Revolution#124, March 23,2008

Celebrating March 8 International Women’s Day: More Than 1,000 March in Brussels

The following is based on a report we received from A World to Win News Service.

March 8, 2008, International Women’s Day march in Brussels. [Photo:]

More than 1,000 people, the vast majority of them women, took part in a march in the streets of Brussels on Saturday, March 8, to celebrate International Women’s Day. Women and men from Belgium, Iran, Turkey, Kurdistan and Afghanistan, as well as Nepal, Iraq, North Africa and other European countries, joined together to protest the oppression of women in all its forms, from the denial of basic rights under Islamic regimes and in other countries where women are punished for behavior not permitted by religion, to the Western countries where women have gained legal equality, to one degree or another, but are still oppressed by the system and culture of capitalism.

This march was organized by the Iranian group Karzar (Women’s Campaign for the Abolition of all Misogynist and Gender-Based Legislation and Islamic Punitive Laws against Women in Iran), in cooperation with the Belgian Left Socialist Party. It was also supported by a Kurdish group from Turkey, which joined the demonstration.

The march began with a rally in front of the U.S. embassy, passed by the European Parliament and ended in front of the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Women of different nationalities condemned U.S. war mongering and its anti-women nature. Among other speakers, a woman from Iraq and another from Afghanistan talked about the deteriorating situation for women under the U.S.-led occupations. These speeches exposed the hypocrisy of American claims to have grabbed these countries to liberate women and bestow democracy upon the people.

March 8, 2008, International Women’s Day march in Brussels. [Photo: Bert Beckers, independent photographer]

The path of the demonstration had a political message: a protest against imperialism (U.S. and European) and also the Islamic regime in Iran. While standing up against a regime whose religious fundamentalist ideology justifies the undisguised oppression of women, the marchers also announced that they have no intention of relying on any of the imperialists who are waiting to seize the opportunity and take advantage of the cause of women and the people’s struggle in the third world and the Middle East in particular. The message was also that women in the imperialist countries, including Belgium, despite legal equality, are an oppressed sex there as well. They face discrimination and inequality in terms of jobs, wages and in other fields. They are oppressed by the patriarchal family, with the burden of childcare and housework largely on their shoulders, and threatened by violence throughout society. They are treated as sex objects, not people, as commodities, whether in forms considered perfectly acceptable by society or the traffic in women and prostitution.

After the march, demonstrators gathered at the Brussels Free University. Solidarity messages were read including one from the U.S. titled “International Women’s Day 2008:We Stand with Iranian Women,” signed by more than a hundred women activists, intellectuals, artists and personalities. It said, in part, “We women in the U.S. are proud to stand with Iranian women who are fighting on two fronts: against the anti-woman oppression of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the war threats of the U.S. government. When a woman is lashed, our bodies, too, feel pain. When a woman is stoned, our own blood is spilled. What happens to any of our sisters, whatever patriarchal horror is inflicted in Iran or anywhere, affects all of us. When one woman is degraded, silenced, abused, or murdered, all women are harmed.”

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