Rape is not…

6 11 2007

Rape is not an occupational hazard

Rape is not “theft of services”

Rape is not justified by the way a woman keeps food on the table as a single mother

Rape is violent

Rape is a community problem

Rape is not inevitable

Rape is something you can help to stop

Sex workers are not expendable people

Sex workers are not less entitled to make decisions about their own bodies than anyone else

Sex workers are not less human than you

Sex workers are particularly targeted by rape culture

Sex workers are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and precious loved-ones

Sex workers are speaking bravely in solidarity with Our Sister Survivor in Philadelphia

Sex workers deserve peace and justice, even if Municipal Judge Teresa Carr Deni thinks otherwise

People you know are sex workers

People you know are survivors of sexual violence

People you know are targets of sexual violence even now

What are you going to do about it?

Find out more here:

~~~
PRESS CONFERENCE

Thursday November 1, 2007

1pm

Outside Municipal Court (Criminal Justice Center)

1301 Filbert St, Philadelphia

Monday October 29, 2007

To the Editor:

We were appalled to learn that on Oct 4 Municipal Judge Teresa Carr Deni dropped all rape and assault charges in the case of a woman gang-raped at gunpoint. Because the woman was working as a prostitute, Judge Deni decided that she could not have been raped and changed the charge to “theft of services.” Deni later said that this case “minimizes true rape cases and demeans women who are really raped.”

As groups organizing against rape and in support of victims, we could not disagree more. All women have the right to protection from violence. The idea that any woman is “asking for it” is a lie that we fought for decades to destroy. It is especially offensive to see it revived by a female judge, who reached her position as a result of the women’s movement and is now using her power to deny justice to the most vulnerable women.

Deni told Daily News columnist Jill Porter that the victim met another client before reporting the rape. We have learned that this is completely untrue; the transcript of the hearing proves it. For a judge to make a false (and self-serving) accusation against a victim in the press, in addition to her prejudiced and reckless contempt for women’s safety, confirms that she is unfit to serve. The outcry following Deni‘s decision shows how out of step with public opinion she is and that most people believe that prostitute women deserve the same protection from violence that we all have a right to expect.

No woman is safe when prostitute women aren’t safe. Serial rapists and murderers often target prostitute women knowing that they are more likely to get away with it. Labeled criminals by the prostitution laws, women are less likely to report violence for fear of arrest themselves. When sex workers do report, the violence is often dismissed. Here, the same man and his friends gang-raped another woman four days later. Decisions like Deni‘s are a green light for further attacks.

The victim in this case was a Black single mother with a young child. In Philadelphia, where one in four people lives in poverty and welfare has been almost completely dismantled, many women have been forced into prostitution to survive. This should not make them fair game for rapists.

We are glad that the District Attorney is pursuing the original rape charges. The public can make our voices heard in the November 6 election: vote “No” on the retention of Teresa Carr Deni as Judge of the Municipal Court of Philadelphia.

Mary Kalyna

On behalf of

Global Women’s Strike

Philadelphia, PA

and

Women Against Rape

US PROStitutes Collective

Black Women’s Rape Action Project (BWRAP)

Legal Action for Women

Every Mother is a Working Mother Network

Wages Due Lesbians

Payday Men’s Network

Posted on November 2, 2007 by staceyswimme

For immediate release

Contact: 877-776-2004 info@DesireeAlliance.orgRape is NOT an Occupational Hazard!

Sex Workers Join Women’s Groups and Sexual Assault Survivors’ Groups to Urge PA Voters to Vote ‘No’ on the Retention of Judge Teresa Carr Deni

Judge Teresa Carr Deni spawned outrage from all directions after ruling on October 4th that a sex worker that was raped at gunpoint by multiple men was NOT sexually assaulted, rather she was just robbed. Deni commented in an Oct. 12th interview that this case “minimizes true rape cases and demeans women who are really raped.”

Grassroots activists around the country, including nationwide sex worker-led organizations such as the Desiree Alliance and regional advocacy groups from coast to coast responded with anger and disgust for Deni’s disregard of the basic human rights of the rape victim in this case. “Deni’s decision in this case sends a message that sex workers can be targeted for violence with impunity. Rape of sex workers is common, alarmingly under-reported, and rarely taken seriously by authorities,” Kitten Infinite of Sex Workers’ Outreach Project said. “Violence against sex workers is perpetuated by the state through discriminatory laws and judicial rulings such as this.”

Sex workers in the US and abroad are organizing and becoming more vocal about the violence and discrimination that they face. “Because prostitution is criminalized, our human rights and our boundaries are clearly not respected,” Mariko Passion, a board member from the Desiree Alliance commented, she continues, “…forcing or manipulating sexual intercourse by fraud, fear or coercion is rape.” On Oct 30th, after considerable pressure from sex workers and feminists around the country, the PA Bar Association issued a statement condemning Deni’s action, stating that, “The victim has been brutalized twice in this case: first by the assailants, and now by the court.”

The Desiree Alliance applauds Association Chancellor Jane Dalton’s review of the matter and we find some satisfaction in the fact that the District Attorney’s office has re-filed rape charges against the perpetrator of this despicable crime. However, we still call on voters to vote ‘No’ on retaining Deni in the election on November 6th. The Desiree Alliance will hold a virtual press conference and rally on Monday, November 5th at 5pm Eastern for sex workers and allies to comment publicly about this case and how to prevent further discrimination against sex workers.

Who: Desiree Alliance and Affiliates

What: “Rape is NOT an Occupational Hazard!” Virtual rally

Why: Judge Teresa Carr Deni should not be retained as a Municipal Court Judge in Philadelphia

When: Monday, November 5, 2007 5pm Eastern, 2pm Pacific

Where: http://www.BoundNotGagged.com





How Do ‘We’ Keep A Social Movement Alive?

24 09 2007

from: Fal25

How Do We Keep A Social Movement Alive

This movie documents the silence surrounding Megan Williams’ torture and rape in Logan and the gang rape of several Black women in West Palm Beach Florida.

The purpose of this movie is to document the silences within our relationships, within our homes, within our families, within our communities, within our jobs, within our schools, within our churches, temples, and synagogues, within our governments, and within our world. We want you to share with the world all your stories of injustice. Stories that the media, elected leaders, self appointed leaders, associations, and organizations choose to ignore and not speak out on. We want to document so many silences that the silences become uncensored uninhibited noise.





In These Times: “Stories of Survival”

6 08 2007

original article located here

Features > June 29, 2007

Stories of Survival

NO! explores rape within the African-American community and fights society’s instinct to focus on the racism outside while turning a deaf ear to gender violence within

By Cynthia Greenlee-Donnell

The documentary NO! chips away at the myths and silence surrounding sexual assault it he black community

Filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons didn’t miss a beat when a white, female student told her at a 2003 Boston College screening of her documentary NO!, “Until I saw your film, I didn’t know that black women could be raped.” Simmons, a Philadelphia resident, calmly asked the young woman why she believed such a thing. The student replied that she didn’t think black women, simultaneously praised and pilloried for their strength, would stand for such a violation—as if sexual-violence victims are able to negotiate with attackers or deter them with a hefty serving of attitude.That wasn’t the case with Simmons, now 38, who was sexually assaulted in 1989, when she was a 19-year-old Temple University sophomore on a foreign exchange program to Mexico. A clandestine date—outside the dorm and the curfew hours—turned into a rape that left her pregnant and so devastated that she dropped out of college. Nor was that the case with the women whose stories Simmons has included in NO!, which explores rape within the African-American community.

Among them is a woman who was raped by her mentor, the university’s highest ranking black administrator; another whose fraternity boyfriend wouldn’t take no for an answer; and yet another who struggles with bulimia decades after her first boyfriend beat and raped her after she refused to have sex outside.

For Simmons, NO! has been a labor of love to make the film she wanted, regardless of how long it took. Simmons began filming interviews in 1994 with co-producer Tamara Xavier, but the documentary wasn’t released until 2006, largely because of the struggle to find $300,000 in necessary funding.

With NO!, Simmons hopes to chip away at the myths and disquieting silence surrounding sexual assault in the black community, which has traditionally been so attuned to racism outside that it has largely turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to gender violence within.

