Each programme lasts 45 minutes.
I highly recommend these documentaries, even if you think you fully understand the subject.
Among other things, I learned that they call Jewish people ‘monkeys’ and Christians ‘pigs’.
I have now watched all three documentaries.
I am not angry.
I feel sorry for these extremists.
After viewing these films, I spent several minutes praying for them, that their hearts may be filled with divine grace.
It won’t be the last time I ask that petition of our only fully divine and fully human Mediator and Advocate.
Today’s post concludes the series, which will be included on my Recipes/Health/History page.
Smokes for Soldiers
Lady Denman, so instrumental in furthering Britain’s Women’s Institutes and a suffragette, initiated one of the funds for Lord Kitchener’s programme called Smokes for Soldiers.
Some cigarette cards, which accompanied the packs, showed soldiers in rare moments of quiet contemplation. Those pictured here are from Tony Allen’s fascinating page, Cigarettes & Tobacco and WWI Soldiers.
Carrera’s Black Cat cigarettes had a series of women on their cards. These depicted ladies working in war effort occupations, among them mechanics, coal workers and game keepers. The backs of the cards had brief descriptions of their duties. These made the troops aware that women were doing their part in what was probably seen as being an unheard of and fascinating way. Adie said that the cards proved to be very popular.
As yesterday’s post on the Women’s Institutes showed, ensuring Britons had enough food was paramount.
The government had statistics showing that farmers’ wives were the most likely ‘to go insane’. Indeed, the WI was able to help them to get out and about, if only to their meetings.
A further effort was made with the government’s introduction of the Women’s Land Army. Twenty-three thousand young volunteers were sent around the country to till the land, pick fruit, milk cows and take on other responsibilities. Farmers objected that the women were wearing trousers. The government assured them that the workers were feminine and ladylike.
The Women’s Land Army also participated in the same activities during the Second World War, spearheaded by the aforementioned Lady Denman who was their honorary head, sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
Shipbuilding and dock work
Another controversial workplace for women were docks and shipyards.
Not surprisingly, male workers were concerned that low wages for inexperienced women would push their own pay packets downward. Unions ensured that any work arrangements were to be for the duration of the war only.
Women worked at several shipyards, including A&P in Tyne and Wear. The work that men previously did was divided up among women which made the pay and employment conditions more acceptable to long-standing male employees.
The Voluntary Aid Detachment was comprised of upper and upper middle class women volunteers who cared for soldiers returning from the Front. Downton Abbey explored this.
The late Lady Jane Grey was interviewed in 1986 and said that as a young Voluntary Aid Detachment member she watched a doctor extract a bullet from a wounded soldier.
Nurses were concerned that the volunteers might not be able to care for the soldiers properly and that their recovery might be compromised as a result. However, with the number of injured men returning, they grudgingly agreed that the volunteers were needed.
Where doctors were concerned, only a few hundred women were physicians at the beginning of the war. They treated only women and children.
Some medical school professors refused to have women in their classes. Kate Adie said that, where women were taught, no professor showed them diagrams of the male anatomy.
In Edinburgh, the pioneering doctor Elsie Inglis established the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service Committee, a suffragette-sponsored medical team that provided all-women units to treat the Allied wounded. They had sent teams to France, Serbia and Russia. When Inglis approached the Royal Army Medical Corps, saying the Committee could offer their services, a representative from the War Office responded:
My good lady, go home and sit still.
Instead, the French government took Inglis up on her offer. She and her physicians went to Serbia under their aegis.
Two other suffragette physicians, Dr Flora Murray (left) and Dr Louisa Garrett Anderson (right) had better luck in establishing the Endell Street Military Hospital in Covent Garden, London. Perhaps this is because Murray was Emmeline Pankhurst’s personal physician. Alternatively, it might be because the hospital was in London and not overseas. In any event, Endell Street opened in May 1915 and stayed open until August 1919.
The hospital, staffed entirely by women, treated 24,000 men and carried out 7,000 operations. A convoy of ambulances arrived every night with soldiers requiring triage and emergency treatment. One who was treated there said:
This hospital is a triumph for women.
The Great War showed everyone — from soldiers to the general public to the War Office — that women could indeed practise medicine every bit as well as men.
In 1917, both women were made CBEs — Commanders of the British Empire. Today, a home for the elderly, Dudley Court, has replaced the hospital in Endell Street. It, too, has a medical centre, but no doubt staffed by men and women.
