The Warwick Feminista Collective has undertaken a campaign this term to raise awareness about violence against women, following recent assaults on campus.
The ‘Feministas’, a group of men and women that formed out of opposition to the controversial Miss Warwick beauty pageant in February 2010, has grown in term three to over 250 members, and has undertaken a number of campaigns during the exam period, producing information leaflets about safety around campus, and organising a series of well attended self defence workshops.
The group’s activities were spurred by the initial revelation that a woman had been attacked on the stretch of path adjacent to University House in late February, and after a second assault in week one.
Kat Hobbs, an active member of the Feminista Collective, told the Boar: “I noticed that the path was blocked because it made me late for work three times over Easter, and I was really unimpressed with the University response. We all know there’s a night bus but no one knows when or where it stops.”
The Feministas’ response was to create a leaflet with practical advice on how to protect yourself at night, including the night bus route and timetable, and to organise self-defence sessions.
Two sessions were put on by the Warwick Thai Boxing society on June 1st: a women only session and a mixed session. Around 50 people attended the sessions.
Hobbs explained the split sessions as necessary because “women do tend to be under-represented in the training sessions, which can often be quite masculine, to put it mildly. We put on a women only session in the afternoon so people would feel comfortable about coming … and then we put on a mixed session, and pushed quite hard for men to attend, because men are twice as likely to be violently attacked in the street than women.”
Explaining why she felt involvement to have been so consistently high this term, Hobbs commented: “There’s been a lot of interest in feminist activism on campus, and I think there’s a growing interest in society at large based around feminist concerns; it really is bourgeoning and people were looking for an outlet for a lot of these feeling.
“A lot of first-time activists have turned up for this because they are angry,” she added.
However, the Feministas have not solely focused on violence against women and they have undertaken practical action on a variety of women’s issues.
The Collective has organised a ‘teach-in’ for Sunday 27th and Monday 28th June, with speakers to include acclaimed Warwick academic Shirin Rai; feminist writer and activist Laurie Penny; former producer of Women’s Hour, Frances Donnelly; and members of the English Collective of Prostitutes.