Late Thursday night, Sisters Uncut, a provocative feminist organization that has emerged as a leader of the most forceful protests in Britain’s growing national movement around women’s safety, declared a small victory.
“We’ve delayed the #PoliceCrackdownBill,” the group announced on Twitter. “This is a victory, but we will not stop.”
The announcement was just the latest evidence that this movement differs from past campaigns that opposed violence against women in general terms but that rarely made sweeping demands.
Women are furious not just about the death of Sarah Everard, 33, in London — a police officer has been charged in her kidnapping and killing — but about what they see as a heavy-handed and misogynist response from the police afterward. They are directing their anger at law enforcement and the justice system, and pushing to scrap a proposed police and crime bill, which would create sweeping new restrictions on protests and grant broad new powers to the police.
the arrest of a police officer over her killing, have led many to conclude that the police are an active threat. Women’s safety and freedom, they argue, can come only from much deeper social changes — and any policy change in response to Ms. Everard’s death should focus on those.
Impunity for Sexual Violence
Margaret Atwood famously said that there was nothing in her novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” that did not happen to women somewhere, at some point in history. That is often treated as evidence of in-depth sourcing, but in fact it is the force behind the novel’s visceral central horror: that any protection women might think would be offered by democracy, education, wealth or race can all too easily disappear in an instant.
For many women in Britain, Ms. Everard’s killing and the police’s violent dispersal of a London vigil in her memory have triggered a similar horror, on a less dystopian scale, about how unprotected they truly are. It has become a moment, too, to reflect on the suffering of women of color, and other groups targeted for abuse, that has long been ignored.
promised new actions to improve women’s safety: more CCTV cameras, better street lighting, and plainclothes police in bars and clubs to watch for attacks on female patrons. And it campaigned for more support for the police and crime bill, which would grant sweeping new powers to police departments across the country.
All those responses seemed grounded in the theory that women felt unsafe because there were not enough police, with enough power, in enough places.
the police action in Clapham last weekend was against one protest. But statistics tell a story of many more widespread failures.
From 2019 to 2020, less than 3 percent of rapes reported to the police were prosecuted, according to government statistics. And if unreported cases are taken into account, the real prosecution rate is even lower.
“Rape has been decriminalized, frankly,” said Emily Gray, a lecturer at Derby University who studies policing.
A 2019 report by the British newspaper The Independent found that 568 London police officers were accused of sexual assault between 2012 and 2018, but only 43 faced disciplinary proceedings. And from April 2015 to April 2018, there were at least 700 reports of domestic violence by police officers and police staff, according to documents obtained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalists from 37 of Britain’s 48 police forces.
Opponents of the police and crime bill, which would grant the police wide-ranging power to shut down protests, argue that it would make scenes like the one on Clapham Common more frequent, and would not stop the most prevalent forms of violence against women.
“Violence against women usually comes from a power imbalance,” Dr. Gray said. One reason the police bill is being attacked, she said, is that “it doesn’t do anything about that at all.”
So what are the alternatives? Different groups tend to focus on different remedies.
Sisters Uncut, which was founded in 2014 in response to government austerity measures that slashed funding for women’s shelters and other help for women at risk, has long demanded that such services be reinstated.
Perpetrator programs, which work intensively with abusive men to prevent them from attacking their partners, have shown some promise in cases where the abusers are committed to change, said Dr. Westmarland, who has studied them.
“The physical and sexual abuse reduced quite substantially and in some cases was eliminated altogether,” she said. But she noted that the programs had not been effective at reducing coercive control — the domineering emotional abuse that is the hallmark of domestic violence and that is deeply traumatic in its own right.
One belief that cuts across nearly all the groups involved — including mainstream ones like the Women’s Institute, the largest women’s organization in the country — is that education must be a centerpiece of any change.
Such education could be “a real shot at prevention, and shaping some of the prevalent attitudes that greatly hurt girls and women, as well as nonbinary people, in our society,” said Kate Manne, a professor of philosophy at Cornell University and the author of two books on the ways sexism shapes society, said in an interview.
But while education might sound like the kind of anodyne concept that anyone could support, Dr. Manne said via text message that she believed it would actually be quietly radical for education to address the politically charged issues of misogyny, male privilege and male responsibility for ending male violence.
“Can you imagine if sex education became political?” she asked. “Sigh. It’s my dream, though.”
After talks between the group running the vigil, Reclaim These Streets, and the police proved fruitless, the organizers went to the courts to try to win permission for the event.
When the High Court declined to intervene, Reclaim These Streets canceled the gathering. Nonetheless, crowds arrived at the park throughout the day, with visitors including Prince William’s wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, who was among many to lay flowers at a makeshift tribute around a bandstand.
