#16DaysOfActivism: Responding to Gender-based Violence Beyond Criminalization
As we approach the end of 2023, we are happy to share with you our third and final edition of Reflections on Our Countries this year, coinciding with the #16DaysOfActivism Against Gender-based Violence.
Over the last few years, we’ve been slowly and consistently deepening our collective analysis and thought leadership on the limitations of criminal justice as a response (and in many of our countries, often the only response) to gender-based violence. As feminists and women’s rights activists all over the world join the #16Days clarion call to end gender-based violence, we want to challenge ourselves to think more deeply, comprehensively and creatively about the kind of justice we advocate for. In this edition, RESURJ members, friends, and allies problematize dominant approaches to gender-based violence in our countries and movements and pose feminist questions — to ourselves and to you — about what it takes to reimagine justice.
** In the lead-up to this #16DaysOfActivism, we have noted many calls made by feminists, lobbying groups, UN leaders, media and state representatives stressing the direness of the situation in Gaza by highlighting that “women and children are being killed” and ignoring the countless men who are victims of the current onslaught by Israel on the besieged strip. RESURJ firmly stands against this and joins calls demanding a permanent #ceasefire and calling for an end to Israeli violence against ALL Palestinians.
Here’s a brief overview of the edition:
- “Why are we doing this? Because we need to animate our imagination for a future where justice is rooted in compassion, care, and inclusivity,” prefaces RESURJ member Oriana López Uribe from Mexico in the editorial.
- “I learnt that young people often do not use the language of law to describe their experiences,” reflects Aarushi Mahajan, a feminist lawyer from India, about the challenges and contradictions that criminal law creates when it comes to adolescent sexuality and bodily autonomy.
- In “Who enforces what?” RESURJ member Laura Valenciano from Costa Rica reflects on how to trust law enforcement when the state uses women police forces to undermine feminist movements while presenting the former as allies.
- “When we organize listening sessions for women and girls in our communities in Karnataka, many of them openly acknowledge that they refrain from approaching the police to file complaints, even when they are aware of violence occurring in neighbouring households,” says Jasmine George, co-founder of the Hidden Pockets Collective in India, in her piece.
- In “When will be get what we need?” Lisa Owino, a feminist researcher from Kenya, reflects on the dilemmas that survivors of intimate partner violence face and how they struggle to find solutions to their situations, when the state continues to refrain from providing holistic support to survivors.
- Writing on reproductive coercion and its invisibility as a form of gender-based violence, RESURJ member Madiha Latif from Pakistan writes, “In situations of violence, where reproductive coercion effectively forces a young person to become pregnant, the state further criminalizes the survivor through denial of abortion services – with the perpetrator not being held accountable in any way. Is this, in any form, justice?”
- “People experiencing GBV deserve protection and safety but their well-being cannot be considered only after the harm has been done, if it can even be said that the carceral system factors in their well-being at all,” states Nadia Mohd Rasidi, a feminist from Malaysia, in her piece titled “Navigating Feminist Faultlines: From Accountability that Punishes to Accountability that Transforms”
- In their piece “Examining my punitive impulses, examining our punitive impulses,” RESURJ member Sachini Perera from Sri Lanka reflects on “how entrenched the need for C O N S E Q U E N C E S, and punitive consequences at that, is in our feminist organizing and organizations” and how that interacts with the kind of justice we advocate for in our work
- In her piece “Retribution is not justice”, Nana Abuelsoud, RESURJ member from Egypt, reflects on the difficulty of digesting demands to sentence perpetrators of sexual assault or femicide to death, thereby only responding to harm after the harm is done and never addressing root causes
- We chatted with RESURJ member Umba Zalira from Malawi about the trials and tribulations of her own attempts at going beyond criminalization in her work and activism. Read the interview here.
- And finally, we interviewed Saritha Irugalbandara from Hashtag Generation in Sri Lanka about tech-facilitated gender-based violence and the dilemmas that criminalization poses when it comes to responding to it. Watch it here.