By 1917, there was little women could not do — except vote.
In parliamentary debates, Winston Churchill, who was then a young MP, said that women’s interests were adequately represented by either their husbands or male family members.
However, with most men still fighting in Europe and elections looming, Prime Minister Lloyd George and MPs debated the subject again. On February 6, 1918, they approved the Representation of the People Act by an overwhelming majority: 385 – 55.
It was thought that had the measure not been approved, suffragette demonstrations and violence could continue and perhaps escalate. MPs feared that the Bolshevik revolution might drift to the UK.
The new act did not enfranchise every woman, although it did respond directly to what the suffragettes wanted. (Suffragists, on the other hand, wanted universal suffrage for all men and women.) This act granted the vote to all women over 30 who either owned property or who were married to a registered voter. Many women were still unable to vote, including former suffragettes and those who were working in the war effort.
In some ways, the act did more for men. Prior to that, many were also unable to vote, including the troops in the trenches. Afterward:
All males over 21 gained the vote in the constituency where they were resident. Males who had turned 19 during service in connection with the First World War could also vote even if they were under 21, although there was some confusion over whether they could do so after being discharged from service. The Representation of the People Act 1920 clarified this in the affirmative, albeit after the 1918 general election.
It should be noted that some men — e.g. those affiliated with universities and property owners who had two homes — had a plural vote. In the case of university affiliation, they could vote in both the consituency where they were studying and in their home one. A property owner could vote where he lived and also where he owned property. This was abolished in 1948 in another Representation of the People Act.
Universal women’s suffrage was granted in the 1928 Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act, which gave all women over 21 the right to vote. The suffragists’ cause was finally won.
Post-war women’s work
After the war ended, women employed outside the home feared for the future.
Men returning home from the war expected and got their jobs back.
Six thousand munitionettes marched on Parliament for the right to continued employment. However, the government sent the message that women should now return home to be good wives, mothers and homemakers. The government said their efforts were greatly appreciated, but that time had now ended.
The level of women working outside the home soon returned to pre-war numbers. Mary Macarthur, the women’s union leader, was disgusted. She died of cancer in 1921.
In matters ecclesiastical, the controversial pacifist Maude Royden, who became assistant preacher at the nonconformist City Temple (United Reformed Church) in 1917, was the first woman to preach from a Church of England pulpit. That event took place in 1921 at St Botolph’s Church in London.
In 1929, she started the official campaign for women’s ordination. In 1931, she was the first woman to earn a Doctor of Divinity degree. By then, she had already completed preaching tours around the world.
Although the suffragettes and women working in the war effort were not all saints, they were highly capable at a crucial time in history.
What the Great War demonstrated was women’s worth in the working — perhaps, especially, a man’s — world.
It would be difficult to put women back in their box afterwards.
It is also worth remembering that it also became necessary for women to earn a living. No other generation of women in recent history lost more fiancés and husbands than that one. Thousands of widows and spinsters needed to work to support themselves and their children. They had to man up.
And finally …
You can see IBT‘s collection of Getty photos (mustn’t copy!) of women — mostly British, some French — working in factories and as policewomen during the Great War. It’s a fascinating mix of posters and photographs.
Yesterday’s post began a series on British women working outside the home during the Great War.
You might wish to read it, if you have not already done so, for general background on their status.
Munitionettes – ‘canary women’
By 1915, women all over Britain were involved in some way in the war effort.
Those who had worked ‘in service’ — as domestic help — often found work in munitions factories. They were sometimes referred to as munitionettes.
Britain had a shortage of artillery shells, which came to light in the Shell Crisis scandal. Prime Minister Herbert Asquith appointed David Lloyd George as Minister of Munitions. According to Kate Adie, Lloyd George saw a place for women in munitions factories. From behind the scenes he helped Emmeline Pankhurst to organise a demonstration of women asking to help in this regard. On the day, he appeared afterwards to speak to the women. Shortly thereafter, work on artillery shells increased rapidly, with the ladies’ help.
Working with explosives was dangerous. Death was always a possibility. The Rotherwas Munitions Factory in Hereford had a number of huts, each with thick concrete-reinforced walls. In case one hut exploded, the others would remain standing. The documentary showed us that, even today, slender tapers of TNT are still carefully bundled together and tied by hand.
Other hazards of munitions factory work included reactions to the powder: swollen faces, skin rashes and, worst of all, yellow skin. It was impossible not to breathe it in, to wash it off or to expel it. In fact, when these women walked into towns or villages to run errands, people were amazed to see their yellow skin and clothes. As such, they became known as ‘canary women’.
