Friday, January 20, 2006

Sexual assault

Not Here! Not Anywhere!

The big secret; the thing that doesn’t get talked about. It happens everywhere in the world, even at solidarity camps.

Sexual assault is non-consensual sexual touching, kissing, violence, harassment and rape. Unfortunately, sexual assault is a constant in all of our societies. As we are people who believe in transforming the world, it is essential that we confront sexual assault and the culture and forces that build it; so that we can free the world of sexual assault! In this camp, we will be sharing our cultures, our stories, our lives, and our dreams. For us to flourish as a community, we must make this space safe for all. When any of us feel threatened, because of gender, race, class, country of origin, and sexual orientation, we are unable to build a future based in the principles that have brought us together here at this youth camp. We must act as the community that we wish to be, and challenge Sexual Assault, so that we are all safe to dream and build together. (...)

At past Campamentos, even at the prior Soilidarity camps in Quito, Ecuador, and Porto Allegre, Brasil, sexual assaults took place. We refuse to stand back and do nothing; we challenge the participants of this social forum to live the other world that we know is possible, and to build a campamento free of sexual violence.

Sexual Assault includes all non-consensual sexual behavior, and is therefore inherently coercive. Although sexual assault can take place between people of the same sex , and men can be assaulted by women; in the vast majority of occurrences, men sexually assault women. Sexual assault is an abuse of power, and is a part of a culture that condones violence against women.

Every person has different limits of what makes them feel safe or not, and some of this is based in cultural difference. Since we come from different cultures, we must communicate clearly, make no assumptions, and respect our differences and limits.

Ultimately, everyone wants to feel safe, even if our limits are different. We are an international community, we have the opportunity and responsibility to be consciously sensitive about others experiences throughout the Forum. For this reason, it is always best to ask before engaging in sexual behavior and keep this dialogue and awareness present throughout the week.

Another Forum is possible, one in which sexual assault does not take place, where women are respected, and where we all feel safe to celebrate and share.

Let us build this other world, it takes all of us!

By el colectivo adelita, an international network, family, of antiimperialist feminists. We welcome everyone! adelita@riseup.net

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