STATEMENT of IWL(FI)
Written by International Women Bureau – IWL-FI
Friday, 21 November 2014 01:40
Day by day, violence against women accrues throughout the world. Not only physical violence but psychological as well, which is invisible but can be as grievous as the other one and leaves marks for the rest of one’s life.
The situation got so far out of control that the UN created a special day to draw people’s attention and recognised it as a true global pandemic. It is on November 25, the day for the elimination of violence against women, that media expose the most egregious cases and show the victims mutilated, burned or dead.
It is important to institute a day to draw attention to the growing violence against women. But it is not enough. The International Workers’ League – IWL-FI – has taken the lead in the struggle against every kind of violence against women but at the same time we wish to emphasise that urgent and concrete actions are necessary in order to transform this day into something contrary to what the UN want it to be. It is necessary to transform this day into a day of struggle of all women, but essentially even against the very UN and their imperialist policy that boosts wars, genocides and overexploitation of peoples that turn this world increasingly dangerous for women, especially for poor women, immigrant women, black women are working women all over the world.
It is necessary to transform that day into a day of struggle against the governments that put the UN policies into practice, that receive international resources and use thousands of NGOs to deceive women with their policy of empowerment and assistance measures, making them believe that this is the way to solve the problem of oppression and violence while they heap on to the backs of workers and poor people violent plans of poverty an exploitation.
While they plunder our wealth, the imperialist governments by means of the UN, campaign in defence of human rights. Recently, the actress Emma Watson went to the General Assembly of the UN as a Goodwill Ambassador to launch another campaign, called HeforShe to warn men to learn to coexist with women. While carrying out mass media campaigns for Human Rights, the very same UN endorse the permanence of MINUSTAH troops in Haiti who have just turned 10 years occupying this country and under whose protection these soldiers rape women, repress demonstration and have spawned an epidemic of cholera that has claimed hundreds of lives.
The accruing of violence against women is a serious symptom of the sexists and paternalistic ideology; the belief that men are stronger and more capable than women and consequently should rule the world. But it is also the expression of a reaction against the increasing participation of women in social struggles, uprisings and revolutions. That is how sexual violence has become terror weapons against women to force them to give up fighting as has been evidenced during the latest young people’s demonstrations in Hong Kong: Amnesty International denounced that pro-democracy female activists were victims of sexual aggressions and harassing. The organisation blamed the police for “failing in their duty” of protecting the demonstrators on Friday night and accused the policemen of “standing aside and doing nothing” when anti-demonstrators and alleged members of Triad (Chinese mafia) clashed against the activists in Mongkok and Causeway Bay neighbourhoods. Women and girls became part of the target including sexual aggressions, harassing and intimidation in these commercial areas. As if this were not enough, far-right bands delivered leaflets threatening women of rape if they didn’t stay home.
A similar behaviour happened in the demonstration at the Tahir Square in Egypt. In other occasions the police brutality raged against them as seen in the demonstrations of June 2013 in Brazil, when many women were to be found among those attacked and jailed.
This ominous ideology that asserts that women were born to be housewives, bear children and take care of the families and are no good for social production and politics treats women as “inferior beings”, meant to be slaves at home, to earn less than men and work in unskilled jobs, be in charge of housework and be private property of their partners, turning into the perfect alibi to justify all kinds of family brutality that goes as far as women murdered by their partners.
Such beliefs, rooted on the reproductive capacity of women who are said to be left more fragile are spread by the governments by means of mass media, at schools and workplaces and are spread essentially by the Church. The different religions, particularly Christianity, Judaism and Islamism, the three great monotheistic religions preach in temples, synagogues, and churches the idea that women are inferior creatures, who must cover their heads and obey men, who are the real “god’s envoys” and that female inferiority is something natural and divine and therefore we just have to accept.
Unfortunately, many women, who are the vast majority among the religious population, believe this to be true and carry this burden home as if it was a path traced by destiny especially for them. They actually feel inferior and accept the daily male chauvinism, violence and oppression as if they were divine punishment that they deserve.
This powerlessness to which they are relegated is perhaps the major source of suffering for women. The grinding poverty and terrible living conditions they experience reinforce these superstitions and taboos and render women even more vulnerable to rape, to physical and psychological aggressions that many suffer in silence.
Violence against women become conspicuous not only due to statistics but above all due to the degree of brutality that today outstrip preceding historic periods in human civilisation.
The UN are limited to formally expose the governments on this point. Ever since the day of their creation in 1945, this imperialist organisation has been the opposite of what the Charter of Principles of the UN preaches: it is an instrument for the promotion of wars instead of peace; it does not stand for equality of men and women; it does not challenge religious preconcepts and does not respect the most essential human rights. It is a tool of the States, armies, multinationals and banks in order to safeguard their profit by means of exploitation of all the peoples.
We summon all the women, especially the poorest ones, not to nurture illusions in bourgeois governments, not to believe that organisations such as the UN can offer equality of rights for women and put an end to violence. But at the same time we assert that it is necessary to demand precisely this with increasing strength.
