Report: the dangers of backpacking Down Under

Report: the dangers of backpacking Down Under

A gap year in Oz is a rite of passage for many women. But, as Kerry Parnell reports, backpackers forced by Australian law to work on remote farms in order to extend their visas are risking their lives


It was fated that Mia Ayliffe-Chung would go backpacking – the vivacious 20-year-old had the travel gene in her DNA. Her mother, Rosie, was a travel-guide writer, who conceived Mia in Goa and took her as a baby when she toured Turkey compiling The Rough Guide. ‘She was like me,’ says Rosie, 55. ‘When I set foot in a foreign place, I’d feel a surge of freedom.’ Inspired by her mum, Mia set off on her own round-the-world backpacking trip in 2016, hoping to find adventure. ‘She posted two photos online from Goa, one of each of us on an Enfield motorbike,’ says Rosie. ‘I didn’t even know my photo existed; she must have stolen it from one of her dad’s albums. I realised then she was following in my footsteps.’

After backpacking through Southeast Asia, Mia arrived in Australia. Falling in love with the country, she decided to extend her working holiday visa for a second year. Afterwards, she planned to return to the UK and use her childcare qualification to set up a nursery with her mother, now a teacher, in their Derbyshire village. But Mia never returned home. On 23 August 2016, she was brutally murdered in a hostel in Home Hill, North Queensland, a small town 13 hours north of Brisbane.

Mia had been working on a cane farm in a remote location she would never have chosen to visit were it not for a much criticised Australian law. In order to qualify for a second year in the country, backpackers on a working visa – of which there are about 211,000 – have to complete 88 days of specified work, and results in thousands of young people travelling to remote areas to find employment. By doing so, some – particularly young women – unknowingly put themselves in danger. The man who stabbed Mia to death was fellow farmhand and backpacker Smail Ayad, 29. The Frenchman was sleeping in Mia’s dormitory and is alleged to have developed an obsession with his beautiful roommate. Fellow British traveller Tom Jackson, 30, came to Mia’s aid when Ayad dragged her from her bunk, but was also stabbed and later died in hospital. Ayad will not face trial and has been detained in a mental-health facility while awaiting deportation to France.

When Rosie travelled to Australia to collect her daughter’s body, she was appalled by the conditions that Mia had lived and worked in. She subsequently embarked on a mission to bring reform to the visa scheme and quickly became a central point for young people sharing their horrific experiences. Rosie knew nothing of the 88-day scheme, but assumed that because it was a government requirement, it would be regulated. She found the opposite. Incidents of sexual assault were common, as well as a number of high-profile kidnapping cases.

In March, Gene Charles Bristow, a 54-year-old farmer was found guilty of kidnap and rape of a 26-year-old Belgian backpacker after luring her to his property in Meningie, South Australia on the promise of farm work. Instead, he shackled and assaulted her in a pig shed. In 2017, Perth winery owner Peter Raymond Costa, 57, was found guilty of raping a 24-year-old Japanese backpacker. The same year, 27-year-old German backpacker Jennifer Kohl was crushed to death by a mower on an avocado farm in Queensland, and Belgian backpacker Olivier Max Caramin, 27, died from suspected heatstroke while picking watermelons.

Rosie has set up the charity Tom & Mia’s Legacy, as well as the farm work review site, saying she will not stop campaigning until she has effected real change. ‘While the 88 days is still creating situations where young women can be locked up and raped by men posing as Australian agriculturalists, I won’t stop in my endeavours to campaign for change,’ she says. She also wants to ensure backpackers are aware of their workers’ rights, as they are often financially exploited by farmers and hostels, too. ‘I heard about agencies that promised work when there was none,’ says Rosie. ‘Also, that farmers had underpaid workers, hostels charged exorbitant fees and confiscated passports. Tom had tried to leave Home Hill days before his murder, but his passport had been withheld.

‘I heard that farmers had underpaid workers and confiscated passports’

The Fair Work Ombudsman Harvest Trail Inquiry, published in November 2018, found that almost a third of backpackers did not receive some or all of their wages, 14 per cent had to pay fees to secure work and over a third were paid less than the minimum wage (AUD$18.93/about
£10 an hour). Many were paid nothing at all, with the promise that their visa requirements would be signed off instead. Former British high commissioner to Australia, Menna Rawlings supports Rosie. ‘We raised concerns with the Australian government about the conditions that young British backpackers can face when working in remote areas, including drawing attention to the aims of Tom & Mia’s Legacy,’ she says.

There has been some progress with the Australian government setting up a Migrant Worker Taskforce and introducing the Modern Slavery Act. However, the country recently announced a third year working visa if backpackers work even longer on farms. The Harvest Trail Inquiry concluded in November last year, with inspectors investigating 638 businesses around the nation. They found over half had breached workplace laws. ‘We will continue to monitor employers,’ said Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker. ‘Growers and labour hire operators can expect to face further action if they do not comply with Australia’s workplace laws.’

Emma Reynolds, senior journalist at, who has extensively covered the issue, thinks this is just the start. ‘There’s definitely still nowhere near enough being done to ensure backpackers are safe while working on Australian farms,’ she says. Reynolds has interviewed dozens of travellers, many of them young and female, who shared their experiences of sexual harassment and assault, serious injury, emotional abuse and unsafe working and living conditions. Their testimonies have led her to the conclusion that, if the Australian government insists on running a programme in which backpackers are encouraged to complete this work in exchange for visa extensions, then it’s the government’s responsibility to enforce rigorous standards. Reynolds says monitoring is vital, as many of the farms are in extremely remote locations. ‘A few steps have been made, but this is just the beginning,’ she says. ‘There should be strict rules for accreditation and regular spot checks on approved workplaces. It doesn’t reflect well on Australia, which prides itself as a safe and welcoming travel destination.’

Tracey MacCorquodale, an executive assistant from Canada, witnessed first-hand the casual sexual exploitation to which backpacking travellers are susceptible while working in remote areas. At 27, she was older than the other women she worked alongside at a farm in Mildura, Victoria. When she arrived, she was surprised to see everyone was female and wearing bikinis. ‘I was told the farmer didn’t like to wear underwear and I would probably see him exposing his genitals at some point. Sure enough, I soon saw him on a tractor with his legs up,’ she says. ‘I also found out that wearing skimpy clothing was expected if you were working there.’ Tracey’s advice to anyone considering doing farm work or staying on for an extra 88 days is simple: don’t. ‘Do your year, have fun and go home,’ she says. ‘I’d never advise anyone to put themselves in such a risky scenario.’