Adie interviewed Gladys Sangster, who was born in 1917. Her mother worked in a munitions factory. She had inhaled so much powder whilst working that Gladys was born yellow.
That said, the munitionettes felt as if they had been ‘let out of the cage’. They were outside of the home — theirs or someone else’s. They were earning their own salaries, which, by the end of the war, was three times that of what they had been earning as domestic servants. Furthermore, they were forming their own friendships with other women and enjoying their independence.
However, the spectre of death was as much over their heads as it was for the men fighting in Flanders.
The Germans had targeted British munitions factories. The end of a 12-hour shift did not mean the end of danger for these woman who were frequently evacuated, day and night.
Association and league football was eventually suspended during the Great War. Too many men were serving in Europe.
Factory women and those working elsewhere for the war effort started organising their own games locally, even though then, as now, football was considered to be harmful to female reproductive organs.
The government was keen to ensure women workers got plenty of food to keep them healthy. The Great War saw the creation of works canteens for this purpose. Women were delighted to eat a balanced meal at least once a day. For many, meat was a luxury, so they welcomed a regular portion of it with potatoes and vegetables.
The government was also eager to ensure the women got plenty of fresh air in their free time. Football was one way to keep the women active and refreshed. Cities and towns began organising female football teams. Sometimes, women played men. The men had to have their hands tied behind their backs so as not to have an unfair advantage. Male goalkeepers were allowed to have one hand free.
Bella Reay was a top goal scorer during the Great War. She scored well over 100 goals in one season. Adie spoke with her granddaughter who showed her Reay’s gold medal given to her after the Munition Girls Final.
Ladies football continued after the war until 1921, when the Football Association banned it, saying it was too dangerous.
Female police, toughness and night life
The Great War gave birth to the girls’ night out.
The general public were shocked to see groups of working women invading the previously male-dominated pubs in the evenings. It was immoral. Ladies didn’t do that sort of thing.
Furthermore, people commented on the toughness of the women. It’s not surprising, but I do wonder how it manifested itself later on through their children, especially daughters, and in their grandchildren.
Margaret Damer Dawson sought to resolve this moral panic. She was the step-daughter of Thomas de Grey, the 6th Baron Walsingham. She was very much involved with good causes concerning women, children and animals. During the early part of the war, she and Nina Boyle patrolled the streets of London helping Belgian women refugees who were in danger of becoming prostitutes. Boyle led a team of women volunteers. Dawson was her assistant. The group was known as Women Police Volunteers and operated by government permission. It gradually expanded its scope outside of London.
In 1915, Boyle left the Women Police Volunteers over a disagreement over an incident involving women workers in Grantham, Lincolnshire. Boyle did not wish to have curfews for adult women. Dawson did. This set the tone for the next few years, with Dawson’s new Women’s Police Service. The posts were unpaid and strictly volunteer.
Incidentally, policemen told their top brass that they had no desire to work alongside ‘copperettes’. Therefore, the male officers had their patrols and the women theirs.
The Women’s Police Service focussed on children in trouble and female factory workers. The women factory workers resented the women constables’ attempts to ‘keep them in line’.
However, at work, where there were male employees, conflict sometimes broke out between the sexes. Dawson’s constables were called into a few establishments for daily patrols and to quell any disputes between male and female employees. Adie says that a ‘class system’ of hierarchy was set up so that females deferred to their male superiors with no arguments.
Although this all sounds rather orderly and righteous, after the war ended, the government rejected requests from Dawson’s Women’s Police Service to join the newly-created teams of women constables, who were paid for their work. The government termed the volunteers ‘sour, middle-aged fanatics’.
Dawson, quite possibly, never recovered from the rejection. She died of a heart attack in 1920.
Next: More causes, more work — including medicine
With so many young men in the trenches, someone had to continue the work they were doing before conscription.
In 1914, the home front opened up. Women would never be the same again. The ensuing four years would demonstrate that women could be as active and as productive as men.
Last year — on August 13, 2014 — veteran BBC reporter Kate Adie made a one-hour documentary on this extraordinary period in history. It is called Kate Adie’s Women of World War One, based on her book Fighting on the Home Front, and was shown on BBC2. What follows is a summary of the programme, eye-opening in many respects.
At the beginning of the 20th century, women were few and far between in work outside the home. It was unimaginable that they would be doctors or lawyers. A woman had men to represent and serve her in all aspects of life.
