“He would take every penny” – sexual trafficking in Manchester
Chantelle Porter (University of Manchester)
The MEN reports indicate that most women currently being trafficked into Manchester for sex are Slovakian, with most of the rest coming from other nations in Eastern Europe, and a few from Thailand and African countries. The problem seems to relate primarily to South Manchester (especially Longsight and Rusholme, both districts close to the Manchester University campus), and some parts of North Manchester and Bolton.
The reports focus on a series of stories of women usually duped with promises of jobs on arrival in the UK and who are often then subject to sexual coercion and physical violence at the hands of clients and pimps. They also note that Greater Manchester Police have begun to visit budget hotels to warn staff about trafficked women being sent on ‘out calls’.
Greater Manchester has regularly attracted local and national media attention as a target for sexual slavery and trafficking. Last May, the Heywood district became the focus for another scandal involving the sexual grooming and trafficking of vulnerable girls. Again this autumn an elderly couple were found to be guilty of trafficking a young girl from Pakistan and enslaving her for over a decade in their home in Eccles, Salford.
As these ordeals continue to emerge, local charities are working to provide support to those victimised. A Manchester safe house, the Medaille Trust, has provided an insight into the trauma faced by trafficked women who are referred to the organisation as part of the MEN’s series of reports on the problem. One example is that of providing support to women who fall pregnant by their exploiters, or those they are forced to have sex with, who may find it difficult to bond with their babies.
CPS guidelines define trafficking as “the transportation of persons in the UK in order to exploit them by the use of force, violence, deception, intimidation or coercion.” According to the MEN reports, Greater Manchester Police has referred 2,600 cases of trafficked women and girls so far to the Home Office. However, only a handful of prosecutions have been brought against alleged traffickers in the region in the last five years.
Has Tom Daley really ‘come out’?
Hannah Farrington (University of Manchester)
Following British Olympian Tom Daley’s announcement earlier this month that he is dating a man there have been mixed reactions, and in turn mixed comments about these reactions. These range from a depressing selection of blatantly homophobic tweets to messages of support from a variety of celebrities, although thankfully the feeling generally is one of admiration and support for Daley.
One thing that remains problematic even amongst the well-wishers, however, is the incorrect assumption that Daley has come out as gay, despite the fact that he does not use the word ‘gay’ or any of its synonyms in his video. This was particularly prevalent in the media: The Daily Mail posted “Tom Daley comes out” and captioned one photo “Yesterday Tom Daley came out as gay…”, the Metro originally announced “Tom Daley reveals he is gay” but later corrected their headline, many other media outlets cautiously reported a “gay relationship” , and even Europe’s largest gay news provider Pink News published the headline “Tom Daley comes out as gay…” (still visible in the URL of the page) before apologising and explaining that this was a mistake caused by a lack of attention to the facts rather than bi-erasure or disregard for the fluidity of sexuality. Others paid more attention to the part of Daley’s video where he stated “I still fancy girls” but still insisted on labelling his sexuality as bisexual – a slightly more accurate but still incorrect assumption, which could be just as restrictive as being labelled homo- or heterosexual.
Whilst the majority of online news providers eventually amended their original headlines and articles, the original misreporting still leaves a resounding sense that our society has a problematic obsession with putting people into neatly defined categories of gender and sexuality. One exception is The Guardian, which commented in the wake of Daley’s revelation on the almost non-existence of bi-visibility in the media , as well as the problem of imposing a label onto those who does not wish to identify themselves according to that label or indeed any label, before concluding that “the only thing that has been outed today is the media’s rigidity – and stupidity – when it comes to reporting on sexuality.” This article from webzine Bustle also highlights the importance of the difference between coming out as gay, bisexual, queer or otherwise pansexual, and simply being in a relationship with a person of a particular gender.
It should be viewed as extremely positive that another sportsperson has publicly disclosed being in a non-heterosexual relationship given that sport is a field that has been notoriously unaccepting of homosexuality and bisexuality, but despite Daley’s explicit efforts not to use any label to describe his sexuality the media reaction to his announcement has highlighted the sad fact that society has not yet reached the stage where it is comfortable with accepting sexuality as something fluid rather than categorical.
British social services perform forcible caesarean on woman and take child into care
Ella Szklaruk (University of Manchester)
In a story broken first by The Daily Telegraph, which has since been circulated widely across the British media, it has been reported that Essex Social Services obtained a court order from the High Court to forcibly sedate and remove the foetus from a pregnant woman who was visiting the UK on business from her home country of Italy. Now 15 months old, the child is reported to be still in the care of Essex social services. The mother of the child, who has since returned to Italy, is currently attempting to have the child returned to her custody. Essex social services have so far refused her requests.
Essex social services applied for the court order in 2012 following the pregnant woman’s detention and hospitalisation under the Mental Health Act, after police became concerned for her wellbeing. The Telegraph reports that the woman was not informed about the proceedings. Once the court order was issued she was forcibly sedated and after waking she was told that her foetus had been delivered by caesarean and had been taken into care.
The very unusual case has reportedly led to an ‘international legal row’. Lawyers have challenged Essex social services on the basis that even if they had been acting in the woman’s best interests, the woman’s next of kin and Italy’s social services should have been contacted to negotiate better-placed child care arrangements. The caesarean has also received criticism from the chief executive of the mental health charity SANE and liberal democrat MP John Hemming, who plans to raise the issue in Parliament. Essex Social Services have nevertheless defended their actions in light of the particular facts of the case.
Widow wishes to be able to keep her dead husband’s sperm frozen until she decides whether to use it
Samantha Grigg (Newcastle University)
Beth Warren lost her husband, Warren Brewer, to a brain tumour in February 2012, prior to which he had his sperm stored and consented to his wife being able to use it posthumously. Storage of gametes like sperm is regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act and is overseen by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (the HFEA). Under the Act, Mr. Brewer’s consent to storage of his sperm was originally meant to expire in April 2013, but two extensions mean Mrs. Warren now has until April 2015 to use the sperm.
Mrs. Warren has challenged this deadline on the ground that she should be granted more time to be able to think through such an important reproductive choice, because she is still recovering from the death of her husband and her brother (whom she lost a few weeks prior to her husband). She has also admitted that she may choose not to use the sperm should she meet someone else and decide to have that person’s child instead.
There are several ethical issues to consider relating to the case.
As a dead person cannot retract their consent it is impossible for Mr. Brewer to agree to a storage extension. This places Mrs. Warren in a worse position than other women simply because her husband is no longer alive. Mr. Brewer’s parents may also have feelings on the matter , as they may want biological grandchildren.
However, if the court rules that Mrs. Warren may keep the sperm for longer than the limit specified by the HFEA, then that would pave the way for any number of reasons for others to extend their time periods too; one argument is that her decision should have to be made in the same time limit as any other person, as a matter of policy. In addition, should Mrs. Warren choose to use the sperm her child will never meet its father, something which she mentions in an interview as one of the difficult issues she has had to consider herself. There are also important questions to consider about whether or not it is right to permit potential parents to store sperm while waiting for the possibility of another more favourable alternative route to parenthood to arise such as having a child with a future living partner.
Either way, the court has a tough decision to make; reproductive autonomy indicates that everyone should be allowed the chance to become a biological parent, but should this extend to the deceased? Consent need only be effective, meaning that it is valid providing it is not withdrawn, which a deceased person cannot do, but how far should this extend if the frozen sperm is only being kept to be used by a partner who has not yet decided whether or not to use it? It creates a ‘just-in-case’ idea, which cannot be said to be ethically sound.