A turning point appeared to come when people started to make speeches, prompting the police to move in and break up the gathering. Presumably, this was because the event was turning from a vigil, which the police seemed willing to tolerate, to a demonstration, which they were not.
Adam Wagner, a human rights lawyer who advised Reclaim These Streets, said, “The police created the situation that allowed it to become an unruly disorganized mess, and then felt they had to carry out enforcement.” He added that in failing to reach an agreement with the group to cooperate in organizing the event and in that way manage those who wanted to attend the vigil, the opportunity was lost to exclude others, such as anti-lockdown protesters.
In a statement on Tuesday, Reclaim These Streets said it had lost confidence in Ms. Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, who the group said had granted them a meeting on Monday of just 15 minutes. “We pressed the commissioner for a clear answer on what an acceptable form of vigil would be under the legislation and she failed to provide an answer,” the statement noted, adding that the actions of the police “were putting the safety of women exercising their right to protest at risk.”
With no written constitution, rights to protest rely in Britain on a general human rights law and on an obligation on the police to use force proportionately. But critics of the coronavirus rules note that the speed with which the regulations were passed through Parliament has left a legal jumble.
Pippa Woodrow, another lawyer advising Reclaim These Streets, said, “A lack of clarity has been a real issue from the outset, and that might have been understandable at the beginning but we are now a year into this and our laws are still no better.” Having stopped some protests, the police seemed to feel that they would have looked inconsistent if they had let this vigil go ahead, she added.
Soldiers and police officers shot and killed at least 18 people in Myanmar over the weekend, as they pressed their campaign of attrition against protesters who have defied them in cities and towns across the country.
Despite weeks of killings by the security forces, a nationwide civil-disobedience movement — which has paralyzed much of the economy as well as the government’s operations — shows no sign of waning, a month and a half after the Feb. 1 military coup that ousted the civilian leadership.
“The world is upside down in Myanmar,” said U Tin Tun, who said he saw military personnel in the city of Mandalay commandeer an ambulance and drive off with a woman who had been shot in the head by a fellow soldier.
“We must fight until we win,” said Mr. Tin Tun, 46. “The regime must step down. There is no place for any dictator here in Myanmar.”
known as the Tatmadaw, has run the country for most of the past 60 years. For the majority of that time, it has battled rebel armies made up of members of ethnic minorities, who inhabit areas rich in jade, timber and other resources.
the Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, it continued to operate without civilian oversight. In 2017, it waged an internationally condemned campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Muslim Rohingya in western Myanmar, killing thousands and forcing more than 700,000 to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.
Now, the military has brought similar tactics — and some of the same military units — to cities and towns around the country. Soldiers and police officers, who are also under the authority of the army’s top commander, have fired into homes and crowds of protesters, beaten demonstrators in the streets and arrested many hundreds of people, some whom were later tortured, victims and witnesses have said.
the secretary of homeland security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, using Myanmar’s former name. He said its citizens would be eligible to stay in the United States for 18 months.
The weekend’s wave of killings began just before midnight on Friday, when a crowd of people gathered outside a police station in Yangon seeking the release of three brothers who had been seized from their home. The police opened fire, killing two men, relatives of the victims said.
On Saturday, the killing continued with four more victims in Yangon, three in the town of Pyay and one in the town of Chauk. Both towns sit on the Irrawaddy River north of Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city.
In Mandalay, the second-largest city, where the first major street protests against the coup were held on Feb. 4, four protesters were shot and killed by the security forces on Saturday, according to doctors who tried to treat the victims. A fifth death was confirmed by a relative of the victim.
On Sunday, three protesters in Yangon were shot and killed, according to the clinic where their bodies were taken.
In Mandalay on Saturday, after police officers began shooting at protesters, about two dozen students who had been demonstrating fled and took refuge in the nearby home of Daw Pyone, 49.
Police officers and soldiers followed them there and confronted Ms. Pyone, said her daughter, Ma Tin Nilar San, who hid with the students under blankets and mosquito nets. When Ms. Pyone refused to give them up, Ms. Tin Nilar San said, a soldier shot her in the head from a few feet away.
“I was crying in hiding and I was shaking because I was so afraid,” said Ms. Tin Nilar San, 28. “My mother gave birth to me by risking her life. But I could not save my mom’s life when she was in need and calling my name.”
The soldiers began firing randomly inside the house, and most of the students came out of hiding, she said. Eighteen were arrested.
After the police and soldiers left, Ms. Tin Nilar San said she and the remaining students carried her mother, who was still alive, to a nearby Buddhist monastery, where volunteer medics were treating wounded protesters.
