3rd November 2017

#WeToo – Reclaim the Night march for a world without rape culture

Young Asian Feminists Aotearoa (YAFA) are organising a Reclaim the Night march in response to #MeToo. The march will be on Saturday the 4th of November at 7pm gathering at Britomart, and marching to Aotea Square in rejection of a culture of sexual violence experienced by marginalised communities globally. YAFA are mobilising in demand of the right of all peoples to live in safety and dignity.

The hashtag spread rampant on social media in the the recent weeks through people posting and tweeting #MeToo as a disclosure of their experience of sexual violence, demonstrating the extent of a worldwide problem of misogyny.

“It has been devastating and heartbreaking to watch the news feed on Twitter and Facebook with the #MeToo. We will translate it into action now,” says Mehwish, a rally organiser.

Me Too, a phrase coined in 2007 by Tarana Burke to give visibility to the issue of sexual violence recently resurfaced in response to a notable male figure in the US entertainment industry being accused of rape and sexual harassment over the span of his career.

“It is disgusting the manner in which rape culture is normalised. We will not stand for men in positions of power who are accused of sexual harassment to continue going excused by pathetic narratives which minimise their repulsive and violent actions,” says Nishhza, YAFA spokesperson for the rally.

“The normalisation of toxic behaviours which dehumanise trans and intersex peoples, queer peoples, incarcerated persons, people of colour, women, and children is utterly unacceptable, and we call for an end to this. We witness the violence that peoples in our communities endure, and we want survivors to find strength and empowerment in knowing that they are not alone,” Nishhza continues.

The problem of sexual violence is one which Aotearoa must confront. The 2013 Roast Busters scandal, the systematic sexual assault of incarcerated persons in the New Zealand prison system, and the lack of consequences faced by notable male figures whose flippant comments sexualise, dehumanise and marginalise women, people of colour, and queer peoples are all instances which bring to light the severity of this issue.

Amongst the speakers at the rally are Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman, activist Sina Brown-Davis, Mengzhu Fu from Shakti Youth, Tal Eyal from Auckland Sexual Abuse HELP, Hala Nasr, Vira Paky, Kiran Foster from People Against Prisons Aotearoa, as well as local poet, Aiwa Pooamorn. The rally will conclude with a performance by local band Imugi.

“We want to bring all our voices together to assert our right to a safe and violence-free world, wherever, whenever and whoever we are,” says Mehwish.