“There’s this notion,” says Simmons, “that when black women come forward [and say they’ve been raped], that we’re a traitor to the race. I wanted to show these women, their faces, their names. I understand privacy and shame, but shame should be on the perpetrators.”

Simmons followed the case of Desiree Washington, the beauty queen who accused boxer Mike Tyson of raping her in 1991 in his hotel room. (Tyson served three years in prison.) Then came the campaign to “save” Tyson and discredit Washington—complete with T-shirts proclaiming his innocence. In NO!, Simmons includes footage of Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan asking what Washington expected when she went to Tyson’s room as other faith leaders cackle in agreement.

Simmons wondered why those leaders and others never acknowledged that rape isn’t typically a crime committed by a stranger and that, for most black women, the perpetrator is an acquaintance who looks like them. The lack of critical reaction from the black community in the wake of the Washington case, combined with a 1994 trip to South Africa, where she met activists working on issues of sexual assault, galvanized her to make NO!. It is estimated that as many as half of all South African women will be raped in their lifetimes.

American women are also vulnerable to sexual assault. According to a study by the National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control, one in every six U.S. women will be subjected to sexual assault or an attempted assault during her lifetime. The organization’s “Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey” estimates that 18.8 percent of black women will survive a rape or attempted rape—making them only slightly more likely than the general population (17.6 percent) and white women (17.7 percent) to experience such a crime, but much less likely to be raped than Native Americans.

Numbers alone don’t express the full extent of rape or sexual assault in the black community—a topic that has probably been discussed more extensively in novels such as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple than in real life. Black women must deal with competing interests—protecting one’s self versus protecting the image of black men in a society where black men are the usual suspects of sexual crimes, facing the distrust of the police versus the need for personal security—that reduce the chance they will report rape.

With the help of anthropologist and former Spelman College President Johnnetta Cole, historian Beverly Guy-Sheftall and former Black Panther Elaine Brown, NO! examines the historical forces that foster sexual violence—and suppress dialogue about it—in black communities. In a country built on slavery, which was predicated on control of black labor and reproduction, black women have been regarded as perpetually sexually available or “unrapeable.” They have never fit easily into the “good girl” mold.

“I realized that I couldn’t talk about sexual assault in the African-American community without talking about slavery,” says Simmons. “If somebody owns you, how do you have the right to consent?”

NO! is generating discussion within the black community. In 2003, writer Kevin Powell (who is black) showed an unfinished cut to a crowd of hundreds—including many African-American men—on a wintry Friday night in Harlem. Men are a vital part of the solution, says Nia Wilson, the associate director of Spirit House, an arts and cultural nonprofit in Durham, N.C. “This is not about going after black men,” she says. “This is about uncovering something we need to address, and we need to address it together. Men are the only ones who can stop rape, no matter what we say, no matter how much light we shine on it.”

Wilson, who is black and a sexual-violence survivor, is also a member of UBUNTU, a coalition that combats racism and violence. Simmons allowed UBUNTU to use NO! to foster dialogue around North Carolina. Wilson recalls a screening for a white audience that was disengaged from the topic. All of the reactions Wilson had learned to expect—tears, outrage, personal testimonies—didn’t happen. The audience members acknowledged the violence, but their comments and lack of emotion told her that they couldn’t relate to this type of violence.

Wilson told the audience, “I can watch a Lifetime movie with a cast full of white people and cry because I’m conditioned to relate to you. But you are not conditioned to relate to me. You, especially this group who thinks you’re so politically correct, you cannot watch a movie with people with brown skin and see yourself.”

