By Sam Noonan
This article contains depictions of rape and may be triggering to some readers.
Rima is a nineteen-year-old international student who attends university. She is newly married, of a wealthy Middle Eastern lineage, and legally blind. Her brother-in-law is one of her lecturers; Rima’s academic saviour; he guides her to and from class; guides her home; and one day guides her to the bedroom.
Rima deserves protection, but she needs top academic results; she must submit to his coercion, his climax, his crime. Deep down, she knows this is wrong; unacceptable; unjustified. The press, social media, other female students and her own heart tell her so, ad nauseum.
But Rima won’t attend the rallies being held in Canberra and other empowered places. She will not be granted permission; she has not been taught the dignity of independent travel. She does not dare spew anglicised vitriol about the government leaders, or the inaccessibility of the sighted world around her, or the supposed sanctity of marriage. She wants to join her voice with the feminine tide of rightful fury but doesn’t know how to do it.
I’m Sam, a social justice advocate, environmentalist, mother and grandmother; an Australian woman who just happens to also be legally blind. I need no-one’s permission to employ a support worker/driver, either male or female, to go to a rally of my choice, and there, hurl as much righteous indignation and fierce loyalty to my gender around as I see fit.
I can publicly write about the cowardly, inept, entitled, misogynistic snot-nosed tools who enabled this whole patriarchal shit show, with no consequences to myself, my faith, my family, or threat of repercussions to my body and autonomy.
On Monday the 15th of March we will be marching for justice for all women and their mistreatment by the puppets in power. Let’s also march for the women who have even less power, less financial security, less independence, less dignity and less public coverage.
A lot of them may not physically be able to join the mass rallies, but their stories are just as important, their domestic assaults, coercion and exclusion equally unjustified and unacceptable in a supposedly democratic nation such as Australia.
March4Justice rallies will be held across the country on Monday 15th March, 12pm. On the South Coast there are local events in Bega and Nowra, and busses and car pooling operating from Wollongong to Canberra. See the full list of events here.
*Rima is a fictional name to protect identification
If you need support 24/7 please contact NSW Rape Crisis phone line 1800 424 017 NSW Domestic Violence Helpline 1800 656 463 Homelessness Link2Home 1800 152 152 Lifeline 13 11 14 For confidential information, counselling and support on sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
Feature image: March for Justice poster from march4justice.com.au