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Archive for the ‘Anti-Rape and Violence Activism’ Category

No recourse to public funds protest

Posted by charliegrrl on April 16, 2008

So imagine you are an in abusive relationship, but you are unable to access a refuge, or seek emergency accomodation from your local council to escape, because the government refuses to give you benefits to pay the rent or even for food. Shit..? Well of course and this is the situation facing many black and migrant women who come to Britain on the basis of marriage. They are refused access to public funds, such as rent and basic income…until after a two year probationary period and until their immigration status has been established. This leaves refuges in the awful position of turning away battered women soley because they are not classed as having British citizenship and leaves many women trapped in abusive partnerships through economic dependency.

On 1 March 2006, Kent Police contacted Southall Black Sisters about an Asian woman who had been subject to violence and who did not have secure immigration status. She came to the UK under a 2 year probationary visa as the spouse of a British national. The police did not want to return her to her marital home to face what they described as ‘certain death’.

They had no where else to place her. All attempts to find her a place to live, including in women’s refuges, had been unsuccessful because she could not claim benefits to pay her rent or living expenses. In desperation, the police stated that they were minded to contact the Home Office to have her detained as she had no other alternative place to live.

Taken from Southall Black Sisters

Many women’s rights groups and services will be protesting April 23rd, to lobby the government to support all women who wish to leave abusive partnerships with public funding, not exclude some on the basis of immigration status.

Demonstrate Wednesday 23rd April 2008 Victoria Embankment 11am

Public Meeting, Portcullis House (nearest tube Westminister) 1pm

For more info and a template letter to send to your MP

Posted in Anti-Rape and Violence Activism, General Activism | 2 Comments »

Please sign this petition for Rape Crisis

Posted by charliegrrl on April 12, 2008

Please go sign this petition.

http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/RapeCrisis/

The Truth about Rape campaign need 2,500 signatures in the next coming week to make a serious statement to the government to improve funding for rape crisis centres.

Go Sign!!!

Posted in Anti-Rape and Violence Activism, General Activism | 1 Comment »

Truth about Rape re-launch

Posted by charliegrrl on March 21, 2008

April 19th in Leeds, Truth about Rape, an anti-rape campaign group will be holding a re-launch conference. Come along!

This week started with the depressing news that about three Rape Crisis Centres are closing every year, and ended in the ace news that Harriet Harman, Minister for Women, has pledged £1 million to help keep Rape Crisis Centres open.


It’s so important for us to support our local Rape Crisis Centres. Debs is doing a sponsored run March 30th in support of Rape Crisis England and Wales. Go and sponsor her! Or alternatively, donate money to Rape Crisis via Paypal. Ah go on- every little helps.

Posted in Anti-Rape and Violence Activism | 6 Comments »

Queer anti-feminist protest against Reclaim the Night North

Posted by charliegrrl on March 7, 2008

At Reclaim the Night North March 1st, a queer and trans activist group demonstrated against feminist seperatism. Despite the protest going unnoticed cos of the amount of men that were there, I feel it is still worth highlighting.

Below are quotes from their call for action…

The QUEER TRANS BLOCK will share the same start and end points on
Sackville Street as the “women” only and “men” only demos, but will be actively queering gender, space and separatism as an entirely unique protest accountable to itself

The QUEER TRANS BLOCK is a transfeminist response to the separatism, erasure and censorship of transwomen, transmen, sex workers, gendervariant, genderqueer, non-gender-normative and intersex folk within the populist feminist movement.

I’m still trying to get my head around their motiviations. Reclaim the Night North was organised by NUS Women and was open to transpeople. They could not argue that RTN North was transphobic cos it wasn’t. Below is a video of RTN North of the queer activists. It incudes some good clips of the demo, but notice towards the end how the chant ‘2-4-6-8, No excuse for violent men’ is drowned out by ‘2-4-6-8 Queer and Trans against the State’

The reasons why they came to protest RTN North was for the following reasons:

  • They consider RTN a seperatist and transphobic space, with all the debate over RTN London being women only and the criticism that Ipswich RTN received for being open gender and organised by queer activists.
  • They reject the man/woman dichotomy that RTN North highlights in terms of male violence against women
  • They wanted to protest against me and my radical feminist mates who advocate women born women spaces.

