April 20th 2019

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Budget 2019: The dark side of 'back in the black': no vision

EUTHANASIA FYI: How to navigate the voluntary assisted 'dying' process

CANBERRA OBSERVED Take your tax cuts and be merry, for tomorrow ... is another day

FOREIGN AFFAIRS New Middle East alliance will challenge Saudis

LIFE ISSUES ALP abortion policy blithely tramples all our consciences

SOCIETY AND TECHNOLOGY Will Artificial Intelligence do the walking for you?

LIFE ISSUES Trump, Shorten and Morrison on abortion

GENDER POLITICS Women abused at Women's Day March

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Bill Shorten's bizarre electric car policy

FAMILY AND SOCIETY Revitalising marriage and family: an especially lay apostolate

ASIAN AFFAIRS Entire nations going out without a baby's whimper


MUSIC 1+1=Sublimity: Explanations are like the back side of a tapestry

CINEMA Shazam!: Ambitious teen finds out what's in a name

BOOK REVIEW What will be left us after the deluge?

BOOK REVIEW Author puts some great minds to work



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Women abused at Women's Day March

by Jacqueline Gwynne

News Weekly, April 20, 2019


  • Disabled women, single mothers, survivors of the sex trade and domestic violence were among the party threatened by activists
  • Trans activists and sex-trade lobby protesters seem to have no other purpose than to silence women who speak out

Friday March 8 was the Melbourne International Women’s Day (IWD) March. A global protest was planned via social media to march to end sex trafficking and calling for legislation for the Nordic Model for dealing with prostitution.

The march attracted around 11,000 people and our small group consisted of 14 feminists. The organising committee had planned a harassment campaign targeting us. We were subjected to verbal abuse, physical assault and theft, and made to feel very unwelcome.

The event page for the march advertises that it is inclusive of all women. Disabled women, single mothers, survivors of the sex trade and domestic violence were among our party. None of us is affiliated with any organisation; we were just a group of women coming from a place of compassion and standing for real change. International Women’s Day is for us.

What is known as the Nordic Model acts to stop the demand for prostitution by criminalising pimps, traffickers and sex buyers. Implemented in Sweden in 1999, it has been effective in restoring respect for women.

Yet, here in Australia, there has been a smear campaign against women who speak out. Women are labelled “terf” and “swerf”. These are made up words to silence women. “Terf” stands for “trans exclusionary radical feminist”. “Swerf” stands for “sex worker exclusionary radical feminist”.

Radical feminists are not sex worker exclusionary, because women in our network are or have been in prostitution. Nor are we trans exclusionary but stand for the female right to safety, for sex-segregated spaces and for protection of children from unnecessary gender transition. We don’t condone violence towards anyone. Radical feminists are blamed for violence towards trans people, yet it is not them that commit this violence.

Many women at the march had prepared to confront us beforehand. They held up signs to terrorise us and they called out chants inciting the crowd to yell: “Hey hey, ho ho, terfs and swerfs have got to go.”

Along the route, people intentionally blocked, pushed and shoved us. A woman in our group was in a wheelchair and another had her six-month-old baby. It is supposed to be an all-ages event. These activists waved a big trans flag and sign around to menace us and did not care who was in the way.

There is video evidence of the harassment that has been shared on social media. A member our group, a survivor of the sex trade was bullied. They snatched her sign, threw it on the ground and blocked her with a banner about two metres across. The sign read: “TERFS AND SWERFS CAN [----] OFF. NO FASCISM IN FEMINISM.” They behave like fascist thugs but call us fascists!

Trans activists and sex-trade lobby protesters have no other purpose than to silence women who speak out. If the IWD March is standing for the rights of women in the sex trade, 99 per cent of whom are not there by choice, we say, give them a chance to speak.

One of the event speakers, Jane Green, is from the sex-trade lobby and has corporate interests in the sex trade. She does not speak for the majority of women in that so-called industry.

Everyone has the right to protest peacefully, which is what we did. Our strategy was to stand in silence and not engage with those who were harassing us. None of our signs was abusive but merely stated facts. For example: “700 illegal brothels in Melbourne”; “End the Demand”; “75% of women in prostitution are single mothers”; “Women deserve better career options”; “Nordic Model Now” (see photo).

The protesters claim that our signs are offensive and must be removed. Yet they carried signs that were simply obscene. Customary decency would render one of them thus: “---- ----- power”; which about sums up its informational content.

The most disturbing said: “You’re just mad because your father pays me to call him Daddy.” Some of the people holding these signs were wearing masks.

Having copped similar abuse in previous years, we spoke to the police before the event. The police could see what was happening at the march. They had to pull the protesters away from us on more than one occasion.

International Women’s Day march should be a safe, inclusive environment for all women. Harassment, physical assault, theft and destruction of property are not things we should have to be subjected to. If this is the state of things in the women’s movement, we sure have a long way to go.

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Last Modified:
April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm