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#Athens: Why we left from the space of “self organized” theater #Embros

Athens: Our Initiative, the House of Women for empowerment and emancipation, publicly likes to share that we will no longer hold our open assemblies in the ‘self-organized’ theater Embros, where we used a room as a place to meet weekly and to store the needed things for the detained women in the Detention Center of Allodapon in Petrou Ralli.

Originally published by Athens Indymedia.

Note: Enough 14 is not organizing any of these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

On 10th of March, before dawn, it was reported that during a party organized by a theatrical group of women in Embros, a 20-year-old boy was raped. A woman found the victim outside the entrance of the theater, crying, among many other people who did not seem to have noticed him. She sat down close to him for long and at some point, she asked him why he was crying. The boy told her what had happened to him in two sentences: “Now I understand women… I was just raped…”

After the boy was picked up by his fellow students, who had come from another country together to spend a nice weekend, she went into the theater looking for someone from Embros, to inform about what had happened. At the bar the answer was that there were no people ‘in charge’ or that those people had already left, and so she left without reporting the incident in that moment.

However on Sunday night, she went back to the open Assembly of Embros to report the rape and indicate the exact place where it had happened. The reactions towards her, mainly by men, were degrading, including sexist remarks disguised as denial “we lack of proof of the rape” (“lack of proof” refers to a very minimal understanding of the term rape), indifference (“we did not organise this party, so it is not our responsibility”, “what happens in the street happens in squats, it’s a jungle, everybody should look after his ass”), cynicism (“we are not the rapists, we don’t like rapes, and we don’t want to hear about them”).

Some hours later the survivor wrote the woman a text message describing where he was raped and asking her to look for his necklace that he had lost in the fight against the rape. After the first ironic and sexist responses, someone showed her the staircase that leads to the space under the chairs of the spectators. There found the necklace on the floor and showed it to the assembly after which mocking questions were expressed, such as: ‘let me see the chain, is it cheap or expensive?’

The reactions, mostly of men, during the assembly, from the beginning to the end, were shocking for an open social/political/cultural space, where solidarity, anti-racism and anti-sexism should be considered self-evident. The rape was questioned from beginning to the end, because the victim did not appear to inform the assembly of his rape. And also, because some people who attended the party the night before assured that none of this had come to their attention. The conversation was spent on whether the rape took place here or there, whether it took place and whether the boy went there consensually. All the voices which were contrary to those who expressed all the above, were rejected.

As an initiative, the House of Women, although not big, tried to have at least one of us to participate in Embros’ assemblies, and take on some activities/necessary works in this self organised space we were part of. So we were all informed about what had happened in this assembly and we were shocked.

In the next assembly of Embros, 17th of March, two of our comrades went to confront these sexist behaviours and demand that the assembly of Embros should issue a denunciation. To support the survivor by clarifying that it does not suppress or consent with rape incidents or other sexist and racist harassment. which usually we don’t get to know if and by whom they were committed. Because the survivors don’t have the courage to expose their traumas to public view, and this is something the rapists and the sexists are very well aware of. This suggestion was also treated with screaming and denial.

Though a more productive discussion also took place, mainly, with the girls who had organized the party, that measures should be taken to prevent a repetition of incidents like that. As a first measure: the blocking of the passage to this staircase, which was decided by the assembly to be taken care of. Even those that have been in Embros for years did not know the existence of this passage, where if you get trapped no one can listen to you when the music is loud. One of us joined a chat room that was created from the previous Sunday, consisted by women who participated in that assembly, mostly from the theatrical group, who showed interest to do something concerning the report of the rape. Through this chat room we contacted the woman who supported the survivor, and we invited her to come and inform us in our own next assembly on Tuesday.

She came and described us her experience of finding the boy and how she supported him throughout very difficult moments. She shared her point of view with us about the course and the disapproving behavior of some members of the assembly towards everything she said. We also discussed with her about our plans of a feminist anti-sexist guarding team for our upcoming party (for the economical support of detained migrant women in Aliens detention centre of Petrou Ralli) and about the anti-sexist and anti-racist propaganda we made as posters translated in 7 languages, to be repeatedly exhibited in the space (inside, outside, toilets). To this we added to make sure that the entrance leading to the staircase under the chairs would be seriously barricaded. She also proposed she would come to the party to enforce the anti-sexist guarding team. We also asked if she could ask the survivor (only in the case he felt ready) to share the features of the perpetrator, so as to share these details, but on the day of our party these details remained absent.We continue to communicate and cooperate with her. We didn’t want to forget what happened and asked her to convey to the survivor that he’s not alone and that when he feels better, we wait from him what he recalls from the rapist, because the fact that he knew this staircase probably means he is a regular visitor, who must be found and stopped. So far we have no news.

Later one of us during the Embros’ assembly also invited women who were present specifically from the theatre group to support with their presence the feminist anti-sexist safeguarding team during our then upcoming party. This was an open invitation, for which our comrade was verbally attacked by one of the regular figures of Embros: “Did you come here to promote your party? Aren’t you ashamed?(…) “etc.. This unreasonable attack was just after the assembly had managed to agree on one thing, to barricade the staircase. While we were only discussing how necessary it is, during parties, women’s groups to support each other by participating in feminist anti-sexist guarding, which is essential.

Again our persisting effort for a public denunciation from the assembly of Embros was rejected with the same type of comments and arguments like: “We can’t afford making denunciations every time”, and ‘around the rape there are a lot of questions”, “We do not believe that the rape happened”, “We don’t know who is this woman who reported it”,”What do you want us, to write a text and say that we forbid free sex?”. And the most frustrating and policing of all, for an “anti-authoritarian” space: ” Why didn’t the boy himself come to our assembly to denounce his rape?” “The report of rape may be a provocation against Embros”, etc.

All this abusive behaviour, did not stop us from raising the issue to be rediscussed. So, in the next assembly of Embros, on Sunday, April 7th, more comrades from the House of Women and other friends, participated to raise the subject that a public denunciation of rape and sexist attacks should be issued by Embros’ assembly, and proper measures should be taken to prevent sexual harrasments from happening in this space. Conversations all over again, if the rape happened or didn’t happen, the lack of proof again, if we can avoid and stop such incidents and if ultimately someone has a responsibility. The result of all this was people screaming out of control, culminating in the shameful sexist comment from a person who participates in Embros for years: “Go back to your sink (kitchen)”, addressing to one of the comrades, who was claiming the assembly of Embros to take position openly with a written text. And when these persons confronted the sexist for his remark and expressed that he must leave the space, instead of taking our comrade seriously, the same key figures protected the man by tolerating his behaviour. Immediately our comrades demanded that this person must leave the assembly. In his own refusal to leave some of us insisted by force. Unfortunately, even then, the same key figures of the Assembly, defended him, supported his stay and threatened the comrades he had provoked.

We and the anarcho queer and trans feminist comrades who participated in this assembly were subjected to verbal sexist violence. We were hit by a storm of unreasonable, screaming monologues by some members of this assembly. Their sexist stances were enforced by repeatedly racist expressions (“we know that our parties are well-visited by Pakistani and Arabic men”), the mockery of the whole situation was fully present, once again throughout the whole ‘discussion’, ever still the persisting denial of the rape, and last and not least the almost immediate departure of a figure of the assembly that has expressed himself in an extreme sexist manner over and over again.

The most basic principles of feminism and anti-authoritarian ideologies were of great great lack. For example they claimed that they were a small group of people and that they can’t be more than anti-capitalism and anti-state, as if it would be too much work to also be anti-sexist.. As if we can divide oppression in sectors as such.

Why House of Women does not denounce the incident? You are the feminist part of Embros!” As if it was our ‘department’, as if it is only the job of the feminists to denounce rapes.

We delayed getting this denunciation out because we considered it more important to have a denunciation out of Embros’ Assembly, clarifying its opposition against rape and against sexist and racist attacks, which happen or are reported, at parties, and stigmatize the squat, and not only from our Initiative, which was housed there. Unfortunately, this was impossible.

Any further silence surrounding sexist issues gives further space to sexists and rapists. It normalizes and reproduces the misogyny and all together it forms a culture of rape. Rape culture normalizes sexist, transphobic, homophobic and racist attacks on any person who does not correspond to the norms of the patriarchal ‘normalities’.

After all this, it is clear to us that we cannot continue to house our group’s Assembly and ourselves in this space. All of us are responsible for what happens around us especially in such places. And if the responsibility for a rape is too great to bear, at least let us take the responsibility for what is being heard in our assemblies. The sexist and racist voices that we tolerate and protect, eventually, become ours.

We still don’t have more information on the perpetrator, but we have an additional information to share about another sexist incident;

During our party on the 23rd of March in Embros, a group of individuals gathered and formed a queer feminist guarding team (without cis-male) with means to defend ourselves. Nevertheless, sexist behaviors did occur in the space. During the night one of our comrades was sexually harrassed in the party, after which she confronted him and with the help of other female comrades from the anti-sexist guarding team they pushed him out of the party. This continued as a verbal and physical confrontation in the street where our comrade received a severe punch in her face by the aggressor and she had to be taken to the hospital. As mentioned on the posters promoting our party, “sexist, transphobic, homophobic, racist attacks won’t be tolerated”, and this sexist attack surely was not tolerated. We also interrupted the party and made a loud and clear denunciation of what had just happened and a damnation of sexist behavior and that every sexist must get the hell out of Embros. Our comrade has herself denounced the incident publicly and anonymously the day after. We chose not to publish anything more as not to substitute her voice and to not risk any more possible negative consequences for her. Everyone who decides to organise parties in Embros (or in other self-organised spaces) should have a serious approach to sexual harassment in parties. We cannot stop the sexists from coming to parties, but we can at least try and stop them, warn them, or take more serious measures to prevent or make clear their harassing behaviours are NOT going to be tolerated.

We don’t have any personal problems with any individuals of the assembly from Embros, we have problems with behaviors which reproduce what patriarchy has taught us.

We thank all our solidarian persons, friends and comrades, who stand by our fights so long. Individuals from Embros, from self-organized collectives, movemental initiatives, from squats, assemblies, self-organized spaces and responsive society in general.

We keep on our fight to smash Patriarchy,

for Freedom and Emancipation of all.

Solidarity with the oppressed and the survivors,

NOT the sexists, the rapists and the apologists of rape.

For the last two weeks, and from now on, our assemblies are and will be held at the Self Organized Kylikeio of Law School, entrance from Massalias st. On Tuesdays, from 16.30 till 21.00 pm, when the School is open. Due to Easter Holidays the School is to be closed for two weeksAnother anouncement will be issued, soon.

Συνέλευση Πρωτοβουλίας: Το Σπίτι των Γυναικών, για την Ενδυνάμωση & τη Χειραφέτηση

Extract from an article with the pravailing views about rape, in capitalist patriarch societies:

What is apologetics of rape

Posted by: Dimitris Plastiras

on: Thursday, March 28, 2019In: slideshowΈμφυλο ΖήτημαΜεταφράσεις

The apologetics of rape is when someone says that a rape isn’t really rape, or that rape isn’t really so bad, or makes an unacceptable claim that the complaint of rape is a lie or it claims that the accusations of rape in general are often untrue and should not be taken seriously. In fact the cases of reported rapes that are not actually rapes are about 1-2%, as for all other crimes.

Because rape apologetics are so widespread, rape victims often don’t tell anyone about their experiences because they know they’re unlikely to be believable. Because of this, the victim does not receive the support they need from family, friends, doctors and the police, and this lack of support makes it even more difficult to overcome the trauma. The rape apology literally destroys lives. In addition, the rape account promotes rape because it practically tells rapists that their victims are virtually unlikely to say it and take it seriously.

Some examples of rape accounts:

He wasn’t really raped, he made up the charges.

He wasn’t really raped – he just changed his mind.

It wasn’t really rape because the victim knew the rapist/was the girlfriend or wife of the rapist.

It wasn’t really rape because the rapist didn’t use violence.

It wasn’t really rape because the victim didn’t say it right away.

It wasn’t really rape because the victim wore a short skirt/had a reputation for “easy”/was flirting with the rapist earlier/had sex with the rapist before/was friendly towards the rapist afterwards.

The apologists of rape often have in their mind a concept I like to call the ” Model of Rape: this is a scenario in which a woman walks alone at night and a stranger attacks her, beating her and raping her. The victim immediately reports it to the police and asks for justice. Every time the rape apologist hears that a woman was raped, he compares the victim’s experience to the imaginary pattern of rape he has in mind. If the victim’s experience matches then it is considered worthy of sympathy and support, if not the rape apologist will reject her experience and tell her that “it was not rape in fact”.

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