Now the last point may sound like an exaggeration but it is true. We personally know the guy behind this and fell out over his and his cronies’ reluctance to support violence against women actions and women only spaces- cos doing this is reinforcing a gender dichotomy did you know..? Zzzzzzzzz. In the above video at the beginning, the video focuses in on me and Rad Fem Sisters, then goes back to the queer crew, then back to the Rad Fems again as if they are indicating the evil feminists that the queers are up against. I noticed a guy filming us at the time and it was very uncomfortable. One of my mates, who is a radical feminist who has always advocated and supported women only spaces, is despised by the queer crew. When she posts an action on Indymedia, even when it doesn’t relate to feminism, she gets bombarded with ‘your a transphobic fascist seperatist’! When she organised a women only craft fair, the queer crew deemed this to be oppressive. Oh yes, laugh cos I do all the time at their logic. Cos you see, when a woman with radical feminist politics draws a line in the sand and says NO, I refuse to accept your definition of a woman, your definition of women only spaces and your definition of feminism, they detest it. They feel’ oppressed’ cos they know there are activist spaces they cannot go into and that represent a politics they feel uncomfortable with. But this is the women’s liberation movement- it’s a radical politics for radical change…for women. It’s bound to piss some people off.

We must not allow ourselves to be bullied by a movement that we are not a part of. We are not obliged to accept the trans and queer definition of a woman. They are not entitled to force us to change our women only spaces just so that they can join and change the focus of our actions and the focus of our oppression. There is nothing wrong with a women’s movement campaigning against violence against women and a queer/trans movement campaigning against violence against trans and queer people. We do not need to merge together. The very reason why they force themselves into our women only spaces is indicative of their political aims, not for the liberation of trans and queer people under patriarchy, but for the colonisation of women only spaces and the destruction of the gender binaries upon which feminism is based, in their endeavour to prove a point- that anyone who identifies as a woman…is a woman.

Over 50% of the world’s population are female. Fact. The other half are male. (There is a grey area of intersex but most live as either women or men.) Feminism is based on the liberation of those 50% of the worlds population, that being women, from the other half, that being men. It’s quite simple. It’s not reinforcing gender binaries- females, males and intersex people should be free to behave without the constraints of gender. The fact is that if you are born with a female body, you are born a 2nd class citizen. You are born into a world in which men wish to control that body for their own use and abuse, be it to do their housework, cook their tea, suck their cock or just to make them feel superior. They have a variety of ways in which to control the female population for their benefit: rape, violence, sexual abuse, fear, sexual morals, poverty, capitalism…the list goes on. If a male identifies as being part of this population of women, their bodies will not have been put through the same oppression that women experience from birth, therefore they cannot be part of the women’s liberation movement. The women’s liberation movement cannot include male bodies, no matter how they identify in terms of gender. Their experience of violence and oppression will ultimately be different. They can however be allies, although not many of them have realised this yet.

My and my mates discuss our need for women only spaces. What has come out of this is that for women to be able to feel safe from male violence and to be able to talk about sexual abuse as girls, there cannot be a male bodied person in the room, as this will not make them feel comfortable. Some of us who are Lesbians need Lesbian only spaces to find comfort from the het- dominated and the queer dominated scenes. We want to be with other females.


We are now in a position that if feminists try to organise a women only protest or space, they will immediately come under attack from the queer lobby. Genuine women only spaces are being picked off one by one. We know that the Michigan Womyn’s Festival, a womyn born womyn event, has come under attack by transpeople trying to enter. They have set up Camp Trans opposite Michigan Women’s Festival in protest. My mate who has just returned from travelling around America reports that the We’Moon calender now includes art of transwomen and they now live on Women’s Land. York University Women’s Committee is no longer women only, neither in the Manchester University Women’s group. The Lesbian Community Project in Manchester is not women only, nor is the Women’s Space at Manchester Pride. The Lesbian bars on Canal Street are now ‘people’ bars. There is also a silence around the definition of a women only space- for example with Reclaim the Night London and Million Women Rise, most women I know would prefer these events to be born women only and go because they percieve them as such. Hardly any transwomen will go to these events anyway. But instead these events advertise themselves as transinclusive. Maybe to passify cos they know hardly any transwomen will turn up..? There’s something very wrong in appeasing people who attack our politics.

