UN Special Rapporteur raises valid concerns

Reem Alsalem, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, has issued a statement about the threats and intimidation women face for defending sex-based rights.

It comes on the heels of the Let Women Speak events in Australia that exposed the lack of appetite to allow women to speak about issues facing us today:

“Discrimination based on sex and sexual orientation is prohibited in international and regional human rights law.

I am disturbed by the frequent tactic of smear campaigns against women, girls and their allies on the basis of their beliefs on non-discrimination based on sex and same-sex relations. Branding them as “Nazis,” “genocidaires” or “extremists” is a means of attack and intimidation with the purpose of deterring women from speaking and expressing their views. Such actions are deeply troubling, as they are intended to instill fear in them, shame them into silence, and incite violence and hatred against them. Such acts severely affect the dignified participation of women and girls in society.

I am also concerned by the way in which provisions that criminalise hate speech based on a number of grounds, including gender expression or gender identity, have been interpreted in some countries. Women and girls have a right to discuss any subject free of intimidation and threats of violence. This includes issues that are important to them, particularly if they relate to parts of their innate identity, and on which discrimination is prohibited. Holding and expressing views about the scope of rights in society based on sex and gender identity should not be delegitimised, trivialised, or dismissed.”

Recent events in Victoria were also referred to.

Liberal leader John Pesutto unfairly smeared Moira Deeming and leftist feminist Angie Jones as Nazi sympathizers, with Moira being expelled from the parliamentary party.

“Of particular concern are the various forms of reprisals against women, including censorship, legal harassment, employment loss, loss of income, removal from social media platforms, speaking engagements, and the refusal to publish research conclusions and articles. In some cases, women politicians are sanctioned by their political parties, including through the threat of dismissal or actual dismissal.”

Other Australian women are also facing legal actions, censorship and penalties for speaking about sex-based rights.

Hobart city Councillor Louise Elliot is having to address complaints about ‘inciting hate’, Sall Grover is in court over her female app that excludes males, and I am facing several court cases for identifying males in female sporting divisions. Associate Professor Holly Lawford-Smith has been continually targeted at her place of employment at Melbourne University, leaving her no other option than to file a WorkSafe complaint.

Speaking about women’s unique and challenging sex-based rights is not hate speech.

Women are adult human females and should not be penalised for discussing the need for spaces and services free from male bodies.

Speaking truth is not violence.

Men are not women. That is a fact.

It is our right to use the word woman and define our own spaces. Women deserve protection and safeguarding because we are female.

It is encouraging to see a positive statement asserting these facts.

You can read the full statement here.