Bryan Proffitt, a 28-year-old white schoolteacher and UBUNTU member, says that talking about rape and race requires starting from a framework that acknowledges a history of interracial violence, white supremacy, male domination and myths that need debunking. “There’s always a good bit of anxiety about how white folks are going to see this film. ‘Oh, look, black guys are rapists. We knew that.’ We’ve always tried to be careful of framing this film beforehand because we recognize that white people come in with that particular narrative and we want to challenge that before they see it.”

Before each screening, the UBUNTU facilitator reads a statement that lists 27 reasons the film is being shown, including: “Because the stories of survivors of sexual assault are powerful and sacred.” “Because there are survivors here.” “Because this film holds us all accountable for the world that we comply with and perpetuate.”

This April, NO! was selected as a featured resource by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. “Everywhere I’ve shown the film,” says Simmons, “someone comes up and discloses she’s a survivor. I could be the only black woman in the room—me and the women on the film—in Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, women stand up and say, ‘This is my story.’”

For more information on NO!, visit www.notherapedocumentary.org.





J: AMC Follow-up – thoughts on grassroots publishing as a response to sexual violence

26 06 2007

At the AMC this weekend, Lex and I ran a workshop called Wrong is Not My Name: Poetic Healing as a Response to Sexual Violence where we shared our experience creating our interactive anthology Wrong is Not My Name: A Tribute to Survival Via June Jordan. Here’s a description:

This hands-on workshop will highlight the theory and practice of grassroots publishing as a response to Sexual Violence. Participants will learn about how this form of media fits into the work of UBUNTU, a women of color/survivor-led coalition committed to replacing gendered violence with sustaining transformative love. Based in Durham, NC. UBUNTU is practicing a model of community creation centered around healing, expression, sustainability, internal education and awareness raising. Participants will experience the UBUNTU model of community creation, through the production of a group publication during this workshop.

In the course of preparing to lead the workshop, we had some really interesting conversations about grassroots publishing in the context of our work – I wanted to share some thoughts from these as well as some things I learned about zines and resources for exploring further.

Grassroots publishing (by which I mean to include a wide range of mediums that allow writers to share their words without going through commercial publishing institutions – independent presses, zines, community newsletters, booklets, brochures, blogs, etc.), can be a powerful resource in the context of personal and community healing because:

The process of creating and writing – ‘coming to voice’ on paper – can be an accessible and concrete way for survivors to engage in healing. For some of us, the processes of emotional and physical healing can feel intimidating (big, mysterious, painful) and we often cope by avoiding and shutting down emotionally. Survivors of sexual violence are sometimes silenced by feelings of isolation, shame, self-doubt, and fear. Talking through experiences of violence or their aftermath with another person or people that we trust is a crucial element of the healing process (click here for information on supporting a survivor of sexual assault). Writing is no substitute, but healing is an ongoing process and putting things down on paper can be useful at any point along the way. Writing – journaling, poetry, freeform, essays, or really in any form – allows us to acknowledge and express feelings and thoughts at whatever pace and time feels right. When it is just us and the paper (or the screen) we don’t have to worry about being judged, or blamed, or disbelieved. We can share our truths, or not share them – either way, in writing we learn to hear and honor our own voices.

    …and when we speak we are afraid
    our words will not be heard
    nor welcomed
    but when we are silent
    we are still afraid

    So it is better to speak
    remembering
    we were never meant to survive

    Audre Lorde
    ‘Litany for Survival’

    When we publish our writings (on blogs, in zines, or elsewhere) it is a way of meeting the world as a part of healing – this is important because we honor eachother’s humanity by speaking our truths, and because as Lex reminded us, “silence is already a form of death.” Speaking truth is also a powerful and transformative act of resistance within the context of a rape culture that demands our silence. Research tells us that there are an estimated 21 million survivors in this country today, and that every 2 1/2 minutes someone is sexually assaulted – yet, too often people speak about rape as though it were a rare occurrence and isolated to back alleyways and “other” people. When survivors speak up, we challenge popular misconceptions about rape. We also make it easier for other survivors to do the same.

