AF3IRM Statement for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

NATIONAL–We in AF3IRM are witnessing and experiencing the intensification of violence against women with the rise of global neo-fascism (the U.S. President-elect’s administration included) and we know that its roots are deeply entangled with a centuries-old ideology – the perceived patriarchal right to access women’s bodies. As we end of the 16 Days of Women’s Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, we call on all to reject this belief, to refuse to submit to injustice, and to remain steadfast in the path to genuine liberation!

As we look forward, we seek to bring attention to the dangerous role of corporatism in violence against women. With the state complicit in corporatism’s assault on women, we know that it is we, transnational women of color, who are most impacted and who we must lead the fight against these attacks. We cannot wait for others to advocate for us! There is heightened violence experienced by women under capitalism, particularly as workers doing unpaid work in the home, as well as traditionally lower-paid “women’s work” such as domestic work, work in the factories, and work in the fields. Undocumented migrant women are especially at risk – whether in the fields or in homes, as they face rape, sexual assault and harassment, with little to no protection or help available to them to fight these dangers.   

Capital’s assault on women also includes the commodification and exchange of women’s bodies as property. The sexual abuse to prostitution pipeline is expanding. About 95% of prostituted women report being sexually abused as children, while the average age of entry is 13 years old. Native women and girls are disproportionately impacted as they are 2.5 times more likely to be raped/sexually assaulted than any other women in the U.S, making them extra vulnerable to prostitution. Transgender women may turn to survival sex as many live on less than $10,000/year due to employment discrimination. While many transnational women of color have limited economic opportunities and must make very difficult decisions, we in AF3IRM believe that the business of prostitution must be eliminated, because legalizing it would only institutionalize the exploitation and sexual assault.

From the Highway Trail of Tears to International Blvd, we find that the intersections of class, gender, and race severely impacts women and girls of color and far too often the state overlooks violence against them. Women of color are overrepresented in the numbers of the missing, murdered, and trafficked in North America: 64,000 missing black women in the United States; indigenous women are murdered at more than 10 times the U.S. national average; more than 1,100 cases of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada; Asian Pacific Islander women are the largest group trafficked into the US.

Rape culture and street harassment, stemming from patriarchy’s right to sexual access, are a daily assault on the bodily autonomy of women. In one survey, 85% of U.S. women reported experiencing street harassment before the age of 17. There are stories like that of Mary Spears and Tiarah Poyau, two black women whose spurning of unwanted advances led to their deaths. In the election’s aftermath women of color have experienced increased harassment due to anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant beliefs.

The state fails to address these realities faced by women and to combat the erasure of women of color. Indeed, those in power often refuse to value the lives and bodies of women- except to exploit them for profit and for their own self-interest. Corporatism has always chosen profit over people, especially profit over the bodies and lives of women. The President-elect has already been dealing in favor of his own business interests and it would come as no surprise if this incoming administration will turn a blind eye to violence against women, especially in deference to corporatism.

With the incoming administration’s leadership openly promoting state and interpersonal violence against women and the President-elect’s refusal to disavow his own corporate interests, we must remain vigilant and organized! The Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Education, which provides guidance to colleges on issues around Title IX and sexual assault, will be under the presidency of a man who normalizes rape culture. Roe v. Wade could be overturned with conservative, pro-life appointees to the Supreme Court. In 2018, the Violence Against Women Act will be up for re-authorization under the term of an anti-immigrant misogynist and a Republican-controlled Congress.  

For over 27 years, AF3IRM has worked to fight for the missing, murdered and trafficked women and to combat patriarchy’s assault on womankind. We will continue to wage these battles, from the interpersonal to the institutional, because, as June Jordan said, “we are the ones we have been waiting for.” It is only with our own acts of organizing, fighting, and leading change that our liberation will manifest.

As 16 Days ends, join AF3IRM every day as we reject patriarchal right of access to women’s bodies and decimation of our sisters the world over. Refuse to accept the self-serving actions of government agents! Renounce the attacks on women’s lives and bodies!