It is one year since the horrific gang-rape of a 23-year-old student in Delhi, which was followed by the emergence of an unprecedented mass movement against rape and sexual violence in India. This movement had an enormous impact all over the world and here in Britain inspired us to form the Freedom Without Fear Platform. Today we would like to rededicate ourselves to the aims we started with, while expanding them to take on new challenges.
Here in Britain we are facing a racist and increasingly repressive state, which hypocritically claims concern about violence against women while ruthlessly cutting away what few resources still exist for women’s struggles against gender violence, and attempting to destroy the possibilities for women to autonomously and collectively organise against violence. Doing away with preventative measures or escape routes for women facing life -threatening situations, the British state now disempowers women completely, literally silencing them as their cases are handed over to a racist and increasingly privatised criminal justice system run by corporates like G4S and Serco, well-known for their own violence against women from Britain to Palestine. This combination of repression and corporate profits which are at the centre of Britain’s current gender violence policies is inherent in neoliberal capitalism.
In 2014 we will face an attempt to criminalise Forced Marriage in the face of massive opposition from the vast majority of BME women’s organisations and feminist groups.
In continuing to build resistance to these attacks, and to strengthen solidarity with movements like the ongoing anti-rape movement in India, we are also committing ourselves to making visible
- the resistance to rape and violence against women in India and elsewhere - against a tide of racist representations which seeks to erase these struggles and portrays women outside the West and women of colour in the West as victims waiting to be saved.
- the endemic nature of gender violence in Britain, including that of the state, and the struggles against it - against victim-blaming and demonising of ‘culture’.
- the historical and ongoing effects of imperialism and global capital accumulation which underpin, reinforce and intensify gendered violence and injustice - against the normalisation of war, occupation, incarceration and neoliberal plunder.
As Kavita Krishnan points out in her reflections a year on from the eruption of the movement in India, ‘The only useful movement against sexual violence can be one that brings the problem home, right into the comfort zone, that challenges rather than reassures patriarchy, that exposes the violence found in the ‘normal’ rather than locating violence in the far-away and exotic. For people in the US or Europe, it might be reassuring to imagine that sexual violence and gender discrimination happens ‘out there’ in India, rather than to look around and question the violence embedded in the ‘normal’ around them. The questions to ask would be: how does the politics of ‘protecting’ women, and of propaganda about ‘good and bad women’ play out in advanced capitalist societies? In what ways are countries like the US and UK complicit in the violence and discrimination that women face in India or Bangladesh?’