'This is Oxfam's Ratner moment': Charity accused of 'turning on women'

'This is Oxfam's Ratner moment': Charity accused of 'turning on women'

June 8, 2023

EXCLUSIVE: ‘This is Oxfam’s Ratner moment’: Under-fire charity is accused of ‘turning its back on women’s rights’ after sparking backlash for ‘Terf’ Pride cartoon video ‘depicting JK Rowling as an anti-trans demon’

  • Oxfam has been embroiled in controversy over a pride video showing a TERF
  • The charity was warned today it could be in fight for survival after backlash 

Oxfam faces its own ‘Ratner moment’ and day of reckoning over its treatment of women worried about their rights, it was warned today.

The charity – founded in Oxford in 1942 – is currently embroiled in an ever-growing scandal following a video which appeared to brand JK Rowling a TERF.

It also stands accused of hounding out a volunteer, who was falsely accused of transphobia, for defending the writer.

Now it has been told it risks completely destroying its reputation with its stance, which critics say promote trans rights above others.

It has been likened to the infamous 1991 speech from Gerald Ratner, whose description of his jewellery products as ‘crap’ saw stocks plunge by £500million.

Today the co-founder of the Sex Matters campaign Maya Forstater said Oxfam was at a similar fork in the road.

She told MailOnline: ‘I think this could be Oxfam’s Ratner moment if they don’t start standing up for women’s rights.

Ms Forstater and Ms Rowling are good friends and share similar views on women’s rights

‘A lot of their volunteers are women, a lot of their shoppers are women.

‘Oxfam appears to be just listening to these big international foundations, rather than the woman in the street.

‘I think Britain is standing up for this a bit more in a way no-one really else is.

‘I have been following this for a long time and have spoken to people inside Oxfam about it.

‘The message is clear from Oxfam on women’s rights being different from trans rights – keep quiet about it or leave.

‘I think these views are particularly coming from international organisations, donors, NGOs, they have all adopted it and pushed it.

‘On that video, Oxfam hardly made an apology on it.’

The latest crisis consuming Oxfam was sparked by a Pride month video which appeared to show JK Rowling as an ‘anti-trans villain’.

It was shared online with charity’s millions of supporters and featured three figures, two men and a woman, with evil-looking eyes.

In 1991 Gerald Ratner described his jewellery products as ‘crap’ and saw stocks plunge by £500million

This picture of JK Rowling at the Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald premiere in Paris in 2018 appears to be very similar to the cartoon woman depicted in Oxfam’s video

But the woman appeared to look like the Harry Potter author. 

Ms Rowling is understood to have seen the cartoon and liked a tweet criticising the depiction of the cartoon character. She declined to comment when approached by MailOnline on Tuesday.

Oxfam insisted it was not supposed to be based on anyone and said it would re-release a cut version of the cartoon. The version it later published had completely removed the scene.

The cartoon character in the original appeared to resemble Ms Rowling’s usual haircut and style, as well as a green dress she has been pictured wearing. A memorial poppy she wore in the real image – taken at a 2018 film premiere – is replaced with a badge, bearing the word ‘Terf’.

The acronym stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist, a view the author has denied having.

It came on the same day the charity was accused of hounding out a volunteer for defending the writer.  A former worker – calling herself Maria – said she was accused of transphobia before settling with the charity, which apologised for its handling of the process. 

Philosopher Kathleen Stock criticised the advert on Twitter today

The video is less than a minute long and was made for Oxfam by Bangalore-based Falana Films

Philosopher Kathleen Stock criticised the advert on Twitter, saying: ‘This has shocked me – a still from an Oxfam video, made in support of Pride month.’

Other Twitter users called for a boycott of Oxfam, alleging they would no longer be making donations to the establishment. Many also urged others to make formal complaints against the firm.

Supporters of Ms Rowling also said she should consider legal action against the charity over the video.

But an hour after being contacted by MailOnline on Tuesday about the similarities between the cartoon and the writer, Oxfam took the video down.

It then said: ‘Oxfam believes that all people should be able to make decisions which affect their lives, enjoy their rights and live a life free of discrimination and violence, including people from LGBTQIA+ communities.

‘In efforts to make an important point about the real harm caused by transphobia, we made a mistake. We have therefore edited the video to remove the term TERF and we are sorry for the offence it caused. There was no intention by Oxfam or the film-makers for this slide to have portrayed any particular person or people.’

Maya Forstater, a business studies and international development researcher, accused the charity of ‘demonising safeguarding, demonising older women, promoting double-mastectomies to children, bulk harassment of gender -critical staff

JK Rowling, 57, is attacked online by pro-trans campaigners regularly over her views

The video, which was made by Bangalore-based Falana Films, is less than a minute long.

It tells the story of LGBTQIA+ people around the world and how they are deprived of basic safety.

The film says they are ‘preyed on by hate groups online and offline’ and shows depictions of social media sites. 

Three individuals are then shown – the two men and a woman –  pointing at the LGBTQIA+ people.

Falana Films did not respond when asked why the figure had been portrayed like that and it not address whether it had been specifically commissioned to appear that way.

The depiction was not unnoticed by Ms Rowling’s supporters online.

One wrote: ‘I hope JK Rowling sues Oxfam.’

JK Rowling has previously described former Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon as a ‘destroyer of women’s rights’

Another said it was an ‘utterly disgusting piece of propaganda… using the word TERF on what is obviously meant to be JK Rowling’.

It came as a volunteer at an Oxfam bookshop – known as Maria – received an apology from the charity after allegedly being ‘hounded’ out for defending the writer.

It prompted an investigation which saw Maria have a nervous breakdown and leave the job and the country.

READ MORE: Irvine Welsh says JK Rowling has been ‘demonized’ as ‘some kind of witch’ in bitter transgender debate

She said members of an LGBTQ+ group encouraged colleagues to complain about the discussion, accusing her of transphobia.

Maria claimed constructive dismissal and belief discrimination. In July last year, both parties agreed to settle, with Oxfam issuing a public apology for its handling of the process.

JK Rowling has repeatedly been branded transphobic over her views surrounding the rights of trans people.

She came under fire in early June 2020 over tweets she posted.

Referring to an article that referenced ‘people who menstruate’, the author tweeted: ‘I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?’

The stance prompted some Harry Potter stars such as Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe to speak out against her views.

The author has been campaigning for women’s rights and female-only spaces amid fears predatory men could poses as trans women to use them.

Ms Watson made her remarks after Ms Rowling wrote an essay to address the controversy, revealing she was sexually assaulted in her 20s and still felt the scars of ‘domestic violence’ in her first marriage.

Ms Watson said at the time: ‘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.

‘I want my trans followers to know that I and so many other people around the world see you, respect you and love you for who you are.’ 

Other Twitter users called for a boycott of Oxfam, alleging they would no longer be making donations to the establishment

She added that she was proud to donate to charities such as Mermaids and Mama Cash and encouraged her fans to do the same.

In Radcliffe’s statement, he wrote: ‘To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you.

‘Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I. 

‘While Jo is unquestionably responsible for the course my life has taken, as someone who has been honored to work with and continues to contribute to The Trevor Project for the last decade, and just as a human being, I feel compelled to say something at this moment.’

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