We are thankful to all of you who sent us messages so far in response to our Call for International Solidarity with the protest against violence against women which took place on Monday, the 26th of November 2018 in Sofia. Your support has made it easier for us to continue our efforts here on the ground. They tell us that our fight is a shared concern of many people, not just in Bulgaria, and we have to continue it. Following the first publication of a series of messages of solidarity, we are here compiling a second group of letters which we have received on our email since then.
The title image by Anastas Tarpanov is of the mass demonstration against gender-based violence, which took place yesterday. It united many voices speaking out against patriarchal oppression and raising the issue of growing numbers of domestic violence victims in Bulgaria. Unprecedentedly, the protest also connected the physical violence that women suffer to a range of demands addressing that structural and social violence that we are often subjected. There were strong anti-racist and anti-homophobic slogans proclaiming solidarity with trans and gay people, workers, refugees, Bulgarian ethnic minorities… Mariya Ivancheva from LevFem presented our demands; along with victims of gender-based violence, writers and media figures, there were also speakers from a Roma organisation uniting various other Roma organisations, from the Sofia University student Pro-Equality group, as well as from National Network for Children – Bulgaria.
Many of them stressed the necessity of solidarity between various struggles which is also evident from the powerful messages that were sent to us from around the world:
Solidarity to Bulgarians struggling against misogyny and gender oppression.
Death to patriarchy and the State.
Message of solidarity from Socialist Solidarity, Czech Republic
We decided to organize a demonstration of solidarity with you, the Bulgarian women, queers and others, who suffer from gender-based violence, because we consider your struggle the same as ours.
The horrifying statistics domestic violence in Bulgaria, as well as the wave of harassment on the streets and workplaces, are the manifestation of enduring patriarchal structures and of strong inherent and unchallenged inequalities in the capitalist societies of the 21st century.
In Czech Republic, where we have witnessed horrified reactions to MeToo from advocates of patriarchy, the Istanbul convention has become a hot political topic and gender-based violence is still denied or trivialized. We also live in a state where maternity means poverty and unemployment for many women and where policies that would support single mothers are still blocked due to sexist prejudices.
Stay strong and courageous, we send you all our love and solidarity!
1 November 23, 2018
Letter of Solidarity with Bulgarian women
ASTRA, Central and Eastern European Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, stands in solidarity with Bulgarian women. We are concerned with the developments in Bulgaria, the worsening status of women’s rights and the lack of commitment of the Bulgarian Government to human rights. We would also like to voice our grave concern with Bulgaria rejecting the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. This move is a sign of total disregard for the serious and systematic attacks on women.
For the past several months we have learned about the systematic killings of women perpetrated by partners and ex-partners in Bulgaria. We are disappointed by the Bulgarian decision-makers who share prejudiced opinions that domestic and sexual violence survivors have inflicted the violence themselves. Sadly enough, the reality is much worse – countless women across Central and Eastern Europe suffer in silence because of the widespread gender-based violence that they face at home, at work, in everyday life, but also the growing fundamentalism and backlash on women’s rights in the region.
We say no to intolerance, to the persecution of sexual diversity and to cultural practices that undermine the health, body and soul of women. We cannot accept that attempts to maintain the current system in place are made at the expense of women! We condemn all forms of violence against women, in particular femicide, trafficking of women, physical and psychological violence, sexual harassment, genital mutilation, early and forced marriage, rape, also used as weapon of war, and impunity for those who commit these acts of horror.
We also say NO to a society that scorns the rights of women by not allowing them access to protection programs and resources that would enable them to break the circle of violence and live a life in dignity.
We understand the hurt, confusion, isolation and betrayal that women in Bulgaria might feel. We express our international solidarity with the protest on November 26, 2018 in Sofia, Bulgaria that will also voice our anguish with the growing violent wave of misogyny in the country and the region.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We believe and stand with you.
