Joan Smith

Known for her human rights activism and writing on subjects such as atheism and feminism, Joan Smith is a columnist, critic and novelist. An Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society and a regular contributor to BBC radio, she has written five detective novels, two of which have been filmed by the BBC.

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At last... Jimmy Savile is having a good effect

It is being called the "Savile effect". I'm not sure that anyone would have predicted, when the DJ's criminal career began to be exposed just over a year ago, that the police inquiry would have such a dramatic impact. But rape crisis centres are reporting a surge in calls, with some charities recording increases of 40 per cent. At the same time, more women are going to the police: in London alone, there has been an increase of 29 per cent in rape reports in the past 12 months.

HIV-Aids has mutated into a disease of poverty

When a friend in London told me he was HIV-positive in the early 1980s, neither of us really knew what it meant. By the time I visited another HIV-positive friend in hospital in New York a decade later, the horror of the Aids pandemic had become apparent. I was shocked by how much his condition had deteriorated in the couple of years since I'd last seen him, when he had been well enough to wander round Manhattan with me. At the same time, I was touched by the support system for patients, including an organisation which walked my friend's dog daily when he became too frail to do it himself. He died not long afterwards, joining thousands of gay men whose lives were tragically cut short.

Helping hand: Freedom Charity, founded by Aneeta Prem, has been flooded with calls since the women were released

Concealment: the key to modern slavery

The horrific case of the three women freed from a London house could provide a means to break the silence that keeps victims trapped

‘Big gift for us’: David Cameron may have raised expectations he will be unable to fulfil in Jaffna

Dave goes abroad, but as arms dealer or avenging angel?

Cameron's tough language on Sri Lanka was impressive. But we are still left guessing what the guiding vision is

Closed ranks: A former Royal Marines officer has refused to condemn part of the ‘family’

Wilfred Owen and Marine A: as far apart as you can get

Calls for leniency for the convicted soldier are misguided – and do a disservice to those soldiers who hold on to their humanity in war circumstances

Dominique Strauss-Kahn: ‘simple libertine activity’

Those French bastards. Will they never learn?

Maybe they should reflect upon why so few men boast about paying for sex

Russell Brand’s political thoughts amount to little more than ‘Hello trees, hello sky’

Joan Smith: Spare us the vacuous talk and go back to Hollywood

To some people, Russell Brand's adolescent waffle sound likes informed opinion – but his pride in refusing to vote is foolish and dangerous

Al-Madinah in Derby, free faithbased school criticised by Ofsted

Faith schools must not be funded by us

Why should we allow governors to promote religious segregation?

The Daily Mail editor-in-chief, Paul Dacre

Which stories will we not be allowed to read?

Joan Smith says her profession has nothing to fear from the new plan to regulate the press

Coffins of children among the adult victims in an hangar of Lampedusa airport

Lampedusa, half way to broken-promise land

There are reports of ships failing to stop if they see migrant boats in trouble

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Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz