Saturday 1429 – 9th March 2013
This is a long post today but I hope you’ll stick with it because it is such an important issue that affects us all. Thank you.
“Women have been socially, culturally and economically conditioned to defer to men, to take our lead from men, to behave in ways approved of by men. On this particular day, we want women to come and feel the strength, the exhilaration and power of being with other women, to celebrate ourselves, to sing, shout and chant at the top of our voices, in all our diversity, to demonstrate however we want because we’re women in the company of other women”
Violence against women “includes physical, sexual, psychological and Economic violence, harassment or intimidation; sexual abuse or rape, including marital rape and sexual slavery; battery; domestic violence; forced prostitution; trafficking in women and girls; burning or acid throwing; female genital mutilation; female feticide and infanticide; violence in armed conflict; systemic rape; forced pregnancy; and forced marriage.” from Million Women Rise website
It wasn’t all serious the women had fun too and I’ll show you some faces of the women who took part.. but be warned that there is a photo which is pretty gruesome. It needs to be understood just how bad things can be for women.
First take a look at what happened just before the start. This certainly grabbed the attention of the photographers there ! !! Her t-shirt reads “I like women hot not burned”
Despite this being a very serious subject there was a carnival feeling on the march itself with drums and whistles..
and colourful faces
I joined the Million Women Rise march through the heart of London today, including through Soho the traditional London home of prostitution, to say NO as loudly as I could to this violence against women. I marched because women and girls have the right to live free from violence or the fear of violence and we seem to be further away than ever from achieving this.
I will give you some statistics later in this piece but it’s a terrible fact that male violence against women is endemic throughout the world in all levels of society and as sisters womanhood needs to say that it’s time to stop this now. We need to show our daughters that unity is strength and the voices of many are louder together than a single voice. Women were encouraged to wear red to “symbolise the colour of Woman and her blood, the blood of our sisters who have been murdered and raped, our blood which contains life, courage, respect, dignity and protection”
I found this a very moving event marching with women from all backgrounds united in the desire to highlight this violence. Some women I spoke to had been victims of violence, rape and brutality themselves. Others like myself were there to show solidarity.
These women were not “man hating lesbians” as had been suggested to one woman by a male colleague at her place of work. I certainly don’t hate men though I’m sure there were some on the march who had good reason to feel hate towards them. These were ordinary women who want to make a difference and encourage change. As I walked past people who lined the streets to watch us, I couldn’t help looking at their faces and wondering how many of the women had been victims of male violence and how many of the men had abused the women in their lives..
In 2010 Theresa May, both Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality, gave a speech at the Women’s Aid National Conference. She said ” I believe I have a unique opportunity to bring about real change to the lives and to the status of women in this country.” but during her whole speech she used the word man just once” during the rest of the speech she talked about the abuse of women as though this was some sort of abstract event. It isn’t. What she should have done is made it clear that this violence is by men against women. This has to be absolutely clear. Theresa May’s speech was full of soundbites but the reality is that now we find that UK councils are making swingeing funding cuts to Domestic Violence services because of lack of funding. “One in five domestic violence centres has cut services in the last year due to funding problems” (Guardian 6.03.13)
There can be no blaming women because of where they were, what they were wearing, that they had been drinking etc, etc. Men must take the responsibility and women must insist upon that.
Here are some stats from the million women website – If you don’t want to read them all I have highlighted some in red.
The Reality in the UK today:
- One woman in four will experience domestic violence at some point in her life.
- Domestic violence has more repeat victims than any other crime (on average there will have been 35 assaults before a victim calls the police).
- Two women are murdered every week by their partner or ex partner.
- One incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute.
- One woman in four will experience sexual assault as an adult.
- Only 5% of rapes reported to the police result in the perpetrator being convicted in court.
- Women are more worried about rape than any other crime.
- 250 cases of forced marriage are reported each year.
- Up to 1,420 women per year are trafficked into the UK for sexual exploitation
- One woman a month is murdered in the name of ‘so called’ honour.
- Nearly 90% of local authorities do not have a rape crisis centre.
- Over 20,000 girls could be at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the UK.
- It is estimated that a woman born in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped than learning how to read .
- In Lithuania 20 to 50% of those sexually exploited through prostitution are believed to be minors. Children as young as age11 are known to have been prostituted.
- Every year, 2 million girls between the ages of 5 and 15 are coerced, abducted, sold or trafficked into the illegal sex market.
- 2 million females are killed before of at birth simply because of their sex.
- One woman dies every minute from pregnancy related causes, most of which are preventable.
- It is estimated that one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime.
- Among women aged 15-44 years, gender-based violence accounts for more death and disability than the combined effects of cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war.
These are shocking statistics aren’t they and have been well known for many years as has the use of sexual violence as a strategy of combat, used systematically to terrorise and humiliate.
The march ended with a rally in Trafalger square, inspirational speakers and music followed by an after march fundraising party and I must congratulate the organisers for a very well organised and timely event. Bravo! On a happier note again, here are some of the all important next generation of girls
What is known is that there are many predominantly female organisations working towards ending violence against women but I will finish by asking this –
Where is the men’s movement that is standing up and saying “Not in my Name” ? This phrase is used often about other issues but why isn’t it used about this issue?
Why are men not standing up and shouting from the rooftops that they are ashamed of the way some of their fellow men behave. Why aren’t they campaigning for change in huge numbers? Are they educating their sons to respect women and stop the violence? There can be no real change unless men make that change as they are they ones committing the domestic violence, rapes, etc.
Come on men where are you !!!!
Addendum – My American blogger buddy Scilla (see her comment below told me about a men’s initiative It’s called “Ring the Bell” please take a look here If you are a man reading this anywhere in the world please think about making a promise to help end violence against women
I used good old google to try to find such a campaigning group but I came up with nothing.
If you know of any do tell me about it in the comments below. Thank you.
Finally – This man has the right idea…. in case you cannot see it, on the back of the young man’s shirt are the words ” This is what a feminist looks like” Much more of this please!
It’s all just about equality and justice that’s all……
http://www.millionwomenrise.com/ Please read the all important statement of demands page too http://www.millionwomenrise.com/statement-of-demands.html and add your name.. thank you
Saturday Girl signing off now. See you next week.
You can find my photography blog Photomania here and I hope you’ll pop over and take a look if you haven’t already.. photos of Mallorca , continuing London People and a minimalism series to say nothing of a portrait of an allotment to come eventually!