Another point I would like to make in now what is becoming probably the longest post I have written…is that it is people from within the feminist movement who are destroying women only spaces. Men may shout abuse at us when we march against violence against women, but Men’s Rights Activist groups don’t turn up to our protests and our spaces and demand entry so that we take violence against men seriously. It’s the people who call themselves feminists who are destroying women’s attempts to organise autonomously. Like the NUS Women’s Officers who insist a women’s committee must include men, like the queer feminists who insist on trans-inclusion and like the feminists who won’t say to their male friends, sorry you are not invited.

And to conclude this piece with something very trivial but very telling at the same time- when my girlfriend has a go at me for not being nice, for not accepting transwomen as women, I say to her- ‘Look, would you ever go down on a transwoman..? She stops, ponders, stalls to speak, then says, ‘Well no I wouldn’t…’ To which I say, ‘Why not..?’ The answer is cos they’re not female… Now go and ask your boyfriends the same question. The moral is, we can be as nice as pie in accepting transpeople into our women only spaces, but at the end of the day they aren’t the ones we are supposed to be working towards liberating, it’s not our job to make them feel comfortable in their identity as women and we aint gonna get anywhere if we continue to be nice all the time.

Hate mail can be posted to The Women’s Commune, That Field in the Middle of Nowhere PI55 0FF

Posted in Anti-Rape and Violence Activism, General Activism | 63 Comments »

Reclaim the Night North

Posted by charliegrrl on March 5, 2008

Me, Northwest Feminists and Sisters marched throughout Manchester March 1st for Reclaim the Night North. It pissed it down…tis what you get up north. You also get the delerious and fervent queer activists protesting against feminism…but I’ll come onto this later…

Below photo was knicked from Laura’s ace write up on The F Word.

So about 300-400 women and men…oh sorry and trans and queer people…marched through Manchester on a Saturday night protesting against violence against women- that’s right violence against women, not men nor trans people. We marched through the drinking areas and got the usual abuse from men- ‘You’re all a bunch of lesbians!’ Yeah so what if we fucking are. Men frequently approached the women’s march to harrass. For some reason we had loads of police stewarding the march. Last year we had no police and the RTN march went fine. The police aint our friends so I didn’t appreciate their presence this year. If we can’t march without police protection, we aren’t really reclaiming the night.

We arrived back at the Student’s Union for talks. Ju Gosling, a disability rights activist, gave a good speech about how disabled women experience violence from men in the home and on the streets. She talked about how disabled women are encouraged to stay indoors for their own safety, rather than, for those who are able to leave their home, the right to roam free from violence.

Another woman speaker, not sure of her name, spoke about setting up the first rape crisis centre in Brighton. She spoke about her and her Sisters setting it up on a shoe string. She then talked about how more recently a family member was raped, so they tried to contact a local rape crisis centre and there wasn’t one.

I did enjoy the march but there were a few things I had issue with…

We had to listen to a female New Labour MP…who was obviously trying to convince us that New Labour are a pro-woman party. Cos why..? They have a few middle class women in parliament..? Support rape crisis centres, give us a affordable housing and a decent living wage, stop cutting our benefits, free asylum seeking women from detention and start helping women exit prostitution…and then maybe we will consider New Labour to be pro-woman.

We also had a speech from the Manchester University Women’s Officer. I know she’s a nice lass, but I cringed when she was on a rant about how student women are the best type of feminist activists because they are bright and ‘educated’. EEEEEEKKKK! Very middle class thing to say.

Why were there men on the march..? Were they there to reclaim the night for us..? Can we not do anything now without men being present..? No, it’s not revolutionary or 21st century for men to march against violence in what is traditionally a women only march. We aren’t making anymore advances for women’s rights by including men in Reclaim the Night. We are in fact removing another women only event off the feminist calender. 

And as for the anti-feminist protest at the march organised by queer and trans activists…well I think I’ll save my vehemence for the next blog post. Yes you better believe it. So many women only spaces have been attacked and destroyed in Amercia by the queer and trans activists…and it’s happening here.

