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Tomorrow is the International Day to End Violence Against Women. The day was first marked by Latin American feminists in 1981. The date was chosen because it was the date of the brutal assassination in 1960 of the three Mirabal sisters in the Dominican Republic. They were political activists there assassinated on the orders of the Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo (1930- 61).

In the nineties I was involved in a coalition of feminist organisations that organised marches in London with rallies in Trafalgar Square to protest on this day. Having personally experienced violence I felt empowered by taking to the streets with thousands of women activists, all with the same vision of a world where violence against women would be ended.

In 1999, the General Assembly designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and invited governments, international organizations and NGOs to organize activities designated to raise public awareness of the problem on that day.

It was wonderful to find that feminists this year were actively marking the day with a Reclaim the Night event in Durham last Saturday. Sadly I couldn’t make it as I was chairing the Green Party Regional Meeting in Gateshead. The event was to start with a march from Palace Green to the Market Place where there was to be a candlelit vigil. Then speakers in the Town Hall – Roberta Blackman-Woods MP for Durham, Bridget Phillipson, Labour PPC for Houghton and Sunderland South, women’s refuge manager for Wearside Women in Need, and Clare Williams, Chair of TUC Women’s Group and UNISON Regional Convenor. Haven’t heard yet how it went, but I do hope they had lots of women there to take back the night.

Next year I will be doing something more public, but tomorrow I will be going to sing with a friend in her women’s choir – a lovely way to mark such a day.


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