Business graduate Chelsey*, 31, agrees. Like Tracey, she found herself in Mildura on a grape farm after replying to an advert requesting female workers. ‘The farmer was very friendly,’ she said. ‘On the second day, we went into town and bought cakes for everyone.’ As she had an accountancy qualification, the farmer offered her bookkeeping work and suggested she stay for a beer after hours, then he’d give her a lift back to the hostel. On the way home, he stopped the truck and grabbed her. Alarmed, Chelsey got out and stumbled into a ditch. ‘The next thing I know, he was on top of me,’ she says. ‘I started punching, kicking and screaming. All of a sudden, he snapped out of it, stood up and casually just got back in the truck. He drove me back to the hostel in silence.’ Chelsey reported the incident to the police, but no charges were brought. Six months later, the farmer sexually assaulted a Swedish backpacker and was placed on a community corrections order.

While most visitors backpacking around Australia return home having had the trip of a lifetime, Tracey and Chelsey advise caution, particularly in remote areas. ‘You have to be really careful, especially as a single female traveller,’ says Chelsey. Rosie told Mia the same thing. ‘There’s a word in Turkish which means travel wide awake,’ she says. ‘But, unfortunately, evil came when Mia was sleeping. I don’t have any anger towards Australia,’ she adds, and she still encourages young people to go backpacking. Something that comforts Rosie is that Mia is still travelling, too. Her ashes, split into multiple vials, are being scattered by her friends all over the world in the places she never got to see.

Off backpacking soon? Here’s how to travel safely

Know your rights: Backpackers can learn their work rights at
Ask around: Tom & Mia’s Legacy advises using social media for backpacking recommendations. Visit
Don’t take risks: Just because you’re on holiday, don’t let your guard down. ‘Australia has earned its reputation as a safe place for foreign nationals to visit,’ says Leo Seaton from Tourism Australia. ‘But, as with any overseas travel, we advise travellers to exercise care and caution.’
Need help: Call 000 for Australian emergency services. For urgent consular assistance, visit
Get insured: Buy comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you go backpacking. The policy also needs to cover all of your medical costs, including an air ambulance.

*Name has been changed. Photographs by Caters News Agency, Getty Images, Naomie Jellicoe/Newspix, Rex/Shutterstock

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‘Female cotton farmers in Pakistan will be the voice of empowerment and gender equality’

‘Female cotton farmers in Pakistan will be the voice of empowerment and gender equality’

Trailblazing sustainable farming practices in Pakistan, an increasing number of female cotton farmers are defying social convention to drive positive change, writes Nicola Moyne

Female cotton farmers

Sustainable farming practices are firmly on the agenda in Pakistan thanks to a growing community of female cotton farmers who are leading the charge for tackling climate change – as well as empowering women to take on equal responsibilities in the fields and family businesses.

In rural Pakistan, where approximately 1.5 million smallholder farmers rely on cotton for their living, this means overcoming entrenched attitudes towards stereotypical gender roles and actively pursuing leadership opportunities. For women like Almas Parveen (pictured), the cultural, practical and financial hurdles faced to farm cotton more sustainably are challenging, but not insurmountable thanks to the support and training she has received from the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI).

At just 27, Almas defied convention and decided that she wanted to run her family’s nine-hectare farm in place of her elderly father. It was a bold move, and one that immediately presented problems.

‘She experienced opposition from community members, who did not agree with a young woman working on her own and providing training to male farmers. The farmers too, were wary of Almas and questioned her right to train them,’ explains Afshan Sufyan, senior programme officer, BCI Pakistan. ‘But Almas stood strong. Undeterred, she continued to deliver BCI training and, in time, the farmers’ perceptions changed as her technical knowledge and sound advice resulted in tangible benefits on their farms. Eventually, anger turned into appreciation.’

female cotton farmers

And it’s not just brave farmers like Almas driving positive change in the industry. Working closely with partners, including the Better Cotton Initiative and WWF, Marks & Spencer – already a key investor in BCI’s female cotton training programmes – has announced that it is committed to using 100 per cent sustainably sourced cotton for all its clothing fabrics – not a limited-edition collection or capsule drop – everything, which means less water, pesticides and fertilisers used in cotton production and thousands more female farmers like Almas being supported to adopt better practices.

Carmel McQuaid, M&S Head of Sustainable Business explains: ‘Marks & Spencer has been sourcing more sustainable cotton for over 10 years, as well as supporting and enabling thousands of farmers to be trained in more sustainable methods, which include using less water and fewer chemicals. We care for the people we work with and the planet, as do our customers, which is why 100 per cent the cotton for our clothing fabrics is now sustainably sourced and always will be.’

So while you shop the M&S summer collections guilt-free this season, know that female farmers like Almas are continuing to empower more women in their communities to farm cotton sustainably.

‘Almas will be the voice of Pakistan, the voice of empowerment and gender equality,’ adds Sufyan. Now that sounds like something worth growing.

Visit, and for further information.

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On International Day of the Girl it’s time to call out street harassment

On International Day of the Girl it’s time to call out street harassment


rape case

Street harassment in the UK is an epidemic, with women and girls as young as eight years old faced with intimidating and unwanted behaviour on a daily basis.

66% of girls in the UK have experienced sexual attention or sexual or physical contact in a public place. 38% of girls experience verbal harassment like catcalling, wolf-whistling and sexual comments at least once a month. And 15% of girls are being touched or grabbed every month.

It’s not a part of growing up and it’s not ok.

To mark International Day of the Girl, our Editor-in-Chief Trish Halpin joined Plan International at the House of Commons for the launch of their new campaign against street harassment of girls and young women in the UK, encouraging us all to drive social change by sharing our own experiences alongside the hashtag #ISayItsNotOk.

