Today, on November 25th, the day against male violence, we, women, migrants, workers of the Women’s Assembly of the Migrants Coordination are striking in front of Yoox at the Interporto of Bologna. We strike because the struggle against male violence should be fought in places of exploitation and cannot be separated from the racist violence we face everywhere. At Yoox as in many other workplaces that employ female labor, we workers, mostly migrants, are forced to work hard with shifts that become a blackmail if you are a mother and you can’t pay a babysitter, but you need the job to live and even to stay in Italy. We won’t surrender to this blackmail and to this violence.
In these last months we women have been taking to the streets all over the world for an unconditional European residence permit and in recent weeks we have been constantly organizing to give a voice to our rebellion. From Italy to Georgia, from France to Macedonia, from Germany to Turkey through Spain, Poland and Slovenia. The Women’s Assembly of the Migrants Coordination and the network EAST (Essential Autonomous Struggles Transnational) collected and published dozens of video interviews with working women, migrants, blacks, mothers.
Towards and beyond November 25th, we wanted to talk about the conditions in which we are living in a pandemic, about the struggles we are carrying out individually every day and collectively across the borders. We wanted to tell our difficulties, our differences and what it means to live as women in a society where racism, exploitation and patriarchy function as a “holy trinity” and where the residence permit is the absolution for the sin of not being born in Europe. As we said in the interviews, male, domestic, sexual, patriarchal violence is based on our continuous exploitation, on a salary that does not even pay what is essential in our life, on a racism which is, not by chance, often coupled with harassment and sexism by our bosses and employers, as if the blackmail of the residence permit was not enough.
We did this because we know that these conditions are the same of many others. Of all those women who do essential jobs or who today under the excuse of the pandemic find themselves forced to work twice as hard for poor wages and have to fight not to be crushed and silenced, made invisible in the face of the essential needs of this racist and patriarchal society. We organized on a transnational level because this is the only way to break the isolation.
We did this because we know that there is no feminism without our struggle. There is no feminism without our life. Because our life shows a specific but also a general condition. It shows a power that we can deploy. Our life as women and migrants shows a direction to the feminist struggle and to the fight against exploitation.
Male violence does not mean just one thing to us migrant women, it does not mean just one thing to any woman. Today we want to shout this to break the silence in which it is constantly repulsed. But also to say that this violence must be fought every day in its various faces, in its different forms, in all the places where the conditions that sustain it are reproduced: at work, at the police station, on the border, at home, in the street, at school or university, within the family. Male and patriarchal violence is not one and the same thing for all those whose freedom is continually attacked, judged, categorized. Lesbians, gays, transgender people and anyone who is not afraid to practice its difference fight every day against this violence. Not seeing this link would limit us.
As women and migrants today we want to say that our rejection of violence is essential for the struggle of all. Breaking the chain between racism and patriarchy is essential for the freedom of those who fight and in the coming months we will continue to build an increasingly powerful, transnational, feminist collective voice. As migrants we know that the only way to make ourselves heard is to strike. As women we know that this strike must be feminist in order to break the divisions that oppress us. Against male and patriarchal violence, against the exploitation and the racism that reproduce and feed it, our struggle is essential, our strike is essential.