Today, November 25, is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The date was established by the UN to warn on the impact of male-chauvinist violence in women’s lives. On this N25, working women will protest hand-on-hand with the men of our class, and we will go out to the streets crying out loud: end male-chauvinist violence and capitalist exploitation!
Women’s International Secretariat – IWL-FI
The numbers of violence against women are increasingly frightening. The WHO and the UN point out that 1 of 3 women in the world has suffered physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner, and sexual violence by other than a partner at some point of their lives. 60.000 women die each year, victims of femicide. It is estimated that, of all murdered women, almost half were killed by their partners or a man in their families.
Around 120 million girls all over the world have been forced into sexual relationships or other sexual acts in their lives. In some countries, even one-third of the teenagers affirmed their first sexual experience was forced. This percentage breaks the stereotype that in rich or “advanced” countries women suffer less human rights’ violations than in third-world countries.
In London, for example, 23% women affirmed to have been victims of rape or rape attempt by a partner. The percentage among Peruvian (Lima) and Mexican (Guadalajara) women is almost the same as in Zimbabwe: 25%.
In the EU, half of all women suffered some type of sexual harassment since the age of 15. Also, 1 out of 10 women has been harassed via the Internet, including non-wanted explicit e-mails or messages that were sexually offensive or inappropriate, through the social networks.
In India, which in 2012 featured an uprise against rapes, 92% of all women have been victims of some kind of sexual violence in public places, and 88% have been a target of some type of verbal harassment, including undesirable sexual comments, whistling, or obscene gestures.
Usually, the rapists are husbands and ex-husbands, partners, and boyfriends. It is worth to mention that, nowadays, 2.6 million women and girls live in countries where sexual violence among marriages is not considered a crime (only 52 countries in the world openly punish this type of crime.)
Modern slavery has female name and face. Of 40 million victims of forced labor or marriage, 29 million (71%) are women and girls. Women represent 99% of the sex industry and 84% of the forced marriages.
To be poor multiplies the possibility of being forced into a marriage. In many places, girls and women are forced to marry in exchange for payments to their families or debt cancellations. In the developed [advanced] countries, many girls and women become victims of this type of violence just to guarantee their right to stay and/or the entrance of someone else into the country. Not to talk about “buying foreign girlfriends” online.
Forced marriages are also used as a way to end family conflicts and in conflictive countries, or countries at war. Many women become victims of armed groups. The estimate is that, along the next decade, over 100 million girls will be victims of forced marriages. After married, many of those women end up exposed to other types of exploitation, like domestic servitude, slave-like labor, and even sexual exploitation.
Another type of violence against women is genital mutilation. In the present, 200 million girls and women are mutilated. In the UK, genital mutilation became a national scandal after the authorities’ failed in the struggle against this practice, considered illegal since 1985. A parliamentary report of 2015 indicates that mutilated women round the 170.000 in the country and these numbers continue to grow: in 2016, there were around 5.500 cases, of which 96% were less than 17 years old.
Bourgeois governments’ collusion regarding violence against women
Aggressions, rape –including corrective rapes against LBTs- and other forms of harassment; genital mutilation; forced marriages; women trafficking for sexual purposes, are just some of the main forms of violence against women. As we can see, violence against women is endemic and shows how rooted male-chauvinism is in this society. But it also shows the collusion by the bourgeois governments and politicians (many of which are involved in violence and harassment cases,) and the lack of political will to protect women’s and girls’ rights. It is impossible to remain indifferent facing this reality.
Capitalist governments did nothing to revert this situation. On the contrary, they worsen it with their adjustment plans that attack social and labor rights, causing unemployment, precariousness, cutting social expenses, rights’ flexibilization and privatization of services, causing women to be more vulnerable to the situation.
All workers suffer the effects of the economic crisis, but the consequences for working women have been particularly cruel, because the combination of exploitation and oppression, which puts us in a situation of inequality in the society, turns us into easy targets for the attacks. Such social violence –of the worst type, because it condemns women and their children and families, to hunger, illnesses, and poverty- is not denounced by the UN nor by imperialist bodies, precisely because all of it is caused by the capitalist system that these bodies defend and serve to.
This is why poor, black, and immigrant or refugees women are the most affected ones. Many of these women are running away from conflicts in their countries, and they have suffered extreme violence and human rights violations, like murder and disappearance of their relatives, sexual and gender violence, restricted access to food, water, and energy, etc.
Discrimination against women and girls is the cause and consequence of many forced displacements. Some have been displaced more than once or exploited and abused while looking for safety.
The current humanitarian crisis and its consequences to refugees women is the unequivocal proof declining capitalism cannot solve inequality between women and men. On the contrary, it deepens it.
Not One Less!
This horrifying situation for women caused major protests. In all corners of the word, women are rising against violence, male-chauvinism, and cut of rights.
Such was the case of the demonstrations against femicides across Latin America, under the slogans “Not One Less” and “We Want Us Alive,” and the case of demonstrations against rape in Brazil, the multiple demonstrations in Europe against the cut of rights, the mobilization against Trump in the US, the International Women’s Strike on March 8; just to name some examples.
Many of these struggles have, and will continue to have, the support and presence of men and working class’ organizations, to demand the end of violence against women and the attack on our rights.
A Day of Struggle against violence against women, and against male-chauvinism and capitalist exploitation
Before this situation, we make a call to the working class, women and men, to mobilize once again to end violence, male-chauvinism, and capitalist exploitation.
The Russian Revolution of 1917 proved that only the defeat of capitalism can open a real possibility of freeing women from oppression. But, to unite our class and for women to be equal in the struggle against capitalism, it is necessary for workers as a whole (women and men) to stand strong against male-chauvinism and violence. All struggle against male-chauvinism and any kind of oppression is a struggle of the working class as a whole.