We need to address the discrimination against non-white women in the justice system

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Friday 08 September 2017 17:13 BST
David Lammy's report is right to address the discrimination against BAME people in the criminal justice system
David Lammy's report is right to address the discrimination against BAME people in the criminal justice system (Getty/Chris Jackson)

The Lammy Review has raised important questions about the treatment of black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals in the criminal justice system. One group that urgently needs renewed focus is BAME women. They face a double disadvantage: discriminated against because of both their gender and their race.

The report draws particular attention to the magistrates’ courts where BAME women are more likely to be convicted than white women and they are more likely to be tried at Crown Court after being charged.

This coincides with what women told us for our own research, giving troubling accounts of discrimination and injustice from the courts through to prison. The vast majority of women in prison have committed non-violent offences and the root causes of their offending are often linked to high levels of disadvantage and complex needs, including mental ill health, addiction and experience of abuse.

The overuse of prison for remand and sentencing of women needs to end. Instead we must invest in prevention and community-based support, including women’s centres, which are proven to be more effective than prison at reducing reoffending.

Sexism, racism and unconscious bias should have no part in the criminal justice system.

It is imperative that action is taken to ensure fairness throughout the process – with increased understanding of the distinct experiences of BAME women. We hope that the publication of the Lammy Review is a first step to achieving this.

Katharine Sacks-Jones, director of Agenda
Dr Kate Paradine, chief executive, Women in Prison

London E2

We must support Rohingya Muslims in Burma

The international community has miserably failed to combat rogue states and dictators, and to sound alarm, rally support and stop future Rwandas and Srebrenicaa from ever happening.

Rohingya Muslims in Burma are being deliberately and methodically slaughtered, burned alive, displaced, ethnically cleansed and raped for being Muslims. I recall the head of the small united nations peacekeeping force in Rwanda when he said: “If an organisation decided to wipe out the 320 mountain gorillas then would be still more of a reaction by the international community to curtail and stop that than would still be today in attempting to protect thousands of human beings slaughtered in the same country”.

This fills us with a sense of bitter regret for not learning the lessons of past pogroms – the Holocaust included. It is time to marshal the political will and adopt or pursue all legal measures and means to achieve justice, peace and security in accordance with international humanitarian laws.

Dr Munjed Farid al Qutob
London NW2

Most women are more worried about a social pay gap than a gender one

I am fed up of hearing about the gender pay gap. My heart bleeds for those poor women complaining about their £100,000 a year when the bloke next to them is getting £120,000.

I am also very insulted by Janet Street-Porter’s comments in her last column that women sat on their backside at the checkout deserved more money than the grunts in the warehouse doing the physical labour because “they only have half a brain”.

Where I work there is no gender pay gap, the men and women will have to move boxes when required, and we all get £7.50 an hour.

Gender pay gap is not an issue with most of us, it’s the social pay gap that is the real problem!

Alison Wood

We should question the rhetoric we’re being fed when it comes to North Korea

Just before the “irresponsible” North Koreans and the very “responsible” Americans set fire to the planet with a “theatre nuclear war” (which is what US President Ronald Reagan used to call the “limited nuclear war” in the 1980s in which no bombs would hit US territory although most of Europe and Russia would be destroyed), perhaps we ought to take a look at the carefully packaged narrative the West has created about North Korea?

North Korea is the aggressor, right? North Korea is ruled by an ugly fat mad man who is like Doctor Evil out of an Austin Powers movie, and who with his comically appropriate Oriental cat wants to blow up the world with his huge array of nuclear bombs whilst America with its white Christian “values” and fake moral indignation is as usual the reluctant good guy who as always is forced into these “very difficult decisions” (to quote Tony Blair) to use force, correct?

Can this narrative which is firmly embedded in our brains possibly be unwritten?

When the Korean war ended in July 1953 more than half a million soldiers and four million civilians lay dead. The war ended not with a peace treaty but a simple armistice so can anybody truly blame the leaders of either the North or South after such a horrific bloodbath for their paranoia and distrust of each other?

The South Koreans feel slightly more secure as they have the United States with its nuclear umbrella to look after them, but North Korea no longer has Russia and China prepared to look after them so naturally they seek comfort in having nuclear weapons.

The American response is typical: it’s a case of “do as I say, not as I do”. It is the United States which is the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons and has an enormous stockpile of thousands of them which they regularly test. North Korea has an estimated thirty weapons.

And what is the lesson for North Korea of our recent interventions in the Middle East? In Iraq Saddam Hussein gave up his nuclear programme yet he and his two sons were still killed along with a million innocent Iraqis. In Libya Gaddafi likewise gave up a nuclear bomb project but was still attacked and we were invited to celebrate that he was sodomised to death by a knife-wielding Islamist extremist.

Mark Holt

There’s still hope for another Brexit referendum

In Parliament questions were raised about whether leaving the EEA requires a notice of departure separate to the one already issued for departing the EU under Article 50.

David Davis said it was being looked into, but if it transpires that under current treaties the EU and EEA are two separate and distinct but conjoined entities, and separate notices have to be given for departing both, it is only logical they should be treated separately. A referendum that only asks if we should leave the EU by definition could not include leaving the EEA.

Surely if that is the case another referendum should legally be held on the subject of leaving the EEA.

The other question that follows is, until the matter is resolved, how can a vote be taken on the Repeal Bill, as some parts will refer to the laws and regulations governing the EEA as well as the EU?

It’s all very confusing.

Robert Greasley

Allowing low-skilled migrants to come to the UK helps no one

John McLorian claims in yesterday’s Letters page that Britain was proposing to “discriminate” against unskilled foreign labour by not letting it into our country to work for zero hour contracts sectors or, for employers operating casual working practices that split not just the working week into part-time employment but also each day – thereby dodging the historical resourcing of lunch breaks and guaranteed individual weekly Living Wage employment.

I wonder whether in the 19th century, those doing the public relations for child labour exploitation also claimed a ban discriminated against children?

Quite obviously we don’t need more cheap labour at Sports Direct, yet given how bad our unskilled employment practices are, no one seems to be asking just what it is that brings cheap immigrant labour here and what is happening to the country it leaves.

British – and for that matter Scandinavian, German and French – prosperity after the war was created by Keynesian projects that recognised the value of using labour power creatively to maintain society and its infrastructure. From this we got the NHS, slum clearance, transport infrastructure and secured utility resources of which modern carpetbaggers have now seized control.

This platform for modern economic activity is largely denied by EU and global rules on market finance, to the countries from whom Britain exploits cheap Labour. We are lucky to have talented Polish workers here but think of the good they could be doing restoring Poland’s infrastructure and for proper wages. Rather than train enough nurses New Labour notoriously stole those trained by South Africa and the Philippines – hardly a favour to those countries either.

Gavin Lewis

The last thing we need is even more bickering about Brexit

The number of letters to The Independent expressing dismay at the Brexit debacle is reassuring, if only in the sense that it is comforting to know I am not alone in my concern. Renouncing membership of a club is perfectly reasonable, but to then demand as a non-member, rights and privileges similar to those previously enjoyed is arrogant in the extreme. The disruption and cost of this debacle will be huge.

Planet Earth, and life on it, is under greater stress than ever before. The last thing we need just now is the distraction of childish bickering about nationalism and control.

For goodness sake politicians, get your act together!

Steve Edmondson

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