Stacey Dooley

Beyond Today: Stacey Dooley interview

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Stacey talks to Tina about why there's a place for her in the news.

Why are girls disappearing all over Canada?

Catriona White

Canada's missing girls
BBC Three

Amber Tuccaro, a 20-year-old single Mum from Alta, Canada, went missing in 2010.

She was last seen alive hitching a ride to the city of Edmonton. Her remains were found two years later in a nearby wood.

Her killer was never found, and no one was ever jailed for her brutal murder.

Amber is just one of 1,200 women Canadian police believe have gone missing or been murdered since 1980. Other estimates  put that figure as high as 4,000.

What happened to them all?

The mystery is the subject of Stacey Dooley's new BBC Three documentary, Canada’s Lost Girls .

Amber Tuccaro left behind her 14-month-old son, Jacob. “They didn’t give a sh*t, they didn’t care,” says her mother, Vivian, through tears.

The police took several days to put Amber on the missing persons list, meaning vital clues were lost. They took so long to track down the CCTV footage it's believed to have been taped over, and an audio recording of Amber in a car with an unknown man wasn’t released until two years after her disappearance.

Amber Tuccaro
BBC Three
Amber Tuccaro

Amber’s brother says: “I think it was because my sister was Indian. They thought, ‘we don’t have to work as hard on this’.”

They believe their daughter was the victim of systemic racism towards indigenous Canadians within the police force.

Canada’s indigenous people represent 4% of the population, but they make up more than a quarter  of all inmates in federal prisons.

At least one local police service was found to be 40% more likely  to pull over an indigenous driver than a white one.

In 2015, the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Bob Paulson, said: “There are racists in my police force. I don't want them.”

Detective Lorimer Shenher  has been a City of Vancouver police officer for 24 years. Referring to police failures around Amber Tuccaro's case he says, “This is a template that you could drop down on literally hundreds of investigations across this country.”

RCMP Super Intendant Gary Steinke disagrees, saying, “When we go through the cases of murdered indigenous women, by far the majority have been solved.

“Mistakes are made, and the RCMP have learnt lessons. For the Amber case, we have apologised to those involved.”

Stacey talks to Amber's son, Jacob
BBC Three
Stacey talks to Amber's son, Jacob

Statistically, indigenous women are one of the most vulnerable groups in Canadian society.

In 2015, the RCMP released a report  which concluded First Nations women are four times more likely to go missing or be murdered than other Canadian women.

According to the report, indigenous women represent 4.3% of Canada’s female population, 16% of female murder victims and 11% of missing person’s cases involving women.

When Europe colonised Canada in the 16th century, the indigenous population was persecuted and marginalised, with communities forced into remote reserves  (areas set aside by the government for indigenous communities).

Between 1876 and 1996 , 150,000 aboriginal children were taken from their families and interned in boarding schools called ‘residentials’ .

These schools were designed, in the words of the system’s founder, Sir John A. MacDonald, to “take the Indian out of the child” - imposing European, Christian values instead.

The reality was often emotional, physical and sexual abuse . Kids were often repeatedly told they were heathens and savages. The residential schools were eventually abolished, with the last one closing in 1996 .

A 'residential' school
BBC Three
Between 1876 and 1996, 150,000 aboriginal children were taken from their families and interned in boarding schools called ‘residentials’

Fast-forward to the modern day, and the effects of generations of discrimination can be seen. Canada's 1.4 million indigenous population have higher levels of poverty and lower life expectancy than other Canadians. Substance abuse is rife, and rates of suicide among some aboriginal communities are at crisis levels.

In the thousands of documented cases of murdered women, some were simply trying to catch a ride to a doctor’s appointment, or the grocery store, lacking other transport from their remote reserves.

Others had moved into the cities and fallen into prostitution.

One woman, Shelly, works an area in Edmonton, Alberta, dubbed ‘death row’, as so many girls go missing or are found murdered there. Shelley has lost ten friends, including her sister.

She herself had a terribly close call.

“These two guys picked me up. One turned around and said: 'You’re not getting paid bitch'. He grabbed my hair and started hitting me. They raped me for a couple of hours, then left me for dead in a field. I ran to the highway and flagged a car and the cops came and they took me home."

Stacey also meets T, 30, who is three months pregnant and working the streets. She’s been working as a prostitute since the age of 10, when her Mum put her to work to fund her drug addiction.

As Stacey reflects: “Often these girls are up against it from the very start."

