Marching for Women’s Rights in London
By Asiye Betül
This year’s Million Women Rise march, themed against male violence was on the 5th of March. Exactly a year after the violent murder of Sarah Everard. The march started in front of the Charing Cross police station and ended in front of the New Scotland Yard. These locations were crucial to the protest, because as Sabrina Qureshi, the founder of Million Women Rise, said, despite the fact that we pay for the police to keep us safe and protect us, there are still to this day, multiple incidents of the police violence against women. The police continues on to ignore occasions of abuse of women. In short, the police keeps failing women.
Male violence cases have been surging since the start of the pandemic, and despite all attempts to improve the system, few women can find a remedy in it.
As the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee of Human Rights Society we decided to place a male embodiment of all news coverages of violence against women inside a cage. This was symbolising both the source of violence against women, and the kind of freedom we women would enjoy had this source been neutralized.
The male mannequin character had newspaper clippings covering male violence cases such as “I killed 17 women” and “Violent ex stalked women” around his body. This physical demonstration was one of the highlights of the whole march and got a lot of attention from many media outlets such as the BBC, The Guardian and The Independent.
This was our turn to say “Stop!” This was our turn to ask for justice, to claim back our long lost safety, right in front of those who deny us from it.
We asked them to “Stop the violence!” and “Stop the rape!”
Because women have had enough; because there will be no peace if no justice is delivered.
It was a cold Saturday in London indeed. We raised our banners up to the sky under 4 degrees Celsius, while our hands and legs were shivering. We embraced each other in order to keep warm; in order to keep safe.
The march ended with a rally in front of New Scotland Yard. Speakers and campaigners stood up against male violence and highlighted how racism, xenophobia and homophobia were the main causes of police brutality against women. The campaigners highlighted that “Enough is Enough” and women will not tolerate any more violence against themselves.
I was very honoured to be able to recite my poem “On Womanhood” during the rally. I expressed my worries on how while “boys will be boys, girls never get to be girls”. It was a moving experience for me to have amazing, inspiring and shivering women listen to me and support me by their ovations. I also received a few hugs from strangers by the end of my performance. It was truly an unforgettable moment.
With these feelings still warm and alive in my heart, I leave you with the poem:
To be born into womanhood is to be born neck-deep into guilt.
It means to be a house haunted by shame.
It means to be a daughter, a mother and a sister – before a person, because boys won’t care unless you compare them to their birth givers.
It’s getting your screams and cries ignored, it’s getting your right to justice avoided – Because women bleeding doesn’t bother men unless it’s from periods.
To be a woman is to grow up earlier than boys, It’s getting told what girls do and don’t.
It’s being so aware that you are a girl, you forget you’re human.
It’s having to accept when your mother says “boys will be boys, that’s what they do”,
Is that what boys will be? Will boys be boys?
Will boys be rapists? Murderers?
Will boys be abusers and predators?
Boys will be boys.
Boys will be boys, and girls will never forget to look behind themselves when they’re alone at night. girls will be girls instead of women, because even that is too much for a boy to grasp. a woman becomes a girl when her hands bleed from clutching her keys too tight.
a woman becomes a girl in a boy’s eyes.
Boys will be boys. But, will girls be girls? Will girls be alive?
Girls never get to be girls, women never get to be women.
And today we will stand and scream and make noise, for those who never got the chance to have a voice.
We’ll stand for the women in war. We’ll stand for the women of Ukraine, For the women of Palestine, the women of Syria, the women of Sudan!
For the women unlawfully detained!
Raise your voice for the Uyghur women of China getting ethnically cleansed!
For the women of Iran, the women of India, the women of Africa!
For the women whose rights are ignored!
Raise your voices for the women of Pakistan, the women of Spain and Brazil!
The women of the United Kingdom who were killed by the police!
For the women whose justice was never offered!
Raise your voices for the women who lost their lives to violence.!
For the women who never got their respects paid!
Let us all rise for our sisters all around the world! Let us ask for justice!