      Being part of a writing community within UBUNTU has allowed us to connect to other survivors, to support and celebrate eachother. And in sharing our stories and experiences with eachother we are able to bring our analysis of sexual violence to a systemic (rather than individual) level. When we observe the commonalities between these experiences, we can clearly see the structural roots of sexual violence and understand rape culture as situated within the context of interlocking racial, gendered, sexual, and class-based oppressions. Taken as a body of work, the writings of survivors (in UBUNTU and elsewhere) speak to and document the prevalence of sexual violence and to the physical and emotional costs of rape culture for real people – both survivors and our loved ones. In this way, these writings are also a political resource or tool that can be useful in educating and calling for change. Through the use of grassroots publishing methods we are able to share our writings quickly, easily, and widely with little or no overhead costs – making the process accessible to all who know ‘it is better to speak’.

        What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?
        The world would split open.

        Muriel Rukeseyer
        ‘Kathe Kollwitz’





        B.E.T. News Article About the Duke Case

        21 06 2007

         see full article here

        By Ed Wiley III, BET.com News Staff Writer

        RALEIGH, N.C. (Posted June 21, 2007) – A little over a year after Durham (N.C.) District Attorney Mike Nifong went after three White Duke University lacrosse players accused of gang-raping a Black student at an off-campus party, he’s been fired, had his 30-year-old law license stripped, and has become the poster child for shady dealings in the U.S. justice system. He could still face civil suits and even criminal prosecution.

        The speed at which “justice” kicked into high gear for the three White men accused of committing crimes against a Black woman is dazzling. But for many African Americans, including lawyers who have represented Black men falsely accused of rape only to see their prosecutors get off without so much as a rap on the knuckles, the entire Duke case is a study in racism and classism.

        Dr. Manning Marable, a professor of history at Columbia University in New York, said that moments after the state bar announced its decision to prosecute Nifong, he and several associates, including a judge, two lawyers and an anthropologist, struggled to recall a similar precedent.

        “None of us could come up with a single case in U.S. history where a district attorney lost his or her license or was removed from public office because of prosecutorial misconduct involving a Black defendant,” said Marable, who runs the Center for Contemporary Black History. “I’m not speaking to the merits of this case because I do think the prosecutor made egregious errors of judgment in pursuing it, but this is highly unusual.”

        Even the executive director of the North Carolina State Bar, acknowledged to BET.com that during his 27 years with the association he could not recall another case of a state, county or city district attorney being disbarred.

        “We do get calls of misconduct periodically …, and in those instances we do investigate,” Thomas Lunsford said. “But, no, I don’t recall,” instances of others being disbarred, although some prosecutors have been “disciplined” in the past.

        In the most recent act of humiliation against the defrocked prosecutor, on Tuesday the Durham County Sheriff snatched his badge and keys, and the North Carolina Legislature unanimously passed a bill granting Gov. Mike Easley the power to remove him from office.

        As for the young men wronged by the prosecutor, university President Richard H. Brodhead apologized profusely for the “heavy toll” that the ordeal has exacted on the three players, Reade Seligmann, Dave Evans and Collin Finnerty, and vowed “to work to protect others from similar injustices in the criminal justice system in the future.” Even more significantly, this week the university announced that it had reached a settlement (for an undisclosed amount of money) with the trio, a move designed to head off future lawsuits and to help make things right with the accused.

        “Obvious Racial Component”

        Contrast that, then, to what happened to dozens of Black men falsely accused of rape, including one who was just minutes from being put to death before a judge intervened.

