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Nov 072011
 

Sabrina Chap and The Zorras

Friday, November 18
7:30pm – 10:30pm
The Third Door
45-47 Lothian Street

We are ecstatic Sabrina is coming to Edinburgh again as part of a wider european tour. Come out and give her a huge welcome back.

Sabrina Chap’s got classical piano skills, the ballad lyrics of Tom Waits, the onstage antics of Phyllis Diller and the voice of a whiskey angel. Her sets are a ragtime stompin’ good time, full of laughs, heartbreaks, and just plain good songwriting.

“Don’t let the picture fool you–Sabrina Chap’s forlorn album cover of Oompa! doesn’t reflect what inside: bouncing rhythms, complex instrumentation, and intelligent lyrics covering everything from heartache to performing femininity.” – Bitch Magazine

Zorras performances floor me so it with equal zeal that we welcome them.

“In Spanish their name translates to ‘female fox’ or ‘vixen,’ but for alt art group Zorras, the meaning is pure performance magic. Whether it’s the words of Sandra Alland, the intricate guitar work of Y Josephine, or the mesmerizing video images created by Alland and Ariadna Battich, Zorras lives up to its foxy namesake with stories ripe with sexuality, gender and sly humour.”

– Serafin LaRiviere, Xtra!, Toronto/Ottawa, October 2011

 Posted by at 6:21 pm
Nov 062011
 

A tank that has been "yarn bombed"

The next DIY Discussion is happening on the 9th of November from 7.30pm. Please come!

We will be chatting about pornography and making things with wool.

There are so many different things you can do with wool – knitting, crocheting and felting to name just a few! And wool crafts aren’t just for a certain section of society – anyone can enjoy wool regardless of gender or age, and it can be put to many creative uses such as “yarn bombing”  an art form involving the pairing of activism…and knitting!

Please bring anything you’d like to share, such as interesting things to read, craft bits and bobs, or simply your thoughts, feelings and ideas.

We hope to see you there!

For more information click here or email us at edinburghanarchafeminist[at]noflag.org.uk

 Posted by at 12:32 pm
Nov 042011
 

A workshop for Occupy Edinburgh
Sunday 6th November 2011 5pm – 6pm
Occupy Edinburgh, St Andrews Square, Edinburgh

This workshop addresses issues of marginalised voices within the Occupy Edinburgh movement, and seeks constructively to discuss the possibilities for creating a more inclusive environment and for creating space for “feminist voices”. Running for not more than 60 minutes, the workshop will start with a quick nod to some of the feeling that the Edinburgh Camp could be more inclusive. We’ll then move to a facilitated conversation about which methods to employ in order to move towards an inclusive movement, in which all genders can feel safe, comfortable, and valued. While the organizers recognize that the recent events which occurred in Glasgow may have affected some of the participants of the workshop, the purpose of this workshop is not to address issues of sexism in various protest camps, but to keep discussion focused on practical ways to affect positive change and create a safe welcoming atmosphere within this particular site of the de-centralised Occupy movement.

Topics in the workshop might include:

– Personal experiences of exclusion within Occupy Edinburgh
– The effect of autonomous organising on marginalised voices
– Potentiality of greater inclusion
– Women’s outreach – getting more women involved in the movement
– Feminist support networks within the camp
– Moving forward and creating an inclusive feminist space

The workshop organizers will conduct the workshop under a “safer spaces” policy which encourages positive and constructive discussion and debate, and asks all participants to recognize that this workshop is not the place for violent or hateful speech, intolerance, or aggressive language.

All welcome!

 Posted by at 8:54 pm
Nov 022011
 

A post which appeared on Scotland Indymedia entitled “Open letter from Glasgow Women’s Activist Forum to Occupy Glasgow” is the latest addition to an increasing number of articles which draw attention to incidences of sexual assault and harassment experienced by women participating in the Occupy protests around the world.