Posted in Anti-Rape and Violence Activism | 8 Comments »

International Women’s Day 2008

Posted by charliegrrl on February 26, 2008

Soon it will be International Women’s Day, so keep your diary free and go along to one of the many events all round the country. And if you can’t, make sure you celebrate March 8th with your women friends or treat yourself, cos despite all the shit, it is fab being a woman. Below are some of the events going on:

Million Women Rise

Join the women only rally in London to demonstrate against all forms of violence agianst women and girls.

Bolton Women’s Liberation Conference

The Bolton Women’s Liberation group that existed from 1971 until 1986 are forming an archive of their works and are holding a conference to inform feminists of their past activism and inspire us to carry on the work of feminists both past and present. Speakers include Julie Bindel, Baroness Ann Taylor, Jalna Hamner of Feminist Archive North, and women from the Bolton Women’s Liberation group.

Feminist Fightback picket against Yarls Wood

Yarls Wood is a detention centre aka prison that imprisons women and children seeking asylum in Britain. The detention centre is is Sheffield, but the private company that owns Yarls Wood is Serco, in London.

…up to 405 women and children asylum-seekers are detained at any time [in Yarls Wood]. These women, 70% of whom are survivors of rape, are held in appalling conditions. The women detained at Yarl’s Wood have reported being subject to racist and sexist physical and verbal abuse, confirmed by a recent government report investigating abuse at detention centres. They also state that the food served is inadequate, and that necessary items are sold at extortionate prices. As well, women have complained that staff members have interfered with their attempts to contact their lawyers.

No to the detainment of women and children seeking asylum
No to private companies making profit out of the imprisonment of vulnerable women and children
No to racism. Demonstrate, 4.30pm Serco Research Institute at 22 Hand Court London WC1V 6JF
For more info email Feminist Fightback via
laura_schwartz2003@yahoo.co.uk

Glasgow Feminist Network

Club night, V Day filming and Public Reading ‘Why I’m a feminist?’, spread out over International Women’s Week. Loads more links too to events in Scotland.

Faslane Peace Camp

For music, dance, poetry and blockading the military base

Helensburgh, Scotland 1pm

Women Centre Stage

A day of women’s creativity in celebration for International Women’s Day.

March 5th Swansea email womencentrestage@hotmail.co.uk

Act Together, Women’s Action for Iraq

10th March London. An event to share experiences and stories about and by Iraqi Women

And lots of others, feel free to link to any I have missed out.

Manchester Council events

Women in Palestine National Tour

TUC event in Leeds

Capital Women

Abortion Rights Demo

Posted in Anti-Rape and Violence Activism, General Activism | 6 Comments »

Feminist resistance to prostitution

Posted by charliegrrl on February 18, 2008

Feb 11th saw the first meeting of the Feminist Coalition against Prostitution. I have heard lots of good feedback from the event and that feminists really feel the tide is turning and with campaigning, we have a good chance of making it illegal for men to pay for sex.

They are planning actions to lobby MPs and to get support from the Unions. Keep an eye on the website for model letters to send.

If you’re still of the opinion that banning men from purchasing women for sex is a bad idea and you still think that ‘sex work’ is a job like any other, then read below voices of resistance from women who actually have experienced prostitution or read the above book.

Andrea Dworkin

I want to bring us back to basics. Prostitution: what is it? It is the use of a woman’s body for sex by a man, he pays money, he does what he wants. The minute you move away from what it really is, you move away from prostitution into the world of ideas. You will feel better; you will have a better time; it is more fun; there is plenty to discuss, but you will be discussing ideas, not prostitution. Prostitution is not an idea. It is the mouth, the vagina, the rectum, penetrated usually by a penis, sometimes hands, sometimes objects, by one man and then another and then another and then another and then another. That’s what it is.
…prostitution comes from male dominance…male domination needs to be ended, not simply reformed, not made a little nicer, and not made a little nicer for some women.

