Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Girl Who Inspired The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy has become an international best seller during the last couple of years.

The thrilling crime novels, which follow journalist Mikael Blomkvist and feisty heroine Lisbeth Salander, focus on violence, often sexual, against women.

So much so that the first book [published in Britain as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo], is called in Swedish Män som hatar kvinnor, or “Men Who Hate Women.”

Larsson frequently depicts shockingly disturbing and graphic incidents of violence against women.

Today, the Daily Telegraph published an article about the women who is said to have inspired Larsson, Catrine Da Costa.

Da Costa, a Swedish prostitute, was brutally murdered and mutilated in 1984 and the case prompted a huge female reaction, with women marching, circulating petitions and appearing on television to campaign against the ill-treatment of women.

Psychologist Lennart Sjöberg, professor at the school of economics at Stockholm University said the case provoked such reaction because:

“They believed that the case was symbolic of powerful men getting away with abusing helpless women.”

Read the full story of Catrine Da Costa here.


Vajacials, Vajazzles and Vatoos – Where does it stop?

The revolution of bikini waxing has produced a whole new language describing things I had never contemplated doing to my lady parts.

A ‘vajacial’ is the newest and is set to hit the UK in late January, when brazilian specialist salon Ministry of Waxing will put the treatment on their menu.

It’s basically a facial, for your brazilian.

It’s the newest treatment in a long line of frankly bizarre ways to make your bikini area more ‘glamorous.’

You can get your hair shaped, coloured and if you haven’t got anything left there you can even get diamante studs.  According to Marie-Louise and Danielle Featherstone, the sisters who set up Strip waxing bar,

“Some women who are starting to go grey like to dye their bushes back. And, for special occasions, some might dye their landing strip red and put diamanté gems either side to make it really glamorous.”

I’m not really sure what occasion requires red pubic hair, but maybe I’m just out of touch.

Waxing seems to have become a normal, accepted way of life for modern women.  The testimonial page on the website for Strip salon gives recommendations from people such as Sienna Miller, Victoria Beckham and Jo Wiley.

Personally, I don’t really see the attraction.  And is it just me, or is the idea of making yourself look simultaneously like a porn star and like a prepubescent girl really not that desirable?

Tell me what you think:

International Day to End Violence Against Women – Events from Around the World

This week was the UN’s International day to End Violence Against Women.  On Thursday a 16-day campaign was launched to raise awareness about the huge issue of violence against women, which it is estimated affects up to 70% of the world’s female population.

In Cardiff I went to two events, which you can read about here:

But what events were happening across the world?

  • At the UN headquarters in New York the annual commemoration of the day took place, with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon addressing the crowd.  The UN Trust Fund to end violence against women launched a promotion for giving money to the trust.
  • In the Caribbean musicians are teaming up with radio and television personalities to broadcast messages of zero-tolerance towards violence against women during the next 16 days.
  • In London, women joined together last night in the annual Reclaim the Night march.  There were also events in Newquay, Bangor, Aberdeen, Birmingham, Leeds, Oxford and Portsmouth.
  • InBucharest women lit candles next to card board silhouettes of women, representing those killed by domestic abuse.
  • In Tel Aviv, a number of mock coffins were put outside the law courts to raise awareness of women killed by domestic violence.

To look at pictures of these events, and others, have a look here.

Here’s a pretty picture of the most important words in a statement from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  The full text is here.

Wordle: Hillary Clinton Speech

Theresa May Equality Strategy Speech

Theresa May, Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality made a speech last week [Nov 17] setting out the equality strategy for the coalition government. For the full text look here.

I used wordle to highlight the key words she used.

Wordle: Theresa May Equality Strategy Speech

Candlelit Vigil to Mark International Day to End Violence Against Women

This evening Cardiff North Labour Women’s Forum organised a candlelit vigil to mark the UN’s International Day to End Violence Against Women.

