Manchester feminist groups united to deliver a rendition of the Chilean rape protest, ‘A Rapist in your Path’, to raise awareness around male violence against women and challenge the structures that enable it to continue.
Women from across the North West gathered in the heart of Manchester to deliver a performance of the Chilean feminist anthem, ‘A Rapist in Your Path’, which calls out rape culture and victim-blaming against women.
Representatives from Trafford Rape Crisis and the Manchester Feminist Network were joined by fellow demonstrators in front of the Emmeline Pankhurst statue, where they performed the flash mob protest three times. Performers wore blindfolds and the colours of the Manchester suffragette movement against black, creating a united front.
The demonstration gathered a large viewing and support from the public, with the original video footage having since been viewed on Twitter over 13,000 times. Passers-by were handed information leaflets featuring the lyrics and context around the protest, along with information numbers for support services.
The anthem was first performed outside the Supreme Court of Chile, Santiago, to mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in November of last year. Since then, it has become a global feminist anthem, with performances taking place everywhere from New York and Mexico to Australia, France, Germany and Spain.
The chant points to the patriarchy as being responsible for violence against women and specifically calls out the structures that continually fail and blame victims. In the Manchester rendition of the anthem, protestors pointed to “the cops, the judges, the State, the council”, pointing to the Town Hall buildings.
The protest follows a report published in the Manchester Evening News into the failures of the Manchester care system, as a review into historic grooming and abuse began in January. Young and vulnerable girls were routinely groomed, exploited and paid for sex, in “plain sight” outside care homes and foster homes.
The review showed care workers were aware of the abuse and raised the issues to social services and the council, but proactive measures to protect the girls were never taken. Instead, the approach was to encourage the girls to behave differently: placing blame and responsibility on the victims.
Manchester council’s chief executive Joanne Roney has now apologised for the horrific abuse suffered by children in its care, but protestors pointed to the failure to learn from historic mistakes in the anthem:
“Working class girls in care
Groomed and abused
How is it that we see
The same excuses being used?”
Speaking about the performance, Trafford Rape Crisis representative Becki Hall commented;
“It’s been a hugely empowering demonstration to be a part of and the level of engagement and interest we’ve had has been amazing.
“We had spectators ask us, ‘why are you doing this? How can a flash mob performance make a difference?
“And it’s true, a single performance isn’t going to change things overnight. But it’s part of a bigger picture of activism, the global wave of protest, awareness and demand for change.
“Every time women – whether as individuals or as part of a group – come together and speak out against the injustices perpetrated against them, it adds to that collective voice. This protest is one of thousands happening worldwide. Each time we speak out, more women will understand they are not alone, that their abuse was not their fault, that there is support available.
“And more agencies, bodies, and services are held accountable. From that, valuable lessons can be learned and change initiated.
“A flash mob won’t change the world, but there is nothing to be gained from staying silent.”
If you have been affected by any of the issues discussed in this article, TRC offers a free, confidential support service including telephone support and counselling services for female victims in the Greater Manchester area.