Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Of sexism and absurd priorities

There were two news stories today which women - and men who want women to be treated fairly and decently - could reasonably be annoyed about.

But one was very much more serious than the other

What baffles me is that the former seemed to get vastly more attention in the broadcast media.

Issue 1)

A cricketer - apparently a fit, strong man aged 34 - was convicted of hitting his wife with a cricket bat and subjected her to other types of serious physical abuse such as pouriug bleach down her throat.

However, despite admitting assault occasioning actual bodily harm against his former partner, cricketer Mustafa Bashir was spared a custodial sentence because the judge was not convinced she was "a vulnerable person."

The judge said he did not believe the 33-year-old receptionist was vulnerable because she was “an intelligent woman with a network of friends” and had a university degree.

Sentencing Mr Bashir to an 18-month jail term suspended for two years, Judge Mansell ordered him to attend a workshop entitled 'building better relationships', pay £1,000 costs and said he was banned from contacting his former wife indefinitely under the terms of a restraining order.

Issue 2)

Following the meeting yesterday between the Prime Minister and the First Minister of Scotland, The Daily Mail front page showed a picture of the most powerful politicians in Britain and Scotland respectively which drew attention to their legs and had the headline

"Never mind Brexit, who won legs-it."

I suspect that most reasonable people will be concerned both about the Mail's decision to run that photo and headline and with the decision of Judge Mansell not to send a violent thug to jail.

But for heaven's sake, which is the important issue here?

One story is about a newspaper which nobody is compelled to but which chose to damage it's credibility by trivialising through childish and sexist reporting an important meeting between two people who are and will remain highly powerful individuals and both of whom are far too strong to suffer any significant negative effects from a stupid front page.

The other is the story of a woman who suffered at least two serious violent assaults and whose attacker appears, on the basis of news reports such as this one, to have received a worryingly lenient sentence on highly questionable grounds.

I try to avoid making a habit of questioning the decisions of judges and juries who have heard an entire case when I have only seen news reports, but there are occasions when a reasonable person can say "this appears so off-the-wall that someone else needs to have another look at it" and if the case Mustafa Bashir isn't an example of that situation it is very hard to know what would be.

I hope the Law Officers call this one in and appeal against the leniency of the sentence.

And, quite frankly, the fact that a stupid front page on the Daily Mail appeared to be getting three or four times as much coverage in the rest of the media as the Mustafa Bashir sentence did,  does lead one to ask if those media outlets have their priorities right?

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