Via The F-Word, Samantha Orobator has not been sentenced to death.

It’s a sad world when this is the best we can hope for.


However, this is the world we’ve got, and these are the circumstances we’ve got, and in any case, staying alive is pretty bloody vital, generally speaking. Here’s hoping for a her speedy return to the UK.

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Recently, Kirsten drew my attention to a story reported under the headline “Laos mum-to-be ‘denied uk lawyer'”.

Long story short, Rebecca reminded me in comments that you can in fact do more than just whinge on blogs; you can whinge on the BBC website, too! So, I did.

On Tuesday, I got a response, which I’ve only just noticed. In all honesty, I’m not entirely sure what to make of it, but it’s a positive outcome, and I suppose that’s the main thing. Have a look for yourselves:

"Rachel,

We have only a short space in headlines to sum up the substance of the
story. While "mum-to-be" could be construed as having positive
connotations, it is in fact a phrase we should not be using anyway, as
we prefer not to use informal terms such as mum, dad and kid. I have
amended the existing headline and will ensure we are more thoughtful
about future stories concering Ms Orobator.

Kind regards,

**********
News website"

Indeed. Of course, the word they’ve replaced it with – “prisoner” – is a good couple of characters shorter than the original, and no less accurate. And effectively saying “well, you might be right, but I’ve removed it for an entirely different reason” is a bit strange. But they have changed it, and they have replied to me, and it’s not a bad reply, all things considered.

What do other people think?

Whose clever idea was it to describe Samantha Orobator (previously mentioned here) as “Laos Mum-To-Be”?

Oh, that’s right.

It was the BBC.


Despite the fact that within the article, we see that “doctors and the UK Foreign Office had said Miss Orobator had become pregnant while in jail. The Laotian government has claimed she had been pregnant when arrested.

So the pregnancy was being reported as something that was worrying. Something that should be fairly uncontentious, being argued about. Not an uncomplicated, anticipated, exciting pregnancy. Not a happy announcement. Not a tidbit of celebrity gossip. And certainly not something that you’d want to give a flippant title to.


This article is not the most recent news of Ms. Orobator – that’s here, as far as I can see – and if Kirsten hadn’t mentioned it to me, I wouldn’t have seen it. Now that I have, I’m sickened. Seeing “sex” in headlines when they mean “rape” is bad enough, but to refer to a woman who has most likely been raped in prison as a “mum-to-be“, when her pregnancy means that she’s living with the physical evidence of her rape growing inside her...
How can you even put words to how inappropriate that is?

ETA: I did get a reply when I wrote to the BBC about it, which I’ve posted up here.

It’s a Bank Holiday here in sunny England, which means that I have a decent excuse for being late with my Weekend News-Surfing. The other decent excuse is, of course, that this is the first real day off I’ve had since Sunday last week – that is, seven days ago. Hence the strange thinking. Remember, children, the 48-hour working time directive was put in for a reason: so that temps could opt out of it! Of course, I jest. I haven’t opted out of it, per se – I just study full-time and temp to make sure I can eat each week. The total is more than 48 hours’ work, let me tell you. Especially once you include housework in the mix. Which I reckon I can do, because if I were doing it for someone else it would be considered work. Anyway. My financial and temporal predicament (i.e, not enough hours in the day) is not the concern of this site. So, to business:

Samantha Orobator, who has been imprisoned in Laos since August 2008, is now five months pregnant and facing death by firing squad for allegedly entering the country with 1.5lb of heroin. The question that has either not been asked or answered is, of course, how did she end up pregnant whilst in prison? Given that “British Embassy officials, including the Ambassador, have visited Miss Orobator a total of six times since her arrest… limited to a period of about 20 minutes once a month“, I rather doubt that any kind of significant other would have had more luck seeing her. Time will tell.

Continuing the theme of pregnancy stories I wish hadn’t happened, a woman in Dubai has been found guilty of manslaughter after she was involved in a traffic accident, nine months pregnant, which caused the death of her foetus. I’ve seen arguments about the criminalisation of abortion, and what that might lead to, and this story is one of those things. I wish with all my heart that this had stayed a hypothetical argument.

Moving on, I have a strange feeling of deja-vu: “These kind of incidents, in such a busy area, are very rare, however I would like to reinforce personal safety advice for women in the area, not to walk alone during the hours of darkness and to contact police if they feel threatened at any time“. Such are the words of wisdom of Det Insp Andy Cunliffe, after an 18 year old woman was raped behind a pub in Bolton. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. That’s not fucking helpful. Women go out. True story. Some women work in pubs. Also true. What do you think they should do, sleep in the pub till morning? What if they’re raped in the pub? And does anybody else remember this story? The one where the police ignored that woman who repeated told them she was afraid that she’d be killed? Remember how she ended up dead?

The BBC have also got hold of the story about the 17 year old Australian boy, Alex, who has got permission from the courts to have a double mastectomy. Catholic groups are predictably outraged, but he’s also been taking hormone treatment to prevent menstruation, which I think probably counts as “birth control”. Why they’re outraged about the breast removal and not that, I can’t fathom. At least the BBC got the pronouns right, even if they did start the article by calling Alex a girl. Beppie over at Hoyden About Town is suitably enraged with one of the less considerate Australian publications for not managing to grasp this rather simple concept.

Finishing up for the evening, I’ve got one good piece of entertainment news, one bad. Bad would be Andrew Sachs thanking Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand for “raising his profile“. Good to know that a nasty, spiteful act of misogyny doesn’t matter when fame’s involved, even if it was regarding his granddaughter. So much for the old “but what if it was your [insert female relative here]?!” argument.

Good news, which isn’t really news, but pleases me, is Carol Ann Duffy becoming Poet Laureate. And saying that she’ll give away the money, but she wants the butt of sack (600 bottles of Sherry) upfront. That is many kinds of awesome. And I have fond memories of my notoriously grumpy English Lit teacher reading Frau Freud aloud, realising that not one of her 17-year-old students would be persuaded to read a list of synonyms for “penis”. Especially not when that list included “love-muscle”.