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It’s International Day of the Girl so I joined Plan International at the House of Commons for the launch of their new campaign against street harassment of girls and young women in the UK. A shocking 66% aged 14-21 have experienced unwanted sexual harassment in a public place & what’s so awful is that girls like my daughter are growing up to think this is normal and something they just have to put up with. But it’s time to say it’s not OK, to encourage girls to talk about it and report it to a parent or teacher. Tell your friends, daughters nieces to speak up and report it, tell the men you know about the devastating impact this behaviour can have – they might think a wolf whistle, cat call or pat on the butt is harmless but the fear of what it could lead to is frightening. Help drive this social change by sharing your own experiences #isayitsnotok @plan_uk @marieclaireuk

A post shared by Trish Halpin (@marieclairetrish) on Oct 11, 2018 at 4:05am PDT

‘A shocking 66% aged 14-21 have experienced unwanted sexual harassment in a public place & what’s so awful is that girls like my daughter are growing up to think this is normal and something they just have to put up with,’ Trish explained. ‘But it’s time to say it’s not OK, to encourage girls to talk about it and report it to a parent or teacher.’

She continued: ‘Tell your friends, daughters, nieces to speak up and report it, tell the men you know about the devastating impact this behaviour can have – they might think a wolf whistle, cat call or pat on the butt is harmless but the fear of what it could lead to is frightening.’

‘If you normalise and accept street harassment then you’re starting to say it’s ok for the next thing to happen, and it’s an escalating process,’ 28-year-old Lindsay from Edinburgh told Plan International. ‘It’s a basic human right to be able to walk around and just live your life. No one is taking it seriously.’

‘Girls have been told different ways to change ourselves to make other people less likely to harass us,’ 16-year-old Caitlin from Glasgow explained to Plan UK. ‘But boys have never been told what to do to stop them from harassing girls. What if you don’t want to accept that it just happens? Coz it’s been happening to women for like ever pretty much and it’s not right and it shouldn’t be accepted like that.’

Reading over the statistics and accounts provided by Plan, we were saddened here at Marie Claire HQ, especially as it is a sobering reflection of the sad reality that we all normalise on a daily basis.

Here are some of our own accounts of growing up with street harassment, something we don’t want for the generations of girls ahead of us…

‘I am now in my mid twenties, but from my early teens I have always made a conscious effort each morning to dress for my journey home that evening. If I know that I will be walking home past 9pm, I won’t wear a skirt or a dress or anything that could attract unwanted attention or street harassment. While it seems outdated to have to wear trousers to walk home alone, it’s what I have to do to make myself feel safe.’

Jenny Proudfoot, Junior Digital News Editor

‘My pal and I were walking home one night and we noticed that two men had started to follow us. With every corner they tailed us, we talked less then eventually went completely silent when they crossed the road to us and demanded to know where we were going. They then split off so that we were stuck between them, hemming us in as me and my friend said absolutely nothing as we were terrified – they were big guys. After we hit a main road, they disappeared but I always wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t.’

Megan Hills, Digital Lifestyle Writer

‘My sister and I will often call each other if it’s dark and we’re say, walking somewhere on our own or waiting for a taxi – even if it’s only for a minute or two. I wish I could say I don’t feel vulnerable in those situations and just get on with it but sadly I do feel like if I’m bust on the phone and in a rush I’m more likely to be left alone.’

Lucy Abbersteen, Digital Beauty Writer

‘There are three things I always do when I’m walking home after 7pm – I take my headphones out, put a key between my fingers and walk quickly. My sister and I also use the Find Friends app to keep an eye on each other if we know the other will be going home alone.’

Jadie Troy-Pryde,  Social Content Editor

‘I have perfected the facial expression that leads to the smallest amount of harassment. Your eyes have to look straight forward, but totally avoiding eye contact: looking at your feet draws attention and making eye contact is clearly a no-no. I make sure that my expression is blank, but not blank enough to look vulnerable or cause people to suggest that I cheer up a bit. Late at night or in the middle of the day, you know I’m using the 1000-yard anti-harassment stare.’

Victoria Fell, Features Assistant

Join us and Plan International UK and call an end to street harassment by sharing your own account, alongside the hashtag #ISayItsNotOk.

Street harassment is not a part of growing up – and it’s definitely not OK.

The post On International Day of the Girl it’s time to call out street harassment appeared first on Marie Claire.

International Day of the Girl: Our editor meets the sisterhood inspiring change in Ghana

International Day of the Girl: Our editor meets the sisterhood inspiring change in Ghana

Ahead of International Day of the Girl on 11 October, Editor in Chief Trish Halpin travelled to Ghana with her daughter Esme, 14, to meet the girls and women tackling teenage pregnancies and gender inequality. Here, they share their experiences


Trish’s diary…

Smartly dressed in her yellow and brown school uniform, 15-year-old Victoria sits with her one-year-old daughter Angela on her lap, outside the small hut where she lives with her parents and siblings in Aboabo, a village near Koforidua in Ghana’s eastern region. Minutes earlier she was playing with her friends in the dusty schoolyard, but now at home she has to take over from her own mother to care for Angela. She looks nervous, ready to hand the baby back to a grown-up at the earliest opportunity – not unlike most teenage girls I know. ‘I don’t like being a mother because I am a child myself,’ she tells me, and as I look at her tiny frame beside my own 14-year-old daughter, it’s heartbreaking to imagine the toll pregnancy and birth must have taken on her.

Each year, 7.3 million girls worldwide become pregnant (20,000 of those are in UK), and Victoria is one of the more fortunate ones. With the support of her family and the charity Plan International, she stayed in school during her pregnancy (even sitting an exam the day before giving birth) and returned after having her daughter. Often, the stigma means girls are forced to stay at home, with teachers refusing to allow them into class; or they are made to marry and have more babies, and the cycle continues.

One woman we meet who is determined to break that cycle is Sefia, 34, mother to Kelvin, 17, and Rhoda, 14. As a child, she dreamed of being a nurse, encouraged by her mother who told her stories of the female doctors, nurses and teachers who worked in her hometown, before she moved to a village as a teenage girl to be married. ‘I don’t want Rhoda to go through what I did,’ says Sefia.

‘Seeing my little sister, who is more empowered to approach gender issues, makes me feel hopeful’

‘I wanted to do something with my life, but I had to drop out of school to work and feed my children. When they are grown up, I will go back to school and become more successful.’ And I believe she will: articulate, smart and determined, Sefia beams with pride as Rhoda shows us her exercise books, filled with pages of neat handwriting in perfect English.

