UK WILPF has joined feminist activists around the world in support of this peacfully demonstrating for basic human rights in Iraq.
The statement reads
Women from Around the World Condemn Attack on Peaceful Protesters in Iraq for an End to Sexual Assault of Women Protesters
We, feminist activists from 12 countries, stand in support of our sisters and brothers peacefully demonstrating for basic rights in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square.
This morning, June 10, demonstrators were brutally targeted with sexual violence and beatings by men who were reportedly bussed in by the thousands to disrupt the weekly protest. Protesters suffered broken bones, knife wounds and beatings. Several women were severely beaten and violently groped; armed attackers attempted to forcibly strip off the women’s clothing. The activists, who work with the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, report that their attackers were organized and paid by government security forces who used the un-uniformed men to avoid accountability for the violence.
As feminists, we strongly condemn assaults against peaceful protesters and the specifically gender-based violence against women. As in so many of our countries, the use of sexual violence against Iraqi women is designed to terrorize, shame and silence those women who dare to exercise their fundamental rights as citizens and raise political demands in the public sphere. We stand with our sisters who exercise their rights to political participation and dissent.
Today’s attacks represent a noted escalation of violence against protesters in Iraq as well as a crime and a fundamental violation of human rights. We call on the government to uphold its obligations to guarantee freedom of peaceful assembly and to respond to the demands of demonstrators.
WILPF women in the UK, Germany, France and the United States are angry at our governments’ actions in Libya.
The bombing is hypocrisy. Our governments have presented military intervention as coming to the ‘rescue’ of rebels and civilians while diplomacy has taken a back seat. They have forgotten that military intervention is not the answer to the Libyan people’s calls for freedom and democracy.
The UN Charter clearly states that all parties need to settle their disputes peacefully, to ensure international peace, security and justice. Only when all other means have failed can further action be taken. In the case of Libya the obligation to work for peace has been reversed with the massive military strike coming first, while strengthened boycotts and civilian measures are still being debated.
We ask our governments to use diplomacy and peaceful political pressure to resolve the situation in Libya. We call for a total ban on arms exports to all sides in Libya, and no more arms exports to repressive regimes.
WILPF had a strong presence at the large March for the Alternative demonstration on Saturday 26 March 2011 against the governments spending cuts and cuts to public services.
You get what you pay for. From cuts to child benefit and tax credits, to cuts to Sure Start children’s centres, to cuts to sexual and reproductive health services, to cuts to women’s jobs, the cuts will have a disproportionate and unfair impact on women.
There is an alternative. An alternative where human security defines spending priorities, where health care is considered more important than nuclear weapons, where social services are more important than tanks and bombs and we invest in sustainable and equitable economic growth that will generate the prosperity for the long-term.
8 March 2011 marked the centenary of International Women’s Day and WILPF members celebrated in style! International WILPF released a powerful statement, expressing solidarity with all those organising for peace, justice and freedom across the world.
In the UK branches in Sheffield and Orpington held lunchtime stalls, where shoppers signed letters to the Prime Minister to protest the heavy impact of government spending cuts on women. In Sheffield over 50 letters were signed, while in Orpington there were queues of people who agreed that the planned cuts are unnecessary and unfair to women.
In London WILPF members attended the Million Women Rise march on Saturday 5 March and joined with Women for Women International for the Join Me On the Bridge event on International Women’s Day itself. An exciting event where women in 60 countries held events to stand together for peace and an end to violence.
We continue to ask, what would you invest in? 4 billion dollars a day in global military spending or 2928 years of the UN Women’s Agency? Bombs or healthcare? tanks or schools? Security does not come from the barrel of a gun.
UK WILPF members marched in the Million Women Rise march in London on Saturday 5 March 2011. United with women around the globe, this demonstration called for an end to violence against women. This march from Hyde Park to a rally in Trafalgar Square was the largest women-only march since the suffragettes with 10,000 women in attendance. Kongosi Mussanzi and Marie-Claire Faray were among the speakers at the rally, highlighting the situation of violence against women in Eastern DRC.