About Merete Svendsen

Final year BA (Hons) Multi-Media Journalism student at Bournemouth University. My work has been published by the Daily Mail, London Evening Standard, Metro, Yahoo! UK, MSN, Virgin Media, OK! Magazine, Star Magazine and others.

EU to ban film on victims of rape in Afghanistan

London based film-maker, Clementine Malpas, has been threatened with legal action by the European Union after making a documentary that exposed the abuse of women in Afghanistan.

The EU hired  Ms Malpas, 30, to highlight the life of battered wives and rape victims convicted of moral crimes by anti-female Afghan courts. But only 24 hours before the film was due to be delivered, EU officials stated that they did not want to “upset relations with the justice institutions” in Afghanistan.

Ms Malpas is now accused of breaching her contract after breaching her contract after claims the film was screened for outside viewers.

She obtained written consent to film Gulnaz, 19, who was jailed for 12 years for adultery after being raped, and Farida, 26, also jailed for adultery after fleeing her abusive husband. Both women risked their personal safety to speak up and the EU insists that it is protecting them by hiding their identities.

An EU spokesman said: “The woman and their families must be protected, which means their identities can under no circumstances be revealed. The film in its current state does not conceal the persons in question.”

Ms Malpas, who has produced a number of human rights films in Africa, told the London Evening Standard: “It is the women’s choice to tell their stories and I admire their clever-eyed courage. It is not for us to veto their votes.”

These women are well aware of the fact that they’re putting their own and their families’ lives at risk in order to tell their horror stories. They have made up their mind, so who are the EU to dictate what they’re allowed to say? These women’s bravery should be applauded – not shut down.

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Commuters warned of 30-minute wait for a train during Olympics

Tube and rail travellers will have to wait at least half an hour to board trains at “hotspot” stations during peak hours at the Olympic, transport chiefs admitted earlier this week.

Passengers will be held in lengthy queues or will have to walk to alternative stations, according to the first detailed forecasts of public transport and road demand during the Games.

The busiest station will be London Bridge, with Transport for London (TfL) forecasting delays of at least half an hour during the two-hour evening peak every day during the Games. Other “hotspots” include Bank, Canary Wharf, Canada Water and Bond Street.

                                                        Photo by: Qsimple

Volunteers will be situated at hotspot stations issuing travel advice and walking maps. The second stage of TfL’s public information campaign will start early next year and target commuters rather than business. It will profile a further 30 Tube stations and provide travel advice for weekend journeys.

Transport bosses admit that disruption will be much worse if they cannot achieve a 20 per cent reduction in passenger journeys during the Games by persuading commuters to change their travel patterns.

Major challenges are also expected on Monday August 13th, the day after the closing ceremony, with an exodus of teams and their entourages to airports on what will be the busiest day in Heathrow’s history.

In addition to this, motorists have officially been urged not to drive to or through “hotspots”, such as sports venues or cultural festivals and not to take the car during rush hours. People have also been recommended to work from home during the Olympics.

What they don’t seem to take into consideration is the fact that most people are not in a situation where they can work from home for a few weeks. They’re also failing to recognise that many people live miles and miles away from their workplace and walking in every morning would take hours. Then again, it would probably be quicker than getting on the tube…

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Yvonne Ridley interviews now published

A series of interviews with British journalist, broadcaster and human rights activist, Yvonne Ridley has now been published on the Spectacle website.

To watch them, please visit our Guantánamo archive pages.

Please note that these interviews were conducted during a screening, hence the occasional background noise.

Order Spectacle’s DVD Outside The Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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REO collapses into administration

Real Estate Opportunities has been put into administration by a UK judge after its owners failed to repay debts of £501m owed to Lloyds Banking Group and Ireland’s National Management Asset Agency (NAMA).

Administrators Ernst & Young have taken control of the Grade II listed red-brick building and will now either sell the site or the debt to recover the amount owed. The creditors initially called in the loans on 29 November and REO was inviting offers for its controlling stake in the site soon after.

Lloyds told the Guardian: “From the outset we have been determined to secure a buyer who will kickstart the regeneration of Battersea Power Station and we have done everything possible to give the owners both the time and financial support to achieve this.”

“However, after several months of discussions and still no acceptable offers on the table, administration is the only means we have to ensure that a sales process is put back on track. Without a financially stable owner, the site’s future remains unclear and that’s a situation we want to avoid.”