Fifty miles away in Ghana’s capital, Accra, we meet Lillipearl, 25, a journalist at the Business & Financial Times. Over a lunch of fried fish and jollof rice, Lillipearl explains how Plan International’s Girls in Media programme at her rural school sparked her passion for journalism and gender advocacy. ‘We were taught how gender is different to sex, and looked at how roles are gendered in society. It’s going to take 270 years to close the economic gap in Ghana [the UK is predicted to take 100 years], but even seeing my little sister, who is more empowered to approach gender issues, makes me feel hopeful.’

‘Teach a girl, change the world’ is one of my favourite sayings, and supporting girls like Victoria, Rhoda and Lillipearl surely has to be one of the best investments any of us can make for the future of this planet.


Above: Editor in chief Trish, second from right, and her daughter Esme, second from left, talk to students on the Girls in Media Programme at Manya Krobo Senior High School. Top: Esme with Victoria, who gave birth to daughter Angela at 14 – the same age Esme is now

Esme’s diary…

When my mum asked me to go with her to Ghana on an assignment to meet girls my age and see what life is like for them, I was excited but had no idea what to expect. I’ve been to Africa on a safari holiday, but knew that this would be completely different. We flew into the capital Accra and the next morning, drove out to the town of Koforidua, our base for the trip.

The first village we visited was Kwamoso in the district of Akuapem, where we turned off the main road on to a bumpy dirt track and I saw the tiny school building, not even the size of my school gym. The headteacher introduced me to a girl my age called Rhoda and we chatted about school and how much she loves reading – she gets top marks for everything, not like me! Rhoda wanted to show me where she lives with her grandmother – her mum has to work away from home to be able to afford to send money for food and keep her and her brother in education, which I think must be so sad for her. Her grandmother’s home was along another dirt track just minutes from the school. They have no electricity or running water, and Rhoda is not allowed out after 6pm so she can focus on her studies. Her mum doesn’t want her to become pregnant like so many other girls.

‘Back in London, I realise how lucky I am to have so much education ahead of me’

The next day, I feel glad for Rhoda when we meet Victoria, who became pregnant a year ago at my age. Her baby Angela is really sweet, but I can’t imagine wanting to have a baby until I’m at least 30, if at all. It must have been so scary for her to give birth and now her whole life has changed, but at least she still goes to school.

I remember first having sex education in junior school, but in Ghana they don’t teach it even to teenagers. When we visit a senior school, my mum asks the headmistress about it and she says that instead they promote abstinence – she gets the class to sing a song about it, which is entertaining but I doubt it’s very helpful.

Back in London, I realise how lucky I am to still have so much education ahead of me. Rhoda and I have been emailing each other and we’d like to meet again one day – hopefully when she becomes the nurse or doctor that she dreams about being.

Find out more about the Because I Am A Girl Campaign or sponsor a girl at

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Hannah Shergold: ‘Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn, but everything happens for a reason’

Continuing our Women Who Win series is Hannah Shergold, an award-winning artist and former Lynx helicopter commander in the British Army

Hannah Shergold
Copyright Andy Barnham

Some people struggle to find the one thing in which they excel – Hannah Shergold is in no danger of that.

Following a degree in pre-clinical Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge University, she became an internationally-exhibited bronze sculptor. Three years later, after what she calls a ‘whirlwind of an experience’, Shergold decided that she needed a new challenge, and joined the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.

During her tours as a Lynx helicopter commander, Hannah combined her passions, now working with the WWF as well as recently being selected as the only Wild Card artist for the 2019 Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year competition.

Our Women Who Win interview series celebrates strong and inspirational female trailblazers, shaping the future for us all, and Hannah Shergold and her refusal to let anyone or anything stand in her way is that in a nutshell.

We sat down with Hannah to talk about tours of duty, her Sandhurst experience and the words that she lives by.

What inspired you to join the army?

‘My father has been in the army, and his best memories and friends and stories are from that time. I liked the idea that you form such strong relationships with people when you’re going through the same experience. My cousin’s boyfriend at the time was at Sandhurst then, and he’d tell me heaps of stories: the things that most people would say, “Oh my god that sounds horrendous!”, I thought, “That’s awesome!”’

How tough was Sandhurst?

‘There were hundreds of moments at Sandhurst when I thought, “What am I doing?” I remember being on guard in the middle of a night in the woods and it was pouring with rain. I was sat in a puddle, starving hungry and couldn’t fall asleep, otherwise we would get punished. I thought, “One day, I’m going to find it really funny how miserable I am at this moment, but definitely not right now.”’

What was it like living and training in such a heavily male environment?

‘The army is full of the most awesome people, and the majority of them are really, genuinely good, but as in any organisation, you come across some people that really don’t think that women should be in the army. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t encounter any prejudice – I didn’t really notice it at first and found it much easier to brush off earlier in my career. I suppose in hindsight I was in survival mode, and also I was so busy I didn’t have time to sit back and think about it.’

Why did you choose to be a helicopter pilot?

‘The short answer is because helicopters looked really cool. My piloting course, which was 18 months long, was the toughest thing I’ve ever done: if things start going badly, you can go from being absolutely fine to being chucked off the course in less than a week. I’m very self-deprecating and would be quite honest about it, and sometimes I found with the guys they would always say that their flights were fine, so I got into my head that I was the only one that was struggling. But I only failed one flight in the entire time I was training: my last one!’

How did you get your start in the art world?

‘My secondary school had the most fantastic art department, with a wonderful old building that looked like a proper old-fashioned artist’s studio. We got to use oil paint and do sculpture: a friend of a friend tried to buy some A-level pieces that I’d made from clay. In 2006, after I’d finished university, I booked myself a stand at Bleinheim Horse Trials to sell statues cast out of bronze – when I booked it I didn’t actually have any pieces to show… I went to Dubai to sell my pieces for three summers, but the credit crunch hit in the autumn of 2008 and luxury products are the first thing to go.’

Copyright Andy Barnham

How did you balance art and the army?

