JK Rowling: Sun newspaper criticised by abuse charities for article on ex-husband

Jorge Arantes and JK Rowling

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The Sun said it had not intended to “glorify” domestic violence in its interview with JK Rowling’s former husband Jorge Arantes

The Sun newspaper has faced a backlash from domestic abuse charities for an article in which JK Rowling’s ex said “I’m not sorry” for slapping her.

As part of a blog addressing criticism of her comments on transgender people, the Harry Potter author said her first marriage had been “violent”.

Jorge Arantes told the Sun he slapped Rowling when she left him – but added “there was not sustained abuse”.

The newspaper said it had not intended to “enable or glorify” domestic abuse.

Critics have accused the author of being transphobic for her response to an article about “people who menstruate”.

Rowling said her personal experience of domestic abuse and sexual assault, and her concerns about protecting safe spaces for women, were some reasons why she spoke out about transgender issues.

The Sun’s front page headline on Friday was: “I slapped JK and I’m not sorry”.

Mr Arantes, who shares a daughter with Rowling from their marriage, told the paper: “Yes. It is true I slapped her. But I didn’t abuse her.” When asked about his response to her claims – which included that the relationship was violent – he said: “If she says that, that’s up to her. It’s not true I hit her.”

The charity Women’s Aid said the newspaper’s front page had a “negative impact”, and added it was in conversation with the Sun about reflecting the voices of survivors of domestic abuse.

“Headlines matter,” it added.

Another domestic abuse charity, Refuge, said on Twitter: “At a time of reported increased rates of #domesticabuse and terrifying uncertainty for so many women, @TheSun has chosen to amplify the voice of a perpetrator. There are no excuses for abuse. We, proudly, stand on the side of survivors.”

A spokeswoman for the Sun said: “It was certainly not our intention to ‘enable’ or ‘glorify’ domestic abuse, our intention was to expose a perpetrator’s total lack of remorse. Our sympathies are always with the victims.”

The spokeswoman added that the tabloid had a “long history of standing up for abused women”, and “over the we have empowered countless victims to come forward and seek help”.

Politicians have also criticised the Sun’s coverage. Labour’s shadow minister for domestic abuse and safeguarding, Jess Phillips, said “doubt and disbelief” benefited perpetrators of abuse.

The row about Rowling’s comments on transgender issues began last weekend, after she responded to a headline on an online article discussing “people who menstruate” by writing in a tweet: “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

Harry Potter actors Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson are among those who were critical of her comments, with Watson saying: “Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren’t who they say they are.”

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In her blog defending her comments, Rowling said: “I’ve been in the public eye now for over 20 years and have never talked publicly about being a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor.”

She added: “I’m mentioning these things now not in an attempt to garner sympathy, but out of solidarity with the huge numbers of women who have histories like mine, who’ve been slurred as bigots for having concerns around single-sex spaces.”

If you, or someone you know, have been affected by domestic abuse or violence, the following organisations may be able to help. If you have been affected by gender identity issues, a list of organisations offering support and information can be found here.

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