For equality, against bigotry

An introduction to socialist feminism

Workers’ Liberty believes that the liberation of women can only happen with the emancipation of humanity as a whole, through the socialist transformation of society. That transformation can only happen through working-class struggle, with women playing a full and equal role. The working class is the vast majority of people: immensely diverse, but united by our dependency on waged labour to survive. Men and women both depend on waged labour, but it is mainly women who have a burden of both waged labour and unpaid domestic labour. Class societies have used women’s historic and current role in...

If not more police and stiffer sentences, what will tackle violence against women?

In March this year, the news broke that Sarah Everard had been snatched when walking home in South London, and murdered by a serving police officer. People came together, in person and online, to mourn her death and to share their own stories of fear and of anger, of harassment and abuse. At Clapham Common, her local park, thousands gathered for a vigil and protest that was violently broken up by the police. The history of how gendered violence has been treated in law tells us a lot about how sexist our society is. In 1857, a man was able to beat his wife, so long as the implement he used to...

Re-examining society's stories around rape

A review of Rape: From Lucretia to #MeToo, by Mithu Sanyal (Verso, 2019) I've spent my whole life avoiding rape, looking over my shoulder before I put the key in the door. Sadly, it’s an experience that most — if not all — women are familiar with, which is why Mithu Sanyal’s book, Rape: From Lucretia to #MeToo, is so welcome. Covering a huge amount of material, and using moving personal accounts throughout, the book is a bold and refreshing assessment of the gender narratives and social roots underpinning how society views rape and rape victims. Sanyal looks at the language we use to talk...

"No race-baiting, red-baiting or queer-baiting" - the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union

Excerpt from ‘Trans Work: Employment Trajectories, Labour Discipline and Gender Freedom’, Transgender Marxism. On the passenger ocean liners of the 1930s, male workers undertook tasks otherwise considered women’s work when done in the home: cooking and serving food to the passengers, laundry, and janitorial work. On some boats, African-American men were hired for these reproductive service tasks, much like their contemporaries working as railroad porters. On other lines, Chinese men took up this work. Under the white supremacist cultural logic of the US, Black and Chinese men were already...

Honour and learn from the Grunwick strike!

20 August 2021 was the 45th anniversary of the start of one of the most important struggles in British working-class history, the two-year strike by Grunwick film-processing workers in North West London. Below we republish an overview of the strike and its significance written by Jean Lane in 1998, with a short introduction from 2012. The kind of lessons Jean highlighted in 1998, from the strike's magnificence but also its galling defeat, were still relevant in 2012 and are relevant today. To honour this history, we are encouraging donations to the strike fund of outsourced cleaning and...

Could the Online Sex Trafficking Act be the new war on drugs?

In 2018 the Trump administration signed into law the ‘Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017’, often referred to as FOSTA. Fighting sex trafficking is an aim that no right-minded person could disagree with. It’s not necessary to explain that sex trafficking (of anyone of any age, but especially minors) is one of the most abhorrent acts on earth. Dig a little deeper, however, and you quickly find this Act is far from what it claims to be. Freedom of expression advocates, sex worker rights advocates and even some anti-human trafficking organisations have been quick...

A new generation of Kyrgyz heroines

The kidnapping of brides has been banned for decades in Kyrgyzstan, an ex-USSR Central Asian Republic lying north of Tajikistan and Afghanistan. The law was tightened in 2013, with sentences of up to 10 years in prison for those who kidnap a woman to force her into marriage. Previously it was a fine of 2,000 soms, about £20. Despite that, the medieval practise of ala kachuu (“take and run”) persists to this day. The Women Support Centre in Bishkek has estimated that 12,000 forced marriages take place every year and very few perpetrators are convicted. About 80% of the girls kidnapped accept...

Support Afghan women against the Taliban

Following the announcement that almost all foreign troops would leave Afghanistan by September, the Taliban has made rapid territorial gains. Within a month they had taken Kabul and on Saturday 11th September (at the time of writing), had raised their flag over the presidential palace to mark the beginning of the newly formed Islamic emirate. Tens of thousands of Afghans, who fear Taliban reprisals, have tried to flee the country and thousands have headed to the airport to get on flights out of the country. However, now, the borders are largely closed. Workers’ Liberty has never supported the...

A feminist speaks from inside Afghanistan

Mariam is an activist in the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), living in Afghanistan. Women’s demonstrations started in the first week of full Taliban rule, particularly in Herat and Kabul and other cities. In these cities at least, women previously had some basic rights, like having jobs and going to school and university. These were small demonstrations, mostly dozens rather than many hundreds or thousands. But they took place in a lot of places, and that showed the power and strength that women in Afghanistan have. Some were attacked by the Taliban. A lot of...

Afghan sportswomen abandoned

Kelly Lindsey, former head coach of the Afghanistan women’s football team — and before that, US international player — spoke to supporters before Lewes FC women’s home friendly against West Ham on 22 August. She has been working to secure safe evacuation of footballing women and girls from Afghanistan, along with the director of women’s football, a human rights lawyer and FIFPRO (the international professional footballers’ federation, their trade union body). “For seven days straight we’ve created a team in the US, a team in Australia, a team in Europe, we have passed the baton all day and all...

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