The legacy of colonisation has pushed them, over generations, into the most vulnerable pockets of society. Discrimination, or dismissive attitudes from the police, only exacerbates that vulnerability.

The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau  has ordered an investigation last year into the missing and murdered women. Perhaps their devastated families may still get some answers.

As Amber’s Mum says, being a First Nations girl, "Doesn’t make Amber any less of a human being. She was my baby.”

Is Japan turning a blind eye to paedophilia?

Ciaran Varley

Stacey Dooley
BBC Three

Warning: Contains content you may find disturbing

There’s a street in Tokyo known as "JK alley", or "schoolgirl alley", from the Japanese Joshi Kosei, meaning high school girl.

There, teenagers in school uniform sell their time to passers-by, while their minders hover in the background.

Men pay to hold hands, go for a walk or have a cup of coffee with the girls. Some even pay to sleep on a girl's lap.

This is all legitimate, above board and legal. 

Japan is also home to 300 "JK cafes", where adult men pay to hang out with underage girls (the age of consent in Japan is 18).

In the new BBC Three documentary, Young Sex For Sale in Japan , Stacey Dooley visits a JK cafe in Tokyo.

“In this bar, £35 will get you forty minutes with a girl of your choice and unlimited booze,” she says.

In some cafes, men can also pay for "walking dates" – time with the girls away from the cafe. What happens in that time is up to the girls and their clients.

Stacey Dooley in Japan

One customer shows Stacey his favourite girl, a 17-year-old with long, light brown hair and a thick fringe. He likes her “because she’s good at talking dirty, but she pretends to be pure”.

Another customer tells Stacey, “the age gap thing for some people is off-putting but, in Japan, maybe it’s our culture - our attitude is quite different”.

It’s estimated that nearly 5000 genuine schoolgirls work in these (legal) cafes in Japan.

Stacey Dooley in Japan

Until 2014 child pornography was legal to own in Japan. The law has changed, but the sexualisation of minors continues.

"Chaku Ero", which means "erotically clothed" is a kind of soft porn - it doesn’t involve nudity, but it can get very, very close and is often overtly sexual.

Stacey asks a Chaku Ero producer (who wanted to remain anonymous) how young the girls in his shoots are.

“My youngest was six years old,” he says. “We filmed her in her bathing costume playing with some toys. Her mum was standing behind the camera holding her favourite toy so she would face the camera.”

He makes much more money filming children than older girls. The DVD of the six-year-old made him “four million (£28,500) or five million yen (£35,500),” he says. “The senior high school girls will make about one million (£7000)”.

When Stacey asks how he would feel if someone had shot his own 16-year-old daughter the way he shot that six-year-old girl, he pauses.

“I would force both of us to commit a joint suicide,” he says.

“Are you serious?” Stacey asks him.


Stacey Dooley in Japan

As long as Chaku Ero photos don’t show the child’s naked genitals, buttocks or chest, it isn’t categorised as child pornography.

But, according to Kazuko Ito, a Human Rights Lawyer who is trying to challenge this definition, “Chaku Ero is child pornography. That’s the reality.”

Owning child pornography became illegal in Japan in June 2014. In the 12 months between July 2015 and July 2016, there were 37 cases sent to public prosecutors on grounds of owning this material.

In the UK, in 2015 and 2016, there were more than 5000 arrests for possession, with 481 found guilty.

Why is there such a massive gulf?

Under Japanese law, when they find an abusive image, they need to identify the child, confirm they are underage and, in order for an investigation to proceed, the victim has to bring charges. Arrests will only be made if the evidence against the perpetrator can guarantee a conviction, so it’s a lot tougher to prosecute than in the UK.

Perhaps one thing that Westerners may notice is a different attitude to young girls. As Stacey says, “one of the things that slaps you in the face when you arrive in Japan is their obsession with everything cute”.

She believes there is an issue that goes “much deeper than child porn”.

Domestic sales of manga comics topped over £2 billion in Japan in 2015.

"Lolicon" (short for "Lolita complex") is the Japanese term for manga and anime featuring sexually explicit images of children. It can involve extreme violence, rape and incest.

Comics with these types of abusive images have been banned in the UK.

Manga comics and DVDs
BBC Three

The Japanese Government tried to ban these images too, but artists and publishers resisted  on the grounds of free speech. Dan Kanemitsu is one of those who argues against the ban. He’s spent 20 years translating Japanese manga.

“There is a child being harmed, on the one hand, and then there is a depiction of a child being harmed. There is a big difference between the two,” he says.

