On Saturday the 7th of March, the eve of International Women’s Day, female protesters from across the United Kingdom gathered in central London to demand an end to violence against women. From feeling unsafe on our streets to experiencing domestic violence, violence against women can affect us in many ways. The march, organised by the Million Women Rise Coalition, sought to raise awareness of this.
Unsuspecting shoppers on Oxford and Regent Street witnessed the colourful throng, who chanted and held their placards high. The powerful voice of these women united could be heard all around as they repeated over and over ‘2468, stop the violence, stop the rape’ and ‘whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no!’
Sabrina Qureshi, MWR Coordinator, before the march said; “As long as women and children experience rape, sexual and domestic violence, we will protest. As long as women and girls are forced into marriage and suffer female genital mutilation, and are abused and murdered because of some perverse idea of what constitutes “honour”, we will not stay quiet. We will shout from the rooftops that every woman has a right to live her life free from the threat of gender-based violence. We will fight for that right to be heard, upheld and respected.”
Within the sea of bold Million Women Rise placards were some brilliant home-made banners. From intricate and crafty to make-shift and heartfelt, each was an example of women making their feelings known and themselves visible. Seeing one very young girl holding up a hand written sign saying ‘Women Are Wonderful’ really made my day!
As I stood, admiring the banners from the side of the road, a leaflet was thrust in to my hand. In bold yellow, red and black the statistics jumped out at me – In the UK today; 2 women are murdered every week by their partner or ex partner, 1 incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute, 1 woman a month is murdered through so called ‘honour killing’. Such horrifying facts (sourced from Amnesty International and The Metropolitan Police) illustrated exactly why the Million Women Rise march, and International Women’s Day, are very much needed right now.
Whilst the demonstration obviously had an important and serious message to deliver, there was also a definite celebratory atmosphere. With an all female brass band providing the tunes, women smiled, danced and sang along the traffic free roads. Everyone involved seemed pleased to be part of a such a large and enthusiastic crowd of women! The upbeat feeling was catching, as smiles spread to onlookers on the pavements.
It was wonderful to see such a diverse range of women coming together for this march. And they weren’t just marching! Some were cycling, some were on rickshaws… and the ‘Qweer Sluts and Goddesses’ were dancing and jumping, marracas shaking all the while. It was so inspiring and over-whelming to see a very alive and very active women’s movement in the flesh, making itself seen and heard in our capital.
If you weren’t able to attend the march and want to get a feel for it, then go here to watch warriorgrrl Laura Kidd’s short film of the event and get inspired!
Happy International Women’s Day!
By: Sarah Barnes, 08.03.2009 | Comments (1)