‘I was in Kenya for six months on medical duties, which means a lot of sitting around, waiting for something to go wrong. Some people read, some people played on the Playstation, and I drew. I did pen and ink sketches of life out there; I just found it so beautiful out there.’

What’s your mantra?

‘Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. I’m a massive believer in things happening for a reason. If things are genuinely disappointing or go wrong, my fall back is, “Well that happened because something else amazing is going to occur as a result of not getting it.” Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start something new!’

How should women ask for more?

‘Have proof that you deserve something. You shouldn’t necessarily be expected to cite that proof, but if someone has the audacity to question why you deserve something, you can back it up quickly with the reasons.’

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How much time do Marie Claire team members spend on their phones? 😬

How much time do Marie Claire team members spend on their phones? 😬

‘At the rate I’m going, I’ll spend 7 years of my life on it’

How much time do you spend on your phone in a single day? If the results of our in-house challenge are anything to go by, it’s probably a lot longer than you think.

A week ago five Marie Claire team members downloaded the screen time app Moment for a week to measure exactly how long they spend scrolling every day. For most of them, the results were a big wake-up call.

Lucia Debieux, fashion editor

Daily average screen time: 4 hours 55 minutes

Waking life: 36% per day

Pick-ups: 46 per day

Day of the highest use: Tuesday

Most-used app: Instagram

Lucia says: ‘I feel mortified that I’m spending 36% of my day on my phone! It’s a long running conversation in my family that I have a problem with my phone and these stats really bring it home. I did expect it to be bad, but in my head I was thinking the results would show 2-3 hours per day, when in reality it’s 4-5.

I’m relieved that it shows I barely use my phone on the weekend when I’m with my daughter as I worry that I’m not present enough when I’m with her.

I’ve got into a bad habit of using my phone while walking along so I’m going to start leaving it in my bag zipped in a pocket while listening to a podcast, rather than constantly having it in my hand.’

Lucy Pavia, entertainment editor

Daily average screen time: 3 hours 14 minutes

Waking life: 22% per day

Pick-ups: 54 per day

Day of the highest use: Thursday

Most-used app: Instagram, Twitter

Lucy says: ‘My husband shared a fantasy of his with me recently. No, not one of those. It’s this: we’re on our way somewhere in the car and I’m using the quiet time to scroll through my emails, Instagram or Twitter feed. In one smooth motion, he plucks the phone out of my hand, rolls down the window and flings it onto the kerb.

I know I look at my phone too much, and I know it annoys my husband, who would happily leave his upstairs for most of the day. The results of this test don’t surprise me, but they’ve helped reinforce the new rules I’m imposing to cut down. We’re buying an alarm clock so we can instigate a no-phones in the bedroom rule. We’re banning multi-screen time, so when we’re watching something on TV together the phone stays in the kitchen, and I’m buying a stash of physical books to read (rather than downloads) to stop me scrolling through social media on the train.

But I do have to be realistic: staying on top of things through my phone is a big part of my job as an entertainment journalist, so a total detox isn’t practical, but I’m hoping these steps will help to chip away at my average screen time. There are days when I feel like Gollum, obsessively tapping and swiping. And we all know what happened to him.’

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Aperol eyes 🤪 #davoudandhannah

A post shared by LUCY PAVIA (@lucypavia) on Sep 1, 2018 at 2:07am PDT

Victoria Fell, features assistant

Daily average screen time: 1 hour 56 minutes

Waking life: 12% per day

Pick-ups: 68 per day

Day of the highest use: Sunday

Most-used app: Safari

‘I’m a bit shocked at myself to be honest – I thought the maximum time I’d be looking at my phone would be an hour, considering I use my laptop at home and spend most of my time at work in front of the computer.

The fact I used my phone the most on Sunday was a bit sad, as it was my weekend and I hope I didn’t miss out on anything through using it.

Moving forward, considering I use my phone to read a lot of news sites and Twitter, I’m going to try and start picking up actual newspapers and books to keep myself entertained and cut down on screen time.’

Penny Goldstone, digital fashion editor

Daily average screen time: 3 hours 14 minutes

Waking life: 22% per day

Pick-ups: 71 per day

Day of the highest use: Monday

Most-used app: Instagram

‘I knew I spent a lot of time on my phone (I have a long train commute and I use my phone a lot for work) but the results still came as a shock. Some days I spend four hours on my phone, which is insane!

I use my phone the most on a Monday, which I think is mainly because I catch up on everything on my 45-minute train commute in the morning. I need to make an effort to put it down and read books more.

It’s so easy to fall down the Instagram rabbit hole in the evening too, so I’m going to install a post 9pm digital ban. My app tells me that if I don’t cut back, I will spend 7.2 years of my life on my phone – I really don’t want that.’

Lori Lefterova, picture editor

Daily average screen time: 2 hours 49 minutes

Waking life: 17% per day

Pick-ups: 71 per day

Day of the highest use: Monday

Most-used app: Safari

Lori says: ‘I’m really surprised how much Safari I use, I expected social media to be my most-used app, and I definitely thought I use my phone more than I do.

I’ve just found out that the new iOS update will have similar feature to Moment, called screen time. It will show in a graphic how much you’ve used the different apps on your device. I’m looking forward to seeing the results over a longer period of time.’

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Tanya Burr: ‘Without my phone, I can just breathe’

Tanya Burr: ‘Without my phone, I can just breathe’

As part of Marie Claire’s new #screenbreak campaign, influencer and actress Tanya Burr tells us how she keeps a digital balance

Tanya Burr
Photo by Rachell Smith

If you’re with your phone, you’re not actually alone: in the same way I sometimes need space from my friends or my dog, I also need it from my phone. Without it, you can just breathe. Being on your phone all the time can cause physical conditions like repetitive strain injury, and, mentally, I think it’s really good to be by yourself sometimes and not constantly hooked into technology.

Bizarrely, since I started acting more three years ago the amount of time I spend on my phone has actually increased – I used to not work on weekends at all! Any audition you get offered, you feel really lucky, and sometimes you get less than 24 hours notice, so you spend all day on an app learning lines. When I was just doing digital work, the only thing I really had to switch off from was emails – my social media postings were just little snippets of my life.

