This October thousands of people blocked the far-right Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA) march in London. Led by women and non binary people, this anti-fascist demonstration was the start of something new. Thousands of ordinary people, kitted out with DIY signs, flags, music and a determination that the far-right will not hijack experiences of abuse for their gross racist campaigns, we marched with a banner that read: “No Rape. No Racism. No Silence to Violence”.
The far right’s most stale and yet effective lie is to pretend they are out to ‘protect’ women and children. Picking and choosing which cases of abuse to care about, they bang on about sexual violence and child abuse being a “Muslim” or “Asian” problem. The far right are silent when our abusers are white: when they are Catholic priests, teachers, sports coaches, husbands or family members – or even BBC execs. They are silent about the systemic and widespread nature of sexual violence. Their support for survivors is conditional on women fitting into their racist PR tactics. Many in the media and government have been happy to go along with this story: repeating talking points about the ‘cultural’ problem of sexual violence – as something that belongs to migrants, to ‘other’ religions and ‘other’ kinds of people.
Which begs the question – why are powerful institutions like the mainstream media and members of Parliament so keen to run with this racist propaganda? One reason is that by tidying away rape and abuse as a ‘foreign’ problem lets them off the hook. It hides how devastatingly widespread sexual abuse is in the UK, and prevents us investigating the real reasons that women and girls of all races are not believed, how we are silenced and dismissed when we ask for support. It lets police, care homes, social services and government off the hook for the role they play in a system that makes women and girls vulnerable, and ignores them when they are harmed.
Our focus for this Women’s Strike Assembly is: how do we continue to build an anti-racist feminist movement that can confront and defeat the far-right on these issues, and actually prevent, challenge and get justice for sexual violence in our communities. Join us for an evening discussions and planning – and bring your mates.
This Assembly is for feminists of all genders.