What kind of country tolerates police seizing people’s books?

Justice - blindfold figure with scales

Yep, it happened. It happened in Wales. As one woman put it to me recently, surely that’s a red line for everyone.

This was a gathering in support of a woman who was arrested, detained for ten hours, and has been messed about ever since. The police searched her house, and took a book they didn’t like the look of.

Newport: group photo

At the gathering, one woman spoke of the appallingly low rate of convictions for rape in the region, compared to the very high number of reports. It had, she said, reached the point where despite the police forces’ many claims that they intend to challenge it, violence against women is more or less treated as legal.

Merched Cymru speaker

But they will arrest, detain and be-bother a woman for an alleged misdemeanour (sticking stickers to lamp posts) and confiscate a book.

Another woman spoke about how women are bullied and harassed in universities, in an attempt to scare them off talking about women’s rights or setting up female-only projects. She spoke about how university authorities do nothing to defend them.

Newport: student speaker

The universities also had nothing to say about a woman being arrested, detained and be-bothered for an alleged misdemeanour and even – THE UNIVERSITIES had nothing to say about the police seizing A BOOK?

Another woman spoke about the importance of basing our politics and our social life on reality, so that we can see how to treat everyone fairly. She spoke about politicians – mentioning no David Lammys – who really needed to do some research to re-discover reality.

Newport: reality speaker

I guess what those politicians need is to do some reading. I guess we can trust them to choose their own books … but they had nothing to say about a woman being arrested, detained and be-bothered, and having a book seized by police – but then perhaps they are the same politicians who are currently winking at the censoring of our media and banning of our books, films and even advertisements of anything that might confuse us by looking Russian.

Book cover: born in your own body

But this book that Gwent police seized from a woman’s house wasn’t a Russian book. It wasn’t a book about bomb-making, it was nothing to do with the war, it wasn’t pornography, or violent, or anything like that – it was a book containing a series of essays from different people, including a transwoman, about their different takes on why we are suddenly seeing so many kids wanting to be, or thinking they are, the opposite sex.

Are there any adults out there please? There were representatives of a wide variety of women’s groups here, including two groups from the Labour Party (where’s the solidarity, comrades?)

Will anyone stand up for the right of the citizens of this country to own, and read, any damned book they personally find useful?

Justice for Women leaflet for Newport event

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