Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry

(144 Posts)
ArabellaScott Wed 24-Mar-21 13:37:28

Article including quotes from Dawn Butler.

Noting that the man accused of killing the sisters is due a trial in June. Please be mindful if commenting that the case is pending.

This was a horribly upsetting crime, but I remember at the time how fast it seemed to slip out of the news.

Hard topics to discuss sensitively, but I thought it might be a relevant article.

OP’s posts: |
AnneofScreamFables Wed 24-Mar-21 14:18:17

I agree. This was a horrible case, and the outrage against the police (as an institution) should have been much more than it was. I remember at the time that the police actions made the news (although not as much as it should have done) and I remember feeling outraged that there were two stories here - the fact that two women had been murdered in such a way, and the fact that the police had acted as they did - and yet neither seemed to be making major headlines.

Clearly it is racism. The murder of a white woman sells newspapers in a way that the murder of a black woman does not.

Whatwouldscullydo Wed 24-Mar-21 14:22:36

I remember this. You didnt hear much about what happened after at all really sad

picklemewalnuts Wed 24-Mar-21 14:26:35

This was a terrible case, terrible crime and terrible behaviour from some officers.

I learned most about it here on MN, including the concern that the media coverage was impacted by racist lack of interest.

ArabellaScott Wed 24-Mar-21 14:31:44

I think it is also important to consider there may be a range of factors involved when it comes to media reports. I hate to sound cynical, but I think it's important we can parse out detail and consider nuance, too.

God, though, it's hard to discuss without sounding too analytical about what were three horrible and tragic murders. I am finding it hard to form thoughts coherently.

Maybe it's too soon. But then when do we have these conversations?

OP’s posts: |
ArabellaScott Wed 24-Mar-21 14:36:06

There was someone in the police caught making inappropriate remarks in the Sarah Everard case too, wasn't there?

OP’s posts: |
ImpatiensI Wed 24-Mar-21 14:43:51

Apparently it was WhatsApp messages sent. Is this something that has always happened??

I don't think it's too soon to have the conversations - others are certainly having them and pushing opinions as if they were fact. I would definitely welcome some 'nuance'.

I was well aware of the case of the sisters through media reports - I knew they were sisters and had been murdered in a park in a possibly random attack. I also heard about the actions of the police officers but totally agree there wasn't nearly enough outrage about that, it should have been headlines.

I don't even know if the officers were dismissed or just suspended?


Enb76 Wed 24-Mar-21 14:47:01

I'm not sure it is racism but I do think it is classism. I think two white sisters killed on a night out from certain addresses in the UK would also have very little reporting.

And the sisters did make the news, I remember reading about it when it happened put due to the actions of the police officers I think it was pushed under the carpet as soon as possible.

And do you remember Lorraine Cox, dismembered in September 2020
or Keeley Bunker or what about Emily Jones, a 7 year old whose throat was cut while she was out on her scooter? What press did these white females get?

stumbledin Wed 24-Mar-21 14:48:27

This has been discussed on the threads about the Clapham Vigil and the way not just the media, but all of us as readers and listeners to the news are part of it.

And without sounding too cynical it is one of those discussions that is had every now and again, but nothing chances, either in the media or in us.

This isn't a derail, but I am old enough to have read every few years ago articles where people go, why didn't we know that people from Africa and Asia volunteered and fought with the Allies in WWII. Short period of isn't this terrible that "we" dont know.

Nothing chances.

People, and specifically women did not respond to the murder of two Black sisters. People, and specifically women did respond to the murder of a lone white woman walking home alone.

The media may mold our view point, but the media also responds to what their readers reacts to.

ImpatiensI Wed 24-Mar-21 15:05:36

I think a sense of connection/recognition was the difference with Sarah's case - so I suppose you could call that classism or something but it's a very deep thing with humans.

She was first 'missing' so there was interest in that story in the media and always the hope that she might be found ok. Then the hope was smashed so that makes a deeper connection.

A lot of photos of her had been put out while she was missing so that also made me feel more personal and showed a smiling friendly looking person you feel sympathy towards (plenty of psychological studies on this) so that all adds in.

Cwenthryth Wed 24-Mar-21 15:37:24

I think a sense of connection/recognition was the difference with Sarah's case

I think this is true but it just highlights our collective racism/classism. Allowing that people may naturally feel more empathy when the victim is most ‘like them’....when it is a white MC victim, so it is white women reacting, our voices are quickly picked up and amplified by the mainstream media and so the public outcry snowballs, more people hear about it, more people react. Because there are more white people in positions of power and influence in the media and they listen to other white people and write those stories. When it is black women murdered, and the black community reacts, there are less black people in positions of power and influence in the media and black voices are not naturally, organically, automatically amplified in the way that white voices are.

