From the May-June 2022 issue of News & Letters
On March 12, in London, England, feminist-led protesters set off 1,000 rape alarms, hurling them at Charing Cross police station on the first anniversary of the Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard. That vigil was violently disrupted by police. Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a police officer using police credentials to trick her into his car. Police merely told women to carry rape alarms, devices that make a continuous loud noise when a button is pressed. On March 11, vigil organizers, Reclaim These Streets, won a case against police for breaching their human rights to speech and assembly. In February, a watchdog group reported a culture of misogynist and racist intimidation at Charing Cross police station with officers making numerous social media statements joking about violence against women, rape, pedophilia, racist murders, and the Holocaust.
In April, in Mogadishu, Somalia’s first all-female media house, Bilan, launched with an editor and five journalists producing stories for tv, radio, and online media. This allows women journalists to not be sexually harassed out of a job and report on important topics previously trivialized. Deputy Editor Fathi Mohamed Ahmed stated: “As a women-only media house we are going to be able to bring taboo subjects out into the open. Our sisters, mothers, and grandmothers will talk to us about issues they never dare speak about with men.” These include abuse of rural girls employed as maids, post-natal depression, child abuse, rape, and lives of refugees and also women starting businesses. Chief Editor Nasrin Mohamed Ibrahim states “Bilan’s target audience is society as a whole, not just middle-aged men.”
On March 8, International Women’s Day, in Paris, France, feminist organizations L’Amazone, Resistance Lesbi, and Osez Le Feminisme marched for “abolition of all violence against women including prostitution, pornography, and lesbophobia.” Signs read, “Women are Not for Sale,” “Stop Raping Us,” “Lesbian Not Queer, We Exist,” “No Feminism Without Prostitution Survivors,” and “Lesbians Against Islamophobia.” They were physically attacked by activists from pro-prostitution organizations. One feminist stated, “What else should we endure to be believed when we say supporters of ‘sex work’ are pimps who hate women and beat up survivors?” Feminists marched in Barcelona, Spain, Brussels Belgium, and Santiago, Chile. In Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey, the 20th annual Feminist Night March also protested “honor” killings. In London, England, hundreds marched in their 15th annual Million Women Rise. Opponents angered by the messages attacked many marches, especially in Pakistan.
In Poland, Elzbieta “Ella” Jarmulska founded Women Take the Wheel, an all-female, volunteer service driving women fleeing Ukraine from the border of the two countries to homes or shelters. Most Ukrainian refugees are women and children and are targeted by rapists and sex traffickers in every country. They cannot know if the crowds of male volunteers at the border offering rides can be trusted. Jarmulska recruited drivers through Facebook, and wants to buy a bus. She has also connected women and youth with employment opportunities and delivered supplies of helmets, vests, and tampons to female soldiers in Ukraine.