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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Prince William is taking a year off at a time

Special perks for Duke of Cambridge: Who but Prince William gets a year’s paternity leave?

He is taking a year off at a time when millions of people are struggling to hold on to their jobs

The Delhi bus gang-rape conviction is not the only example of lax cultural attitudes to sexual violence

A study showed almost a quarter of men in the Asia-Pacific region admit rape. It seems sexual violence is regarded by some men as an acceptable part of relations with women

Protesters against the war in Iraq marching in March 2003

MPs are scarred by the war in Iraq

The vote on Syria was dogged by memories of 2003

Syrian children at a refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan

Children pay for our failure over Syria

For too long we have sent mixed messages to the dictator in Damascus

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

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A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all