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Ce samedi 23 novembre 2019, nous avons brandi nos panneaux et notre courage pour aller dénoncer les violences faites aux femmes ici et ailleurs. Pour certain(e)s d’entre nous ce fut une première, pour d’autres, une manifestation de plus dans leur lutte militante. Nous voulions vous parler de ce que sortir dans la rue signifiait pour nous.
(Translated from French)
"It was my first time taking part in a demonstration in general.Even though I sometimes felt concerned or in agreement with the messages defended during some marches,I am not very good at anger and demands. I always feel like I don't completely fit in those events, and that I shouldn't express loudly in the street that I don't agree.I usually try to convey the message in other ways (discussions, articles, events...), because I prefer when I know what I'm talking about. This time I took the plunge, it seemed to me to be the right fight, and I knew why I was going in the street. The ideas I was defending were clear and I knew how to argue them.
There were many people. Men, women, whole families. I was touched to see that so many people were aware and concerned about this cause.We met a woman who told us about her battle in court against a former violent husband, who was also a magistrate. He had succeeded in keeping her away from her child, and today remains unpunished thanks to his status within the judicial institutions. Violence is everywhere. Even in countries like Switzerland, which legally protects women.New laws are sometimes not enough. It has to include a measure of the seriousness of violent actions and words that society often trivializes. Walking down the streets together allowed us to remind everyone that these acts are anything but normal."
"Protests are something recent in my activism. I started with the climate strike, then the women's strike and finally the march against violence. I can say that the one that made the biggest impact on me was the Women's Strike* on June 14, 2019. That day, walking down the street, I felt intimately connected with every woman I passed who was wearing a touch of purple, or the badge. Usually in an environment where I am often getting questioned for my beliefs, I felt that day as if I was part of a benevolent and determined army (calm down, not a "let's burn cis-men" kind of army).
During the procession, it was even stronger. I see myself landing at 4:45pm on St. Francis square, which overflows with purple. Women of all ages, I think I had never seen so many women at once. It was so beautiful.
With a few friends, we decided to leave our comfort zone and join the topless procession. This experience could be worth an article by itself. It taught me a lot in a very concrete way. I learned a lot about the diversity of bodies and breasts; I realized that the "norm" was only a norm in name. Everyone was so different and yet so united.
During this demonstration, my activism took on a brand new festive aspect. On the "Place de la Riponne" we danced, sang, invented slogans, laughed, had sore feet (there, the festive aspect is a little less obvious, I admit).
It was crazy, it was strong, and it felt good."
"I unfortunately missed the Women's Strike March* on June 14 last year. That's one of the reasons why I was even more motivated this time to be able to express my frustration and anger about the topic. In Switzerland, one person dies of domestic violence every two weeks, and the vast majority of these are women (90% of victims). Female students at EPFL are not part of a small privileged circle when it comes to gender discrimination. This is why it was all the more important for me to be able to demonstrate and represent them that day. At the beginning of the march, I didn't really dare to express my disagreement at the top of my lungs. With the support of the growing crowd, I finally allowed myself to shout, it was liberating. During the march, we noticed two old men. They were encouraging the movement by holding up signs. I was very touched by this. The atmosphere at the event made us feel that we were not alone in this struggle. The cohesion of women and their allies was almost palpable. Even though I hope we get to a point where these marches are no longer needed, I am already ready for the next ones."