women's liberation

“We were taken from Mosul to Syria. There were thousands of young girls and ISIS members in the ISIS centre we were taken to. Young girls were being raped here. Young girls were forcibly brought and savagely raped, then were made to marry [ISIS members]. Those who didn’t agree were tortured and beaten up.

“We were forced to pray and read the Quran. They wanted us to wear black clothing and cover up our hands with gloves. They would sell the women who didn’t agree to this.”

Sex workers and their allies rallied for law reform and an end to stigma in Brisbane on March 8. It was the first public rally held by Respect Inc, a peer-led rights and support organisation for sex workers. Twenty people wearing red, holding signs and displaying red umbrellas gathered in Queens Garden and marched to Parliament House.

Speaking out against Queensland's 17-year-old sex work laws and chanting, “Nothing about us without us,” workers demanded the Labor state government consult with them to ensure legal changes that would decriminalise their work.

On March 8, women around the world gave themselves a day off — from the system.

“I’d like to call bullshit.” So declared Melissa Barbieri, a former captain of Australian women’s football (soccer) team the Matildas, on the symbolic support for women’s rights offered by sporting clubs and bodies on International Women’s Day.

More than 1000 early childhood educators walked off the job at 3.20pm on March 8 as part of a national action to protest gender pay inequality and a lack of government funding for the industry.

Dozens of childcare centres closed mid-afternoon to support the national campaign, which follows similar actions held on the same day last year.

There’s a new bogey man on the block.

It is credited with the rise of brazenly crude figures such as Donald Trump and Pauline Hanson. It is behind outrageous-sounding propositions like Safe Schools, anti-discrimination laws and gender equality. It is running around Melbourne, putting a tiny skirt on the little figure on traffic lights.

In this increasingly polarised political climate, political correctness has emerged as the new villain.

A study by student advocacy group End Rape on Campus has revealed the systemic failure of some of Australia’s highest ranking universities to deal with rape and sexual harassment allegations.

Over the past five years, more than 500 complaints of sexual assault — including 145 complaints of rape on campus — were made to the university administrations of several high-profile universities across NSW, ACT, Victoria and WA:.

Of these allegations, End Rape on Campus reported that only six cases — just 1.2% — resulted in the expulsion of the alleged perpetrators.

Protest in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Women were striking, protesting, and rallying for their rights across the United States and around the world on March 8 in honor of International Women's Day.

Lady Constance Lytton: Aristocrat, Suffragette, Martyr
Lyndsey Jenkins
Biteback Publishing, 2015
282 pages

When Lady Constance Bulwer-Lytton was arrested in 1909 for protesting outside British parliament, and went on prison hunger-strike, for demanding women’s right to vote, she was, to prevent an embarrassing political fuss, released early.

This avoided the spectacle of one of Britain’s best-connected aristocrats being subjected to the government’s policy of force-feeding hunger-striking suffragettes.

Eleanor Marx
By Rachel Holmes
Bloomsbury, 2015
508 pages

“Is it not wonderful when you come to look at things squarely in the face, how rarely we seem to practise all the fine things we preach to others?” lamented Eleanor Marx in 1892. 

Karl Marx’s youngest daughter was to be the tragic victim of this truism, as Rachel Holmes explores in her biography that extricates this pioneering revolutionary socialist feminist from the giant shadow of her father.

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