Many men took Paul’s verses from 1 Corinthians 14 and applied them not only to public worship but also private life:
…33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. 34 The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.
Of course, most Britons — men and women — were scandalised by women who dared to speak out, protest and put their lives in danger: the suffragettes, led by Emmeline Pankhurst.
It should be remembered that Pankhurst and her supporters wanted women votes only for a segment of the population. They did not want all women to vote, only those who were educated or who were property owners. Suffragists, on the other hand, wanted universal suffrage.
The home front opens
In August 1914, Pankhurst faced a dilemma. Would she and the suffragettes support the war effort — siding with the government they protested against — or pursue their campaign?
Pankhurst decided to suspend the campaign. She renamed their journal The Suffragette to Britannia with the slogan:
For king, for country, for freedom.
Meanwhile, the government needed thousands of men to enlist in the military. They created a campaign aimed at women, who, as moral arbiters, would encourage — shame, perhaps — their sons, brothers, sweethearts and husbands into uniform.
The popular music hall star Vesta Tilley decided to dress as a soldier as part of her act and sing a song encouraging sign-up. This was a shocking development, because women did not dress like men — ever. A tie? Trousers? Hair shoved under a cap and hidden? Unthinkable. It went against the biblical order of men’s and women’s roles. When Tilley premiered the new song at a Royal Command Performance, Queen Mary and many other women lowered their heads. They could not bear to look at her.
Yet, the press picked up on Tilley’s new act and, before long, everyone knew about it. Her audiences cheered. She continued dressing as a soldier and singing her war effort song.
By September 2014, 200,000 men had enlisted. Not all of the numbers were thanks to Tilley. Announcements in what we call the small ads in the back of newspapers also helped. Poster campaigns aimed at women as well as men were also influential.
Women from the aristocracy and landed gentry led the way in getting involved. The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry — FANY — was formed as was the Women’s Volunteer Reserve. Both groups had uniforms — jackets and skirts — but those in the Women’s Volunteer Reserve had to purchase their own. At a cost of £2 per uniform, it was a sum that only middle class women could afford.
Some of those women became ambulance drivers.
Women from the lower social classes volunteered to cook and clean.
The two Marys
Queen Mary (left) started a needlework guild to encourage British women to knit warm clothes and accessories for the troops. These items included dressing gowns, pyjamas and hot water bottle covers.
The few women who were working in the textile and weaving industry objected. They belonged to the National Union of Women Workers, which safeguarded their employment and salaries. Mary Macarthur (right) headed the union and campaigned for equality in the workplace. She publicly objected to Queen Mary’s needlework guild as a threat to the union members.
Queen Mary wasted no time in summoning Macarthur to the palace. They had a long conversation. Both Marys were said to have ‘got on famously’ by the end of the meeting. They were both women of strong character and determination. Queen Mary asked Macarthur for more information on the plight of poor women forced to work. It wasn’t long before Queen Mary began visiting charities and hospitals for the poor. The press dubbed her the Charitable Bulldozer.
Tomorrow: women at work
Whilst the Great War raged on in 1915, on the home front, Britain’s first Women’s Institute was founded in Anglesey, Wales, in an attempt to keep families better fed.
Inspired by Canada
Our Women’s Institutes (WI) took their inspiration and organisational structure from Canada, where Adelaide Hoodless had founded that nation’s WI in 1897 as a way for wives of Farmers Institute members to share domestic science skills and foster friendship. By 1905, Ontario alone had 130 WI branches.
A Canadian lady and enthusiastic WI member, Madge Watt, moved to Wales in 1913. Two years later, she met John Nugent Harris. Harris was Secretary of the AOS — Agricultural Organisations Society. The Development Commission, a government body, funded the AOS, the purpose of which was to create farmers’ co-operatives for wartime food production.
Watt told Harris about the WI in Canada. Harris, aware that the AOS needed more people, asked her to establish the WI in Britain. Watt’s first meeting took place in Anglesey in September 2015. However, despite her enthusiasm and persuasion beforehand, only a handful of women attended. Those who were reluctant to take part felt uncomfortable being around others of different social classes.
The Great War years
Before long, however, Watt’s organisational and persuasive skills attracted more women. At the time, it was unusual for women to leave the house other than to run errands. Housework, cooking and tending a garden or part of the farm took up most of the day. Those who attended Watt’s meetings enjoyed the friendships they were forming with other housewives. One woman told another and a movement was born: one that not only helped the individual, but also the nation at a time when food was essential.
