Violence against women is soaring and the whole system is to blame!
ISA and ROSA in action on the international day for the elimination of violence against women
Yasmin, ROSA and ISA activist in Vienna
On the 25th of November families, friends and whole communities commemorate women who have lost their lives to domestic violence. According to a 2021 UN report, a woman or a girl die at the hands of an intimate partner or a family member every 11 minutes, and the WHO (2021) reports that one in three women experience physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner, making intimate violence the most prevalent form of violence. It is likely that the real number is far higher, since domestic violence and abuse are notoriously underreported. Millions across the globe use this occasion to express rage over the criminal callousness of governments and state authorities in handling cases of domestic violence and abuse, and the lack of resources for victims. But femicides and domestic violence are only the tip of the iceberg of the systematic violence against women under a system that produces rampant poverty, intolerable working conditions and starvation wages – serving as a breeding ground for sexism, racism and violence. With skyrocketing energy prices and rising housing prices, the vast majority of the world’s population is struggling to make ends meet, and larger layers encounter food insecurity or hunger, while the richest are making record profits.
ISA and ROSA members and supporters in over ten countries in five continents organized and participated in demonstrations, rallies and discussions this 25th of November calling for a counter offensive to the attacks of the far right and of repressive regimes on our bodies and our lives. For massive investment into the social sectors instead of cuts, for wages we can live off of instead of austerity measures and attacks on our right to organize, for public housing instead of privatizations, and for a movement that will fight to replace a system that profits off of our suffering. Inspired by the courageous uprising of the masses in Iran, hundreds of thousands around the globe took to the streets on this day.
In Canada, where the murder and disappearance of women and especially of indigenous and poor women are prevalent, ISA members held a discussion about violence against women, and the struggle needed to put up a fight. ISA in Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa also held meetings on the 25th to discuss how socialists can fight. ISA and ROSA in Ireland held initiatives in four cities linking violence against women to the struggle for reproductive rights and the systemic oppression of women in Ireland and internationally. The next day members held a national ROSA assembly, starting up preparation and organizing for international women’s day on the 8th of March. Members in England Wales and Scotland held initiatives in four cities – in London, Leicester and Glasgow rallies and speak-outs, with speeches and chants in solidarity with the uprising in Iran, calling for mass resistance against austerity and attacks on our bodies and our rights. In Manchester ISA members took part in a demonstration in solidarity with the movement in Iran where around 200 demonstrators participated, chanting against the brutal repression of the Iranian regime. In Brazil, ISA members led some smaller public actions in the Santos regions. On the 20th, they took part in large demonstrations for Black Consciousness Day – the largest in São Paulo with around five thousand demonstrators. ISA members marched under the banner: “end of racism! No to police violence and coup attacks. For a socialist anti-racist alternative”. In material and chants they emphasized the systematic aspect of racism and sexism, and made links between women’s oppression and the oppression of ethnic minorities, especially as black women in Brazil are much more vulnerable to violence and have less access to resources.
In Italy thousands marched on the streets of Rome to display mass resistance to the threat of the far-right and the imminent danger to the rights and safety of women and LGBTQ+ people. ISA members took part in a demonstration of around 200 in Biella. The centre and “left” parties, who have almost become synonymous with austerity and neo-liberal attacks, have failed to convince a majority of the population that they have anything to offer, opening up a space for the far right for the first time since the second world war. The large demonstration in Rome and the response to our material indicates that while Meloni and her gang may have profited from the failure of the centre/ “left”, they do not have public support for turning the clock back to traditional family norms and the subordination of women to men.
As in Italy, recent elections in Israel have resulted in an electoral strengthening of the far right, increasing the need for a broad offensive struggle for LGBTQ+ and women’s rights and against the escalation of attacks against Palestinians. Violence against women has been a focal point of struggle in recent year, bringing hundreds of thousands of Jewish and Palestinian men and women onto the streets. The failure of the “change” government to get rid of the hated Netanyahu and his friends on the far right has made space for these forces, but mass demonstrations in the last years against women’s oppression and for LGBTQ+ rights show clearly that this government does not have the public’s support for attacks on our rights. On the 25th ISA members took part in demonstrations in Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem where hundreds participated, and organized a rally in Haifa. We linked the need to fight for immediate resources for victims to the need for massive investment into the social sectors, and a united struggle of Palestinians and Jewish workers against the new nationalist, racist, sexist and homophobic government.
In Brussels, Belgium 300 ISA and ROSA members and supporters formed an energetic bloc in a demonstration of several thousand. We argued that we need to fight poverty in order to fight violence against women and demanded massive investment into shelters, childcare and gender affirming care. In Paris around 80 thousand marched on this day, where ROSA also lead a bloc of 150-200 under the banner “fight oppression, sexism and austerity!”. In Germany ISA and ROSA members took part in demonstrations in seven cities, and organized a large demonstration of around 800 participants in Bremen, with a strong socialist feminist line drawing on the inspiration of the uprising in Iran, calling for solidarity with the movement. In Austria, ISA and ROSA members participated in demonstrations in Graz and Linz, and initiated a large demonstration in Vienna. Just over one thousand women and men participated in the largest and most militant 25th of November demonstration the city has ever seen. “Jin, Jiyan Azadi”, and “Woman, Life, Freedom” echoed through the streets of the working-class neighbourhood and participants enthusiastically chanted against systemic violence against women, LGBTQ+ people and migrants and ethnic minorities. Speeches linked the cost of living, cuts in the social sectors and war to women’s oppression and the need for an international, militant fight for system change.
This year’s international day for the elimination of violence against women takes place in the midst of the bloody war in Ukraine and an escalating imperialist cold war, a deepening energy crisis, growing poverty and hunger and a growing trend of strengthening reactionary forces, state repression and attacks on our rights. The uprising in Iran, sparked by the brutal murder of Jina Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Iranian regime has already inspired mass demonstrations around the globe, even under the terrifying repression of the Chinese dictatorship. As economic crises and poverty push the working class everywhere into suffering, increasing mental health crises, domestic violence among many other things, as a handful of super rich continue to add to their mountains of profit at our expense, our answer needs to be – mass resistance against a system that puts profits before our lives! To put up a fight we must organize not only on special occasions but every day, in every school, university and workplace, in every town and every city across the globe. For an alternative to this rotten system, an alternative that will replace oppression, exploitation and war with equality, prosperity and peace.