November 29, 2013
October 20, 2013
In the on-camera eyes of James Brokenshire MP, Home Office minister, Aneeta Prem, founder of anti-slavery charity Freedom, and Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland, leading the 37-strong anti-trafficking unit of the Metropolitan Police.
James and his Basil Brush hair; Aneeta of the permanently raised right eyebrow; Kevin with his lower jaw pushed forward like the Churchill insurance dog – and the same blue eyes as ‘ex-slave’ Josephine Herivel.
Despite their personal differences, when interviewed about the three women freed from a South London ‘slave house’, James, Aneeta and Kevin displayed identical levels of intensity.
Instead of releasing three women from the remains of a far left sect, perhaps they’ve all been captured by a rival cult – the cult of victimhood.
Imagine the instructions from the new Comrade Bala: look intently at the interviewer. Don’t waiver, except when talking about your personal contact with the three women (blessed are their names), at which point you may allow a smile to flutter across your lips. If the interview is taking place in an informal setting, e.g. breakfast TV, studio guests will remain pert and alert to what you say.
Report to Central Committee, Cult of Victimhood. During their interviews, James, Aneeta and Kevin waved key words from the little book of bruises: shocked, relieved, psychological, traumatised. Aneeta, especially, made full use of ‘traumatised’: the victims were traumatised in captivity; they have been traumatised by current media coverage; my charity is careful to avoid causing them further trauma. These comrades have vindicated the socially progressive slogan: power grows from trauma discourse.
It’s not difficult to satirise the rituals of the cult of victimhood, as performed on a screen near you. While the week wore on, the ‘slave’ story started to wear out. More people were working it out for themselves that if this is slavery, Malcolm X must have been a WASP.
The old-fashioned face of Maria, the four-year-old found in a Roma settlement in the Greek town of Farsala. Not pinched by poverty: cheeks almost chubby. But the eyes are half-cowed and half-bullish; same with the set of the mouth. Maria’s tight-lipped half-smile is daring and humble at the same time. She looks partly like an archive photo from Victorian London; though compared to Dickens’ Little Nell she’s more bolshie and much less sentimentalised.
Who is Maria? Disregarding everything except her expression, she might be the twin sister of the truculent boy who used to be the pin-up for Track Records, photographed with what appeared to be – shock! horror! – a massive joint in his hand.
All around the world there is shock! horror! at Maria’s ash blond hair versus the uniform of gypsy poverty she is dressed in. Cheap blue trainers, grey leggings and matching top, plain white vest poking out from underneath; grubby fingers and plaits seemingly dipped in something darker. Oil, perhaps; to keep the nits away?
Excited by the prospect of her having been abducted or trafficked, charity officials and social workers are buzzing around Maria like flies. She may be better off as a result of their intervention, away from the non-stop giggle-gaggle of excitable children in the Roma settlement; and the equally excitable adults. But there are numerous, negative side-effects of the institutional process she’s now being entered into. Who knows if it’s for the best?
And who knows why young girls’ faces are writ so large? Western media have just met a girl called Maria, and the sudden elevation of her face follows on from their ongoing adoration of Maddie McCann. Meanwhile as part of the Belfast Festival, the face of a six-year-old female has just been ploughed into an 11-acre field. Two thousand tonnes of sand, two thousand tonnes of earth and a shed load of satellite technology – all in order to mark out a young girl’s face across the land.