Youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFpTFhwOIqg
In the morning of March 9th a 37 strong group of women got on a bus outside the Cardiff Museum to march on Trafalgar Square. Some, like myself, went the night before, rushing from work and local International Women’s Day events to catch a train to London. But I hear the all-women-bus bus is quite the experience!
The Million Women Rise march is a women-only march which aims to raise awareness of MALE violence against WOMEN. Here’s a couple of reasons why marching is still important today:
- One woman in four will experience domestic violence at some point in her life.
- Domestic violence has more repeat victims than any other crime (on average there will have been 35 assaults before a victim calls the police).
- Two women are murdered every week by their partner or ex partner.
- One incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute.
- One woman in four will experience sexual assault as an adult.
- Only 5% of rapes reported to the police result in the perpetrator being convicted in court.
- Women are more worried about rape than any other crime.
- 250 cases of forced marriage are reported each year.
- Up to 1,420 women per year are trafficked into the UK for sexual exploitation
- One woman a month is murdered in the name of ‘so called’ honour.
- Nearly 90% of local authorities do not have a rape crisis centre.
- Over 20,000 girls could be at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the UK.
The marching women met at 12:00 on Oxford Street. The bus from Cardiff got there just in time to start marching, bringing CFN members and a strong presence of Welsh Women’s Aid and Swansea Women’s Aid. The atmosphere was proud and celebratory, a never ending supply of free veggie curry and cake brought by Food For All, kept us all warm and energised and I immediately got the sense that it was a safe environment. This is important to experience on a crowded London street every once in a while. It reminds me that thinks can be different and better.
The March was attended by women of all ages, many creeds, nationalities and from all over the country. The vibrant banners included groups, campaigns and organisations as varied as the Socialist Women’s Union, The No More Page 3 Campaign, The East London Feminists, The Women and Girls Network, the Black Feminists, the Day-Mer and Ulch Women’s Group, Unison, East Midlands Million Women Rise, 8 March Women Organisation (Iran-Afghanistan) and many others.
We were marching alongside The London Feminists for a while and their chants were great. This one was definitely among the favourites:
“Here we are marching on the streets singing: We are women we’re not pieces of meat.
We are strong: we are strong. We are proud: we are proud.
We are strong, we are proud and together we’ll be loud.”
The ensuring rally in Trafalgar Square, brought us a variety of voices, alongside many talented performers. I found the women from the Congo particularly moving, as they sang a beautiful song and made a heartfelt appeal for women in the Congo where sexual violence continues to be used as a weapon of war.
A cheeky pint in Soho and we were headed to the women-only after party at The 52 Club. More free food and the young & awesome DJ Queenie eased us into an evening of performances which sadly was cut short when the bus came back to pick up and take most of the group home. I was one of the lucky ones to stay and have the pleasure of listening to The Feminist Choir and have a laugh with the comedian Sindhu V.
Link to Sindhu V: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxur-rZvNb4
In the end it was estimated that 10000 women marched through the streets of London on March 9th. Now it is time to take all that energy and solidarity and continue to make women’s issues heard in our communities throughout the UK. By this time next year, lets hope the march is even bigger and the Welsh bus to full capacity.
Million Women Rise is the collective of women behind the organisations of this march. They work autonomously as volunteers, without any corporate sponsorship or formal funding. They promote change that is based on truth, unity, peace and love and rely on donations in order to keep their autonomy. There are no paid staff at Million Women Rise and all donations go directly towards their work. They need to raise £18,000 for the next march to take place, covering costs such as public liability insurance, stage hire and audio equipment for Trafalgar Square. They also organise conscious raising events and activities through out the year and are currently developing a space to provide support groups for women who are overcoming their experiences of male violence and a training programme for volunteers.
Please give as generously as you can here: http://www.millionwomenrise.com/donate-and-support.html#.UUMqPVd2uuI
SARA GIRO CORREIA