ASTRA Network Members: Albania – Albanian Family Planning Association; Armenia – Society Without Violence; Armenia – Women’s Resource Center; Armenia – Women’s Rights Center; Azerbaijan – Center “Women and Modern World”; Belarus – Women’s Independent Democratic Movement of Belarus; Bulgaria – Bulgarian Family Planning and Sexual Health Association; Bulgaria – Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation; Bulgaria – Gender Education, Research and Technologies; Bulgaria – Demetra Association; Bulgaria – Gender Alternatives Foundation; Bosnia and Herzegovina – Sarajevo Open Center; Croatia – B.a.b.e.; Croatia – CESI; Croatia – Women’s Room; Georgia – HERA XXI; Georgia – Real People, Real Vision; Georgia – Women’s Center; Hungary – PATENT; Kazakhstan – The Legal Center for Women’s Initiatives “Sana Sezim”; Lithuania – Family Planning and Sexual Health Association; Latvia – Latvia’s Association for Family Planning And Sexual Health; Macedonia – Association for emancipation, solidarity and equality of women; Macedonia – H.E.R.A.; Macedonia – Shelter Center; Moldova – Family Planning Association; Moldova – Reproductive Health Training Center; Poland – Federation for Women and Family Planning; Romania – A.L.E.G.; Romania – AnA: Society for Feminist Analysis; Romania – Euroregional Center for Public Initiatives; Romania – The East European Institute of Reproductive Health; Russia – Novogorod Gender Center; Russia – Russian Association for Population and Development; Slovakia – Pro Choice; Tajikistan – Gender and Development; Ukraine – Women Health and Family Planning; Ukraine – Charitable SALUS Foundation; Uzbekistan – Future Generation ASTRA Secretariat Federation for Women and Family Planning Nowolipie 13/15, 00-150 Warsaw, Poland ph/fax +48 22 635 93 95, email@example.com www.astra.org.pl
Open Letter of Solidarity with Women in Bulgaria
The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) expresses its solidarity with all women in Bulgaria and with the protest that will take place on November 26, 2018 in Sofia. The European Women’s Lobby is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men. EWL membership extends to organisations in all 28 EU member states and three candidate countries, as well as to 19 European-wide bodies, representing a total of more than 2000 organisations.
For the past several months, the EWL has received and listened with sadness the reports of the EWL Bulgarian Platform informing on systemic killings of women perpetrated by partners and ex-partners in Bulgaria. We also feel extremely disappointed with the Bulgarian decision-makers who have immensely failed YOU, women in Bulgaria, by not complying with their duties to put in place laws and measures to protect you, and prevent and combat all forms of violence against women. We condemn the misleading prejudices against domestic and sexual violence victims that Bulgarian decision makers have shown accusing them to have inflicted the violence themselves.
We feel the hurt, confusion, isolation and betrayal that women in Bulgaria might be experiencing these days. The European Women’s Lobby wants to show you that you are NOT ALONE in the fight against violence against women!
The EWL condemns all forms of violence against women, in particular, femicide and intimate partner violence, physical and psychological violence, sexual violence including rape, sexual harassment, trafficking in women and prostitution, female genital mutilation, early marriage and forced marriage. We also condemn the impunity of the perpetrators of these acts of horror against women.
The EWL says no to all forms of intolerance and to any attempt to undermine the integrity of women, their rights, their health and bodies.
We also say NO to a society that denies women’s rights by not allowing them access to protection programs that would enable them to break the circle of violence and live a life free from violence.
We express our international solidarity with the protest on November 26, 2018 in Sofia, Bulgaria that will also
voice your anguish with the growing violent wave of misogyny in the country and the region!
In these difficult moments, and as you cope with scrutiny and criticism because you have bravely chosen to speak out against violence against women, please know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We believe you and stand by you.
President of the European Women’s Lobby
We, a collective from Kaunas social centre Emma send our solidarity for the upcoming protest in Sofia against physical and structural violence against women.
We are a group of left-feminists running a social centre Emma – home for local alternative politics, feminist organizing and workers rights initiatives, recently connected under an umbrella of May First labour union. This autumn we organized an East European Feminist Gathering and are organizing an upcoming left-feminist conference. Working with left – feminist organizing has shown us how connected different east European contexts are and the evils we fight against are not only similar, but often aggravated and promoted by the same influences and historical conditions. In Lithuania we also had a long and hard-fought road to ratifying Istanbul convention, which happened only recently, gender based and domestic violence is extremely prevalent and right wing initiatives, such as attempts to outlaw abortion or calls for boycott of the Pride are constant and inexhaustible. Above all, Lithuanian women as well as other unprivileged groups share with you the constant struggle to make a living in crushing neo-liberal conditions, recently worsened by a new, liberalized labour code.
Under these conditions of socio-cultural misogyny and structural indifference to hardships of those, seen by the ruling class as lousy consumers, under the threat of even the rudimentary laws, which our predecessors achieved many years ago, vanishing; under a threat of increasingly fascist tendencies becoming a part of public discourse and even part of legal acts, we stand together with your actions and support your demands. And in the name of all of us fighting for the same cause, we send you our solidarity and wish to remind you that we are many and those we fight for, are the majority.