Keith Garner of the Battersea Power Station Community Group, which opposed the Irish company’s plans, called for the power station to be returned to the public sector, with repairs to be funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The group said on its blog: “For the Battersea Power Station Community Group it is just another ‘new beginning’ as the fourth developer limps off stage to boos and jeers.”

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Intervju med Yleisradio/Rundradion

Vår egen Mark Saunders, ägare av Spectacle, har blivit intervjuat av Charlotta Hedman från Yleisradio/Rundradion angående OS i London sommarn 2012. Vi tycker det är jätteroligt att våran dokumentärfilm har blivit uppdagat i Skandinavien också, och hoppas att fler upptäcker den efter detta.

Ni kan lyssna på hela intervjun här:


En skriftlig versjon av intervjun, Inte ett OS för alla, hittar ni vid att clicka in på Yleisradios/Rundradions hemsida.

Havelange leaves IOC just days before hearing

Joao Havelange has resigned from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) just days before an ethics commission was due to deliver their findings on allegations he received bribes when FIFA president.

With his resignation the investigation is likely to be dropped on the  grounds that the committee no longer have jurisdiction over him.

Fifa also confirmed Havelange’s resignation adding: “Fifa has taken note of Joao Havelange’s resignation as IOC member and the fact that the IOC has closed the case accordingly.”

The 95-year-old  was the IOC’s longest-serving member having joined in 1963. He served as Fifa president between 1974 and 1978, before he was replaced by Sepp Blatter.

Two other IOC members, International Association of Athletics Federations president Lamine Diack and Issa Hayatou, president of the Confederation of African Football, will have their cases considered by the committee on Thursday.

Olympic ceremonies will cost another £40m

The budget for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic opening and closing ceremonies has been doubled to over £80 million, it was announced today.

Ministers blamed the increased cost of security on the recruitment of 23 700 security guards to work at more than 100 competition and training venues. This brings the taxpayer’s contribution to venue security to £533 million. With the policing bill set at £475 million, the overall cost of Olympic security is now £1 billion.

Delivering the Government’s quarterly Olympic budget update today, Olympics minister Hugh Robertson said: “This money will not be spent on fireworks, it will not be money going up in smoke, it will be an important investment in the economic future of the country.”

He continued by saying that a meeting of the Prime Minister, the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and himself had decided that they “needed to maximise and promote London to the four billion television viewers after being presented with a wide range of ceremonial components across the ceremonies.”

Robertson acknowledged the current economic conditions but said that the potential benefits that could flow through enhanced tourism numbers justified the increase.

The extra cash will come from the Olympic contingency fund and the London 2012 project remains on course to come in at around the budgeted £9.3 billion.

Putting on a great show is important but what’s even more important is creating a lasting legacy – other than debt. Surely they’d be able to put on a few good shows for the original £40 million budgeted and then they could have spent the additional £40 million on something that would benefit the people of Britain in the future?

This is where we’d normally add a sarcastic comments about broken calculators, but this time we’re just going to let the numbers speak for themselves…

Olympic road signs unveiled – and they’re not green

Road signs giving priority to 50, 000 Olympic vehicles were revealed earlier this week.

The signs, published by Transport for London, show how regular motorists will have to give way for official vehicles during the 2012 Games. Members of the Olympic family will have exclusive use of the right-hand lane of a dual carriageway, in a few cases shared by local buses.

Olympic lanes will also be used by athletes, media, officials and corporate sponsors, while cyclists and taxis are banned. The use of the roads by about
25, 000 sponsors has proved particularly controversial, as they will not be travelling out of operational necessity.

Priority road corridors will operate from 7am to 7pm on a third of the 106-mile Olympic network.

The signs will be installed next year but won’t become active until a few days before the operating ceremony on July 27th. Affected roads will also be painted with the Olympic rings.

Back in 2007 the organisers claimed that “walking, cycling and public transport would be promoted as the best ways to get to the events”. Despite this, they’ve now gone ahead and banned cycling on a third of the Olympic network.

Also, it has previously been revealed that guests of soft drinks company Coca-Cola will be travelling to the venues in Stratford using VIP buses, rather than public transport as called for by the Mayor.

One can certainly start asking questions about whether the organisers will be able to live up to their promises about making the London 2012 Olympic the “greenest ever.”

To quote Simon Jenkins of the London Evening Standard: “The only green thing (…) is the traffic light phase fixed for the IOC limousines and luxury buses. “

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