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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Sexual predator seeks needy young woman

Just over two years ago, nine men from Derby were jailed in three separate trials for preying on teenage girls. The victims were aged between 12 and 18 and had been groomed by a gang led by 28-year-old Mohammed Liaqat and Abid Saddique, who was 27. Because all but one of the convicted men were Asian, the Derby trials were quickly subsumed in a controversial narrative about the role of ethnicity and culture in cases of systematic abuse of girls. But in the very same town, another man had been targeting vulnerable teenagers for decades.

The Vogue Factor: Fashion really isn’t worth dying for

The damage the industry inflicts on young women is paraded on the catwalk

The actor Richard Griffiths has died, aged 65

Death – still with us, but further away than ever

It's as if the Queen's demise is so awful to contemplate that it can't be mentioned

Street prostitution

Why the game’s up for Sweden's sex trade

Sweden's innovative sex-trade laws criminalise clients, not prostitutes. The result: a 70 per cent drop in business. Joan Smith jumps in a squad car with local police to find out how it works – and whether Britain could follow suit

Where's the point in fretting about gay sex?

It's a giveaway that senior clerics aren't much interested in lesbians, while presiding over institutions that struggle with the notion of treating women as equals

MPs, ignore David Cameron and vote for a free press

We all believe in a free press, don't we? But if I've learnt anything over the course of the Leveson inquiry, it's that it means different things to different people. Take the former editor of The Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie, who boasted that it meant doing what he liked and not checking sources. He used his freedom to produce an untrue front-page story which claimed that Liverpool fans urinated on police officers and picked the pockets of dying fellow supporters during the Hillsborough disaster. "The Truth", MacKenzie called it in a brazen headline.

Now it's official: child-rearing is women's work

On Sundays, dads up and down the land look forward to football with their kids and a lazy family lunch. It's an idyllic picture of life in 21st-century Britain, but for once I want to talk about all the men who don't have children. What's wrong with the one in five who don't become fathers?

Sex, lies and undercover police officers

If someone agrees to an intimate relationship on the basis of lies, can they really be said to have given meaningful consent to sex?

The Vicky Pryce jury proves the system works

Hang on a minute: I know we're all guffawing over the behaviour of the jury in the trial of Vicky Pryce, but are there really grounds for assuming that something went badly wrong? Hilarious as some of their questions to the judge appeared to be, it's possible to come to a very different conclusion, namely that the system actually worked rather well.

George Galloway's Israel denial may repel the mainstream, but it further cements his reputation within his religious constituency

Galloway has ended up representing the nearest thing Britain has to a religious party

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