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Outrage at UK story 'justifying' JK Rowling abuse


Agence France-Presse

London, United Kingdom  /  Sat, June 13, 2020  /  11:03 am
Outrage at UK story 'justifying' JK Rowling abuse

Author J.K. Rowling arrives at the RFK Ripple of Hope Awards at New York Hilton Midtown on December 12, 2019 in New York City. (AFP/Dia Dipasupil)

Domestic abuse campaigners on Friday expressed outrage at a front-page story in Britain's The Sun tabloid where the ex-husband of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling defended hitting her.

Rowling revealed this week that she suffered domestic abuse in her first marriage, and a "serious sexual assault" in her twenties.

The Sun carried an interview on Friday with the British author's first husband, Jorge Arantes, under the front page headline: "I slapped JK and I'm not sorry."

It said that when asked about her comments, he said: "I slapped Joanne -- but there was not sustained abuse. I'm not sorry for slapping her."

Jane Keeper, director of operations at domestic abuse charity Refuge, said the headline "is as irresponsible as it is disappointing".

"What this has done is give national media coverage to a perpetrator of domestic abuse to attempt to justify his actions," she said.

She said the headline was particularly "shocking" given the timing, with calls to Refuge's abuse helpline increasing by 66 percent during the coronavirus lockdown.

"What sort of message does this front page send to survivors? That their abuser will be given national media headlines to justify their actions? That their abuse is legitimate? That it doesn't matter?" she asked.

Read also: J.K. Rowling says she is survivor of sexual assault

Scottish Women's Aid, a charity in Scotland where Rowling now lives, said the front page was "repulsive".

"Hundreds of thousands of women and children in Scotland who are living with, or have survived, the terror and trauma of domestic abuse just got a virtual slap by The Sun. For profit," it said.

For decades, victims of abuse have chosen not to speak out because the community around them "would minimize their pain and betrayal and use their words against them", it said. 

"Their abuser would use the platform to shame and blame them. And nothing would change. Today The Sun is that abuser," it said.

In a statement, The Sun said it was "disgusted" by the comments made by Rowling's ex-husband and noted it had branded him "sick" in its coverage.

"It was certainly not our intention to 'enable' or 'glorify' domestic abuse, our intention was to expose a perpetrator's total lack of remorse. Our sympathies are always with the victims," it said.

Rowling revealed her abuse in a lengthy blog post in which she sought to explain her comments about transgender women, which have sparked controversy.

She has emphasized the importance of biological sex and expressed concern about women-only spaces, but has been accused being transphobic and faced intense abuse on social media.

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