From the January-February 2020 issue of News & Letters
French feminist organizations pressured their government to investigate the increasingly high rates of femicide and the police and judicial systems’ refusal to stop it. Activists pasted posters all over France reading, “Femicide: the state is guilty and the judiciary is complicit.” The government held a national summit from September through Nov. 23, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
That day, tens of thousands marched through Paris in the largest such demonstration in French history. Relatives of murdered women held their photos and signs reading “To Love is Not to Kill,” “Break the Silence, Not Women,” and “Down with Patriarchy.” The group Femicides by a Partner or Ex examines the media to keep an updated tally of femicides. Grieving families were able to connect and form the National Union for Families of Femicide, which is pressing for financial and psychological support for victims’ families similar to that provided after the 2015 terrorist attacks.
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In Uganda, a network of ecofeminist groups is fighting environmental destruction. They have protested and sued the government and corporations for illegally evicting farmers, traditionally women, and logging the forest that provides them with food, water, firewood, and medicine. “Our husbands sell the land that we are farming on without us knowing, and when they receive the money they run off and marry other wives,” stated Benine Naluyima of the Ganyana Women’s Group.
Cleared land is used for palm oil and sugar plantations; mining and oil drilling cause further destruction while mainly benefitting foreign corporations. Deforestation reduces rainfall, leading to food scarcity and domestic violence. The National Association for Professional Environmentalists, the National Association for Women’s Action in Development, the Bukingindi Tree Planting Women’s Group, and the Fridays for Future movement raise awareness about these problems, replant the forest, and develop new farming opportunities.
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In July 2019, a 19-year-old British girl vacationing in Ayia Napa, Cyprus, was gang-raped by 12 Israeli youths, ages 15-22, who filmed the attack and uploaded it onto the internet. Police questioned her for seven hours without a lawyer or interpreter, pressuring her into signing a statement that she had lied. The youths were released soon after their arrests and returned home, where they drank champagne and chanted, “The Brit is a whore.”
In December she was found guilty of “public mischief” and given a four-year suspended sentence. In London, over 100 people demonstrated against the girl’s mistreatment. Outside the courtroom in Cyprus, over 50 Israeli women joined protesters from the UK with signs reading “Israeli Women Believe You” and “Boycott Cyprus.” Also present was the Cyprus feminist organization Network Against Violence Against Women, recently formed when police ignored disappearances of seven migrant women, later found to be murdered by a Cypriot National Guard officer.