There were massive mobilizations in many countries around the world in 2015, expressing a resounding repudiation of violence against women. In the beginning of the year, a huge demonstration took place in Turkey, after the murder of a 20-year-old young woman who resisted raping. On June 3, in Argentina, more than half million people demonstrated in the streets under the slogan of “No one less,” against another murder of a 14-year-old girl, who was pregnant. Her body was found in the backyard of her boyfriend’s house.
On November 7, one hundred thousand people, with a high male participation, marched outside the Museo del Prado in Madrid, “against male-chauvinist violence,” demanding that this issue is assumed by the Spanish State. These demonstrations counted on the participation of Labor Unions and different workers’ sectors, that are starting to link the struggle against violence and in favor of women’s rights, like abortion, to the struggle against austerity plans, which severely affect workers’ families. This is what happened in India, in Argentina and in Spain, where the Gallardon’s bill against the right to abortion was defeated previously to the demonstrations on November 7. The dismissal of that minister was achieved as well.
These and many other demonstrations against all different national expressions of the same scourge – violence against women – show the beginning of awareness of a problem that has reached alarming levels under capitalism, denying all those who claim that oppression of half of the humanity is a problem of the past.
Violence is more than femicide
Murdering women just for being women, as a product of a male-chauvinist culture, has been called “femicide.” In fact, it is the most visible and repulsive expression of male-chauvinism and has been widely rejected by society in general. But it is only the tip of the iceberg of the actual meaning of oppression and exploitation of the broad majority of women.
Male-chauvinist violence also means domestic work as a double-shift for working women. It means carrying out the responsibility for the non-productive members of society, children and elders, foisted to working women by the State due to cuts of social benefits. It means cut or elimination of public health and education to a huge number of workers and poor. It means lack of housing and evictions driven by banks and capitalist governments. It means the lack of policies to prevent teenage pregnancy and the difficulty to get contraceptives; it means the prohibition of the right to free abortion, as a woman’s option against unwanted pregnancy. It means cutting off maternity rights, the absence or limitation of maternity leave, shared with the woman partner; it means dismissal just for being pregnant.
Male-chauvinist violence is also sexual harassment in workplaces or places of study. It is the advertising that poses women as a sexual object. It is being raped in the street, physical and psychological aggression, domestic abuse, etc. Male-chauvinist violence is using women’s body as a war trophy, as a symbol of power of the victors, of the submission of defeated nations and their people. Male-chauvinist violence means denying shelter to families and women with their children who cross the borders of European countries and are received with violence and repression by the police and armed forces, as all those images travelling the world have showed us.
Male-chauvinist violence is the increasing homophobia against LGBTI members, the discrimination at work, the social censorship, the segregation they suffer. Male-chauvinist violence is human trafficking, which, according to UN’s reports, reaches 20.9 million people, the major part aimed at sexual exploitation, the prostitution of women and girls.
The bourgeois-imperialist double morals
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is sponsored by the UN, an organization of the capitalist governments, led by world imperialism. Its intention is to “legitimize” the capitalist system to the eyes of oppressed and exploited masses, showing there is a way out of oppression inside this system. However, its way of “channeling” a rapidly growing social problem is designating a special day, as they do with human rights’ issue, children’s rights, maternity rights, “Day of the Race”, etc. A day to channel the discontent; a day sponsored by the very institutions of the bourgeois states that are responsible for the violence against women.
As socialist women, we call the participation in the demonstrations organized with this goal, as we defend with our lives the end of male-chauvinist violence and women oppression. But we also denounce this is a treacherous “empowering” policy, an individual way out to oppression, boosted by UN and sponsored by the states and trade unions bureaucracy. A policy that leaves the responsibility for oppression in the victims’ hands, bringing illusion to the oppressed that just being aware of oppression is enough to resolve the problem, hiding the true economic, political and social roots behind this problem. A policy under which “others” are responsible: “the society”, an abstraction to cover the particular responsibility of a social class, the bourgeoisie, to which this exploitation system is so functional.
But, while calling a day for the elimination of violence, they implement austerity policies which violently hit women, especially the female workers, in every country. Wages are cut; schools and shelters are closed, as well as nurseries; the right to abortion right is banned or restricted, as it is happening in Brazil, a country ruled by a woman, Dilma Rousseff. In that country, the House of Representatives is debating a bill presented by several parties, including the ruling PT [Worker’s Party], which proposes the prohibition of the morning after pill, demands the registration of women victims of raping to receive medicine, punishes health workers who provide orientation about abortion and hinder the legal procedure of abortion for victims of rape. This bill even criminalizes all those who defend that legal abortion should be part of public health or a women’s right, by considering this an “incitation of violence”.
We denounce their double morals, and call on all workers to unite in the struggle against capitalist exploitation, which uses women’s oppression to overexploit women, imposing them the bulk of precarious work, lower wages and the double shift (in the workplace and at home), with daily violence and sexual harassment at work by the bosses, who blackmail women (implicitly or explicitly) of losing their jobs if they don’t step back, leaving them on the street with no job, pushing them to prostitution.
Against male-chauvinist violence and capitalist exploitation
On next November 25, we will take to the streets to expose, to repudiate violence against women. We will hit all together, women of different social classes against male-chauvinist violence. We will participate in street demonstrations. But this unity of action will end up right away and working women will continue their way apart from bourgeois women, as we know they are not willing to continue the daily struggle for the achievement of full rights and equality. They will not continue in the struggle for equal pay, full right to abortion funded by the State, nurseries, laundry rooms, community canteens, demanding federal grants to fund all kind of domestic work. They will not be at our side against the austerity plans that condemn women to precarious, casual jobs, to misery and starvation. Quite the opposite, bourgeois women will be on the side of capitalist states’ policies, against female workers and the working class as a whole, as female managers, ministers and presidents have already shown us; they will be on the opposite side of immigrants too. They will be also on the other side, regarding class struggle against capitalist exploitation and political oppression, defending the interests of their own class, because those interests provide them their own privileges.
Working class’ organizations must raise the flags of an independent struggle against oppression, against violence and male chauvinism; they must organize working women in their ranks, because our struggle, the struggle of working class men and women goes far beyond repudiating violence: we want to eliminate all kind of violence and oppression. To reach this goal, it is necessary to change the material foundations of this social system, based on exploitation and oppression. It’s necessary to substitute a system in which the means of production are not private property of a few privileged but common property of all society for the current system. This can’t be a struggle of women alone, but they should be at the vanguard of the whole working class to make it their own struggle.
International Woman Bureau, IWL-FI