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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David Cameron and his wife on their holidays

I'm suspicious of words like 'tradition', precisely because they carry a dead weight of expectation

Tories on the right regard David Cameron as modern, but wearing shorts is not enough

Twitter climbdown is too little, too late

How can we believe that men who abuse women online aren't also raping partners?

First photo-op: Prince George makes his debut before the world’s media last Tuesday

This has been a good week to be a republican

You wouldn't know it from the deference of the royal baby coverage, but a poll this month showed more than half of us weren't bothered

Indonesian mothers holding their daughters after they received a circumcision

Convictions for female genital mutilation. France: 100. UK: Nil

This country has a very poor record on the prevention of female genital mutilation. A new approach from the police could change that. But they need help

Why the delay on plain packs for cigarettes?

It's hard to see how the PM can justify holding back when lives are at stake
Kate and Gerry McCann are being treated with kid gloves by the media

The McCanns: Innocent until tried by the newspapers

As British police swoop in six years on, Kate and Gerry McCann face weeks of press chatter

Henry VIII, the Saddam of the Tudor court

Whenever anyone sets about compiling a list of great figures in British history, Henry VIII is a cert. A few years ago, he was at number 40 in a BBC poll of 100 great Britons, and more recently he's played a leading role in Hilary Mantel's prize-winning historical novels. The final instalment of the trilogy will have to deal with Henry's decision to execute Mantel's hero, Thomas Cromwell, who was despatched on the same day Henry married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard. She lasted less than two years before following Cromwell to the scaffold, and I'm not remotely surprised to hear that Henry has now been diagnosed as a psychopath.

Stuart Hall got off lightly. Jeremy Forrest's sentence proves it

Had the broadcaster Stuart Hall been in any doubt that he got off lightly after admitting 14 charges of indecent assault, he would have known better by the end of last week. The 15-month sentence he was given on Monday reflected the law, and the assumptions, of the period in the 1960s and 1970s when he began abusing children and teenagers. Four days later, Jeremy Forrest, the maths teacher found guilty of abducting an under-age girl, got five and a half years in total for that offence and five more (which he admitted) of sexual activity with a child.

Turkey's prime minister addressing supporters last week

My chance to halt violence against women

I've spent a great deal of my career writing about violence against women. The first big story I covered was the series of murders committed by the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, and since then I've tackled rape, domestic abuse, prostitution and sex trafficking. So I didn't think twice when I was approached to become co-chair of the Mayor of London's Violence Against Women and Girls Panel. It brings together numerous organisations, including the Metropolitan Police, London councils and rape crisis centres, with the ambitious aim of eliminating abuse of women in one of the world's great cities. I'm not convinced we can get rid of violence completely, but anyone who wonders why such a body is necessary should look at the up-to-date statistics for London.

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The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution