“I DON’T give a toss, love.” That’s what Geoffrey Boycott said about the criticism surrounding his new knighthood given that he was convicted of assaulting his then girlfriend in 1998.
But given that this was also the week it was announced that the number of women killed as a result of domestic violence in the UK is at its highest level in five years I really think he needs to give a toss. And he should be stripped of his honour — and fast.
Let’s be clear about this: Geoffrey Boycott was not just accused of domestic violence. He was convicted, in France, of beating Margaret Moore in a hotel on the Riviera.
She was left with bruising to her forehead and black eyes. The photos were in The Sun yesterday. They are horrific. We mustn’t normalise this kind of violence, or allow ourselves to see it as trivial, which is the message sent by KNIGHTING the man responsible.
Boycott has always denied the charge, maintaining that her injuries were sustained in an accidental fall. But at the trial, public prosecutor Jean-Yves Duval rejected this claim, saying the injuries were “absolutely incompatible” with an accident.
So the real question in my mind is why did Theresa May grant Boycott the gong in the first place — given that she also introduced the Domestic Violence Bill to Parliament earlier this year?
We can only conclude that she either doesn’t believe he attacked his ex-partner. Or she doesn’t care that he did. Either way, it’s not great.
Because giving this man a knighthood is sending the message that his sporting achievements matter more than his record of violence against women. It is sending the message that women don’t matter, and domestic violence is not taken seriously as a crime.
No wonder domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid’s Adina Claire said it was “extremely disappointing” that Boycott had been given a knighthood.
And I know that Boycott trades on his reputation as a straight-talking Yorkshireman, but his response to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme presenter Martha Kearney said it all.
When she raised Claire’s comments, Boycott said: “I don’t give a toss about her, love. It’s 25 years ago, so you can take your political nature and do whatever you want with it.”
It doesn’t matter how long ago it was, men who beat up their partners shouldn’t be rewarded for it. And it doesn’t matter if they are famous, or highly regarded in Yorkshire, or really good at sport.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CRISIS
Clearly, though, in Boycott’s mind this knighthood is long-deserved and hard-earned. He had to apologise a couple of years ago after “joking” that he would have to “black up” to be given a knighthood, reportedly saying they were handed out to West Indian cricketers “like confetti”.
Apparently he said: “Mine’s been turned down twice. I’d better black me face.”
Clearly he thinks we should all turn a blind eye to his misdemeanors of the past, for which he shows not an ounce of remorse. Sure, he maintains he isn’t guilty, but just supposing you were wrongly accused of domestic violence. . . well, you would give a toss, wouldn’t you?
In fact, wouldn’t you take every chance to strenuously deny your guilt, rather than not giving a toss, love. (Don’t even get me started on his patronising and diminishing use of the word “love” to an experienced radio presenter).
When Margaret Moore won her case against Boycott she requested only one French franc in damages — I guess because she knew that people would otherwise accuse her of being in it for the money. As if any woman wants to become known for being a victim of domestic violence.
How long will it take us to learn that just because someone is a national or a sporting hero, it doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of committing all sorts of heinous crimes? And when will we stop seeing fame as a reason to let people bypass the rules — and the consequences — that everyone else lives by.
The severity of the domestic violence crisis in this country cannot be overestimated. Women are dying. A LOT of women are dying every week at the hands of partners and former partners.
And as long as we continue to not only turn a blind eye but — far, far worse — reward men responsible, then it’s only going to get worse.
Iran laws cruel to women
IRANIAN women’s rights activist Sahar Khodayari, 30, who suffered burns to 90 per cent of her body after setting herself on fire outside court to protest a six-month jail sentence, died this week.
Her crime? Trying to attend a football match. Iranian women were banned from attending men’s games in the country in the wake of the Islamic revolution in 1979.
Sahar was arrested in March this year at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium while trying to sneak into a stadium dressed as a man to watch a match between her favourite team, Esteghlal, and Al Ain, a side from the United Arab Emirates.
She was charged with “improperly wearing a hijab” and insulting police, and appeared in court early last week, when she learned of the potential sentence.
She then set herself alight outside the court.
Let’s all spare a thought for women in Iran, who are not equal under the country’s constitution, which treats them as “half a man”.
To say that the regime there is oppressive is an understatement. Iranian law favours men and restricts the role of women, for whom the hijab is mandatory when in public, and all hair and skin, except the face and hands, must be covered.
The Iranian Civil Code gives power to a husband to prevent his wife from taking any job he considers to be incompatible with the family interest or the dignity of the husband or his wife.
And women have no legal protection against domestic violence or sexual harassment by anyone. It reads like an episode of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Bum deal for swim champion
THE fact that a teenage swimmer in the States has had a victory taken away for “exposing too much buttocks” is nothing short of outrageous.
State championship entrant Breckynn Willis, 17, was told she had been disqualified from the race in Anchorage, Alaska, after crushing the competition in the 100m freestyle.
The decision to revoke her victory is apparently based on the “modesty rule”. I’m sorry, but they need to give the trophy back. She wore a swimsuit issued to her by her coaches. And the rule sounds positively Victorian.
Guess what? Women have boobs and bums. But this ruling seems to imply that there is something immodest about that. Is it any wonder our young women have body issues?
SENSATIONAL – that is the only word to describe Geena Davis as she arrived at the Deauville American Film Festival in France on Tuesday.
For a start, it’s impossible to believe she is 63. But I’m sure I speak for most of us when I say that I wouldn’t mind looking even half as elegant and stylish as she does – no matter what my age.
App-y ending for Jesy
HUGE respect to Little Mix star Jesy Nelson for being brave enough to talk so openly about her experience of cyber-bullying and trolling in her BBC documentary Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out.
In the show she talks about reading negative comments about herself after she found fame on The X Factor in 2011, saying: “I had a routine of waking up, going on Twitter, searching for the worst things I could about myself.”
At her lowest point Jesy attempted suicide but, luckily, she came up with a brilliant solution: She deleted the Twitter app from her phone. And just like that, the bullies were silenced.
The impact they had on her, though, was huge. I hope the cyber bullies watched this show and realised the devastating power that words can have.
Look like Karren Brady
MY heart went out to Renee Zellweger, who recalled a painful experience when she overheard strangers trashing her appearance while she was on a train in London five years ago.
“Why would she go and have surgery on her face like we wouldn’t know?” they apparently said. “She doesn’t look like herself.”
All I can say is I know the feeling. I’ve not been accused of having plastic surgery. But I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been told on the Tube that I look like Karren Brady but can’t be because she’s fat.
Knife jibe Asan just had to go
THERE had to be consequences for Emmerdale actor Asan N’Jie threatening to “knife” Hollyoaks’s Jamie Lomas at Monday night’s TV Choice Awards.
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The footage shows Asan throwing punches at Jamie while anyone in their vicinity had to dodge out of their way.
The irony of the fact that Asan has been involved in a knife attack storyline in ITV’s Emmerdale is surely not lost on most of us.
There was no choice but to sack him. How can you threaten to knife someone and still expect to appear on a family soap? What kind of example does this send young people?
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