From the January-February 2020 issue of News & Letters
by Terry Moon
Women are deepening a global movement to combat violence against us, from violent rapes to domestic battering to outright femicide. Demonstrations have spread across the globe.
FIGHTING THE ‘FEMINIST EMERGENCY’
In Spain, women demonstrated in over 250 towns on Sept. 20, declaring a “feminist emergency.” “This has been a summer dominated by barbarity, murders, rapes, assaults, pedophile and gang attacks,” said Feminist Emergency, the group that helped organize the protests.
In Pakistan in March 2019 massive demonstrations in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad were groundbreaking and most signs and chants spoke to ending violence against women, including: “End to violence,” “#IPledgeToStopAcidAttacks,” “#IPledgeToStopHonorKillings,” and “We are not punching bags.”
In Italy over 10,000 women marched on Nov. 23, protesting the murders of 142 women in 2018 and the 95 femicides committed up to that date in 2019. On that same date France (see “Women WorldWide,” Jan.-Feb. 2020 News & Letters ) saw thousands of women marching, including 100,000 in Paris, protesting domestic violence. Every three days in France a woman is killed—in the U.S. it is three women killed every day!—by a partner or former partner.
Women in India were in the streets once again protesting the brutal gang rape and murder of a young veterinarian. They called for stricter laws and punishment, although these have done little to stem the carnage. December saw the gang-rape and murder of a lawyer in Jharkhand, and the rape and murder of a six-year-old child in Rajasthan. An Indian woman who had been raped was set on fire by her rapist and his friends while on her way to testify against him. She died the next day. In India, an average of 92 women are raped each day.
WOMEN’S CREATIVITY TO END VIOLENCE
The global response that began in the 1960s when women marched to “Take Back the Night” has taken a remarkable and creative direction. It leaped ahead on Valentine’s Day 2013 with the One Billion Rising action, which called on women to strike and dance to call attention to violence against us. It spread like wildfire, as tens of thousands joined rallies and dance events. Women saw it, one said, “as a new struggle for freedom.” There were 40 events in New York City alone.
In March 2017, women in Sweden held several huge demonstrations where they sang “Quiet” by Milck, also sung at the Jan. 21, 2017, Women’s March on Washington and other demonstrations around the world. The song is about a woman who decides she will no longer keep quiet about rape and abuse.
Last year women in Chile, in the midst of the rebellion there, adopted a chant and dance, “Un Violador en Tu Camino” (“A Rapist in Your Path”), that made explicit what and who we are fighting against. Thousands of Chilean women came together on Dec. 5 outside Santiago’s National Stadium—a prison camp under Augusto Pinochet, notorious for torture including rape.
CALLING OUT ‘A RAPIST IN YOUR PATH’
“A Rapist in Your Path” has been taken up by hundreds of thousands of women across the globe. The protests continue—in New York over 100 women sang at the County Court building on Jan. 10, loud enough so that serial rapist and abuser Harvey Weinstein, there for part of his trial, could hear. Then they marched over to Trump Tower and chanted again.
New is that the words women are now chanting worldwide, make explicit who their rapist is: “The rapist is you/ It’s the police/ The judges/ The state/ the President.” No longer will women tolerate being told that feminism is some “Western invention,” foisted on women in developing nations: “The oppressive state is a macho rapist.” “The Patriarchy is a judge/ that judges us for being born/ And our punishment is the violence that you don’t see./ It’s femicide/ Impunity for my killer/ This disappearance/ This rape/ And it wasn’t my fault/ not where I was/ nor what I wore/ The rapist was you.”
INTERNATIONALISM OF STRUGGLES
Women, literally everywhere, are making clear they know that violence is endemic in their cultures—that rape culture is the world’s culture. We reject the idea that women should change our behavior, dress modestly, drink less, stay hidden, stay veiled, wear this or that, stay in at night—the list never ends. We are demanding men change, that our entire societies be transformed.
Women have—explicitly—positioned themselves at the center of the fight. Revolution must include all segments of society and be total from the start. This is a struggle about creating new human relationships. It will continue and it will deepen.
. “From India to Egypt to U.S., women fighting for freedom,” by Terry Moon, N&L, March-April 2013.
. “Chilean anti-rape anthem becomes international feminist phenomenon,” by Charis McGowan, The Guardian, Dec. 6, 2019.