They put her in an ambulance. But before it could be driven away, about 20 soldiers and police officers arrived, said Mr. Tin Tun, who was coordinating emergency care at the monastery. They broke down the door of the monastery, and everyone fled or hid, he said.
Mr. Tin Tun said he found a place to hide near the ambulance. He said he heard the soldiers say that Ms. Pyone appeared to have died, and that they should take her to a cemetery to be cremated.
The soldiers then drove off in the ambulance, he said. Ms. Pyone has not been seen since. Family members, hoping she might have survived, have looked for her at a prison and at police and military hospitals, without success.
“I cannot sleep, I cannot eat anything,” Ms. Tin Nilar San said. “I want my mother back. She is such a nice woman with a kind heart. She risked her life to save all the students hiding in our house.”
LAGOS, Nigeria — During the biggest demonstrations in Nigeria’s recent history, 13 women came together to support their fellow citizens risking their lives to march against police brutality.
The women were all in their 20s and 30s. All at the top of their fields. Many had never met in person. They found one another through social media months before, and named their group the Feminist Coalition. They jokingly called themselves “The Avengers.”
“We decided that if we don’t step in, the people who suffer the greatest will end up being women,” said Odunayo Eweniyi, a 27-year-old tech entrepreneur and a founding member of the Feminist Coalition.
repeatedly been voted down by Nigeria’s male-dominated Senate.
And then there’s the matter of being proud feminists, in a country where the word feminist is commonly used as an insult.
For years, identifying as a feminist in Nigeria has been fraught. The coalition’s decision to use the word in the organization’s name, and the female symbol in their yellow logo, was pointed. Many of the protesters benefiting from their assistance were men — and not all of them had been supportive of women’s rights.
Ms. Ovia, 27, co-founded a company with friends in 2016 that aims to try to make sure that health care across Africa is driven by data and technology. The company, Helium Health, has helped hospitals and clinics set up electronic medical records and hospital management systems.
She said she hadn’t expected the work of the Feminist Coalition to be so serious, supporting protesters as they risked their lives to try to change a police system that brutalized young people.
“I thought it was going to be a lot more fun than this, let me not lie,” she said, laughing. “I thought we’d meet up, we’d drink, we’d bitch about men. We’d do some work. I didn’t know that lives would be threatened.”
a 2019 interview about Wine and Whine.
“Oh!” replied the host, sounding taken aback by her use of the word.
“We’re very feminist,” she responded, laughing. “Your reaction tells me that feminism is perceived as this bad thing.”
history of feminist movements, identifying as a feminist is seen as radical.
Ms. Eweniyi recently got tattoos of her favorite equations: Schroëdinger’s equation, the golden ratio, and the uncertainty principle.
She’s working to reduce uncertainty in Nigerian women’s lives.
The savings app start-up that Ms. Eweniyi launched in 2017, called Piggyvest, tackles one of the main problems the Feminist Coalition has identified — financial equality for women. The idea is that people should be able to save and invest even small amounts of money. It has more than 1 million customers — men and women.
tweeted Fakhrriyyah Hashim in February 2019. “You are done getting away with monstrosities against women.”
Her tweet kicked off northern Nigeria’s #MeToo movement. In it, Ms. Hashim coined the hashtag #ArewaMeToo — Arewa means “north” in Hausa, a West African language spoken by most northern Nigerians.
In a highly conservative region with what Ms. Hashim, 28, has called a “culture of silence,” #ArewaMeToo unleashed a deluge of testimonies about sexual violence. When it spilled off social media and into street protests, the Sultan of Sokoto, the highest Islamic authority in Nigeria, banned it.
Another campaign Ms. Hashim launched, #NorthNormal, pushed for Nigerian states to apply laws that criminalize violence and broaden the definition of sexual violence.
Her women’s rights activism has brought her death threats and abuse. Now, she’s put some distance between herself and the people behind those threats, having taken up a fellowship at the African Leadership Centre in London.
An estimated two-thirds of Nigerian girls and women do not have access to sanitary pads. They can’t afford them.
Karo Omu, 29, has been fighting to get pads and other sanitary products to Nigerian girls for the past four years. She focuses on girls in public schools who come from low-income families, and girls who have had to flee their homes and are living in camps.
There are 2.7 million internally displaced people in northeastern Nigeria as a result of the violent and uncontrolled insurgency waged by the Islamist group Boko Haram and its offshoots. And for many women and girls living in the camps, it is a struggle to get enough food and clothing, let alone expensive sanitary pads.
Her organization, Sanitary Aid for Nigerian Girls, hands out reusable pads, bought with money crowdfunded by Ms. Omu and her colleagues, so that girls have one less thing to worry about. Some of the girls they’ve helped had never had a pad before.
“Women’s issues are fought by women,” she said.