Purple Rose Day 2016: Radical Love and Work for Women’s Liberation

For Immediate Release
February 14, 2016
Barbra Ramos
AF3IRM | National Communications Director
(323) 813-4272 | [email protected]

NATIONAL–Today on February 14th, we the women of AF3IRM take time to mark Purple Rose Day. For seventeen years, AF3IRM has waged the Purple Rose Campaign to stand up against the capitalist assault on women’s bodies. We call on all to join us in speaking out against the trafficking and commodification of women and children’s bodies! Join us and engage in radical love and imaginings to work for justice and true liberation for all women!

According to the International Labour Organization, 20.9 million people are bought and sold worldwide. 94% of those trafficked in the United States are women, with native, black, transgender women especially at risk. Even without the statistics, we know that trafficking occurs – it can be found in the wake of natural disasters and in the shadow of major sports events. It happens in our neighborhoods and schools and it can be found at our airports and borders. Trafficking is quick to prey on the vulnerable whether it is the Syrian refugee populations, the migrant populations attempting to cross borders, the communities suffering from disease outbreaks such as Ebola, or the people who survived catastrophic typhoons in the Philippines or earthquakes in Nepal. At our Purple Rose Educational discussion in Oakland on International Blvd, middle school girls spoke on how more needed to be done to stop traffickers in their neighborhoods, how they wanted to feel safer walking home from school – just two weeks before traffickers were arrested around the Super Bowl and as local airport and airline workers were being trained to spot human trafficking.

As transnational feminists and women of color, we realize that it is not enough to just recognize that trafficking exists and to speak out against it. To imperialist patriarchy and capitalist exploitation, the bodies of women of color are fair game. By merely occupying space, women are vulnerable. This is why we women must organize and stand up against trafficking but more importantly this is why we must resist the underlying assumptions and mindsets that allow it to go unchecked. We must defy the perceived right to sexual access of women’s bodies, the normalization of catcalling and street harassment, and these notions that women are the only ones responsible for stopping sexual violence. We must end this persistent idea that women’s lives are second-class and cease not only the exoticization but the criminalization of transnational/women of color and our bodies.

We know that we women are tired. We are tired of walking down streets and being harassed. We are tired of turning down unwanted advances politely for fear of being fired, harmed, and even killed. We are tired of discovering another woman has been trafficked, is missing, or murdered. We women are tired of merely fighting back against the assault on our black and brown bodies or to simply mourn the sisters we have lost.

So we women fight back – but we also theory-build and write. We gather together and connect with women across oceans and miles. We collectively demand justice and recognize the lives and histories others try to erase. More importantly, we in AF3IRM have been working to engage our radical imaginations and envision new futures for transnational/ women of color, and we have begun to move towards the liberation we seek on the local and transnational levels.

We prepare to embark on the next phase of Justice Not Charity – bringing skills trainings to the communities in Tacloban and Manila still affected by Typhoon Haiyan and to prepare communities to combat sexual violence and trafficking for the next disaster. We are working with the local tricycle union there to empower them with the tools to recognize trafficking. We have been in contact with women’s groups in Peru and with the First Nations women of Canada to figure out new ways to imagine and fight for women’s liberation throughout the world. We build transnationally to ensure that the work we do can not only work locally, but can also transcend boundaries.

In honor of Purple Rose Day this year, AF3IRM SF Bay Area held an educational and intergenerational discussion on trafficking for women and girls of color in late January. Our South Bay chapter crafted origami purple roses from the classified sex ads to bring awareness about trafficking. The women of AF3IRM Los Angeles hosted Revolutionary Love: A Visionary Workshop and Women’s Marketplace earlier this week, to push our communities to really imagine what true liberation looks like and to imagine new ways for our communities to thrive. AF3IRM Boston posted ads on Craigslist that led potential sex buyers to read statistics about the trafficking of women and children. Our San Diego chapter did a social media campaign and will work with the Overpass Light Brigade tonight to share information about local trafficking issues in San Diego. Later this month, our Orange County members will host a radio show with mujeres de la maquiladoras, connecting the femicides of Cuidad Juarez with the exploitation of labor by NAFTA. Our New York chapter will host a women’s dialogue on women of color on February 20th and connecting that to hypersexualization and commodification of women’s bodies.

We in AF3IRM know there is much more that needs to be done and we continue to fight against the commodification of women’s bodies and violence against women. We cannot silence ourselves nor silence the truth burning through our hearts. There is no justice while women’s bodies are being exploited. There is no justice when men’s pleasure is paramount. Our bodies are not here for your pleasure. Our lives are not disposable. Our resistance, our love, and our radical imagination are necessary for our existence in this time of women’s continued subjugation.

Join us in the Purple Rose Campaign today and every day – it is only through the persistence of our collective vision and action that we will be able to bring an end to sex trafficking and to change the devaluation of women’s lives and bodies. Onward to women’s liberation!

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