I am part of organising a march against violence against women and girls in Southall. I wrote about it before for The F-Word.
I also spoke at Million Women Rise on 9th March.
We know that all over the world, women are experiencing – and challenging – domestic violence, rape, sexual violence, sexual harassment, dowry related violence, honour-based violence, incest, female genital mutilation, acid attacks and many other forms of gender-based violence. All over the world, women are making their voices heard – and we today are part of this proud tradition.
Southall Black Sisters started the year with a protest outside the Indian High Commission. This was in response to the rape and sexual torture of a young woman on a bus in Delhi and in solidarity with the waves of feminist protest in India against the appalling levels of violence that women experience everyday of their lives. Last year we held another protest outside the Indian High Commission – this time, in response to a 16 year old girl who was molested by around 30 men in public outside a nightclub – witnessed by hundreds, none of whom intervened.
We continue to stand in solidarity with our feminist sisters in India but also believe we need to shift our gaze on ourselves and our communities and challenge the values and norms that enable violence against women and girls. In Southall, as in other parts of the UK, women experience violence both within and outside the home, from family members and strangers on a daily basis.
‘We do not have the freedom or feel safe to walk on the streets of Southall whether it’s day or night. It is not just the street where we do not feel safe but also when we go to places of worship and the transport system’ (Southall Black Sisters Women’s Support Group).
It is time for us to hold up a mirror to our communities and to face uncomfortable truths. We often hear about women’s ‘honour’ and women’s ‘duty.’ We say: what honour keeps us silent? What duty stops us protesting?
It is time to take a stand. It is time to define the values that we want to live by, based on the right of all to live with bravery, dignity, equality and freedom, irrespective of gender and background.
We shall be marching in the streets of Southall on 23rd March – that is two weeks today. We want to mobilise the women and men of Southall, to hold up a mirror to the community and urge all to take responsibility for the epidemic of violence against women that is endemic in our communities.
It is wonderful to be marching through the streets of central London – but we need to be marching in the streets of our communities too. We call on all women and men to join us in sending out clear message to our communities and our government that enough is enough; freedom is our right!
Please join us on the streets of Southall. Come talk with us at the SBS banner for full details.
Our Tradition: Struggle Not Submission
Saturday 23 March
Assemble from 12pm outside Southall Black Sisters, 21 Avenue Road, Southall, UB1 3BL
Rally from 3pm on The Green, UB2 4BG
People of all genders are welcome.