News Agencies – November 25, 2010
French women were called on to perform the “militant act” of wearing a skirt to protest violence against women. At least 135,000 women are taking part in the protest, according to its Facebook page, organised by rights group Neither Whores Nor Submissives (NPNS) as part of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
“Wearing a skirt is a militant act, in daily life, at the workplace, in the street, at home, because today everywhere is a place of danger for women,” said Sihem Habchi, who heads the NPNS. NPNS mainly defends the rights of women in France’s occasionally tense suburbs, where “the skirt is definitely a symbol of resistance,” said Habchi. It can be difficult for young women to wear skirts in some suburbs because of male jibes and occasional attacks which make the garment a symbol of standing up for women’s rights, NPNS says.
Statistics show that in 2009, 654,000 Frenchwomen said they were victims of physical or sexual violence, a 15-percent increase since 2007, Habchi said.
Journal du Dimanche – October 26, 2010
NPNS has launched its “Ambassadors of French Secularism and Equality” operation, designed to mobilize anti-burqa-law movements in the housing projects outside of Paris. The group is collaborating with Eric Besson, minister of immigration.
A debate organized by Ni Putes Ni Soumises (NPNS, Neither Whores Nor Submissives) on the full-face veil in France in Montreuil was intervened by police. Approximately 100 people gathered in a primary school, later interrupted by members of the pro-Palestinian association, Cheikh Yassine. As the debate became heated, several attendees became involved in a physical fight. Police arrived to interrupt proceedings.
In her new book Femmes invisibles, leurs mots contre la violence (Invisible Women, Their Words Against Violence, Calmann-Lévy 2008) sociologist Smaïn Laacher (CNRS – EHESS) claims that the community association Neither Whores Nor SUbmissives (Ni Putes Ni Soumises) has had problems representing Muslim girls in the suburbs of France because it was so popular amongst young women in its beginnings and the expectations were too high. The organization never had the infrastructure to be able to properly respond to the demand. In addition, its press releases and communication were direct and addressed major issues like secularism, Islam, immigration and the Israeli-Palestian conflict. According to Laacher, the media therefore exaggerated the importance and power of the organization, so that many of its members were disappointed by its actual power.
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