Tanya Burr

One of the best ways I find to switch-off from my phone is through exercise. I like to do Barry’s Bootcamp classes, which are great because you can put your phone away in a locker. In general, though, I just try to be mindful in each individual situation. I don’t really have hard and fast rules, but I don’t like being on my phone when I’m with people, and my husband [Jim Chapman] and I try not have our laptops out in the evening.

If I find I’m on my phone too much, I usually go and put it on charge in my bedroom, then hang out downstairs. I find that technique useful because there’s three flights of stairs between me and my phone so it’s a lot of effort to go and get it! Though if I’m waiting for news or an important message I tend to carry my phone around with me to all sorts of weird places.

A post shared by Tanya Burr (@tanyaburr) on Aug 25, 2018 at 2:17pm PDT

Although acting isn’t great for the amount of time you spend on your phone, when I was acting on stage recently [as Ella in Confidence], I hardly spoke to anyone for two months! It was the most time I’ve ever spent off phone and people began to notice – my management even asked when they were allowed to speak to me.

This morning, I was on my phone, texting my sister-in-law, exchanging really lovely text messages about her pregnancy. It was 6am. I definitely could have stayed in bed texting back and forth with her, but I forced myself to go and make myself a cup of tea: I just suddenly thought, ‘Do I really want to be engaged with my phone right now?’

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How our phones became a 150-a-day habit, and why it’s time for a #screenbreak

How our phones became a 150-a-day habit, and why it’s time for a #screenbreak

Do you keep your phone on the table when you’re out with friends? Have you slipped away from a party to check your Instagram feed? Do you spin into a panic when there’s no wifi? Today Marie Claire launches #screenbreak, a new campaign to help curb and control our addictive scrolling habits. Since, for most of us, a full digital detox isn’t possible or practical, we’ve gathered expert advice, tricks and tech to help reduce the average 150-pickups-a-day routine, along with simple ways to be more mindful with the time you do spend on your phone. To kick off the campaign, Tanya Goodin, founder of digital detox movement Time To Log Off and author of Stop Staring at Screens, tells us why a major digital reset is long overdue.

I don’t need to tell you that you’re spending too much time on screens – you know that. What started as a murmur of concern a year or so ago about our out-of-control screen habits is now a deafening roar. According to research we tap, click and scroll on our smartphones 2,617 times a day – picking them up 150 times on average – we now spend more time on screens than we do asleep!

Between scrolling aimlessly on social media when we’re bored, getting sucked into yet another work email chain after hours and responding to the endless pings from all the WhatsApp groups we joined to make our lives more efficient – how are we getting anything done?

Our smartphones are seriously distracting us from the business of living our lives and even from being productive in our careers. One recent study showed that even if your phone is face down and switched off on your desk it reduces your IQ by 10 points. And how many of us can honestly say we ever now have our phones face down and switched off, or at least not ever for long?

But there’s a more insidious side to our 24:7 screen habit and that’s the impact it’s having on our mental health, with research showing that it’s women who suffer far more on this front.

Suzy Reading, author of The Self Care Revolution is not surprised and says she finds she often gets caught up in a ‘feedback loop of anxiety’ when she’s on screens. ‘When I’m anxious I check-in more as a means of distraction, which fuels my feeling of being over-stimulated and anxious. I can literally cycle between Instagram, Facebook and. Twitter on loop. Just the sight of my phone triggers an urge to check-in and a cascading of stress hormones.’

Tanya Burr: ‘Without my phone, I can just breathe’

And all of those platforms that Suzy cycles through, and which most of us spend all our social media hours on, have the potential to heighten our anxiety: Twitter can be particularly hostile for women, breeding the type of nasty trolls that target us specifically online; Instagram has that carefully curated feed of perfect bodies living perfect lives; and Facebook doubles up the pressure on the ’emotional labour’ we women do in marking birthdays, work anniversaries and celebrations. (It can’t be just me who feels horribly guilty when I’ve missed one and forgotten to post on a friend’s Facebook Wall).

Despite having spent over 20 years working exclusively online, my own Twitter trolling has thankfully been confined to a man tweeting to tell me I was ‘attention seeking’ after being on the BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme, but even that knocked me off-course for a bit. Rhiannon Lambert, leading Harley Street Nutritionist and author of Re-Nourish, has been less lucky. ‘Only recently, I was the target of what appeared to be a cult in America following a restrictive diet. They got very personal, posting Photoshopped images of me with cruel comments with some even making aggressive threats.’

My personal challenge is Instagram and Katherine Ormerod, author of Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life, is with me on this ‘I think any platform that enables easy cross-companion will always have the potential to inspire worry, centred on financial and romantic success, body image and life milestones in particular’.

This summer the endless streams of photos from friends’ breezy seaside jaunts took their toll when I was grafting away in stifling London with little prospect of getting a break.

After realising I was really starting to really feel down every time I logged-in, I banned myself for a week. Suzy Reading sympathises: ‘If I’m at home with the kids, seeing luxury travel snaps from other people definitely brings out the green-eyed monster. It also shows up in home envy, career envy, fitness envy, relationship envy… and this sense that I’m somehow not enough as an individual, not achieving enough or doing enough.’

5 apps to help control your screen time 

‘I love social media,’ says Emma Gannon, host of the CTRL ALT DELETE podcast and author of The Multi-Hyphen Method, ‘but I find being on it for too long makes me feel anxious after a while. For me it can be an easy way of procrastinating, so if I’m putting off on tidying up, or replying to my emails, or going to the gym then it can leave me feeling icky. Seeing what other people are constantly doing makes me feel anxious too. You should never feel like you’re living other people’s lives more than your own.’

When we’re not wasting hours scrolling through our potentially toxic social feeds, there are other aspects of the digital world that have the ability to really pile on the pressure.

I agree with Shahroo Izadi, behavioural change specialist and author of The Kindness Method, on the unique tyranny of those little ticks: ‘I find that the concept of read receipt can be quite anxiety-inducing. For those of us who struggle with overthinking and anxious thinking patterns, knowing someone has seen a message but not responded can cause a lot of us to tell ourselves stories that aren’t true – but are able to impact our day-to-day wellbeing nonetheless’.

But with most of us now spending our working days entirely on screens, how can we navigate the minefield of anxiety that so much of the digital world can cause us without being a hermit, giving up our jobs and reverting to a completely analogue way of life?

