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RASASC’s Ten Feminist Moments of 2019

Kochi: Thousands of women take pledge while participating in the 'women’s wall' against communalism and gender discrimination, in Kochi, Kerala, Tuesday, Jan 1, 2019. Lakhs of women in Kerala participated in the 620 km-long “women’s wall” – from Kasargod in the north to Thiruvananthapuram in the south – to send a message of gender equality. (PTI Photo) (PTI1_1_2019_000128B)

The year started with a huge movement for women’s rights in India, where tens of thousands of women from the southern Kerala state came together and created a 620-km-long human ‘wall’ pledging to uphold gender equality. In a powerful stance of solidarity, they demanded an end to violence against women trying to enter Kerala’s Sabarimala temple. This followed a legal ruling in September 2018 where the Indian supreme court stated “Where a man can enter, a woman can also go. What applies to a man, applies to a woman”.

In February we saw this powerful speech from Jameela Jamil at the 2019 MAKERS Conference, on the importance of feminism in raising boys . In the opening of her speech, Jameela states, “This is a call to arms for the women who have boys growing up in their houses…We have a lot of work to undo…Mothers, sisters and aunties, I implore you to take this little sponge, and render him sodden with humanity and an understanding of women. It will send him into this delusional world with armour of empathy and self-assurance.”  We’d like to extend the same ‘call to arms’ to men everywhere including those who have boys growing up in their houses.

In March, Fern Champion, survivor and campaigner, launched a petition demanding the government adequately fund Rape Crisis Centres’ so they can provide life-saving services to survivors of sexual violence, at the point each person reaches out for support. Using the #NoSurvivorTurnedAway Fern bravely shared her own experience of rape and difficulty she had accessing support, to fight for the rights of herself and other survivors to access the support they deserve.

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This summer, the women’s world cup took France – and the world – by storm. In a tournament full of history-making moments, from Cameroon and Nigeria progressing to the last 16 to the USNWT’s fight for equal pay and Ada Hegerberg’s boycott, Marta, the 33-year-old Brazilian forward, made history all of her own. She became the all-time leading goal scorer at any World Cup EVER with an incredible 17 goal tally. “The feeling is a joyful one, not only for breaking the record but for being able to represent women in doing so. We are trying to represent women and show how women can play any type of role. All the teams here, we are all representing [women]. Let me be clear, this is not only in sport. This is a struggle for equality across the board.”

This year the reality of the failings of the criminal justice service in responding to sexual violence has been a constant presence in the media and in survivor’s lives. In June, the End Violence against Women Coalition and Centre for Women’s Justice made history in bringing a judicial review against the Crown Prosecution Service for falling prosecution rates.

It would be hard to have missed the incredible work from climate change activist Greta Thunberg, this year. What started as a sole protest outside her school has resulted in a renewed global and social movement to save our planet. If you’re in any doubt whether the environment and climate change is a feminist issue, check this out.

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In September, Chanel Miller waived her anonymity to speak out about the sexual violence Brock Turner perpetrated against her. Chanel wanted others to ‘Know her Name’ and has since become a powerful advocate for survivors of sexual violence. One of our team said;

“She was one of the most courageous and strongest women I saw this year. I will never forget her statement that she read in court while facing her abuser; “You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.” She challenged the way the media and courts portrayed the perpetrator in a more positive way in comparison to her, whereby she was only known as ‘the drunken girl at the party’.  I was in awe of her bravery to waiver her anonymity and her determination to reclaim her name. Incredible woman”! We couldn’t agree more.

In October, abortion was officially decriminalised in Northern Ireland after decades of injustice and campaigning for women’s rights to access health care. This incredible ruling means women can make choices about their body and health care workers can provide an abortion as part of a woman’s health needs without the fear of prosecution. Hoping 2020 sees other countries around the world recognise and uphold the basic human right of women to make their own choices about their body, reproduction and health.

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In November, London Black Women’s Project launched a petition and campaign to fight back against funding cuts to their vital support and refuge services run by and for minoritised women. We shouldn’t have to fight so hard to provide specialist support services to women and children who have survived violence and abuse – yet if we have to – we will and London Black Women’s Project showed that we can win!

In December a Chilean protest song about rape culture and victim blaming and shaming, originally created and performed by Lastesis, has become a viral anthem for feminists around the world. During 16 days of action to eliminate violence against women and girls, women in Mexico, Spain, France, Columbia and the UK came together to sing in protest against the way institutions and power structures uphold inequlaity, injustice and the systematic violations of women’s rights. They sang;

“The rapist is you/ It’s the cops/ The judges/ The state/ The president.”

“And it’s not my fault / nor where I was / nor what I wore”

“The rapist is you.”

So powerful, moving and inspiring!

We’ll see you in 2020 for another year of pushing back, challenging, resisting and standing up for women’s and survivors rights in the continued fight for liberation and an end to all forms of violence against women and girls.

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