I think the answer probably lies somewhere in promoting active anti-racist practice within the media. But I am no expert in this and this is all just my theory. I felt this discomfort at the disparity of response the first weekend of all this before Clapham happened, and even started to type a few posts about it but it is difficult to find the right words and felt at that point with emotions running so high it ran the risk of being interpreted as somehow derogatory to Sarah Everard. I don’t think our collective response to her death is unjustified or inappropriate in any way. But it is desperately uncomfortable, and yes, racist I think, that we do have this collective response to her death, and not Nicola Smallman & Bibaa Henry. Or, indeed, Geetika Goyal who was stabbed to death in the street in Leicester the same day Sarah Everard went missing. Or Bennylyn Burke, a Filipina woman reported missing at the beginning of March with her 2 year old daughter, bodies were found a few days ago.

sashagabadon Wed 24-Mar-21 15:45:57

I agree to a certain extent but a policeman did not murder the sisters and they were not abducted so the circumstances were different. It was quite a young man who was caught pretty quickly. I remember the murders very well and did read about them at the time. It was very shocking as a lovely June warm evening and they were out celebrating a birthday, having fun.
Plenty of murders don’t get much reporting unfortunately particularly of young men stabbed and older women too.

ImpatiensI Wed 24-Mar-21 15:57:11

Plenty of murders don’t get much reporting unfortunately particularly of young men stabbed and older women too.

Yes that's also true.

But it is desperately uncomfortable, and yes, racist I think, that we do have this collective response to her death

I feel very torn about it. Of course there is a lot of unspoken racism in UK society, no doubt about that. And definitely classism - this came up a lot in the recent documentaries about Peter Sutcliffe and the attitudes towards his victims. But also I recognise that we live in a majority white society and people are drawn to familiarity.

skeggycaggy Wed 24-Mar-21 16:01:05

Their mother, who is a C of E deacon btw, identified the response as racist & classist. She is very articulate (as you’d expect from a vicar!).

ArabellaScott Wed 24-Mar-21 16:20:49

Agree, Cwenthryth, with all that you say.

I do think that the way the story developed kept it in the news for longer than a murder being reported after the event.

I also think that there was a less visceral response because we have a majority white population and we presumably collectively empathise less with other races. There is a project to measure our unconscious bias -

Bennylyn Burke is another tragic case - god, it's heartbreaking, no wonder people avoid discussing these things and turn to rage and want to smash things up or ignore the issues instead.

Classism, too, yes.

Maybe we need to start having these terrible, difficult conversations. And make allowances for all being hurt and confused and upset and sometimes saying the wrong thing.

I lived in a part of Glasgow where the police didn't attend, women were ignored, because of 'cultural sensitiviites'. Because people wouldn't talk about race and racism and culture and culture clashes.

As with so many issues, the answer to me seems likely to lie with more dialogue, more thought, more attempts to find common ground and possible solutions.

OP’s posts: |
ArabellaScott Wed 24-Mar-21 16:22:44

Sorry, forgot to put the link in.

Test for unconscious bias.

OP’s posts: |
ImpatiensI Wed 24-Mar-21 16:24:45

@skeggycaggy she seems like a very inspiring person and yes, was very outspoken about how the Met immediately seemed to dismiss her concerns about her daughters when they realised they were 'black and lived on a council estate'.

She must be in so much pain, it's horrific.

ArabellaScott Wed 24-Mar-21 16:28:06

Yes, my heart aches for her, Impatiens.

I had remembered this wrong - the sisters were missing for two days before being found by one of their boyfriends.

OP’s posts: |
ImpatiensI Wed 24-Mar-21 16:33:27

I can't believe the sick beasts who took 'selfies' weren't instantly dismissed and charged. Dick claims she was 'dumbfounded' but the weak response says different.

ArabellaScott Wed 24-Mar-21 19:17:08

I couldn't see what happened to them. I think they were suspended, but no further news?

Without excusing it, I do wonder if it's a stress response, though.

'The use of gallows humor and dark humor during crisis situations '

OP’s posts: |
MonkeyNotOrgangrinder Wed 24-Mar-21 19:48:24

There's gallows humour...and then there's desecrating the bodies of murdered women

PotholeHellhole Wed 24-Mar-21 20:00:34

In every individual case of disparity of press coverage given to murder victims, you can always peg it on particular details, but when you step back from it, a pattern emerges.

Racism and classism.

If more press attention was initially paid to the murders of women like Nicole, Bibaa and Bennylyn, I'm sure the press would find details in their lives and deaths that could seize the nation's hearts, just as much as our hearts were seized by poor Sarah.

Veeta Wed 24-Mar-21 20:30:19

I think it’s a complicated mix of things that make one case resonate and not another. Certainly a white, middle class and attractive female victim is what the newspapers prefer. Mainly because they know what sells papers. This has to do with who people identify with (generally people like them) and also unfortunately it has something to do with what people regard as a ‘blameless’ victim. I think this where the classism and racism come in - because people often make assumptions (often unconsciously) about which behaviours are more likely in some groups than others. There are also cases where the perpetrator is the ‘wrong type’ of person for certain newspapers. I would say the case of Lorraine cox is perhaps a good example of this. This is not a case that newspapers such as the guardian are going to focus on because of the fact that the perpetrator is an asylum seeker. There’s also the victim blaming side because of her having apparently consensual, drunken sex with her murderer. But it’s an horrific case, and most people have not heard of it.

PurpleWh1teGreen Wed 24-Mar-21 20:55:34

I'm honestly not sure I agree there wasn't any publicity. There was plenty of coverage at the time, I remember a tribute from their mother and an article about the sister that worked in social care.

I wonder if this has more to do with people turning away from the news in the past year.

LizzieSiddal Wed 24-Mar-21 21:50:13

I remember the case being very briefly on the news, right near the end of the bulletin and being incensed that it wasn’t getting more coverage. If those women had been two white sisters there would undoubtable have been much more.

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in