Taking weeks at a time off screens isn’t practical for most of us, but small, mindful, screen breaks throughout the day are. It’s exactly the approach I’ve been employing myself in the four years since I refocused my digital career to specialise in digital health and wellbeing.

I’ve put together plenty of practical tips and techniques you can employ to live a more screen-balanced life in my new book Stop Staring at Screens and I’ve also surveyed some of my digital influencer friends to collate expert advice from them.

These are women who have to juggle working and promoting their careers in the digital world with carefully protecting their mental health and wellbeing. Here are their words of wisdom:

How 6 digital pros keep a balance

1) Set a morning routine

Shahroo Izadi: ‘Deciding not to look at your phone for the first 20 minutes of the day can make a big difference to your day-to day-wellbeing. Whether it’s checking emails, reading the news or scrolling through Instagram, what we decide to expose ourselves to as soon as we open our eyes can put us on a back foot mentally and emotionally for the rest of the day.’

2) Turn off unnecessary notifications

From me, Tanya Goodin: ‘Be ruthless with notifications. You don’t need to know in real-time if an Insta post has been liked. It’s those endless notifications that make you keep picking up your phone. Go through each app and cut down on those you receive. I have none at all enabled on my phone so I check it when I choose – not when it buzzes.’

3) Treat social media like a house party

Suzy Reading: ‘Be mercenary about who you let in.  I like Lucy Sheridan’s suggestion to treat social media like a house party. If they wouldn’t make your guest list, don’t invite them to your social media feed’.

4) Dip into your self-esteem bank

Katherine Ormerod: ‘I keep a list on Notes on my phone of the positive things I’ve achieved, or the attributes that I like about myself and if anything on social media starts to make me spiral, I go back to read them. It’s like an emergency self-esteem bank!’

5) Execute a no phones at the table rule

Rhiannon Lambert: ‘I’ve realised a healthy thing is not to use your phone in places where you relax. That’s the bedroom but also the dining table too. Remember, eating mindfully is always a good thing!’

6) Make use of the mute

Emma Gannon: ‘I reflect on who I am following about once a month – I am not afraid to mute or unfollow accounts that no longer serve me or add to my life anymore. As my friend Abigail once said, “we care about what food we put into our bodies, so we should also care what online content we put into our minds.”‘

7) Introduce regular check-ins

Suzy Reading: ‘Check-in and ask yourself, how do you feel afterwards? Listen to your body as well as tune in with your thoughts and feelings – is tension, discomfort or negativity showing up during or after social media usage? Ask yourself, is this life-giving behaviour or do you want to make some mindful changes?’

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#iminyourvillage … motherhood is a marathon and those early days… I wondered how long it would take for sleep deprivation to kill me. Both times, I was floored by life in general, coupled with the demands of motherhood. Charlotte's birth coincided with my dad's battle with motor neurone disease and my village became instrumental in seeing me through. It was largely an online village because I felt too sad and exhausted to make plans. Amazing how a just a loving text to check in can pep you up and keep you going. Second time round we'd moved from one side of the globe to the other to be with my husbands family, his dad in end stage heart failure. My mates and my dear mum were on the other side of the world and the early chapter of Ted's life was pretty solitary for me again. But three years on, we're all flourishing and in that time I've made some incredibly life-giving friendships here through these squares. Thank to @mumologist for getting us talking about our experiences and the value in reaching out. Thanks for being in my village, I still need you! I relish being in yours. Suz 💓 . . . . . . . . #ittakesavillage #whosinyourvillage #iam #parentingvillage #selfcarerevolution #mother #motherhood #mama #happymum #sadmum #allthefeels #pnd #grief #normal #mentalhealth #flourish #otherpeople matter

A post shared by Suzy Reading (@suzyreading) on Mar 19, 2018 at 2:11am PDT

Don’t beat yourself up if any of these tips are hard initially to put into practice, the digital world has been engineered to be addictive and hard to step away from. Shahroo Izadi says many of her clients struggle with not looking at their phone for the first 20 minutes of the day and build up from 5 minutes.

Begin with baby steps and keep checking in with yourself about how you feel. Even those of us who are hyper-alert to all the dangers of the digital world struggle at times with keeping ourselves digitally healthy.

Katherine Ormerod concurs ‘Even now, after having written a whole book about it and really, seriously working on my attitude to social media, I’m not impervious. Especially on a sad Friday night double screening in front of Netflix!’

Good luck!

The post How our phones became a 150-a-day habit, and why it’s time for a #screenbreak appeared first on Marie Claire.

‘Antisemitism is on the rise and It’s draining having to defend your beliefs’

‘Antisemitism is on the rise and It’s draining having to defend your beliefs’

The number of antisemitic incidents in the UK is at its highest since records began in the 80s. Abigail Radnor reports on a growing fear in Britain’s Jewish community


In April, as I listened to Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger make an impassioned speech in the House of Commons during a debate on antisemitism, I felt the hairs on my arms stand up. Then I started to cry.

‘I was 19 when I received my first piece of hate mail. It described me as “a dirty Zionist pig”,’ said Berger, who went on to recount 18 years of racist attacks, which resulted in four people being convicted of antisemitic abuse towards her. At one point, police told Berger she was the subject of 2,500 hate messages in one day, linked to the hashtag ‘filthyjewbitch’.

Her speech tapped into the pain the British Jewish community has been feeling lately. In 2017, there was a 34 per cent rise in antisemitic incidents recorded in the UK, a record high since data was first collected in 1984. There is no reason for this spike, but the report pointed towards a toxic combination of an increasingly confident far-right, buoyed by a rhetoric of intolerance, and parts of the Labour party that seem to have given antisemitism a free pass. All this has left the Jewish community feeling more isolated and nervous than ever before.

To find yourself the ‘token Jew’ in a conversation these days, is as exhausting as finding yourself the only feminist in a room of people who think ‘maybe this #metoo thing has gone too far’. It’s draining to have to constantly defend your beliefs. And I wish I didn’t have to convince people of the severity of the problem by pointing out the armed security at our synagogues and terrorist drills in schools as a result of bomb scares.