Sources of violence
Today, there are very clear sources from which violence against women springs. The endless wars of domination that plague the Middle East clearly constitute the granary of violence against them. Rape has turned into a weapon to demoralise the enemy and is practised indiscriminately even by the soldiers mandated by the UN. Among the victims of bomb raids and of looting, women casualties double the men’s. If they manage to survive the shelling, they cannot elude the sexual fury of the troops. In some regions, women have managed to deal with this situation as is the case of Kurdish women who constituted military brigades. But most women are helpless and should arm themselves with guns and machineguns to defend themselves.
Extreme poverty is another source of chauvinist violence which is the only thing that the capitalist system can offer to peoples of Africa, India, Asia and Latin America. Lack of decent jobs, of health, of any outlook for a better life, everyday disapproval and cultural backwardness strengthen prejudice and expose the most helpless: women, children, young people and old people to everyday brutality.
The Catholic Church and all other religions have always been another source of violence against women. The Pope merrily condemns abortion as if it had no consequences. Everybody has a right to believe in a religious precept provided this precept does not spawn thousands of victims, as it happens with the prohibition of abortion. The Vatican is not interested in women’s right to decide about their bodies and their maternity; the Vatican is not interested in the fact that to date the WHO says that every year there are 80 million unwanted pregnancies out of 210 million. Neither is Vatican concerned about the fact that only in Latin America 3,700,000 insecure abortions take place every year, 17% of which end killing young women. They are not concerned in the fact that raped women would raise unwanted children born from violence who will pay for the consequences of capitalist barbarism. After all, it is not the priests who have to nurture the poorest families who are the target of “their sacred” precepts.
The other religions act in the same manner. In Judaism, men thank god every morning for not having born women and treat them as slaves and so impure that they are not even allowed to touch the Torah, the Jews’ sacred book lest they contaminate it. In Islamism, women are regarded as “tempters”, sinful, and sexual objects.
Actually, all these sources of violence have a material cause: the need to keep women jailed at home to do housework, reproduce labour force and spawning new human beings apart from keeping them as part of an industrial reserve army as cheap labour for industry, trade and services thus increasing the profit of the capitalists.
It is necessary to fight
On this 25th November, women all over the world must walk out on the streets and say out loud that they are not going to put up with this situation any longer. That they will not bear the day-to-day physical and spiritual violence they have been submitted to and that neither will they put up with the humanist speeches by UN, the Church and the governments. It is a battle for life or death, literally speaking.
A tougher legislation to eliminate unevenness between men and women is essential in all the countries in the world, and the poor women must have broad access to justice – even if it is still bourgeois justice – as rich women have. Women’s emancipation is concrete and cannot be based on abstract rights. Campaigns against male chauvinism and sexual harassment in public transport, workplaces and schools are turning increasingly necessary. Yet, all this is nothing but hollow speeches doomed to be repeated millions of times by millions of voices unless the UN and the governments put their hands in their pockets and are committed to real proceedings, such as the creation of shelter homes in all the cities and neighbourhoods, medical and psychological assistance for battered women, jail for violent men or lighting of streets and squares.
Above all they need to ensure financial independence for women by granting them decent jobs with equal pay for equal work between men and women, reduction of working hours to care for their children; public nurseries; decent housing and quality education to substitute intelligence and self-confidence for religious prejudices and superstitions so that they can get organised and change the world.
On this 25th November we must fight above all to eradicate the three great sources of violence against women:imperialist wars and looting, poverty and human exploitation and the religious imposition of the myth about female inferiority. As Marx puts it, the degree of oppression of women is an indication of the degree of backwardness of a society. Taking this into consideration, capitalism and bourgeois society are not doing well. They reveal that they are permanent source of violence and aggression against women who at present represent more than half of the entire human species.
On this 25th November, once again we summon the working class with women in the lead to show their power and the most solid union against this venom that divides the working class and renders us too weak to struggle and eradicate the real cause of this calamity: capitalist exploitation.
We, the IWL-FI and our entire militancy dedicate this 25th November to our comrades Carolina Garzón and Sandra Lucia Fernandes and her 10-year son Icauã. Carolina, militant of the Socialist Workers Party of Colombia, PST, a students’ leader who has been a victim of enforced disappearance for over two years’ time in the neighbouring Republic of Ecuador and whose whereabouts still remains unknown in spite of the intense international campaign addressed to the administrations of Colombia and compelling them to investigate and find the material and intellectual authors of this atrocity. Bring her back alive!
Sandra, militant of the United Socialist Workers Party of Brazil (PSTU) was, together with her son, victim of male chauvinist violence, being murdered by her partner in February 2014 in Recife-PE.
To all those women, victims of human trafficking, of acids burning, physical and psychological abuse, sexual assault and to all the working women victims of not only male chauvinist brutality but also of capitalist exploitation.
We demand the UN and the governments to investigate all the cases of forced disappearance; the dismantling of human trafficking and of prostitution gangs. We demand guarantees to live!