Recent work

poolI’ve got a column in the latest issue of the New Humanist (out now) following up on the long piece I wrote about attacks on secularists in Bangladesh. The column looks at rising intolerance across India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, and at some of the historical reasons for this.

These tensions were enforced by colonisation and then by Partition; divisions encouraged to cement power. Occasional outbursts of horrific communal violence have punctuated the Subcontinent since it was carved up at the end of the British Empire. Indeed, India and Pakistan were born amidst bloody Hindu-Muslim riots in 1947 that left an estimated 1 million people dead.

I also wrote something for The Pool, looking at the rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes in the UK in the aftermath of the horrendous terror attacks in Paris. My piece took as its starting point the Sun’s headline that one in five British Muslims has “sympathy with jihad” and focused particularly on violence against hijab-wearing Muslim women.

The Sun’s headline, bigoted as it is, does not exist in a vacuum. It is the natural product of a political and media culture that demonises British Muslims at every opportunity, creating the spectre of a terrifying “enemy within”. This has real consequences.

I’ve also continued to report on UK politics for Deutsche Welle, including this article on Britain’s relationship with India and China, and this on David Cameron’s plans for airstrikes on Syria. I regularly interview different people for the New Humanist, where I’m assistant editor. One recent example is this Q&A with David Wootton, the author of a new book on the history of science. And I wrote this article for Index on Censorship about the situation for atheist bloggers in Bangladesh.

Domestic slavery in the UK

Pakistani bride Najma Khalil folds her hI’ve written a feature for the November issue of the New Internationalist magazine. It looks at the phenomenon of women, sent to the United Kingdom for arranged marriages from India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, who are then subjected to domestic slavery. It is a distressing but important topic, and I spoke to campaigners – including Southall Black Sisters – about the progress that has already been made, as well as to two women who managed to escape from this nightmarish situation.

Campaigners say that around 500 women every year face a similar situation. Brought to the UK as the wives of British citizens, these women – primarily from India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan – face brutal domestic violence and enslavement. Domestic violence is always under-reported, but in this instance this is compounded by the uncertain immigration status of these women. If someone has come to the UK on a spousal visa, the marriage must last for two years before that person automatically has the leave to remain in the UK.

Here’s the cutting, and I’ll post a link when the piece is online.

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