IoS letters, emails & texts, 13 July 2008

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One reason for the under-representation of women at the top of the art market may lie in their under-representation in major commercial galleries ("'There's never been a great woman artist'", 6 July). A fairly equal number of men and women are graduating from the big London art schools. Yet men hugely outnumber women on the artists' lists of the bigger galleries. This cannot reflect the quality of the art being produced.

Without representation by big galleries, women's chances of having their work seen at international art fairs or by top public galleries, are reduced. Institutions such as the Tate now do a significant amount of shopping at these art fairs, and their choices are well publicised, further improving sales and prices for the chosen – usually male – artists.

Once installed in a major state collection, an artist's work enters art history. Works in the big public collections will be exhibited and written about far more often than art that remains – like most art by women – hidden in private collections.

To say, as Brian Sewell does, that women are innately incapable of great art, is like saying that the fact that no woman has yet been allowed to become a bishop in the Church of England proves that no woman is capable of great spiritual leadership. His statement betrays his unfamiliarity with the brutal realities of European art history, and of the modern art world.

Anne Thackray

Toronto, canada

David Miliband may deplore the treatment in South Africa of those fleeing Mugabe's murderous regime, but when will he look at what is happening to them in his own backyard ("From Mugabe's thugs to a life of poverty in Britain", 6 July)?

Thousands of innocent Zimbabweans, seeking refuge here from beatings, torture, rape and murder, are suffering grave injustices through the handling of their cases by the UK Border Agency that breach the Refugee Convention, the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights. Not only were thousands of them sent letters a few months ago warning of their forcible deportation should they not leave the country, but many who have won their asylum appeals have never received the eligibility certificates that entitle them to obtain paid work and to access services.

Many of these asylum-seekers are skilled and we should be grateful for their contribution here till they can return to a Zimbabwe free of Mugabe.

Margaret Owen

Barrister, Director of Workers for peace through democracy, London W14

The news that some 700 people have been wrongly accused by the Criminal Records Bureau ("Hundreds wrongly accused in safety checks", 6 July) further extends the abrogation of the fundamental principle of our "constitution": namely, that citizens are deemed innocent until proved guilty. I note that those who have been victimised "may have to go through an appeals process to correct wrong information". In other words, deemed guilty until you prove your innocence.

The Government has already infringed this basic right in spirit by allowing the fingerprinting and DNA-recording of people arrested but subsequently released without charge.

If a fundamental principle can be simply overridden, then our constitution isn't it worth the paper it isn't, in any case, written on.

Roger Iredale

Yeovil, somerset

Breeding animals for food is one thing, but breeding 40,000 to kill in the name of sport is barbaric ("Peta protests at Pamplona's bull-runners", 6 July). These bulls are taken from their mothers at a few weeks old and raised to be provoked and tortured to provide so-called entertainment for an ignorant and uncivilised crowd. It must be stopped.

Margaret Sibley

Sidmouth, Devon

A debt-to-GDP ratio greater than 100 per cent does not mean we borrow more than we earn ("We're riddled with debt... but the cure is a killer", 6 July). It merely implies that our total debt is greater than that which we earn in a year. Since we only pay off a fraction of our debt every year, this level of debt could be perfectly sustainable

Adam Jackson

London SW2

The news last week: "14,000 knife victims a year" (page 1), "London remains the centre of what is increasingly viewed as a nationwide epidemic [of knife crime]" (page 2), "18 teenagers have been murdered in the capital this year" (pages 8 and 9), and then, on page 24, "At least 15 horror movies are in production in Britain and due to be released later this year. Such is the boom that the annual Film4 Frightfest festival in London's West End next month features an unprecedented number of British films." Surely I can't be the only one who sees a behavioural link?

Matt Watkins

Swalcliffe, Oxfordshire

Vincent Price never made a film for "the Hammer studios" – in reality, Bray Studios ("Horror – Where girlie meets gory", 6 July). And The Abominable Dr Phibes was an American International production, not a Hammer one.

Denis Meikle

via email

Dom Joly (29 June) may convince himself there is something lacking in Weston-super-Mare, but it is probably because he was filming something unexciting at the end of the day, and got upset because he didn't attract anyone to worship him. We have a great comedian who hails from our happy town – John Cleese. Sorry Dom, you don't compare.

Joanna Mornfall

Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset

Janet Street-Porter's comments on the BBC presenters for Wimbledon were extremely offensive ("Love, all? I think not", 6 July). As for her vitriolic comments about Sue Barker: she is a wonderful anchor, elegant and knowledgeable about the game.

Gillian Munrow

Amersham, Buckinghamshire

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