In the letter, Glasgow Women Activist’s Forum state that “We, the undersigned, are writing to those involved in the Occupy Glasgow protest because our voices have hitherto been marginalised and our concerns systematically ignored in the days following the rape that occurred at the protest on Tuesday.”

This is a message that is being echoed on blogs and websites across the world in response to an alarming number of attacks on women. To date there have been at least four reports of rape at Occupying protests. In Glasgow, Scotland, a woman was raped in her tent as she was spending the night at an occupy protest taking place George Square. In the U.S.A women in Cleveland, Dallas, Kansas and Portland have also been raped while participating in occupy protests. On the 10th of October a man was arrested at Occupy Wall Street for groping a woman, while at the Occupy Denver protest, a man was arrested for groping a reporter.

Equally disturbing have been the misogynist responses to these attacks from supposed activists involved in the protests. As Danielle Binks writes “What really makes a mockery of the Occupy movement is the response to these claims of sexual abuse amongst the protestors. When news broke of the Cleveland rape claim, one protestor even queried whether the abused woman was a ‘plant’, attempting to discredit the rally.”

“Occupy Baltimore released a ‘security statement’ pamphlet to their protestors which discouraged police involvement if any such crimes were committed. The Baltimore occupiers were heavily criticized for this ‘speak no evil’ stance, and have since revised their policies.”
The recurring description of the women who have been attacked as “transient, run-aways, or homeless women” (in drawing attention to their social status, is the suggestion being made that lower class women are less deserving of justice?) as well as the distancing of occupy protesters from them (claims that these women “were not part of the protest”)  serves only to perpetuate inequality, the very thing the movement claims to be fighting against.

Online and on the street women are asking the question “Are Women Safe at Occupy Protests?” In her blog, Lola-at-large comments “It’s a fair question to ask, considering the continuous reports of rape and sexual assault, as well as sexual harassment coming from the Occupy protests. Rapes and sexual assaults are happening, 12 by my latest count, with the movement barely six weeks old. That’s a pretty abysmal track record”

In an article from People of Colour Organise the comment is made that: “A lot of women, queers, and trans people—along with many people of color and undocumented immigrants—do not feel comfortable sleeping in an open space with a lot of men, surrounded by police. Police presence ensures that protestors could, at any time, be risking arrest; and a racist police system ensures that people of color will be targeted. Unrestricted male presence in all sleeping areas ensures that protestors could, at any time, be exposing themselves to molestation and/or rape; and patriarchy ensures that women, queers, and trans people will be targeted.”

The presence of Julian Assange, a man facing allegations of rape and sexual violence, at an Occupy London rally, further reinforces that age old tendency to put women’s issues to one side in the name of so-called social justice “When will we start to understand that any movement which asks women to put up with sexism as a sacrifice for the group, as if sexism isn’t part of the problem, is doomed to fail? It’s no accident – or secret – that women make up the majority of the world’s poor and that women are being hardest hit by the financial crisis” laments Philippa Wilitts on the F-word blog.

Perhaps the misogynist attitudes seemingly dominating the Occupy protests is best summed up by the YouTube video ‘Hot Chicks on Wall Street” an amateur documentary that the maker claims is “Pics of hot chicks being all protesty.” While many within the movement, including the maker himself have defended the film, Rebecca Traister sums up the crux of the argument “This video is sexist. It’s an example of women participating in public life — political, professional, social — and having their participation reduced to sexual objectification. That’s what happened here, nothing more, nothing less.”

In response to this full spectrum of attacks on women, websites like “Occupy Patriarchy” have sprung up. The aim being to “provide a supportive, global space for feminist analysis, response and organizing and networking within the world-wide Occupy movement.”

“It is our observation that institutions such as Wall Street are manifestations of the far deeper and greater problem of patriarchy which depends in large measure on the exploitation, disempowerment, and subjugation of women, yet (as is all too often the case in progressive movements) the analysis of issues presented so far has shown little effort in looking at the various issues discussed from a feminist vantage point, including but not limited to the following:

*Women make up the overwhelming majority of people living in poverty and do the overwhelming majority of unpaid work on which everyone’s lives depend.

