This letter was sent to Socialist Alternative from our organising group prior to our Reclaim the Night Event in Fremantle.
From Reclaim the Night Fremantle 2012 Organising Group at firstname.lastname@example.org
: Dear Socialist Alternative Western Australia,
Reclaim the Night Fremantle 2012 Organising Group have chosen to address some concerns that arise in discussions of Reclaim the Night. We hope that you will join us for the event and have a stall at our festival. We also hope that your members who hold office bearer positions in Unions and Student Guilds will support this event.
Is Reclaim the Night transphobic?
Reclaim the Night Fremantle 2012 Organising Group does not take a position on events that have happened in other places around the country. Reclaim the Night events have always been autonomous and those who organise them choose the theme, demands, participation rules etc. This year the Fremantle event was planned by an open committee that has included transwomen. The group is clear that we don’t take a position on the gender of others and that all those who identify as women are women.
Is the event calling for higher levels of policing of the sex industry or is it anti sex worker?
The event is being addressed by a sex worker advocate and campaigner. She will address the laws that the Barnett government has proposed and what sex workers are currently calling for. She will also be speaking in support of defending civil liberties and not having more CCTV as the “response” to violence, from a sex worker’s point of view.
Does the event call for higher levels of policing or CCTV monitoring of public spaces?
The Organising Group has taken a specific position against CCTV monitoring. Our speaker on sex worker issues will take up this point.
Furthermore, we have a speaker who is involved in the current debate about the urban redesign of Fremantle. She will address how CCTV is not the solution to violence against women on the street but the reclaiming of public space through urban design and cultural change.
Does the event address the issue of domestic violence and its adversely high impact on working class women?
The Organising Group recognises that while attacks on women in public space are brutal, and often shock the community, violence (including sexual violence) is far more likely to be committed against women in the home. This violence often goes unreported or is not investigated effectively. The impact on working class women of this kind of violence is often higher due to lack of options. Women’s refuges play a key role in providing women with options. The Warrawee Women’s Refuge was Australia’s first purposed built women’s refuge. It has a long history of being administered to community standards by the Fremantle City Council. Recent funding announced by the Barnett government has meant a rise funding to all refuges except those administered by councils. This means that the Fremantle City Council is being pressured to hand over Warrawee to a NGO (possibly church based) provider or cut the service that Warrawee provides. We will have a speaker from Warrawee Women’s Refuge at the main part of the rally. We have also spoken with the Union (the ASU) who represents the Warrawee workers and they are having both a contingent and a stall at the event to profile the campaign.
Is the event anti ‘working class men’?
93% of sexual violence is committed by men, and the perpetrators of violence against women can be found in all social classes. Analysis of violence by social class indicates that the most marginalised and disadvantaged have higher rates of violence. In times of economic crisis, violence against women sky-rockets. This points to the structural causes of violence against women.
None of this is to say that fighting violence against women is somehow an attack on working class men. That would be as absurd as if to say calling out racism is an attack on white workers. Campaigns to fight racism and sexism don’t divide the working class: racism and sexism divide the working class, and those who want to promote solidarity must surely promote solidarity with the most oppressed sections of the working class. Solidarity with working class women includes not raping and beating us.
It is the oppression of women, women’s exploitation in the workplace, economic dependence on men, sexist ideology and the misogyny all this breeds that is responsible for any splits in working class solidarity that arise – not women who are fighting for equality and liberation. We hope to unite women and our class to support the fight against the structural causes of women’s oppression. Working class men are not only welcome but their support is essential to making real change.
A number of working class organisations like the MUA and the AMWU (whose members are largely men) have financially supported the event. In other states MUA delegates have seen Reclaim the Night Events as a place to promote and further the work that the MUA is doing in its campaigns including the current campaign about ending sexual harassment of women who work at sea.
We hope these clarifications enable you to reconsider your position and support Reclaim the Night Fremantle, promoting and attending it on Friday October 26th 2012.
On behalf of Reclaim the Night Fremantle 2012 Organising Group