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Finally, men are standing up for women – and about time too… writes JENNI MURRAY

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I had promised myself this column would be football-free throughout the World Cup. Even at a distance I couldn’t allow myself to support a country where women have zero control over their own lives, homosexuality can lead to a death sentence and the safety of the workers who built those ‘state of the art’ stadia was completely disregarded. 

I must break that vow to express my admiration for the Iranian team. Eleven men risked so much to stand in silence, refusing to sing their national anthem, as they prepared for their match against England. The Iranians must fear much more than a mere yellow card for their defiance. By keeping silent they expressed their support for those in Iran protesting for women’s rights after the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody. 

The 22-year-old Iranian Kurd was arrested by Iran’s morality police for failing to cover her hair properly with a hijab. Sources report that since her death on September 16, at least 378 people, including 47 children and 27 women, have been killed in the crackdown by the Iranian security forces. 

Eleven men risked so much to stand in silence, refusing to sing their national anthem, as they prepared for their match against England. By doing so, the Iranian football team expressed support for those in Iran protesting for women’s rights after the death

Eleven men risked so much to stand in silence, refusing to sing their national anthem, as they prepared for their match against England. By doing so, the Iranian football team expressed support for those in Iran protesting for women’s rights after the death

One young footballer, acknowledging a degree of risk he might face for his protest, wrote on Instagram: ‘At worst I’ll be kicked out of the national team, which is a small price to pay for even a single strand of Iranian women’s hair. Shame on you for killing the people.’

At last, the most masculine of young men having the guts to say the rights of women are human rights — and risk their own life’s work for saying it. 

For so long, we women have struggled to protect ourselves against misogyny and male violence. Very few of us have escaped entirely unscathed. 

City streets have long been a frightening place with groups of young men making obscene suggestions as you walk home from a night out with friends. It was particularly scary when I did a short spell in TV in Leeds at the height of the Yorkshire Ripper’s appalling activities. 

We wrote about it, we railed at the ludicrous behaviour of the police who were dismissive of the danger as long as they thought it was ‘only prostitutes’ who were at risk. We organised and attended marches where we tried to ‘reclaim the night’. Women have done their best to make men realise we do not exist only for the purpose of raising their children, looking after their homes and being available for their sexual pleasure. 

Jenni Murray (pictured)  says it's masculine of young men having the guts to say the rights of women are human rights

Jenni Murray (pictured)  says it’s masculine of young men having the guts to say the rights of women are human rights

Laws have been changed to make rape and domestic violence be understood as the heinous crimes they are. The #MeToo movement revealed how many millions of women have been used and abused. And, yes, the feminist movement has never let up on its denunciation of misogyny, demanding that women be treated with respect by all men. It should have been enough, but it was not. 

Violence against women is still depressingly common. Looking at the headlines in the last seven days, we have learned that a predator Jordan McSweeney sexually assaulted and murdered a law graduate, Zara Aleena, while she was walking home in East London this summer. On the same day, we found out that failings in the police had contributed to the deaths of Raneem Oudeh and her mother, Khaola Saleem. They were murdered in 2018 by Oudeh’s abusive, estranged husband. 

A day earlier, Andrew Burfield was jailed for the brutal murder of his former girlfriend Katie Kenyon. He’d claimed accidental death from throwing an axe. He had, though, dug her grave the day before. On and on these horrors go. 

But I have concluded that things can only change for the better — especially now women have been joined by the good men we know exist, men who are as horrified by the violence as we are. So, well done to those young Iranians for taking up the cause. 

Congratulations to the new Prime Minister for finally realising he was wrong to ‘take for granted’ the safety of women and girls walking home. Funny how it took his 11-year-old daughter wanting to walk to school alone to make him realise there’s a problem he could try to do something about. More police on the streets, maybe, and more offenders banged up, might be some progress. The message that this must be a campaign which includes everyone is, I hope, finally getting through. 

While at the cinema the other day, I was delighted to see the Government’s Enough ad campaign up there with the trailers. In it, a group of lads gather round a young woman at a bus stop. She’s harassed and hassled until one of the guys speaks up and says such behaviour is wrong. She gets onto the bus in tears, but safe. 

Tomorrow is White Ribbon Day, set up for men to oppose violence against women. It coincides with International Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women. Men aren’t being asked to take over the fight we’ve fought for so long, but to be supportive allies. 

They must speak up. So many men balk at listening to women — but might just hear what a fellow man has to say. It’s time. Wear a white ribbon, guys. Show you’re with us.

Rishi wife’s tax is not his to share 

Rishi Sunak is the first Prime Minister since David Cameron to announce that he will publish his tax return. But he won't make his wife, Akshata Murty's return public

Rishi Sunak is the first Prime Minister since David Cameron to announce that he will publish his tax return. But he won’t make his wife, Akshata Murty’s return public

Rishi Sunak has announced he will publish his tax return, making him the first Prime Minister to do so since David Cameron. He won’t be making his wife, Akshata Murty’s, return public, as is perfectly proper. 

It used to be the case that a wife’s income had to be declared on her husband’s return. Only in 1990 did that change. A married woman now has independence and privacy in financial matters. I’m sure Rishi benefits from Akshata’s vast assets but, no, he doesn’t have to tell us. 

  • A psychologist, Dr Aric Sigman, says children shouldn’t taste alcohol too young (the NHS recommends 15 at the earliest) to prevent addiction in later life. Funny that. My parents didn’t drink. I first tried alcohol at 15. I should be immune from danger. So how come I became so fond of wine o’clock? 

Oh why can’t they just put it away! 

Naturism is said to have surged since lockdown with nearly seven million Britons now claiming to be naturists

Naturism is said to have surged since lockdown with nearly seven million Britons now claiming to be naturists 

It’s hard to believe in November, when most of us are rationing the heating to an hour a day and wearing at least two jumpers, but naturism is said to have surged since lockdown. Nearly seven million Britons now claim to be naturists, with hiking, ten-pin bowling and visiting art galleries in the altogether on their list of pastimes. What madness is this? One group of nudists in Kent wanted an evening in the local pub. It was banned after complaints. Good. If you want to be starkers at home, that’s entirely up to you, but I don’t want to bump into a bunch of naked ramblers! Just put your clothes on, please. 

Shameful sexism on I’m A Celeb 

Jenni Murray was upset to see three women, including Sue Cleaver, 59, (pictured) be the first three campmates evicted from I'm A Celebrity

Jenni Murray was upset to see three women, including Sue Cleaver, 59, (pictured) be the first three campmates evicted from I’m A Celebrity 

Very sorry to see that the first three campmates evicted from I’m A Celebrity were women — two young, bubbly and black; one white and 59. All three pulled their weight with the cleaning and cooking. I can’t help but assume racism and sexism on the part of viewers. It’s utterly shameful. 

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