Call on SWSS Essex to denounce the recent SWP handling of rape allegations

This letter was written, reviewed and edited collectively by people who support the statement. We would like to emphasize that this is a political issue and NOT a personal attack against any individual member of Essex SWSS. 

We, the undersigned, believe that in the past week details have become public of alleged sexual abuse and rape within the Socialist Workers Party involving a senior party member, and of a Disputes Committee meeting that ultimately failed to take these allegations seriously, going so far as to question the victim's personal life and relationships. This is totally unacceptable anywhere, even more so when it comes from a socialist group that claims "We campaign for real social, political and economic equality for women". Actions such as these hint at a culture of victim blaming and misogyny, which the party is supposed to be taking a stance against and which we are sure it's members must be appalled by. A commitment to equality must be put into practice, not just in writing.

While discussion of this has been widespread and happening in the open across social media websites, we, as concerned students of the University of Essex, have noticed an almost unbroken silence on this issue from party members on our campus and members of its affiliate groups. As individuals, these party members are entitled to take part in or not take part in whatever discussions they see fit - however, collectively we feel a statement must be made. To be silent on such an issue condones the idea of 'covering it up', that abuse is a private matter. While there are members of the SWP in our student union who are accountable to the students and while many of us work closely with party members on campaigns and in societies, it is simply unthinkable that they should ignore the issue of sexual abuse and allegations of rape and expect to continue to be taken seriously. If a culture of this kind is tolerated, or just simply ignored, at the very top of the SWP (or anywhere in it for that matter), it does not seem possible that anyone who supports women's liberation, the struggle against rape culture/misogyny or feminism in general to continue to work alongside members of the party. It is also not enough for this issue to only be discussed privately among select individuals when we believe this is an important matter demanding a public answer, nor is it enough to dismiss the issue without reflecting at all on what makes this such a shocking case - that it happened within the SWP, a party that states it has a clear commitment to equality for women. Simply stating that sexism is endemic or that this is merely a symptom of a sexist society does not address this. We the undersigned students of the University of Essex support this call for the Socialist Workers Student Society and other Socialist Workers Party members on our campus to make a full and public statement regarding their position on this matter. This is not without precedent, as Leeds SWSS have already issued a statement in which they condemn what has happened. We insist that such a statement be made urgently, before the issue 'blows over' and can be simply forgotten - therefore, it should be made public within one week of this letter being delivered (22 January 2013) or else we feel further action will have to be taken.

This petition is supported by: 
University of Essex Feminist Society Executive Committee
University of Essex Politics Society Executive Committee
Gabriel Valenzuela (President Essex Palestinian Solidary Group) 
Petar Stanchev (President Essex Zapatista Solidarity Group) 
Jake Woodier
Sian Watson
Lora El-Sayed
Michela Castiglioni
Nicolás Ortiz Ruiz
Rosario Fernández Ossandón
Aleksandra Stankova
Fenya Fischler (Alumna)
Illary Valenzuela (Alumna)
Anna Sekular (Alumna)
Elias Tawil (Alumnus)
Saul Jones (Alumnus)
Nathan Street (Alumnus)

Links

http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2013/01/swp_internal_ra

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