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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Do stay out of religion, David Cameron, it’s not your job

How did anyone ever think it was OK to expect men and women to sit apart?

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

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Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee