Published on March 29th, 2016 | by Socialist Voice0
Safety for women within our organisations
This is a statement from the members of Socialist Voice in Aotearoa/New Zealand.
We are a small Socialist organisation, established in 2014. Our goal is to build an independent, alternative party of workers and young people to fight for the interests of the millions, not the millionaires. We see the global capitalist system as the root cause of economic crisis, poverty, discrimination, war and environmental destruction. We are for democratic socialism – a system based on public ownership of the major sectors of the economy, democratic control and sustainable planning.
We have looked to the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) as the basis for our theory and practice. We have stood in political solidarity with them and it has been our intention, when our organisation is larger and has more credibility amongst ordinary people in New Zealand/Aotearoa, to seek to become a section of this international Socialist organisation, joining sections from over 40 countries. We believe that the Committee for the Workers’ International’s methods of analysis, organisation building, and working with ordinary people are largely correct.
We have had a strong fraternal relationship with the Socialist Party; the Australian section of the CWI. Comrades from the Socialist Party have helped us recruit members, published our perspectives and news in their monthly magazine and invited us to join in their political and educational events.
Last year a female comrade in the Socialist Party raised serious allegations of abuse by a senior member of that party. Rather than treat this allegation with the seriousness and sensitivity it deserved, the comrade in question was treated as if she herself had committed a crime. A flawed and aggressive process, conducted by members of the International Secretariat of the CWI, led to this woman being silenced and disciplinary action being taken against her. The alleged abuser suffered no such sanction.
This process shows that the perspective of the CWI on how to address allegations of abuse within Socialist organisations is flawed. It fails to recognise structural discrimination faced by women in raising these issues. Rather than starting from the position that alleged abusers are innocent until proven guilty, a correct starting position is to believe all allegations are valid. This allows for the woman’s safety to be of paramount concern. It follows on from this that women should not be sanctioned for raising allegations of this nature.
Marxist Socialists have a proud history of battling to end the oppression of women in society, as part of the battle to end the oppression of the vast mass of humanity. This history, however, means nothing if the organisations of which we are part of cannot practice what we preach.
A significant advance over the last decade by ordinary workers around the world, led by women, has been the fightback against rape culture and the violence against women engendered by capitalist class society. As Socialists, we must always be in step with the most progressive working people; their fight is our fight. We need to always and everywhere take a stand against rape culture and the abuse of women, and if and when these issues arise within our own organisations, we need to stand on the side of the oppressed.
We have no desire to either build an organisation or be in solidarity with organisations that do not address these issues. We will therefore no longer affiliate Socialist Voice with the Socialist Party in Australia or the Committee for a Workers’ International until they are prepared to examine and amend their perspectives and practices on this issue.
Ordinary working people having nothing to lose in the fight for socialism; we have a world to win. Socialist Voice will be part of that fight.