By the end of 2015, Wales had several chapters of the WI — and Watt had already branched out into England, where the organisation was established in Dorset, Sussex and Kent. Watt had taken the WI from one coast to another — Wales to Kent — within three months!
In October 2016, the WI chapters were so numerous that the AOS set up a subcommittee to oversee them. The AOS appointed Lady Gertrude Denman as head of this subcommittee. In September 2017, the Treasury decided that funding for the the growing WI movement should be transferred from the AOS to the Women’s Branch of the Food Production Department of the Board of Agriculture (which also organised the Women’s Land Army). At that point, Lady Denman, not wishing for the WIs to come under government control, was able to negotiate an agreement with the Board of Agriculture whereby the Board would fund the establishment of new chapters which would then become self-financing via members’ dues.
On October 16, 1917, delegates from 137 WI chapters and Lady Denman set up a central committee of management and created a constitution as well as set of rules. She was elected to head the WI.
The WI stipulated from the beginning that it was not to be politically or religiously aligned. That meant — and still means — that every woman can join. The objectives are to:
a) Study home economics; b) Provide a centre for educational and social intercourse and for all local activities; c) Encourage home and local industries; d) Develop co-operative enterprises; e) Stimulate interest in the agriculture industry.
A Scottish WI was established in 1917, known as the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute. Catherine Blair had a harder time there than Madge Watt in Wales. Women in East Lothian (outside Edinburgh) only met up with other ladies once a year at the local fête.
Although home economics has always been central to the WI, other topics discussed at early meetings varied by region. In England and Wales, lessons and tips on resoling boots from old tyres were popular. In Scotland, women were more interested in learning how to butcher pig’s carcasses.
During the Great War, the WI helped to bring new methods of food conservation to British housewives. Incredible as it might seem, conserving fruit at home was virtually unknown in 1916. The WI was able to get new American sterilising equipment shipped across the Atlantic. All 199 chapters expressed an interest in receiving and giving lessons on this new preserving technique.
The WI promoted the notion of foraging, although that was not what it was called then. Women understood the value of fruits growing in the wild and how they could be used for food. Some of this produce was conserved in the new American style. Other fruits were made into jam.
If there is one thing Britons identify the WI with is jam making. The WI demonstrated how to increase the yield of jam:
… for those women who had access to a ‘copper’, the quantities that could be made were enormous. Mrs Dunstan, writing in the WI’s own magazine, Home and Country in July 1919, recalled ‘We could make nearly one hundred pounds of jam in it at a time, and as the fire would burn anything such as rubbish, peels etc. our fuel bill for making six and a half tons of jam was less than two pounds.’
War time also brought out the best of women’s craftwork skills and ability to ‘make do and mend’.
In the summer of 1917, the WI opened a crafts stall at the National Economy Exhibition in Hyde Park, London. The public saw how experienced and creative members were in making rugs, toys, baskets as well as fur and leather accessories.
Today, the WI is Britain’s largest voluntary women’s organisation with 212,000 members in 6,600 local groups. Men are also welcome to attend. Although the focus is very much on domestic science, a number of chapters are also career-oriented, as many members work outside the home.
On October 10, 2015, a centenary banquet at the Drapers’ Hall in London was held to honour the WI.
Chefs, some of them Michelin-starred, competed to prepare winning dishes for the four-course meal. The competition was shown from start to finish on the BBC’s Great British Menu, which started in August with weekly regional heats around the country.
We watched every episode. What surprised us is that so many of the chefs attempted to reproduce WI recipes. Time and time again, the chefs judging their efforts warned them about trying to do something the WI members are all expert at — jams, cakes and bread! Friday’s episodes, which determined a regional winner, were judged by three other notables in the food world — as well as a WI member.
This is an indicative comment from one of the WI judges when it came time to select the chefs cooking at the banquet:
… guest judge Mary Quinn turned up and said that the WI has no time for drizzles or smears.
If I had been competing, I would have taken more of a classic approach and prepare dishes outside of the WI’s purview, rather than cheap cuts of meat and Scotch eggs. It was a banquet, not Sunday lunch. Yet, on the day, every dish looked breathtaking! The WI members and supporters attending loved every bite.
Best wishes to the WI for their continuing work in promoting British produce, especially dairy, as well as their campaigns for wildlife, particularly bees.