Helena Kennedy has spent decades fighting for women’s rights— and she’s not giving upby Sarah Langford / November 12, 2018 / Leave a comment
Published in December 2018 issue of Prospect Magazine
A recent Twitter thread asked followers to name the books they considered compulsory reading for law students. Over and over again a book first published over 20 years ago kept appearing: Helena Kennedy’s Eve was Framed.
Now a Queen’s Counsel and Labour peer, Kennedy has a reputation as a legal firebrand. With her interest in human rights, she has appeared in a string of high-profile cases including the Brighton Bombing trial and Guildford Four appeal, the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in 1994 and the abduction of baby Abbie Humphries. She is a member of Doughty Street—the chambers which she co-founded in 1990—and over the last few decades she has chaired dozens of prominent committees. She has her own foundation, providing bursaries to disadvantaged students, an echo to Kennedy’s own upbringing in a working-class area of Glasgow. But it was back in 1992 that Kennedy’s book consolidated her status as a feminist icon. It shot a laser beam through the legal system and society, exposing patterns of ingrained misogyny. Someone on the Twitter thread put it simply. Kennedy’s book, she wrote, “made me feel part of a sisterhood.”
Now, a quarter of a century on, Kennedy has revised, updated and re-titled her book. Her timing could not be better. In the last year, powerful people in the worlds of entertainment, business and politics have been shaken by the force of the #MeToo and #TimesUp revelations of sexual abuse and harassment. Eve was Shamed is part of this movement. It is a call to arms, but it is also a whistle-stop tour of the wide-ranging societal and legal changes which have taken place over the last 40 years.