Statement by the Freedom Without Fear Platform: 16 December 2013
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?’
Women’s groups respond to Charlotte Church calling out sexism in the music industry
EVAW Coalition, Imkaan & Object
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: TUES 15 OCTOBER 2013
Charlotte Church echoes what many young women feel about the sexualised representation of women in the music industry - said a group of women’s organisations today (15 October) who are preparing to launch a new campaign to tackle such representations.
Lia Latchford of Imkaan, a network of black women’s organisations, said:
"Many young women agree with Charlotte Church’s comments that the music industry has a ‘culture of demeaning women,’ and support the call for age ratings on music videos.
"We are working with a diverse group of young women who tell us that the music industry widely represents women as sex objects and in particular reinforces racist stereotypes of black and minority ethnic women as the hypersexualised, exotic ‘other’.
"These music videos are part of the cultural wallpaper of our daily lives that helps to normalise violence against women and girls - when they include confusing imagery and lyrics about sexual consent and what women want for example.
"As part of the campaign we are currently developing young women have come together to speak out against music videos which widely sexualise and racialise women’s bodies and make them feel uncomfortable and angry. They have told us: ‘I feel angry about the dehumanisation of women and about how it has been normalised’.
"We cannot ignore the links between widespread media messages and the treatment of women and girls in our society. Young women say: ‘Some music videos reinforce the already widespread notion that women exist solely for male pleasure and thus justifies violence against us.’"
The young women and the women’s organisations involved in the project are calling for:
- Hosting platforms such as YouTube and Vevo to develop robust policies which prevent the hosting of racist and sexist music videos
- The music industry, including artists and music companies, to pledge to stop making music videos which represent women as sex objects and push racist stereotypes.
- Government to implement its recommendation on age ratings for music videos sold in shops and online, akin to those on films and video games
- Respectful relationships and media literacy to be taught in schools
There is a Tumblr site at www.rewindreframe.org including details of the project to date, and a new website including young women’s blogs on the issues will be launched soon.
The ceremony celebrates some of the excellent and inspiring achievements of positive role models and community organisations from across the UK. The awards aim to recognise nominees in their respective fields of diversity including age, disability, gender, race, faith, religion and sexual orientation.