He disagrees with the idea that this kind of material could normalise the sexual abuse of children in Japan and even argues that the comics provide a “venting mechanism” for those with paedophilic fantasies.

Either way, steps are being taken to change things.

The head of the juvenile section at Japan’s National Police Agency says that JK cafes will no longer be able to have girls under eighteen serving customers (but that doesn’t mean they won’t still be dressed as schoolgirls).

With laws around around Chaku Ero, JK cafes and sexually explicit manga continuing to inhabit a grey area, you have to ask, is Japan turning a blind eye to paedophilia?

Watch Stacey Dooley Investigates: Young Sex For Sale in Japan  on iPlayer.

If you have been affected with issues raised in this article, help and advice is available here

Meet the former sex slaves fighting IS on the front line

Stacey Dooley

Stacey Dooley
BBC Three

Did you know that so-called Islamic State (IS) fighters think you can’t go to heaven if you’re killed by a woman?

Captain Khatoon Khider smiles wryly when she tells me this. She used to be a singer, but now leads an all-female battalion of former IS prisoners.

“We’ll kill thousands of IS soldiers and stop them all from entering paradise,” she said.

I spent two weeks in Northern Iraq with her battalion filming ‘Guns, Girls and ISIS’ for BBC Three.

Stacey Dooley
BBC Three

Mrs Khider’s Yazidi religion forbids violence, but after IS attacked her village two years ago, everything changed.

Thousands of people died, and thousands of women and children were taken to be sold as sex slaves.

Some have been rescued, but 3,500 Yazidi women and girls are still held by IS.

View more on youtube

Mrs Khider and the girls in her all-female battalion are all survivors of one of the worst war crimes in recent history.

“We would never want to harm anyone,” Mrs Khider told me. “But now, we have no other choice but to kill them.”

The girls in the battalion are young, most are in their early 20s. They take selfies, do their make-up and listen to music, just like any other group of young girls.

Members of the all-female battalion.
BBC Three

It’s disconcerting to think that many of them were raped, beaten and abused daily as sex slaves.

Nadiya, 17, is one of them.

“I saw the girls in this army, and I wanted to be strong like them,” she said when we spoke at the training camp.

When you sit in front of these girls and they tell you their stories, you watch their hearts break in front of you. It feels worlds apart from reading about a news story.

They told me about seeing their mothers being murdered, of babies being mutilated, of girls as young as nine raped in front of their eyes, or of their lost friends, who escaped by committing suicide.

Some were so distraught they could barely bring themselves to say the words.

They told me that after everything they’ve gone through, nothing can frighten them any more.

For many, their parents are dead, their sisters and friends are still in the hands of IS, and they live with constant fear.

It was time to fight back.

Stacey Dooley
BBC Three

We left the camp to head to the front line.

On the way, one of the girls said to me, “I’m so happy. I feel like I’m going to a wedding”.

Another girl told me, “I don’t just want to kill one, I want to kill thousands. Even if I did kill thousands, it would not be enough”.

View more on youtube

We met with the rest of the Peshmerga army on the front line. The men there regard the all-female battalion with real respect.

Commandar Xate tells me,

“They fight on the trenches like us. Before we did not have them. Now women and men, we all fight equally as one,”

Mrs Khider told me, “I wish I could go back in time. I keep telling myself, if I had started this a year before IS came to Sinjar, we would never have let them control us.”

The battle to reclaim the taken women rages on. Many of the girls are there now, on the front line, fighting side-by-side with the Peshmerga army and international forces.

I’ve travelled the world for the past decade, but the two weeks I spent with these girls was the most extraordinary trip I’ve ever been on.

Mrs Khider told me, “I joined the army because I cannot be a singer anymore, knowing that our women and girls are captured by IS.

When I see them coming back to us, that day I will sing, in this very uniform”.

As told to Catriona White

Stacey on the Frontline: Girls, Guns and ISIS aired at 10.45pm on BBC One Tuesday 16 January 2017.

The Yazidi women fighting IS for their freedom

Stacey on the Frontline: Girls, Guns and ISIS

In the face of brutal adversity how far would you go to save members of your community? 

Stacey Dooley meets the determined battalion of Yazidi women who are waging war against the so-called Islamic State in revenge for what the UN calls the "largest mass kidnapping this century".  

Watch the full episode of Stacey on the Frontline: Girls, Guns and ISIS on BBC iPlayer now.

