MLF Action at Vivekananda Conference Centre for International Women’s Day
The Muvman Liberasyon Fam delegated six of its Committee members to attend the official celebrations at the International Vivekananda Conference Centre in Pailles on 8 March. The delegation stood on the huge steps up to the centre and distributed leaflets to the women from associations all over the country, proposing a re-focus of the women’s movement. Instead of drifting into the error of seeking “gender equity” and thus striving for a handful of women to become powerful in the patriarchy, we must go back to the historically tried and tested demands for emancipation and liberation. Here is the content of the leaflet, which was distributed in a bi-lingual version, Kreol on one side of the A4 page, English (below) on the flip side. Women from different Associations came and met MLF members, renewing an ongoing close relationship over decades. The MLF acts as both an Association and also as the centre of a network of local associations.
MLF: New Charter for Emancipation
On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the genuine demands of the glorious women’s struggle, a struggle that has been a source of so much dignity and happiness to women world-wide for 200 years, and in Mauritius for 50 years. We want Work! Food! Housing! Democratic control over the land and sea of the country!
We are sick of the discourse around a “gender strategy”. It reduces women’s emancipation to the mindless quest for a few women to get into positions of power. This is not emancipation. It is an abject bowing down before patriarchy. Are the President and the Speaker a source of pride to us right now, just because they are women? No. The contrary.
We note that with the erroneous “gender strategy”:
* Demands often have dangerous negative “unintended consequences” e.g. the call for more punishment for rape, for example, leads to 45 year sentences, and then to the rapist killing the only witness, his victim.
* Capitalist leaders are misogynists - Berlusconi, DSK, Trump - alongside women in positions of power.
* The State begins to control women’s organizations who aim merely for a few women to rise within the State.
We today together call on all women to resolve to re-focus on “the big issues” for women:
– Work! With the disappearance of jobs for women in cane and the free zone, the Government must create jobs, and halt all permits for selling off the arable land of the country where productive jobs can be created.
– A house for all women! Many problems women face – incest, domestic violence, curtailed freedom – are directly linked to the lack of housing. We have nowhere to move to so as to preempt or avoid the violence.
– The Land. Government must force the sugar estates to develop their land, plant food crops, organize animal husbandry plants, set up preserving and transforming plants, employ people on the land, in processing plants, in product development, research, marketing abroad, transport – creating varied jobs on a huge scale, or else return the land to the people. The Government must prevent all selling off, and concreting up of good arable land, and stop cane as a mono-crop . If the sugar estates refuse, Government must take the land over, and if it doesn’t, we the people will have to do so ourselves. Stop all new gated communities, IRS, Villas, hotels, Smart Cities and domains! Colonization is over! And no to re-colonization! No to sale of “permanent residence” and “citizenship” for money! Women will help lead the people to re-appropriate the land of the country.
– Food. Use sugar estate land for food security!
– The sea. Women recognize the immense size of the Republic of Mauritius. Its 2.3 million square kilometres, with massive resources which can be harnessed for job creation and for foreign exchange, is our responsibility.
– Free Diego Garcia from military occupation by the USA-UK! Ensure the right of return to all Chagossians.
And we meanwhile denounce demands that have bad “unintended consequences”.
Example I: The demand for “a woman police officer in every police station” has the unintended effect of increasing the repressive forces, and thus strengthening patriarchy. MLF has a completely different demand. We call for raped women to be free to go immediately to a hospital, where a Crisis Unit comes into operation, and takes care of her. She should not have to go to the police station at all. We even won this demand. But the Ministry and the Police refuse to implement it properly – despite us having won a formal, written Protocol.
Example II: The erroneous demand to “force men to take their responsibility” led to it becoming a criminal offense for a man not to pay child support or alimony. So police arrest him. This often causes him to become violent. It also gets him a conviction in Court, and leaves him without a so-called “morality certificate”, without which he cannot get a job. So then he cannot pay child support. We, in the MLF, call for society as a whole, through the State, to support any woman who finds herself in charge single-handed of children, and to leave the man alone.
We need to win against the “gender strategy” current that accepts patriarchy and capitalist inequality! We need to go back to the big demands, the broad program, the meetings around a common platform, a new Manifesto!
Leaflet distributed by the MLF on 8 March, 2017