In Spain, “I Believe Her” became “Yo Te Creo”, with thousands protesting the acquittal of five men accused of gang-raping a young woman. Less than two months earlier, 5.1 million workers had spilled onto the streets of Spain to strike against sexism on International Women’s Day. In Latin America the Ni Una Menos movement has refused to tolerate endemic murders of and violence against women. Millions globally have used the #MeToo hashtag and have broken a collective silence, sharing their experiences of sexual assault and harassment.
Campaigns & Issues
The failure of the DUP and Sinn Féin to agree a basis to re-establish an Executive has hampered and delayed the annual round of pay negotiations for civil servants. When it became clear that there was little prospect of the two main parties returning to partnership in government, and having consulted with members, public sector union NIPSA reluctantly entered formal pay negotiations with the NI civil service (NICS) management, submitting a 5% pay claim in July 2017. This reflected the anger of members at 7 years of pay awards below inflation.
The scandalous verdict given by Pamplona court in the case against the ‘Manada’ (the wolf-pack) rapist gang, has enraged millions of women, young people and a majority of men, as was seen in the massive demonstrations which took place around the country only hours after the sentence was pronounced on 26 April.
We’ll Walk Hand in Hand is a play that was recently shown in the Lyric Theatre, Belfast. The play was written to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil rights movement in Northern Ireland. Its’ playwright, Martin Lynch, is a household name in Belfast and beyond.
The trial has brought to the fore the prevalence of sexist and misogynistic attitudes that exist in the legal system and society in general. In Northern Ireland, over 94% of all rape trials have resulted in no conviction for the accused. The conviction rates for sexual violence are far lower than for any other crime. In the South only 19% result in convictions and 7% when the case is contested. As Suzanne Breen, one of the few journalists who have covered this trial in a fair manner, put it: “This was a case where it wasn’t always clear who exactly was on trial. Each defendant is rightly allowed their own legal representation. But a 21-year-old woman being cross-examined by four defence barristers over eight days pulls at your heart-strings…The young woman failed to secure the verdict she desired. She did not win, yet she has certainly not lost.”