Belén Luna, international women’s rights expert

 

 

I am speaking up for female rights because reality proves that we still need sex-based protection. As a young woman, I find it threatening to walk into places where there is graffiti openly calling for violence against people who think like I do. Being alone in public space at night as a young woman is terrifying enough without the added stress of finding graffiti saying that I should be killed for what I believe about gender.

I strongly support the rights of trans people to live a life without violence. However, as a student and professional working in development, I have to question the impacts and consequences of legal, political and social changes. Yet, the conflict that institutionalising gender has with women’s rights, has suspiciously been off the table for debate, even with specialists in the area. How are we supposed to talk about helping make women’s lives better if the term ‘woman’ has been hijacked? It is like a huge sparkling elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about, and they all hope it will eventually be less uncomfortable. But guess what? It won’t. It will be down to us to make this an honest and respectful conversation.

I’ve learned that staying silent is not an option when women’s rights and protection are in danger. I can’t stay out of the debate just to be safe from accusations of ‘violence’ because I dared to talk about my body and rights without the shame that has been historically attached to it, and is now being imposed by big corporations that are pretending to be our allies. This isn’t a matter of being against any group, this is about fighting in favour of women.

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