Below is a quick translation into English of Lindsey Collen’s political broadcast on women’s emancipation and liberation – part of our series for the general elections.
Good evening everyone!
Why are there so many women in LALIT? Like us five here tonight?
First, LALIT is known as a party that represents working class interests. Not for nothing that LALIT members were the leadership of at the grassroots level of the biggest working class uprising in history against the capitalist class: the general strike movement of August ’79 and the mass movement of September 1980 that followed on.
And it was this challenge by the working class against the capitalist system, together with the All Workers Conference 1996-2000 organized essentially, again, by LALIT militants, that has meant that until today successive Governments have, fortunately, not been able to privatize the free and universal health and education services, nor remove universal pensions. These three services are vital to women.
And until today LALIT represents the unity of rural and urban workers.
Which explains our symbol, two tools crossed over. We also represent the unification of men and women workers – against both capitalism and patriarchy. On the basis of our clear stand on this, we call for you to vote our LALIT candidates.
LALIT is known, second, as a party that is against repression. Is it not us who mobilize the victims and the families of victims against police brutality and torture? And is it not LALIT that has always stood up for decriminalizing cannabis, and for stopping the locking up of mainly young men for smoking a joint? It is LALIT that calls for people dependent on hard drugs to be given health care, and not be locked up in prison. It is LALIT that is against using Certificates of Character as a way of banning a whole sub-class of people from employment.
When people call for more repression from the police – remember the police force is the ultimate in a patriarchal institution – they are re-enforcing the very patriarchy they are trying to combat. On the basis of our rejection of using repression for what are essential social problems, we call for you to vote LALIT’s candidates.
LALIT is known, thirdly, as the party that is wholly in favour of women’s emancipation, women’s liberation.
It is not part of our struggle, however, to help individual women to rise up, like the disgraced President of the Republic did, within the pyramid of power. No. We are working towards more equality in the whole of society. We challenge the pyramid itself.
Right now, in elections, LALIT is the only party to align nearly one-half candidates who are women. That, in itself, is a reason to vote LALIT. We have 46% women amongst our candidates.
All the issues are intertwined in the dynamics of history. For battered women and for those of us who suffer sexual assault, we in LALIT have a program designed to give more power to women so we can have better chances of defending ourselves.
For a start, by re-launching production in the country, based on our arable land and our sea, and creating jobs for all women, as for all men, jobs that are secure and that give a regular income. This gives women the strength to face up to patriarchal domination.
Then, the Government must open a National Housing Register for anyone in housing difficulties to go and apply.
These measures mean that a woman who is suffering violence from her partner, when we ask her why she doesn’t leave, she doesn’t have to answer, “But, where will I go and live?”
And, once women have suffered sexual assault, LALIT has struggled for this and is still struggling for it, she must not have to go to the Police Station at all. We do not thus call for more police officers to resolve this problem of patriarchy. The police force is after all part of the problem of patriarchy.
We say, and we have actually had victory on this, that women who have suffered sexual assault, should go direct to a one-stop-shop of the Hospital – 5 hospitals have already been designated on Mauritius, 1 on Rodrigues. But, the Government must popularize this new measure and not go on and on making women victims, and also men victims of sexual assault, go through the ordeal of the Police Station when they are already traumatized enough. Victims must go to the hospital first for care. Then, once all the care is given, the victim can decide whether to lay charges, and a woman police officer can be called to take a witness statement from her in the hospital. Similarly, the forensic doctor can examine her, not at Line Barracks, but in the hospital.
This gives an idea of why you should seize the occasion to help to advance the women’s struggle by voting for LALIT candidates.