Jack the Ripper show 'glorifies violence against women as fun'

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The Independent Online
THE CAMPAIGN Against Pornography has launched a campaign against an exhibition about Jack the Ripper that includes a guided tour by a woman dressed as a prostitute, life-size models with their throats cut, and the original autopsy photographs of mutilated bodies. Campaign members yesterday picketed the London Dungeon, near London Bridge station, where the new pounds 1m exhibition is held.

The group claims the 'Jack the Ripper Experience' is a glorification of a serial killer and uses the brutal murder and mutilation of five women as entertainment. They criticise the naming of the centre's snack bar 'Ripper's Rapid Snacks'.

London Dungeon's owners say the exhibition is informative and unsensationalist. A 20-minute tour is included in the pounds 6 entrance fee to the Dungeon. It deals with five unsolved murders of East End prostitutes in 1888. An actress dressed as a prostitute, with a Cockney accent, guides groups of adults and children through a reconstructed maze of dimly-lit Victorian back streets and squares. A soundtrack tells the story of the Ripper.

As each murder is detailed, life-size models, splattered with blood and usually with slashed throats, are illuminated. Large black-and-white photographs of victims taken at post-mortem examinations are also shown.

The description of one murder is illustrated by silhouettes of a woman at a window being attacked by a man. After she is stabbed, 'blood' spurts and drips from the window.

The final commentary takes place in a mock mortuary and ends with a life-size model of the Ripper leaping out from a wall panel.

A gift shop has a section called 'Ripper Mania', which includes T-shirts, mugs, hats, rubbers and bookmarks, and features a sinister man holding a dripping knife.

Rachel Wingfield, co-ordinator of Cap, said: 'It is grotesque that for the sake of an afternoon's entertainment, the man responsible for the violent and horrific deaths of these women is being made into a hero. Sexual violence against women is being trivialised used as titillation.'

Feisal Khalif, the Dungeon's marketing manager, said: 'We have given careful consideration as to whether it should be a rose-tinted picture or a realistic one. We think we have done it in an unglamorous way. There's obviously an element of entertainment, but we believe there are many lessons to be learned from such horrific crimes,' he added.

(Photograph omitted)