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WILPF Condemns New Year’s Eve Violence Against Women  

8 January 2016

On 5 January 2016, reports of large-scale violence against women perpetrated by a group or groups of men on New Year’s Eve in Cologne and other cities in Germany were published. Later, the Cologne police reported that of more than 120 filed complaints with them, about three-quarters are including sexual harassment claims and in two cases rape.

WILPF strongly condemns this violence targeted against women and their freedom of movement. We are deeply concerned and worried for several reasons as this represents an unprecedented case of large-scale violence against women in Europe.

Early statements, including that of the Mayor of Cologne, suggested that now women might have to change their behavior and keep possible perpetrators at “an arms length distance.” Social media immediately reacted on this #einearmlaenge suggestion with the adequate outrage, yet unfortunately in some cases offering racist or violent alternatives. The solution to these issues cannot be that women have to adapt to violent behaviour, but the root causes of this behavior need to be identified and challenged. Nothing else can prevent these events from reoccurring.

Further, the confusion surrounding the whole matter is striking. Once again, women as always are put in the middle, used for ulterior motives, and the violence against them is likely to be miss-used for racist goals.

Now, three days later many questions as to how this could have happened remain. Who are the perpetrators? How many were they? Was it an organized “attack”? If so, how could this happen without being noticed? What did the police do?

On Monday the Parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia, the state in which Cologne is located, will hear the first police report of New Years Eve and the resulting events. We hope this will shed some light on the remaining questions and a transparent and thorough investigation will provide some comprehensive answers.

We shall refuse any racist and patriarchal use of recent events. This needs to be solved in a non-violent matter, ensuring the political, economic, and social justice of all.

Women and feminists must not be forced to decide between: standing in solidarity against racism or against patriarchy, as if these two forms of oppression were not part of the same paradigm.

More soon.

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WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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