…Any man who has enough money to spend degrading a woman’s life in prostitution has too much money. He does not need what he’s got in his pocket. But there is a woman who does.

http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/MichLawJourI.html

Rebecca Mott

The idea that women or girls choose to be a prostitute is a way of ignoring the realities of prostituted women’s and girls’ lives. This safe concept can only work if society ignores these women’s and girls’ life experiences. There are many and often very complicated reasons why women or girls enter prostitution. It can be poverty. It can be that she has experienced male sexual abuse in her home. It can be that the woman or girl is escaping from domestic violence. It can be that they want to push themselves into being a “bad” woman. It can be a “boyfriend” saying “do this to show you love me”. There are so many reasons but few are choices. Choice for me comes from a place where you can understand the consequences. Choice comes from a place where there is self-esteem. These are things few women and girls have experienced when they enter prostitution…
I use myself as an example. I had been sexually abused by my stepdad since I was six. Part of my abuse was to teach me that my sole object was to be a sexual object. I was shown hard-core porn. This taught me that I should smile when I being hurt sexually. Like the photos I learned to appear dead when were forcing sex on me. All this happened before I entered prostitution. So, when I entered prostitution at the age of14, I already believed it was my choice. I thought it was my way to rebel. I was bad. I was now the “whore” that my stepdad had always said I was.

Debunking the Happy Hooker Myth, by Rebecca Mott

Why I hate Fun FAQ

I became a prostitute at nineteen in order to pay for my apartment and car the best I could with no degree, no work experience, and with what anybody who tried to hire me for anything else would be willing to tell you was a terrible attitude. I was part of a community of moral relativists who believed that prostitution was a completely valid and even desirable choice for women young and pretty enough to make lots of money at it…The idea was that it was all my choice, and any discouragement would be deleterious to my freedom, but for some reason encouragement was okay.
During my time as a prostitute, especially as someone who felt intense economic pressure to go into sex work and intense social pressure to lie about how that felt, I would make a lot of the same statements that young sex workers make to me all the time. I know where these ladies are coming from because I used to live there. I know what I’m talking about because I’ve done what they do.
..

…Sex work is bad for you. No really.

Anonymous woman

The majority of what this industry is about is a lot of pain, misery and distress. It annoys me that the media like to highlight only the prostitutes who say how empowering this is. There might be a few out there who think that at this moment in time, but that is not true for the vast majority. What pisses me off about [Belle de Jour] is that you’re very rarely going to have a client that you like having sex with. You have to learn to disassociate your body from your mind which is dangerous for your psyche. For the vast majority of prostitutes, it isn’t glamorous – it is damaging and dangerous – yet it seems to be promoted as some kind of career option.
I had one guy who kept insisting that I have anal sex but I wouldn’t. He became extremely violent – he kept grabbing my hair and pulling it back. And you have to act like you’re enjoying it. How that cannot damage somebody is … you don’t know what they’re going to do if you say stop.
http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/women/story/0,,2225542,00.html

Ex-Prostitutes against Legislated Sexual Servitude (XPALSS)

Prostitution is like any other profession. Really? What other profession do you know of that requires an exiting strategy?Who will you protect?
Abolish prostitution

For other links see FCAP website

Posted in Anti-Rape and Violence Activism | 18 Comments »

Reclaim the Night North

Posted by charliegrrl on January 26, 2008

Reclaim the Night North will be held in Manchester city centre
March 1st 2008.
The march is women only- congregate at 6pm, Sackville Street. There will also be a march for supportive men, starts at Sackville Street 6pm but wil march on a different route, and later will join the women’s march. Then there will be a mixed rally for everyone from 7.30pm, back at the University of Manchester Students’ Union.
The march is being organised by NUS Women, so for more info email women@nus.org.uk
See ya there! 

Posted in Anti-Rape and Violence Activism | 4 Comments »

Ban men from buying sex

Posted by charliegrrl on December 21, 2007

Last night I was thrilled to see on the news, Harriet Harman and co, wishing to make it illegal to pay for sex. They hope to reverse the model of criminalising prostitutes, and instead criminalise the men who pay for sex. About bloody time!!! They said the Bill will be discussed in the New Year.

The idea that men can purchase women and girls in the same way as that they buy a take away pizza, is deplorable. The fact that newspapers advertise massage parlours, saunas, escorting etc is irresponsible (they are soon to discuss regulating this). The fact that so many women and girls outside of Britain are trafficked into Britain to meet the insatiable demand of men to have sex with a woman/girl whenever they want- well it’s dispicable.