        A BET.com review of just the cases handled by the nonprofit Innocence Project shows that since 2006, there have been more than a dozen African-American men released or pardoned from prison after serving lengthy sentences for rapes and/or murders they never committed. Those innocent Black men had spent an average of almost 18 years behind bars and would still be there if not for the dogged labor of a group working independently of the government justice system. Most were victims of overzealous prosecutors, some with political aspirations, others hungry to nail a crime on any Black man who would satisfy the bloodlust of an angry, afraid and often racist community.

        Of those cases reviewed by BET.com, only two had received compensation by the state. They are James Tillman, a 26-year-old homeless Connecticut man, who served 18 years of a 45-year sentence for rape, kidnapping and robbery, and Arthur Mumphrey, a 24-year-old man who served 18 years of a 35-year sentence after being falsely convicted for repeatedly raping a 13-year-old girl.

        Lives at StakeThe issue of prosecutorial misconduct is one that has been on the radar screen of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) for some time. Christina Swarns, who runs LDF’s criminal justice project, said that the issue of misconduct comes up frequently.

        She cited the case of Delma Banks, a Black Texas death row inmate whose appeals were denied one after another, even though the conviction and death sentence violated three U.S. Supreme Court rulings. In the Banks case, prosecutors struck all Black prospective jurors from the jury pool; withheld critical evidence that supported the defense; and looked the other way while their paid witnesses lied on the stand. On Dec. 12, 2003, with only 10 minutes to spare, the U.S. Supreme Court intervened to halt Banks’ execution.

        “We see prosecutorial misconduct in a lot of cases, particularly Death penalty cases,” Swarns said. “Was money and race part of the calculus that led to the D.A. in North Carolina being disbarred immediately? Yes. Are there African-American and poor men in prisons on death rows all over America who suffered trials with far more egregious acts of misconduct than we saw in the Duke case, absolutely. Most of them have no luxury of high-powered defense teams like the Duke young men had. This is an age-old story.”

        The Duke outcome “reflects how deep racism is in the bosoms of so many White people who would not think of raising a finger when prosecutorial misconduct led to years of imprisonment and even death for Black men and women,” says Derrick Bell, visiting professor of law at New York University and author of such books as “And We Are Not Saved: The Elusive Quest for Racial Justice” and “Race, Racism and American Law.”

        “The patterns may be somewhat more subtle than at an earlier time when there would not have been even an inquiry when a Black woman charged White men with rape. Now, when the charges are taken seriously and then disproved, the public comes down hard on the prosecutor. The worse part of all of this is that Black people (or most of us) see the obvious racial component in all of this, while most Whites neither see nor want to see. The inability to see the obvious racial aspects in so many issues – from slavery to segregation to affirmative action – could eventually bring this country down.”





        Editorial: Defending the ‘good girls’

        21 05 2007

        From: TheState.com

        Posted on Fri, May. 04, 2007

        By CONSEULA FRANCIS
        Guest columnist

        There’s probably been more than enough said about both Don Imus and the Duke rape case. I have debated whether I should add my voice to the throng. But then I think about this statement and why it bothers me so much:

        “Why do people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson always play the race card? We will never get over our divisions unless people learn to let things go.”

        What does this even mean? Does it mean that racism will end if we let racists be racist in peace? We can live in a less racially divisive society if only I can learn not to bother you with the circumstances and consequences of my oppression? Your need to live free of emotional and social discomfort is more important than my right to be heard?

        And what exactly am I getting out of this? The right to be called a “nappy-headed ho” on national radio? Thanks but no thanks.

        If this was the only thing bothering me about the whole matter, I might be able to let it go. I can’t though. Here’s why:

        In the rush to defend the Rutgers women’s basketball team, it seems that they have earned our support precisely because they are not actually “nappyheaded hos.” They are not the young woman in the Duke case. That nameless young woman — a single mother, a college dropout, a former exotic dancer, as every article reminds us — didn’t deserve our defense. We could be outraged on her behalf. We could rail against the white male privilege run amok. But defend her? No.

