British transgender organisations expressed support for JK Rowling after Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun newspaper featured a front-page story about her ex-husband’s lack of remorse for domestic abuse during their marriage. Trans groups along with MPs and other charities condemned the newspaper for glorifying violence against women.
The Sun‘s headline on Thursday read, “I slapped JK Rowling and I’m not sorry.”
A journalist for the Murdoch tabloid door-stopped Rowling’s ex-husband in Portugal to obtain the quote.
JK Rowling married Jorges Arantes in 1992 following a whirlwind romance. She gave birth to her daughter Jessica during the marriage. However, she left with her child after only 18 months. She previously hinted that violence contributed to the breakdown of the marriage.
Arantes later lost his job due to drug use. It is believed he has not worked since and survives on benefits. Rowling went on to write the Harry Potter books and became a billionaire.
JK Rowling’s blog post
Earlier in the week, JK Rowling published a 3,600-word blog post on her personal website. She wrote the post to explain her beliefs regarding transgender people and the reasoning that led to them. In the post, she mentioned that she experienced domestic violence in her marriage to Arantes. However, she also pointed out she didn’t need sympathy and described herself as ‘extraordinarily fortunate’.
It appears that post inspired The Sun to send a journalist in search of Jorges Arantes.
Arante admitted to slapping the author but denied that amounted to abuse.
“I slapped Joanne — but there was not sustained abuse. I’m not sorry for slapping her.
“If she says that, that’s up to her. It’s not true I hit her…
“Yes. It is true I slapped her. But I didn’t abuse her.”
Reaction to The Sun‘s headline
Disability advocate Nicky Clark explained on Twitter the problems with the sensationalist approach taken by the Murdoch paper.
“I see The Sun has chosen to track down JK Rowling’s abuser. This is why women think very carefully about detailing domestic violence because it often continues and increases the abuse and trauma. Her courage in detailing it, knowing what she’d be subjected to is incredible.”
British trans charities Mermaids and Gendered Intelligence also offered support to the author despite their reservations about her opinions on trans issues.
Mermaids said the media should not exploit victims for the sake of sales.
We condemn today’s front page of The Sun newspaper. As a trans charity, our staff deal with cases of domestic abuse regularly and we hold unquestioning solidarity with all victims of domestic violence. No victim or vulnerable group should be used to sell newspapers. https://t.co/Dyd30OSl6a
— Mermaids (@Mermaids_Gender) June 12, 2020
Gendered Intelligence said they condemned the newspaper giving voice to Rowling’s abuser.
Solidarity with JK Rowling as a national newspaper cruelly gives voice to her abuser. We are united in condemning this – we won’t be played off as enemies in this fight. Trans people fall victim to the same systems of oppression and stand against all violence against all women.
— Gendered Intelligence (@Genderintell) June 12, 2020
Seemingly in response to the outrage, The Sun later posted an article detailing domestic violence campaigns the paper supported over previous years.
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