*Our reproductive rights and agency are continually under siege.

*The overwhelming number of victims of sexual exploitation and violence are women and this exploitation intensifies under conditions of economic devastation.

*While these issues impact all women, women of color are far more likely to suffer the consequences of patriarchal domination.”

It is sad, but perhaps not unusual, that a movement which is supposed to stand for egalitarian aims has in fact perpetuated many of the inequalities which exist in society. Real social change can only occur when those that are most marginalized and oppressed, the real 99% of society, are empowered by a movement. However in the case of occupy it seems that once again the status quo is being maintained and it is still the privileged few whose voices are being heard. Until this is seriously addressed, no radical system change can occur as a product of this movement.

“Every organization, every movement, struggles with acknowledging systematic oppression. Movements that deny racism, movements that deny sexism; movements that are completely unaccountable to the very people they claim to be liberating; these movements will fail. Again and again, we have witnessed their failure.”

Links

Occupy Patriarchy

http://occupypatriarchy.org/

Are Women Safe at Occupy Protests?

http://crayfisher.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/are-women-safe-at-occupy-protests/

Dichotomy of Ideals

http://www.spinifexpress.com.au/Blog/display/id=56/comments=show/

The F-Word – We are the 49%?

http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2011/10/we_are_the_49

Feministe

http://www.feministe.us

 Posted by at 8:05 pm

Skillshare

 Feminist Events  Comments Off
Oct 242011
 

These events will hopefully take place monthly from now on, so stay tuned for the date of the next one!

 Posted by at 1:42 pm

DIY Discussions

 Feminist Events  Comments Off
Oct 022011
 

Come along and get involved with our new project DIY Discussions!

DIY Discussions is a space to come together and meet with other feminists to share ideas and skills in a relaxed and friendly way.

Why?

The motivation behind the project is to attempt to empower each other to learn new things, with particular attention to skills which we may not have been encouraged to pursue growing up in a capitalist, patriarchal system. By learning to do things ourselves we become more self-sufficient and less dependent on this system of oppression and control. We also want to further our understanding and analysis of feminism through thoughtful, participatory discussion.

When?

DIY Discussions takes place every two weeks (fortnightly) on Wednesdays from 7.30pm – 11.00pm

The next one will be on Wednesday 26th of October at 7.30pm. Since this will take place at someone’s house, we ask that you email us (edinburghanarchafeminist[at]noflag.org.uk) for the address.

We’ll start the evening by sharing a craft/ability/art/technique/idea/way of doing something, and then spend the second half of the evening discussing a topic from a feminist perspective.

What to bring

An open, friendly attitude and willingness to work with and listen to others. Please read our safer spaces agreement

Any materials /equipment you think will be useful for the skill-share.

Snacks if you want them! (There will be tea)

Your ideas for other DIY Discussions!

Read more about DIY Discussions here

 Posted by at 2:59 pm
Sep 212011
 

On the 16th of September at 10.00am a morning picket was held outside the courts in Glasgow in support of Alice Nderitu. At least 5 people attended the picket, which was enough to pack out the small court room on Bothwell street. Held in the Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre since the 7th of July, Alice was finally granted bail much to her and her supporters great relief. She is now being supported by the Unity Centre.

On the same day, a solidarity letter writing event was organised in Edinburgh at the Engine Shed from 1pm – 4pm. During this period several people dropped in to write Alice letters of support or make cards. These have now been sent to the Unity Centre for her. If you would like to write to Alice to express your support you can do so by addressing mail to her care of the Unity Centre, 30 Ibrox Street,Glasgow G51 1AQ.

We will continue to support Alice in whatever small ways we can and provide updates on her situation here. There is more information about Alice’s story below.

