“GIVE ME SHELTER” pleads the headline, as the Sun launches its campaign for women’s refuges. Managing editor Stig Abell clearly thought this was A Very Good Thing, as he Tweeted out the cover image overnight. And the cause is indeed a deserving one. That is not the problem: that the Sun has sat on its hands for years, and only now decided to leap out in front of the bandwagon, certainly is.
What also jars is the way in which Abell and his pals have attempted to seize the moral high ground over the issue, exemplified during the day when he became most indignant with campaigner Jack Monroe at her observation “Dear @StigAbell Perhaps if your newspaper hadn't championed the party cutting domestic abuse support, your campaign might seem less hollow”. And she supported the Greens, y’know!
Stig was not happy: “Objecting to a positive, constructive campaign based on your own politics is hollow”. It wasn’t a political response, but hey ho. The man otherwise known as Joe Public tried to show Abell that the Sun did not have a record of sweetness and light when it came to exploiting women. And Jo Liptrott reminded him “It's the objectification & dehumanising of women in The Sun which gives validation to violence against women”.
What might also be causing scepticism among those observing this latest exhibition of the Sun coming over all caring and campaigning is that it has been silent on the subject for so long. As far back as January 2013, the Guardian was warning “Social care is bearing the brunt of council cuts … Statistical manipulation disguises the fact that disabled people are being hit the hardest by cuts to benefits and services”.
It wasn’t just the disabled, though, as Women’s Aid warned the following December: “As 155 women and more than 100 children turned away from refuges in one day … Women’s Aid, the national domestic violence charity, is declaring a state of crisis in domestic violence services today, as the charity’s Annual Survey reveals shocking gaps in funding and provision for women experiencing domestic violence”.
It got worse: in August last year, the Guardian warned “Women's groups say broadscale closure of safe houses putting support for some of most vulnerable people back 40 years … Polly Neate, chief executive of Women's Aid, said a dearth of experience on commissioning bodies was putting the system back to when the first domestic violence refuge in the world opened, in Chiswick, west London, in 1971”.