I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of hearing about women across Britain being attacked and abused just because they are women. I’m sick of hearing that in 2014 not only is domestic violence still a concern for many women, but that it’s actually on the rise. I’m fed up with being told that one in five British women will have to go through the horrific experience of sexual violence in their lifetime, or that every year another 85,000 women in England and Wales are raped.
I’ve had enough of reading news stories where women are the victims of assault, or seeing photos of them beaten and bruised. I’m tired of being told about gang rape, or female genital mutilation, or sexual violence, without any emphasis on what we can do about confronting them.
Most of all, I’ve had enough of hearing that there is nothing we can do to change this.
Because, of those facts I’ve just listed, that’s the one that isn’t true. We can do something about it. We can rise up for justice – but not if we decide it isn’t our problem.
It’s easy to look at those statistics – the ones that say that more than 400,000 women are sexually assaulted in this country every year, or the ones that record a 31% rise in domestic violence since 2010 – and think that these are things that happen to someone else.
If you’re looking forward to a happy Valentine’s Day, it’s understandably difficult to put yourself in the shoes of someone who knows only hurt and abuse.
But the reality is that violence against women affects all women – no, scratch that, all people. It affects people’s mothers, sisters, girlfriends and daughters. It affects the women you pass walking down the street, or sit next to on the train, or shop in the same shops as. So why don’t we talk about violence against women as something we can change? Why don’t we try to do something about it?
When I started in the music industry in the early 1990s, with my band Skunk Anansie, women were shouting from the rooftops about wanting to change things, wanting to help those who weren’t being heard by raising our own voices.
Put simply, they – we – were feminists; proud of the progress that had been made for women over the course of the 20th century, and looking ahead to achieving much more in the next one.
Where has that spirit gone? Where are the women – in music, politics, business, or in public life – willing to admit not only that they are feminists, but that that is a good thing? Where are the women who will raise their voices now for the women who have been battered and bruised, who have been raped, and hit, and attacked for being women?
This Friday, I’ll be taking to the stage in Trafalgar Square, and shouting from the top of my lungs that we do not have to be fed up, that we do not have to accept this. At midday I’ll be joining One Billion Rising, a global campaign that has made it its mission to end violence against women, and rising up for justice for women here in the UK and far further afield.
We will call for political change, from mandatory sex education in schools, action to ensure that women in immigration detention centres are safe from violence, and the repeal of visa laws that tie domestic workers to their employers and put them at serious risk of exploitation. We will dance and sing – and we will make ourselves heard. The more people who Rise with us, the louder we will be.
I’ve had enough. Have you?
One Billion Rising UK will be in Trafalgar Square this Friday 14 February at 12, and we’d love you to join us. For more information about the campaign see the website and follow @OBRUK_1 on Twitter. Help OBR UK spread the word on the day by joining our Thunderclap here