 Posted by at 11:01 am
Sep 112011
 

Detained in Dungavel – facing deportation
Her only crime – fleeing from an abusive man!

Alice Nderitu is a 34 year old mother of two from Kenya who is currently being held in Dungavel by the UKBA under charges of obtaining Leave to Remain in the UK by deception.

We do not believe this woman should be in detention. If she is convicted of these charges it will be a gross injustice.

Please Help the Edinburgh Anarcha-Feminist Collective to support Alice Nderitu.

How can you help?

Join the morning picket outside the courts in Glasgow on Friday 16th Spetember from 9.45am The Unity Centre has found out that Alice Nderitu is having a bail hearing on Friday by video link from Dungavel. She won’t be in court but it would still be great if people could come along to the court to show support for her.

The court is at floor 4, the Eagle Building, 215 Bothwell Street, Glasgow.

Come along to our letter and postcard writing afternoon in Edinburgh We will send your contributions to Alice while she is in Dungavel. The first one will take place on Friday the 16th September from 1pm – 4pm at The Engine Shed, 19 St.Leonard’s Lane. Paper, envelopes and stamps will be provided!

If you missed this event you can still write to Alice by addressing mail to her care of the Unity Centre, 30 Ibrox Street,Glasgow G51 1AQ

Email us on edinburghanarchafeminist[at]noflag.org.uk if you are interested in coming along to one of the letter writing sessions, or to support Alice in court.

Please email the Unity Centre at info@unitycentreglasgow.org if you would like to be sent regular up-dates about Alice’s case.

More about Alice Nderitu

Alice’s story goes back to 2003 when she first came to the UK on a student visa. Studying at college in Oxford she started a relationship with a man from Kenya called Peter Kamau, who she had met here in the UK. Alice became pregnant in 2005 and while she was pregnant Peter started beating and threatening to hurt her.

Alice left Oxford and came to Glasgow to get away from him. Here she claimed asylum using a different name and saying she was from Burundi instead of Kenya because she was scared that Peter would find out where she was now living. Alice now deeply regrets lying in her asylum claim.

After her son was born in February 2006, her partner found her again and forced his way back into her life using emotional blackmail and threatening her. Scared of what he might do if she refused, Alice let him live with her, despite his violence, as she was worried that any trouble would cause problems for her asylum claim. During this time while he was living with her he repeatedly forced her to have sex with him.

In 2008 Alice’s second child was born and the following year Alice was granted Leave to Remain in the UK. By that time the violence in the relationship had escalated. Alice managed to escape from Peter again and moved into her own flat. Unfortunately her ex-partner found where she was living and broke down the door of the house. When he got into the house Peter beat her badly and she went to London Road police station and made a statement against him.

The police went to arrest Peter but the next day he came back to her house and broke down the door again. This time he had a knife and threatened to kill her. Alice managed to grab her eldest child and barricaded herself and her son on the balcony of the flat. From there she was able to shout for help to her neighbours and passers by, and the police were phoned.

By the time the police got there however her ex-partner had run away. To Alice’s horror she discovered he had taken her baby daughter, who was only 1 year old at the time. Because the baby was involved the police took the situation more seriously and Alice and her son were taken to Women’s Aid in Drum-chapel. Later that day Alice was reunited with her daughter at the police station.

Alice stayed at the Women’s Aid refuge for 10 months during which time her ex-partner was seen stalking her on CCTV cameras. The police were called and he was arrested again and spent a night in the police station.

Finally Alice was able to leave the refuge move into a new house. Again her ex-partner found her and demanded to see the children. Alice was so scared that she agreed to let him visit them but when the time came she couldn’t cope with the idea of seeing him again so took them instead to a friend’s house and stayed there overnight. She finally agreed to meet him with the children at a MacDonalds the following day.

