Women's Fightback 18, August/September 2013

Stop violence against sex workers!

Published on: Thu, 08/08/2013 - 14:25

On Friday 19 July, 36 cities around the world hosted protests against the violent abuse and murder of sex workers.

These protests were sparked by the transphobic and whorephobic murders of sex workers in Sweden, Turkey, France, Italy and other countries.

We were demanding “Justice for Jasmine and justice for Dora”, in reference to two recently murdered sex workers.

In the week the protests took place, a trans* sex worker from Turkey called Dora Oezer was killed. Turkish police are looking for her murderer, who some news sources are saying was a client.

Prostitution is legal in Turkey but

Challenge sexual violence everywhere

Published on: Thu, 08/08/2013 - 14:14

One of the lessons we have learned from the last few years is that many “progressive” people hold reactionary ideas about women. Worse than this, people who hold some socialist ideas do not always follow this through in terms of the way they treat the women around them.

A particularly shocking example of sexist violence in an activist movement has been the epidemic of sexual assaults and harassment in Tahrir Square, Cairo. Extreme violence against women has been a threat or reality for many women revolutionaries.

The Guardian reported that on the day Morsi was ousted (3 July 2013) there were

Tackling sexism with solidarity

Published on: Thu, 08/08/2013 - 14:10

An admin worker in a male-dominated industry spoke to Women’s Fightback about her experiences of challenging workplace sexism. The following text is adapted from an interview.


I’m an administrator working in an office sited in a bin depot that provides refuse, recycling, and street cleaning services for a local authority.

Our workplace is very male-dominated, with only a small number of women working here. Sexism is rife, ranging from leering over pornography in communal areas, and offhand “jokes” and comments (i.e. mother-in-law or wife jokes, or instructions to “get the teas in darlin’” etc.

Perfunctory, shallow, formulaic

Published on: Thu, 08/08/2013 - 14:02

The 17 July 2013 issue of The Socialist (paper of the Socialist Party) carried a feature “End Violence Against Women”.

The feature included an extract from a booklet by Christine Thomas about the social attitudes which underpin violence against women, an account of the Campaign Against Domestic Violence (a 1990s campaign set up by the Socialist Party’s forerunner the Militant Tendency), and a list of demands to tackle violence against women.

There are some problems with Thomas’s book (Women and the Struggle for Socialism) which are worth debating (for instance her attitude to sex workers

Which side is the left on?

Published on: Thu, 08/08/2013 - 13:55

At Unison National Delegate Conference 2013, we discussed a motion about creating “a safe space for women in the labour movement”. We also discussed an amendment about male violence against women. I am still angry about the discussion around the amendment and upset by the fact it was defeated.

The original, uncontroversial, motion was about organising women in the labour movement, actively supporting young women, buddying systems and many other ways. The amendment on male violence against women should have been uncontroversial. Sadly, it wasn’t.

This is the text of the amendment:

“We believe

Organising a carnival of the oppressed

Published on: Thu, 08/08/2013 - 13:50

In the opening plenary of Workers’ Liberty “Ideas for Freedom” event (20-23 June) RMT Executive and TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee member Janine Booth argued for class-struggle liberation politics to be at the heart of the Marxist project.


On 23 June 2012, Steven Simpson, a gay autistic student, was verbally abused, stripped, and his body scrawled with homophobic slogans.

He was then doused in tanning oil and 20-year-old Jordan Sheard set fire to his crotch with a cigarette lighter. The flames engulfed his body, his attackers fleeing as neighbours tried desperately to extinguish the flames.

Tackling DV in the workplace

Published on: Thu, 08/08/2013 - 13:46

Domestic abuse and violence has been taken up as a workplace and trade union issue since the 1990s, under the impact of feminist-inspired campaigning and practical work of organisations like Women’s Aid.

Unison was at the forefront of these initiatives. In 2002 the TUC published a guide on domestic violence for unions and employers.

In terms of formal union policies DV has correctly long been seen as a social issue that can not be confined to the “private sphere”. It impacts on our ability to work. In most workplaces someone will have experienced it directly or indirectly. Unions need to

Domestic violence: definitions and prevalence

Published on: Thu, 08/08/2013 - 13:43

Domestic violence (DV) is physical and sexual violence, psychological and emotional abuse, threats and intimidation, financial blackmail, harassment, isolation, also belittling and unreasonable criticism within an intimate or family relationship. It could be part of a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour. It should include the abusive actions of extended family members including such things as forced marriage and “honour crimes”.

DV cuts across boundaries of gender, age, race, religion, sexual orientation and class. However women are very more likely to suffer, and research shows the

DV cuts: “taking women back to the 70s”?

Published on: Thu, 08/08/2013 - 13:34

Leanne Connor is a recent graduate of the University of Bristol who wrote a dissertation on “Domestic Violence: a socialist feminist perspective?

The impact of the coalition government’s spending plans on women’s domestic violence services”. In the course of the project she spoke to people working in domestic violence services. Below are some of her findings.


In 2010 the Coalition government released a strategy called The Call to End Violence Against Women and Girls (CEVAWG). It stated that: “The gendered pattern of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) needs to be understood and

Misogyny and sexism online

Published on: Thu, 08/08/2013 - 12:49

Sexist and misogynistic “trolling”, particularly on social networking site Twitter, is in the news.

A few years ago, an internet “troll” was someone who wrote things online for no other reason than to annoy people or elicit a reaction. “Don’t feed the troll” was a common expression, meaning, “Don’t end up in arguments with people whose only aim is to piss you off”.

“Troll” has since come to mean something else — “someone who acts maliciously or nastily on the internet”.

Equality campaigners, socialists and members of oppressed groups are often sent vile material because of their ethnicity,

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