Whenever I was in trouble at school, which was a lot, my mum reminded me how lucky I was with the story of this girl she had taught in a residential unit, whose step-dad sold her to sailors from out the back of his van, which he parked up down the docks in Bristol, when she was three years old. My mum said she was a handful, as were the other girls that she was working with, and that nearly all of those teenage girls were prostitutes. That girl became the template for my character Daizee.
Nothing was done for the real life Daizee even though enough people knew about what was going on. There were no trials, no convictions. There wasn’t even a scandal. I don’t think it was because nobody cared, my mum did for one, but her job was to teach her English, not to keep men off her. That was someone else’s job. My mum did say that the girl and her friends did keep getting themselves in trouble, and that no matter what doors were locked they always managed to sneak out. But like I said my mum wasn’t there when all the nastiness was happening. I guess there was no point in going to the cops because these kids already had reams of paperwork on them and as we now know the cops don’t have the best of records when it comes to ‘wayward’ girls.
In Rotherham the coppers said of the girls that were systematically raped that it was their fault, they chose to be prostitutes, it was their ‘lifestyle choice’. And I thought of the real life Daizee being fiddled with in the back of a van at three years old. Different coppers echoed those in Rotherham in Bristol and then again in Oxford. I am sure it will be echoed again and again as more cases come to light. Then came an echo from that Delhi rapist/murderer, though a Chinese whisper had morphed it into, “A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy.” Because men like to blame women or, in the case of Daizee and girls like her, teenagers, kids, for their own downfall.
My Daizee, like the real life one, is not fallen, she is no Eve who tempts Adam, because Adam has already raped her long before she got anywhere near an apple. All looked on by a male God, who in a later story sent his angel to do his business and then after that his priests. And in that religion like most of them there is an onus on female modesty because men can’t stop themselves.
Daizee, like lots of Daizees, has had to live with what life has thrown at her. And she does, with bells on. And that makes her a beautiful handful that needs to be celebrated and loved, even though she would probably tell you to fuck right off. But fuck off, or switch off, you must not do. Especially us men. Because the problem is not Daizee.