Helen Ridett, Lewisham Socialist Party
Slutwalk London 22 September 2012, photo Paul Mattsson

Slutwalk London 22 September 2012, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

“No sexual abuse! No excuse! No domestic abuse! No excuse!” was one of the chants on the lively and colourful Slutwalk London demonstration on Saturday 22 September.

Thousands of people of all ages and genders took to the streets to demand an end to the abuse of women, particularly rape.

People were enthusiastic about the event and dressed up for it, making the point that rape has nothing to do with what we wear – and to oppose victim blaming.

Socialist Party and Socialist Students activists participated in the event, conveying a range of serious political messages.

Cuts and austerity are impacting on women more than anyone else. We form the bulk of the public sector workforce and women and our children are increasingly being plunged into poverty by the Con-Dems’ brutal cuts.

Cuts to refuges

Slutwalk, London, 22.9.12, photo Paul Mattsson

Slutwalk, London, 22.9.12, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Women’s refuges are being shut down even though domestic violence is not diminishing. One recent example was Tina Nash who lost her eyesight after a vicious attack by her ex-partner.

Victims of domestic violence are being forced to remain in dangerous and life threatening situations.

The message is put out that women need to report domestic violence but how can this happen in a safe way when the services that support women to do this are being cut due to austerity? Evidence shows that when a woman reports her abuser to the police the risk of her being beaten or killed increases dramatically.

Platform speakers at the rally spoke of a culture of victim blaming which prevents women coming forward to report rape and which creates bias in the legal system.

One speaker made the point that the poorer women are, the more likely we are to be subjected to rape and abuse.

We heard that the conviction rates for rape still stand at a shockingly low 6.5% and the point was made that when rapists know there is a high likelihood that they will be convicted, they will stop raping women.

Decisions are being made by those in power that impact women negatively. One example of this is that personnel and resources are being stripped from the Metropolitan Police rape and serious sexual assault unit, Sapphire, as it seems car crime is deemed a higher priority than rape.


Slutwalk, London, 22.9.12, photo Paul Mattsson

Slutwalk, London, 22.9.12, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Women spoke of shocking cases of sexual abuse occurring within the criminal justice system. The public purse funds these services and if they were under the democratic control of workers and women’s groups, abusers would be held to account and rooted out.

A self-proclaimed ‘housewife’ recounted her struggle to get justice for her daughter who was raped. She outlined how obstacles were put in her path by the criminal justice system. Their hard won victory inspired her to step up and become an activist.

With an interview with Anastasia Richardson, one of the organisers of Slutwalk London; more on the Rape Is No Joke campaign and on why we need to fight for a socialist alternative to capitalism and sexism, we sold 70 copies of the Socialist during this event and 30 people expressed an interest in joining the Socialist Party.

Working class people must come together and demand that services and resources are put in place to protect women. We can also demand justice and compensation for all victims of abuse.

Rape is no joke

Rape is no joke logo

Rape is no joke logo

Loud cheers greeted Socialist Students national organiser, Claire Laker-Mansfield, when she spoke at the rally about Rape Is No Joke – the Socialist Students campaign against ‘rape jokes’ on the comedy circuit.

The campaign clearly chimed with many young women on the demonstration as they snapped up the campaign’s placards and signed up for the mailing list.

Rape jokes normalise the abuse of women and ingrain it in everyday culture which is why challenging this is a key issue in the fightback against rape and sexism.

See www.rapeisnojoke.com