KU’s feminist society raises awareness about sexual violence and rape this week at Penrhyn Campus.

KU’s feminist society against rape and sexual violence

Kim Richters

Kingston University’s Feminist Society is teaming up with four anti-violence-against-women organisations, holding different workshops from Tuesday evening until Friday, raising issues such as female genital mutilation and rape.

The Feminist Society’s president Megan Denise Smith said: “We hope that students will come away with a greater understanding of the realities of sexual violence and rape and better yet become engaged in activism in regards to these issues.

“I wanted to have some guest speakers come in and really widen the scope of sexual violence and the complexities of it. I was particularly keen on having someone come in to discuss female genital mutilation in a wider context of sexual violence as well.

“This month is also the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign, a global campaign that runs each year from November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, to December 10, Human Rights Day, so our own week of advocacy leads up to that.

“We also will be launching our own anti-rape and sexual violence poster and video campaign very soon. So it is a general theme for November in our work.”

Meetings against sexual violence

The first workshop will be tonight at 5pm in JG0003, presenting the organisation Daughters of Eve who campaign against female genital mutilation. The guest speaker will be Nimco Ali.

The charity End Violence against Women will come to Penrhyn Road tomorrow evening, delivering a speech at 5pm in JG2007. Guest speaker Holly Shepherd and the group’s other members want to end violent behaviour against women, ranging from sexual violence to genital female mutilation.

Talks by Forward and Rape Crisis

On Thursday, KU’s Feminist Society will welcome Forward, a UK charity which advocate the rights of African women. The guest speaker will be Saria Kalifa, delivering her workshop in room JG2008 at 5pm.

This week’s last meeting will be held on Friday at 5pm in JG2009. The charity Rape Crisis, which is raising awareness about sexual violence and the need for supporting its victims, will come to Kingston University, represented by Fiona Elvines.

From feminazi to feminist

Ms Smith and the society’s vice-president Edward Hyatt founded the Feminist Society last year because no such a society existed at Kingston. Now, the society has 155 active members on facebook and its weekly meetings to organise projects and campaigns are attended regularly by around 20. According to Ms Smith, feminism suffered from a negative tone which she wanted to get rid of: “Our primary aim is to reclaim the term ‘feminist’ and to negate the negative media caricature of the ‘feminazi’ and the like. We hope to empower Kingston University students with the confidence to freely engage with feminist issues both politically and academically. In addition we will enable students to participate in wider campaigns for equal rights and representation. What many people don’t realize is that if you believe in equality for women then you are a feminist.”

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