        Her very existence undermines what so many black women try so hard to prove every day: We are not welfare mothers. We are not video vixens. We are not “nappy-headed hos.” But being the sexual entertainment at a party full of white men doesn’t really demonstrate that, does it? So there will be no defense of her, no meetings with her, no rallying around her now that North Carolina has decided she’s a liar.

        But the Rutgers players? These young women are on the Condoleezza Path of Success. They have struggled, worked hard, followed the rules, played the game. and it’s paying off. They have been trotted out on TV, not a nappy head among them, looking every bit the bright, high-achieving women they are. And the implication, at least to my eyes, is that they deserve our protection because they are good girls. What would have happened if they had been less than good?

        Maybe this all bothers me because I was placed on the Condoleeza Path of Success early in life. I learned, even though no one ever said these words, that being smart and well-spoken and modest would protect me from many of the degradations that so many black women have to live with every day. And I succeeded. I live with a certain amount of privilege that many black women don’t have.

        It’s amazing how people’s facial expressions and body language change when I introduce myself as Dr. Francis or mention that I’m a college professor. A whole set of assumptions about me get thrown out because of that PhD. But Dr. Francis isn’t exactly tattooed on my forehead, is it?

        I walk around in my brown skin, appearing very much the nappy-headed ho to the Imuses of the world simply because of that skin. And it’s small comfort to think that, apparently, my only defense against that is trying really hard to be Condoleezza.

        Dr. Francis is an assistant professor of English at the College of Charleston.





        From Lex: On May Day (J says: I love love love this one!)

        1 05 2007

        Since it is May Day, one day of many to celebrate the contributions and demand the rights of immigrant workers, it seems appropriate to share a historical precedent through which Women of Color in London organized at the intersections of immigration policy and sexual violence.

        In November 1982 a broad coalition of organizations came together to put together a one day event (sound familiar yet?). The coalition included English Collective of Prostitutes, Housewives in Dialogue, Women Against Rape, Wages Due Lesbians and others who had collaborated to takeover a community center in their region (Camden). Only a few days after their first big event “Bringing it All Back Home:Black and Immigrant Women Speak out and Claim Our Rights”, the conference attendees supported the English Collective of Prostitutes as they occupied a local church to claim sanctuary from the constant police harassment and brutality they were experiencing. If you can’t tell…I am inspired and thrilled by the bravery of these women (mostly women of color, mostly with threatened immigration status) who not only demanded fair wages for the “private” labor of nurturing, but who also repeatedly took over public spaces and spoke out against sexual violence.

        Anyway..at this particular conference Women Against Rape released a statement entitled “Racism is Rapism” which explicitly calls out the way in which sexual assault impacts the most vulnerable among us through the same mechanisms as racism, classism and xenophobia:
        “On arriving in another country, we have found ourselves threatened again by the tacism which stems directly from one government after another saying ‘you are not welcome, don’t expect any rights!’ Such policies set us up as easy targets and legitimise every kind of racist attack against us, whether from immigration officers, the police, the courts, employers or individual men.”

        They also protest the absurdity of immigration laws that make residency contingent on staying with a husband and explain the complexity on going to the violent state to mitigate intra-community violence.

        “We have been afraid to go to the police for help, particularly when attacks have comefrom within our own community, since we have seen how a woman’s cry forhelp has been usedas an excuse to rampage in our community, particularly if we are black.”

        and
        “We have seen how sexism combines with and reinforces racism….
        As women we have all experienced, if not rape itself, then the threat or fear of rape. We know how rape has been used to limit our movement and our lives. We refuse to be locked into our homes or into our countries. A WOMAN’S PLACE IS EVERYWHERE!”

        Just another example of the history we move in…
        love,
        lex