Around 20 men and women gathered at the statue of Aneurin Bevan in Queen Street to light a candle and remember women victims of violence.

Former Labour Assembly Member Julie Morgan made a short address to mark the occassion.

She said: “It’s a very important thing to do, to show solidarity with women.  It’s also good to see some men here as well”

Julie Morgan addressing the crowd


Ann Cox of the Cardiff North Labour Women’s Forum, who helped to organise the event was pleased at the turn-out.  She said:

“It’s good to have a little bit more awareness.  People have stopped to see what we’re doing, that’s why we  wanted to have the vigil here.”

Ann Cox and Sheryl Chetcutey with their candles

Sheryl Chetcutey, who attends a ‘women in political life’ course said she came to the vigil “to draw attention to the violence perpetrated against women.”  She added

“I’m worried about the effect of the economic situation.  Women are hit harder and the extra stress of the recession might make men more abusive.”

Here are a few pictures from the event:

Today the Welsh Assembly Government promised to protect the £4.4m investment it had put aside to help female victims of domestic violence.

Social Justice Minister, Carl Sargeant said:

“Tackling domestic abuse and violence against women is one of my top priorities and that is why I have protected this crucial area of work in the draft budget,

“We have come along way in tackling violence against women but I recognise more needs to be done to eradicate this heinous crime.

“This is a big challenge but by protecting the budget we can continue to work with our partners to make women and children safer.”

The money will go towards funding a six-year strategy to tackle all forms of violence against women in Wales, including rape and sexual assault, domestic abuse, honour based violence, female genital mutilation and forced marriage.


International Day To End Violence Against Women

Today is the UN’s International Day to End Violence Against Women.

Women activists have been marking the 25th November as a day against violence since 1981, and in 1999 a UN resolution was passed to officially recognise the date.

Violence against women is a huge issue worldwide, with the UN suggesting that as many as 70% of women worldwide face violence, most often by a partner.

According to World Bank Data, women worldwide aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than cancer, car accidents, war and malaria.

In the UK it is estimated that around 3 million women  experience rape, domestic violence, forced marriage, stalking, sexual exploitation, trafficking and other forms of violence every year, this is the equivalent to the population of Wales.

In Cardiff, Welsh Women’s Aid and Black Association of Women Step Out [BAWSO] co-organised  a march and service at Llandaff Cathedral to mark the occasion.

I spoke with some of the women who turned out this morning to find out why they decided to march.

I also spoke with Dr Mwenya Chimba, Development, Research and Information Manager of BAWSO about the work the organisation does in Cardiff.

BAWSO offers a safe place for ethnic minority women and children who are the victims of domestic abuse.

To mark the day, the coalition government has launched a plan to tackle violence against women in the UK.  Home Secretary Theresa May said:

“No level of violence against women and girls is acceptable in modern Britain or anywhere else in the world.

“As women and as a society we have made great strides but we need to do more to ensure that women and future generations are not held back.

“My ambition is nothing less than ending violence against women and girls and our strategy document will outline our commitments to seeing this become a reality.”

Whether the strategy document will have any effect on levels of violence against women will remain to be seen.

Powys Rape Victim Wins Appeal

Picture of Justice at the Old Bailey, taken by John Linwood

Two weeks ago I wrote about a women from Powys who was gaoled after retracting a rape allegation, for “perverting the course of justice.”

To recap, have a look here.

Yesterday, she was released from prison after she successfully appealed against her sentence in the High Court.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge said a community sentence would have been a more compassionate punishment.  He said:

“The difference between the culpability of the individual who instigates a false complaint against an innocent man and the complainant who retracts a truthful allegation against a guilty man will often be very marked.

“When a woman has been raped, and more than once, by her husband, the father of her children and the man she reposes her trust, this manifests dominance, power and control over her.

“This woman, so ill treated, then becomes extremely vulnerable.”

He added that there should be “a broad measure of compassion” for victimised women.