Portugal // Abolitionist struggle in Lisbon on March 8~ 5 min

By Duarte Guerreiro and Simone Vieira

Women took to the streets once more for another International Feminist Strike against sexist violence. A social strike on wage, domestic and reproductive or care labour.

In Lisbon, the Feminist Strike was called by the March 8 Network, formed by several collectives, associations, trade unions and political organizations. A platform that brings together various perspectives on feminism and on how to build the feminist revolution.

This year, the urgency to deconstruct the idea that prostitution is a choice and a form of female empowerment has led the abolitionist front to take to the streets. In response to the advocates of regulation, the Lisbon Feminist Assembly and the Free and Combative (a shared feminist platform of the Students Union and the Revolutionary Left) have come together to form a bloc for the abolition of prostitution. Amongst the red umbrellas of the sectors associated with the Left Bloc and its satellites, the abolitionist bloc arrived to break with the process of neoliberalization which has taken root in the Portuguese feminist movement, which refuses to see in prostitution a structural problem of violence against women.

In other countries, several abolitionist fronts have been violently attacked, which is a clear sign of the threat these women pose to the patriarchal system. Adriana Sthiago, of the European Network of Migrant Women (ENoMW), wrote this of the attacks suffered by the abolitionist movement in Brussels, Paris and Madrid:

I’m raging. Fuming at the violence that myself and many sisters in fight have suffered on this past International Day for Women’s Rights. I’m not going to expand on the fact that this day has become a ridiculous celebration and party instead of a yearly event – we deserve a daily one, for all the shit that we have to put up with everyday and since time immemorial – in which we reinvindicate our rights as first class citizens. As more than half of the population. But I’ll leave my criticisms on twerking to “Ni Una Menos” and “El Violador eres tú” to another occasion.

I’m raging at the passivity and nonchalance of so-called “sisters” displayed when abolitionists are attacked. I’m fuming at the lack of reaction when abolitionists activists are confronted with death threats, verbal and physical violence. Where are you when we need you? So much “girl power” and so little solidarity. I guess sisterhood only exists when you agree with the woman in question.

Yesterday at the women’s March in Brussels, pro-prostitution lobby activists chanted, when seeing our signs: “mort aux abolitionnistes, mort aux fascistes”. DEATH to abolitionists, death to fascists. Nobody bats an eye. Everybody stares in confusion and keeps on in their happy little march. Whohooo, Women’s Day! Happy Day to you! But not to those abolitionist fascists, those deserve to be dead. My blood froze when one of them whispered that in my ear. I had been warned. The Belgian sisters and I kept marching, though alert. There were survivors of prostitution with us, too. So these survivors had to endure violence while their were in the sex trade but also violence now that they are out, out in the streets of Brussels. Violence never sleeps, and it seems like that of the pimp lobby is insomniac.

But this is not it. Unfortunately I can say that this does not compare in any degree to what the sisters of Collectif Abolition PornoProstitution – CAPP went through in Paris. A survivor of the sex trade and an abolitionists activist were punched and kicked in the back and face and had their poster stolen by Antifa. They were apparently “confused” for an extreme-right group – which personally seems very unlikely since they bore a poster with all the women lost to prostitution. One of the activists has facial and lumbar trauma. In Toulouse, a sex trade and incest survivor was bullied, laughed at for bearing an abolitionist poster. They tried to take it away from her, too.

In Madrid, the compañeras were verbally and physically assaulted by what seems to be a PARAMILITARY (excuse the connection, but how else can I describe a fraction of the 8 Marzo collective being there ‘in case radical feminists attack’?) due to an incredible abolitionist bloc. Transactivists used KNIVES to cut their banner, distributed punches to the face and stomachs, attacked older women, impeded activists to record what was being done. They stomped on banners, boycotted their chants with reggaeton, the list goes on. It was brutal. You can go on Twitter with the hashtag #8MTransAgresivo.

The New Misogyny is here but you’re too blind to even realise it. While abolitionists activists march without recurring to violence, because we know better than to impose on other WOMEN what the global patriarchy imposes on us everyday, fellow supposed “feminists look the other way. They don’t protect us. Too busy being handmaidens. Yes, WOMEN without an asterisk next to it. Resisting women. Organised women. Angry women. Hurt women, but still here women. We’re not hiding. We’re here. We’re suffering from a continuum of violence, perpetrated by both men and women. Because in all the situations that I described before, both men and women did it.

In all these events, death threats and aggression to abolitionists were deemed justified.

The rapist might be him, but the accomplice is you.

Video of one of the attacks, via SuperVioletas. Another angle by Lady Samurai.

Lisbon witnessed a few attempts at verbal provocation, but the situation never escalated physically.

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