‘I wish I didn’t have to point out the armed security at synagogues and terrorist drills in schools’

We are on our guard in a way that we never have been before. One friend noticed that when she changed her Bumble profile to include ‘Jewish’, her number of matches dropped dramatically. ‘It could be an algorithm, but it made me wonder,’ she said. Another was affected by the increase in antisemitic attacks in Paris. ‘I became so anxious about dropping my kids at their Jewish school or going to the synagogue that I went to see a counsellor,’ she told me.

Increasingly, my friends and I are encountering a dangerous naivety around antisemitism, not helped by the ignorant rhetoric that means people too often are unable to criticise Israel without using lazy antisemitic tropes. Concern turned to outrage in March, when it was revealed Jeremy Corbyn once offered support to the artist of an offensive mural in East London, which featured age-old antisemitic imagery of Jewish caricatures playing Monopoly on the backs of naked workers. His defence that he hadn’t looked at it closely sounded as pathetic as ‘my dog ate my homework’.

‘Antisemitism must be called out to stem the tide of hate’

Frustration led me to join the 1,500-strong crowd in Parliament Square the following Monday, demanding ‘enough is enough’. Things got worse over the summer, especially when footage emerged of a speech Corbyn gave in Parliament 2013 declaring that British Zionists ‘having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don’t understand English irony…’ For many, here was the future leader of the Labour party implying a minority community could never belong in this country. None of the clumsy attempts made to explain or excuse the remark mitigated the offence caused.

Headline news illuminating antisemitic issues is reassuring, but the Jewish community’s anguish must be taken seriously. People like my friend, who told me of a conversation she had with a close non-Jewish friend: ‘She offered to hide my children and raise them as her own if things get Nazi Germany bad in UK politics. Neither of us was joking.’ As Berger said, being a bystander isn’t an option. It is time to stop ignoring this problem or, worse, pretending that it doesn’t exist. We must call out antisemitic behaviour, stand together and stem the tide of hate.

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What would actually happen if Donald Trump was impeached?

What would actually happen if Donald Trump was impeached?

Calls for his impeachment have dogged the 45th President since he took up his seat in the Oval Office. But what would actually happen if Trump was impeached?

Trump impeached

The 45th President’s time in office has already been one of the most controversial in history. Donald Trump has been accused of colluding with Russia to rig the outcome of the US election, threatened nuclear war with North Korea and shown leniency towards white supremacists in Charlottesville. But will Donald Trump be impeached?

Since the arrest of Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and lawyer Michael Cohen, many believe it is now a question of when, not if, the President is impeached.

‘I think [Trump] has to realise that the countdown to impeachment has already started’ Democratic Congressman Al Green told the media. ‘He, at some point, will have to choose if he will face impeachment or if he will resign. It will be his choice. The congress will have no choice but to act.’

Trump has, as ever, come out fighting. ‘I don’t know how you can impeach somebody who has done a great job,’ Trump told Fox News, addressing the question of an impeachment for the first time. ‘I will tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash. I think everybody would be very poor because, without this thinking, you would see – you would see numbers that you wouldn’t believe, in reverse.’

Guilty: Paul Manafort pictured at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He has now been found guilty on eight counts, including tax and bank fraud, and faces up to 80 years in prison

But what exactly is an impeachment, how does the impeachment process work and what would happen if Trump was impeached?

What is an impeachment?

An impeachment is defined in the US constitution as when ‘the president or another government official is brought up on charges and tried by the Congress, and if convicted, is removed from office.’

What does it take for a President to be impeached?

Something pretty serious. According to the US constitution, a President must commit ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors’ to be impeached. Two Presidents have been impeached before: Andrew Johnson for illegally removing his secretary of war from office in 1968 and (more recently) Bill Clinton for lying under oath to a federal grand jury about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky in 1998. One of the biggest scandals to ever hit the Presidency was Watergate in 1972, when President Nixon attempted to cover up a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters, where key documents were stolen and phones bugged. Nixon resigned before he was formally impeached. If it can be proved that Trump colluded with Russia – a hostile foreign power – to secure his election victory, he will have committed a highly serious, treasonable offence, arguably one far worse than Watergate.

Bill Clinton before being impeached in 1998

Bill Clinton in 1998, the year he was impeached

How likely is it that the President will be impeached?

In May this year lawyer and former Director of the FBI Robert Mueller was appointed by the Justice Department to investigate the Trump team’s possible collusion with Russia. This month Mueller appeared to ramp his investigation up a gear by appointing a grand jury to investigate the allegations. The purpose of a grand jury is to establish whether a case should go to trial, it also has the right to issue subpoenas, meaning that key names involved in the Russian collusion scandal must testify under oath. Mueller’s appointment of a grand jury still doesn’t mean Trump will be impeached. According to Politico most grand jury investigations do result in an indictment of some kind, but this could be against a lower-level member of Trump’s team rather than the President himself.

What stands in the way of Trump’s impeachment?

Only the House can initiate charges and an impeachment requires a two-thirds majority vote in the House of Representatives and a two-thirds majority in the Senate. However, the House and the Senate are currently still under Republican control, so only a rebellion from Trump’s own party would make it happen. The Senate would then begin a trial against the President, ending with a vote. A two-thirds majority vote against the President would be enough to remove him from office.

Is the President likely to resign before impeachment?

Jackie Speier – who sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence – has said she believes, given the mounting evidence on the Trump team’s ties to Russia, that the President is likely to resign before impeachment. ‘I have always thought that he was never going to fulfil his full term’ she said, ‘I am more convinced that he will leave before any impeachment would take place.’

Will the President be impeached?

How do Americans feel about an impeachment?

According to a poll taken late last year by the Monmouth University Polling Institute, 41% of American voters would like to see impeachment proceedings against President Trump, making him one of the most unpopular Presidents in history. A Gallup poll showed the President’s approval ratings at an all-time low, having dipped to just 34%.

Who takes over if the President is impeached?

If Trump is forced to resign in the next four years then Vice President Mike Pence will take his place in the Oval Office. In contrast to Trump’s maverick behaviour and posturing as a Washington outsider, Pence has strong party links and is regarded by many Republicans as a safe pair of hands. Though as a right-wing conservative with strong views on issues such as abortion, Pence is considered by some to be as quietly dangerous as his more volatile boss.

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