At the MacDonalds, Alice discovered that while she had been at her friend’s house, her ex-partner had forced open the front door to her flat and had spent the night in her flat. Then the next morning, before meeting her, he had changed the locks to her flat. In the restaurant, he gave Alice one set of keys for the new lock he’d fitted to her door but kept 2 copies for himself. Later when she went home she found a hammer that he’d left behind after he’d brought it with him to break her door open. Alice phoned the police and they came to her flat and took statements, fingerprints and photos and arrested the man again.

A few weeks later the man came back to Alice’s house. She had been out of Women’s Aid for less than three months. This time he started throw things through the letter box while Alice and the children were inside. Alice had managed to replace the door so he wasn’t able to get into the house. By the time the police arrived the man had run away. However they did catch him and he was taken to court. Alice went to give evidence at his trial but he pled guilty to the charge of assault.

At the trial the man was sentenced to prison for 8 months. He started serving the sentence on the 1st August 2010 and was released in November last year after serving only 4 months.

After his release he came back to Alice’s home and tried forcing his way in. Desperate, terrified and just wishing the violence and threats would stop Alice finally agreed to let the man take the children away from her. It was 17th December, less than one week before Christmas. Her son was almost 5 and her daughter was only 2 years old.

The man took the children to Leicester and has refused Alice access to them. She has not seen them since. She has not even been allowed to speak to them on the phone. The social work department did organise a case conference in England that both Alice and the man attended but it was so intimidating that Alice could not speak freely and no mention was made of the man’s record of violence. No one was there to help her. No one was there to act as an advocate on her behalf. Alice was told that her son had started going to school but that was all.

To her shock, in July this year, the man reported Alice to the UKBA saying that she had used a false name and nationality to claim asylum. Almost immediately, Immigration officials came to her house and arrested her for obtaining her Indefinite Leave to Remain by deception. Since 7th July Alice has been detained in Dungavel detention centre, thirty miles outside of Glasgow waiting to go to trial.

We are certain that Alice used false details to claim asylum at a time in her life when she was in crisis. She was a pregnant woman with a small child, in a foreign country, fleeing from a man who was abusive and violent and threatening to kill her.

Once she had used the false details to claim asylum however Alice was trapped by her decision to deceive. If she had revealed that she had used a false name to the UKBA her asylum case would have been refused immediately and she and her baby son would become vulnerable to her abusive partner and the family would have been in danger of being forcibly removed from the UK. She had no choice but to continue with her false asylum claim.

Alice bitterly regrets using deception. She has told us that she felt she was trapped by it for years and that she wishes she had known of a better way or where she could have gone to find a safe place to hide from her abusive partner.

Alice still suffers nightmares and panic attacks about her experiences.

Unity is calling for Alice’s immediate release and for the charges against her to be dropped.

Please email the Unity Centre at info@unitycentreglasgow.org if you would like to be sent up-dates about Alice’s case.

 Posted by at 4:45 pm
Jun 012011
 

The 28th of May saw Reclaim the Night return to Edinburgh after a two year absence of this important event from our streets. Feminist groups from all over Edinburgh came together to collaborate on the event, including, Ladyfest, Edinburgh University Reclaim the Night, and the local Anarcha-Feminist collective. As a result, a variety of different activities took place over the course of the day and night, attended by a wide range of people.

The day began at 1pm with a “Free-School” at the Forest Cafe organised by the Edinburgh Anarcha-Feminist Collective. The Free-School took place upstairs in the main hall and was a space for discussion, film projection, and arts and craft. Most importantly, it was a place were people could meet others who planned to go on the march later that evening. There was a chill out space with cushions, sofas, tea and cake, and zines on topics about consent, domestic violence, self defence, and challenging privilege. People made banners together with friends they had just met and engaged in spontaneous group discussions about issues relating to gender violence. Over the course of the day, people also submitted stories to an anonymous art and writing project, currently being created by Anarcha-Feminists and Ladyfest. The aim of the project is to document some of the motivations, feelings, emotions, reasons, desires and visions that people have for Reclaim the Night, to find out what it means to them and share this (1).