However, as much as I was delighted to hear this news, I was also saddened by seeing women speaking out against such a move to criminalise punters (English Collective of Prostitutes etc)… They state that making it illegal for men to pay for sex, will push prostitution underground and make it less likely to help trafficked women, as punters will be less likely to provide police with info.

On newsnight lastnight, a former government minister, Denis MacShane, argued that men should be criminalised for purchasing sex. He said why should men be able to purchase women, just because they are men…and that no woman he knows would be willing to sleep with 30 men a day to make a living. The opposing speaker was the Green Party’s candidate for Mayor of London, Sian Berry. She dribbled on about how the answer to helping sex workers is to liberalise prostitution, not criminalise punters. Mr MacShane could not understand how a woman could be speaking in favour of men purchasing women for sexual gratification. And neither can I. This fustrates me so much to see women speak in favour of men having the right to purchase women for sex, as if they don’t want to do anything to upset these ‘loyal customers’. Liberalising prostitution is basically giving the green light to men who want to buy sex and allows the capitalist sex industry to expand to meet the greater demand. But it wouldn’t be the prostituted women making the money, but the pimps behind the industry. Sian Berry says that sex workers don’t want men to feel afraid to purchase sexual services- if the demand is reduced, so will the sex worker’s money. I can understand this, but I think to remedy this, if we reduce the demand for paying for sex, we will have to also tackle the issues that lead women and girls to become prostitutes: criminalising men paying for sex would have to go hand in hand with more exit-prostitution projects, supported housing projects, supportive drug treatment programmes, tackling poverty, child abuse and allowing trafficked women and girls to remain in Britain with recourse to public funds, amongst many other things. I wholeheartedly support the drive to criminalise men paying for sex, but I hope that this drive will bring about more support for prostituted women and girls as well.

PS, just found this great flim via Witchy about trafficking, with Emma Thompson in.

Posted in Anti-Rape and Violence Activism | 89 Comments »

Feminist Activist Forum

Posted by charliegrrl on December 20, 2007

Feminist Activist Forum is a new forum for feminist activism, set up by feminists at Ladyfest Leeds in 2007. The aim is to create a vibrant feminist activist network, that creates bridges between various feminist standpoints, is inter-generational and challenges all forms of oppression that women experience. So far there have been forums all over the country, with the next one being in London 26th January.

I went to the most recent one. I have to say it was brilliant. The main action points we discussed were:

Abortion Rights:

Everyone in the group, and I hope you can too, is emailing their MP via They Work for You, to ask them to support the pro-choice amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill passing through Parliament. The amendments aim to get rid of the necessity for a woman to have two doctors’ signatures to allow her to have an abortion and to make abortion easier in the early stages. We are also asking our MPs to speak against the anti-abortion amendments aiming to curtail the time limit in which women can have an abortion. Please email your MP, as they are discussing this in Parliament and it is so important that they hear our voices and demands.

Rape Crisis Centre closures:

We have set up a working group to campaign against the closure of rape crisis centres. We feel that feminists should be supporting local rape crisis and violence against women services, as they are under threat from lack of funding. So many have closed down so far, and we can’t let anymore close. This group is soon to meet in Leeds to discuss plans. Please sign the petition calling for the governement to end the postcode lottery for violence against women services.

No Borders activism:

We heard from a woman seeking asylum about her experience of living in Britain and of the immigration system. Women who have fled torture and rape are being deported back to their country of origin. When they are in Britain, they are treated as criminals by the immigration system and can be imprisoned in detention centres for indefinate periods of time, with limited representation. Feminists are organising action against the racist and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers and against detention centres.

We also discussed women-only spaces as there has been great divide about whether women-only spaces should include transgendered people. This discussion was excellent and there was a sense of commitment to create unity between feminists of different opinions about trans-inclusivity- rather than the usual polarisation of groups and in-fighting. This day was an excellent example of how when feminists can come together and work through differences for the greater good of the women’s movement.

I recommend if anyone can, to attend the next forum in London 26th January, venue to be confirmed on website.

Posted in Anti-Rape and Violence Activism, General Activism | 2 Comments »

 
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