Rallying against rape in S.F.

January 21, 2013

Derron Thweatt reports from San Francisco on a protest against sexual assault.

OVER 200 residents of San Francisco's Mission neighborhood marched on January 11 in solidarity with women who have been sexually assaulted or faced attempted sexual assaults in the last year in the neighborhood.

The march, titled "Mission Solidarity to Keep Streets Safe," was called on less than a week's notice through a Facebook invitation after a woman fought off an attacker on January 5. As organizers of the march explained in a statement:

We are joining together in an act of SOLIDARITY, women and men in the Mission district of SF, to alert the neighborhood of what has happened and to promote increased VIGILANCE by ALL for ALL so that these crimes do not continue on our streets.

Last year, several women were brutally raped on the streets of the Mission, some with broken necks. We must ensure that our sisters, our mothers, our daughters are safe on these streets.

The crowd rallied at the intersection of 16th and Mission Streets, with a speak-out from community members expressing their outrage at the increasing sexual assaults within the last year in the neighborhood. Shortly after the first speak-out, the spirited crowd took over the street with members of the community clapping in solidarity and some choosing to join the marchers to the intersection of 24th and Mission Streets.

Marching against victim-blaming, rape and sexism
Marching against victim-blaming, rape and sexism in Ottawa, Canada

When the crowd arrived at 24th and Mission, a second speak-out occurred where speakers made connections between the violence women face the in the neighborhood and the sexism and misogyny women face throughout San Francisco, the United States and the world.

One of the reasons why there was a sizable turnout for the rally on a short notice was because of the increased attacks on women in San Francisco. On January 7, in the Tenderloin district of the city, a man propositioned a woman on the street, and when she rejected him, he responded by slashing her across her cheek and stabbing her in the arm. Luckily, the woman was able to get away and seek help, but her case is one of many attacks on women in San Francisco and worldwide.

At the speak-out, people also connected the march to the case of a woman who was raped in her home in California by a man pretending to be her boyfriend. Due to an archaic and sexist 1872 law, an appeals court found that, since the victim was unmarried, her attacker could not be found guilty of rape. According to the Associated Press:

In its ruling, California's 2nd District Court of Appeal reluctantly concluded that Julio Morales hadn't raped an 18-year-old because a state law crafted in the 1870s says a person who gets consent for sex by pretending to be someone else is only guilty of rape if the victim is married and the perpetrator is pretending to be the spouse. In this case, Morales apparently pretended to be the teen's boyfriend, and she didn't recognize otherwise until seeing him in the light.

A bill was introduced in 2011 to fix this particular loophole on rape cases, but the bill languished in the Senate Public Safety Committee, which was hesitant to approve any bill that could potentially increase the state's already overcrowded prison population.

Others at the rally spoke about the myth that rape and sexual assault are exclusively a problem in other parts of the world. Rape, sexism and misogyny are not "foreign problems," but problems women face under capitalism all over the world, including in the United States.

The rally and march is a part of a continuing process to shed more light onto the daily street harassment, rape culture, assaults and more that women face in our society. They represented only a portion of people in the Bay Area who are tired of sexism and misogyny and want to do something to end these ills.

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