Instant Opinion

‘Sexual assault victims’ wellbeing mustn’t be subordinate to public interest’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

1

Amanda Morgan and Lydia Jupp in The Sydney Morning Herald

The Prince and the survivor: our right to all the facts does not trump Virginia Giuffre’s wellbeing

on personal protection

The settlement between Virginia Giuffre and Prince Andrew “has drawn criticism from commentators and casual observers”, say Amanda Morgan and Lydia Jupp in The Sydney Morning Herald. Many “seem surprised by such a rapid turnaround in the case”. It seems the Prince was due to be deposed by Giuffre’s lawyers in the coming weeks, “so he pulled the trigger by necessity”. And though “it may have been cathartic to see Prince Andrew raked across the coals, for all the world to see, it’s easy to forget that Giuffre would have received the same treatment”. The pair say that “the survivor’s interest – her safety and wellbeing – must not be subordinate to public interest”, and “the legal system was not created to serve survivors of sexual violence”. “It requires a huge amount of courage to report a sexual assault, let alone to face the courts”, and those who do pursue justice before a jury “are subject to intense scrutiny, gaslighting and re-traumatisation” from defence laywers. None of us “should ever expect” a survivor should have to pay the price so the public has “all the facts for the sake of the truth”. Giuffre “deserves praise for speaking out”.

2

George Monbiot in The Guardian

There’s no solidarity in ‘sovereign citizen’ protests – only incoherent rage

on surges in sovereignty

When Alpha Men Assemble started paramilitary drills at the start of the year, “it looked pretty threatening”, says George Monbiot in The Guardian. “We were warned” that the group was “about to launch an insurrection against vaccines and in favour of ‘the sovereign citizen’. Since then, silence.” This was one example of “the incoherent protests now sweeping rich, English-speaking nations […] gatherings whose aims are simultaneously petty and grandiose. Their immediate objectives are small and often risible”, the underlying aims “open-ended, massive and impossible to fulfil”. The “‘sovereign citizen’ theory is a powerful current running through” protests in Ottawa, Australia, New Zealand and the US, as well as the UK’s own. “Its adherents insist they stand above the law” and “arrogate to themselves sovereign powers that not even the monarch enjoys”. What’s behind “the appeal of this movement”, asks Monbiot. Support for individual sovereignty appears to “surge in hard times”, and this writer suspects it’s “about more than money”. Capitalism promises “one day we will all be alphas – just not yet”. These movements “tend to be infested with racism and white supremacy”, and some of the Ottawa organisers “have a history of attacks on trade unions”. It seems “sovereignty and solidarity are not compatible”.

3

Angela Rayner in the Daily Mirror

Joining a union is vital for workers feeling cost-of-living pinch

on empowering employees

Britain is facing “a serious issue”, says Angela Rayner in the Daily Mirror. The deputy Labour leader says she hears “almost daily” from constituents in Ashton-under-Lyne “how seriously they are feeling the pinch” of the rising cost of living. “From care workers to young city types, from nurses to supermarket staff”, pay packets “are just not stretching far enough”. Trade unions “exist to collectively empower workers”, and the Labour Party’s links with unions are “more relevant than ever in these precarious times”, when “people need decent pay to keep afloat, flexibility to manage their family life, and the confidence to challenge inequality”. The UK has experienced a “wasted decade of low growth in our economy under the Conservatives”, but “despite the barriers” the party has “put in the way, good employers and businesses already work closely with trade unions because they care about their workers”. Labour’s New Deal for Working People promises “security at work, prosperity in decent pay, and all workers treated with respect”, starting with a trade union in “almost every workplace”.

4

Mary Dejevsky in The Independent

Twenty years of Putin and the West still fails to understand him

on miscommunications

Vladimir Putin “has been at the helm of Russia for more than 20 years” and yet “much of the Western world seems to find him as hard to read now as they did” when he became prime minister back in 1999, says Mary Dejevsky in The Independent. “Time and again the West has been surprised, wrong-footed or just generally appalled by something that Putin has supposedly said or done”, and the crisis in Ukraine “is just the latest, if perhaps the gravest, example”. Why does the West find it “so difficult to deal” with Putin?, asks Dejevsky. Over the years there has been “an almost perverse reluctance” from many in the West “to actually listen to what Putin and his officials have to say”. While “it is wise to prepare for the worst”, Putin has consistently denied an invasion into Ukraine is planned, “and not to heed or even mention these quite definite denials paints” him “as an out-and-out warmonger”. If there’s a “‘pattern of behaviour’, it is the West’s automatic resort to blaming the Kremlin for everything that happens inside and outside Russia”, she adds.

5

South China Morning Post Editorial

Price of love too high to pay in online fraud

on love scams

For some, online dating is “difficult enough” – and that’s before “having to worry about financial fraud”, says the South China Morning Post. “Fertile grounds abound for scammers” at present, and Hong Kong police have seen a rise in the amount of money being lost through such schemes during the pandemic. The figures are “probably far higher” than the reported HK$599M (£56.6m) “as victims usually experience shame and stigma, so are reluctant to inform authorities”. People dreaming “of meeting the perfect partner can easily be swayed by the online tactics of a skilful fraudster”, which include “an attractive profile” and “carefully worded messages of affection” before “requests to transfer funds” are made. It’s “too easy” to blame victims for succumbing to these scams, the newspaper continues. “Studies show vulnerability is not static and can change with personal circumstances, such as the end of a relationship, retirement or work stress”. And “it does not help that Hong Kong is gripped by a fast-spreading fifth wave” of Covid-19. “For the alert, the advice is simple: background-check a potential online suitor, take the relationship into the real world as soon as possible […] and never give cash if it has to be borrowed”.

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