On 20th August 2021 I wrote an open letter to Sadiq Khan after the removal of feminist activist and author Joan Smith, from the role of independent co-chair to the Violence Against Women and Girls Board at MOPAC.
On 30th November 2021 I finally received a response (see attached picture). Firstly, despite Sophie Linden’s response being perfectly polite, it felt somewhat ironic that Khan got a woman to reply for him…quick lesson for men in positions of authority, women notice these things, especially feminist women.
Secondly the letter I wrote detailed the findings of my research, in which I explained why it is essential for elected officials and policy makers to engage openly with the debate surrounding the clash between the creep of transgender ideology on policy capture, and the protection of women’s sex-based rights. I finish my letter by stating:
“I hope my letter gives you and your colleagues the academic evidence required to understand the importance and validity of Joan’s request for you to engage with concerned women on this topic. It is essential as representatives of your female constituents, many of whom are subject to catastrophic male violence daily, that you do.”
MOPACs reply, as you can see, makes absolutely no reference to my research or to the pertinent points I raised regarding the issue of silencing women in this debate. In fact, the response neatly avoids the insinuation that Joan’s dismissal had anything to do with her highlighting that trans identified men may now be given access to single sex spaces for female victims. The letter makes no reference to the topic I wrote about at all! Thou shall not even speak the words, ‘transgender’, ‘clash’, or ‘women’s sex-based rights’, let alone join the debate it seems…
I am sure Joan herself will have her own thoughts she will want to add. But my summation of the letter is that it took over three months to come up with a response which basically amounts to the usual platitudes about work to prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG). Moreover, there still appears to be no clear message as to what the independent oversight is of the MOPAC VAWG panel, now that Joan is gone, or indeed whether the topic of single sex spaces is now being openly discussed amongst professionals linked to the panel.
If they can’t name or talk openly about any of the above issues in the letter it doesn’t bode well for robust debate on the ground which incorporates a holistic view of the reality of male violence against women, in my humble opinion.
Dr Shonagh Dillon