Mary Ashford was neither rich nor famous. She was a hard-working girl from a poverty-stricken background, anxious to be respectable and make her own way in the world. On the day she died, she had walked many miles to and from market. One of the most poignant details of her death, for me, was the fact that she had saved up to buy a pair of dancing shoes for a dance in the local pub that evening - money she could probably ill afford. But she was only 20 and life had to offer some respite from the daily working grind. She was just like any girl today, from a remote village in the centre of England, living an ordinary life. And yet her name became synonymous with outrage, making national headlines. Why? And why were so many - just as today - ready to criticise her for having been attacked and raped? Has anything changed in 200 years?
With the #MeToo campaign and the Weinstein controversy uppermost in our minds, especially after Oprah's speech this week, this case makes us ask ourselves the most fundamental questions about how women are treated after sexual crime.
The photograph above was taken some 78/80 years later, but was reported to be 'Mary Ashford's cottage'.
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