As one contributor said “Reclaim The Night, for me, is an amazing opportunity to meet strong, empowered and motivated people who stand for what they believe in: the radical notion that women are entitled to human rights. It’s also heartening to feel the understanding and belonging that comes with people who are aware of all the obstacles that I and other women experience while trying to live the best lives we can. That means everything.”

The Free-School ended at 5:00pm with just enough time for banners to dry before assembling at Festival Square for the Reclaim the Night march at 7:30pm. Despite problems with the council in gaining permission for the march earlier in the month, it was able to go ahead on the condition that the march take place an hour earlier than planned, 7:30pm instead of the original 8:30pm. Apparently the reason for this was so as not to clash with men coming out of pubs after the champions league finals, who would threaten our health and safety (2).

Undaunted by these obstacles, around 200 people arrived at the set meeting place bringing banners, placards, megaphones, whistles, energy and attitude. Chanting and singing ensued, and the familiar “Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no!” chant was taken up by the crowd. People came along for a variety of reasons, but all were united under the common idea that gender violence in all its forms, is unacceptable.

One banner, which summed up the vast array of issues that people march for, read:

“Gender Violence is: War, Domestic Violence, Sexual Harassment, Female Infanticide, Rape, Intimidation, Lower (or no) Pay, Cuts to Services, Poverty, Genital Mutilation, Forced Marriage, Child Marriage, Forced Prostitution and Trafficking, Economic Dependency, Homophobia, Transphobia, The Gender Binary, No Access to Education/Contraception/Health Care, Racist Immigration Controls, Sexual Objectification, Beauty Norms, Gender Stereotypes, Discrimination, Patriarchy: Smash it!”

The march wound through Bread Street, West Port, Grassmarket, Candlemaker Row, George IV Bridge, The Royal Mile, North Bridge, West Nicolson Street, Chapel Street, Crichton Street, and finished up in Bristo Square. All events over the course of Reclaim the Night were open to people of any gender to attend, and it was great to see feminist allies from all walks of life, gender and sexual orientation marching together for a common cause. The police on the other hand, did not express any particular affinity with Reclaiming the Night, but decided to attend to entirety of the march regardless, for reasons best known to themselves.

The march culminated with a few speeches emphasising the low rape conviction rate in Scotland, the blame culture associated with rape cases, and the need for safer streets that everyone can feel confident to walk on at night. After this, protesters were encouraged to make their way to St Lenoards Police Station, where two women had been taken after being brutally arrested at British Home Stores during an Edinburgh Uncut demonstration earlier in the day (3). This in itself, serving as a poignant and timely example of how the police serve to enforce violence by maintaining the status quo; defending patriarchy, the bosses, and corporate interests above the rights of the people.

While some did go on to show active solidarity with the women behind bars, the rest of the march made its way into Teviot, where an evening of entertainment organised by Ladyfest commenced. Artists and musicians featured included, Gudrun Hirt, Hanna Wurdmuller, Jeanne Dark, and Scragfight. The rest of the evening was spent in celebration of a day which was successful in drawing attention to the very real threat of violence that people live with all the time. It was a day where gender issues were brought back to the streets of Edinburgh once again, but not for the last time. See you on the streets next year!

References

(1) If you have photos, accounts of Reclaim the Night, or anything else to share, The Edinburgh Anarcha-Feminist collective will be accepting contributions to our zine project until the 1st of July 2011 so please email/post/send us anything you would like to add to it and we will release a compilation of everyone’s work in September 2011.

(2) See full story: “Edinburgh City Council Advocates Violence Against Women”

(3) See full story: “Police defend corporate criminals: arrests at Edinburgh Uncut action.”

Contact the Edinburgh Anarcha-Feminist Collective on      edinburghanarchafeminist[at]noflag.org.uk

 Posted by at 12:21 pm