The man who runs anti-abortion summer camps for kids

Catriona White

The man who runs anti-abortion summer camps for kids
BBC Three

Abortion has been legal in the US since 1973. (It was legalized in the UK in 1967). Some American states allowed it in cases of rape or incest, but most had previously prohibited it completely.

For Jeff White, that’s how it should be. He’s spent the last three decades fighting to have abortion banned in America again.

Many anti–abortion extremists have targeted abortion clinics by burning or bombing them, there have even been cases where doctors have been murdered.

Jeff takes a different approach.

Jeff White runs an annual anti-abortion Summer Camp, called ‘Survivors Pro-Life Training Camp’.
BBC Three
Jeff White runs an annual anti-abortion Summer Camp, called ‘Survivors Pro-Life Training Camp’.

In 1998 he founded the anti-abortion movement, ‘Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust’, a self-professed Christian anti-abortion group based in Southern California.  

He’s been arrested over 100 times, largely for reasons surrounding his group’s public demonstrations.

He also runs an annual anti-abortion Summer Camp, called ‘Survivors Pro-Life Training Camp’, which is attended by around 50 kids from all over America, aged from 11 to 24.

According to its website, the camp’s mission is to “educate and equip young activists who are willing to be used by God to defend those unjustly sentenced to death”.

Stacey Dooley spent two weeks at Jeff’s anti-abortion camp filming for the BBC Three Documentary ‘Brainwashing Stacey’.

Stacey Dooley
BBC Three
Stacey Dooley

Jeff told her he believes anyone born after 1973 has survived what he calls the American “abortion holocaust”.

Over two weeks, students attend anti-abortion talks, workshops and “field training”.

This takes place towards the end of the fortnight. Students are sent on to the streets with placards showing graphic images of aborted fetuses, or they’re taken to abortion clinics to do some ‘chalking’, where they scrawl anti-abortion messaging on walls and pavements outside.

The force of anti-abortion sentiment amongst the kids Stacey met was striking.

One told her, “If it meant the end of abortion, I would die for this cause”.

When Stacey asked them if they’d make an exception for pregnancies caused by rape, they said no.

“If a woman is raped,” said one girl, “having that baby doesn’t make her ‘unraped’, and we will look after her when she has the baby”.

Stacey chats to some students of the anti-abortion camp.
BBC Three
Stacey chats to some students of the anti-abortion camp.

Stacey told her, “I’ve met women all over the world who have been raped, and lived in a country where abortion is illegal. They’ve been forced to go through with pregnancy, and then they’ve gone on to kill themselves, because they just cannot bear to look at that child.”

Jeff, father to 11 children (and godfather to nine), draws parallels between the voluntary termination of unplanned pregnancies and the organised persecution of Jews by the Nazis.

His group recently campaigned outside a Holocaust museum in Albuquerque to underline this comparison – a move the museum board called “misguided and offensive”. Stacey accompanied the camp kids on another campaign trail, as they ‘chalked’ outside a Planned Parenthood clinic (which provides abortions). They are regular visitors, and the clinic recently built a wall specifically to keep Jeff and his protesters off the premises.

Anti-abortion activists 'chalking' outside a Planned Parenthood Clinic.
BBC Three
Anti-abortion activists 'chalking' outside a Planned Parenthood Clinic.

One patient told Stacey, “How dare they come in here and say this is wrong. It makes an already difficult situation even harder.”

Stacey herself said, “I have a real issue with forcing this agenda down kids’ throats. It can feel like they’re manipulating these impressionable youngsters”.

Jeff has personally convinced several women not to have an abortion, on the basis that he’ll support them.

He told Stacey he houses 18 mothers and their children in his own properties, and even pays for their education.

Stacey met a South Californian ex-survivor student, Ashley, who has adopted a baby girl, Stella, after stopping her mother from having an abortion.

Stacey meets Ashley and her adopted baby girl Stella.
BBC Three
Stacey meets Ashley and her adopted baby girl Stella.

Stacey said, “I can’t argue with the fact that there’s every chance Stella would have been aborted if they hadn’t have interjected. To see Stella knocking about with her sister, playing with Jeff, it is real food for thought”.

But life isn't always that simple. Some women feel they cannot bring a child into the world due to financial problems, relationship instability or mental health issues, among a myriad of other reasons.

The pro-choice movement argues the control of one's own body is a fundamental right.

With the election of Donald Trump and his recent confirmation to the Supreme Court that he was “pro-life”, women are rushing to Planned Parenthood for help with longer term birth control.

The debate over abortion, which many thought was concluded back in 1973, looks set to rage on.