Woman Scream 2014 Sydney, Australia

Woman Scream 2014 (Grito de Mujer) in Sydney Australia was organized last march 29, 2014 at 6:30 pm. at the Grace Hotel for the first time.  It was an empowering, community building event of poetry, music and film.  Poets and artists came together and raised their voices to stop violence of all types against women through the curative power of art. It was coordinated by Saba Vasefi, an Iranian, poet, documentary filmmaker and coordinator of this Sydney offering of the Women Scream International Poetry Festival, knows firsthand what it's like to experience violence as a women alone. The event took part in the long worldwide chain of over a hundred events celebrated in 37 countries.

According to a post written by Michelle Cahill on her blog in which she described event's details:

Indelible Scream: Women and Violence

Senator Lee Rhiannon The screams emanating from the event were visceral, informed and eloquent. Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon spoke of how violence is a reality for many women in Australia, “Indigenous women working to end more than two centuries of abuse; refugee women escaping from trauma, war and often torture; victims of domestic violence; women and girls exposed to sexual assault and rape.” She reminded us that 30% of women who suffer from domestic violence leave their place of employment. But these figures only reflect the cases reported: what of those effaced by society and our legal system?
Having suffered from a kind of violence that is foreclosed in our adversarial system, I understand only too well how alienating this becomes for women. Stereotypes of hysteria and manipulation abound. Nobody in society believes the survivor’s story and women are likely to be judged by appearance, race, social class and gender before they can even state their case. A woman’s bargaining power, reasoning and self-confidence are slowly eroded. When a woman screams it is assumed she is difficult, borderline, histrionic. But it may also be a form
of defense, because she is afraid or hemmed in. Arguably, there is nothing that makes her more physically, financially or emotionally vulnerable than a child. Threats, bullying and intimidation are forms of abuse which are under-reported, occluded from the conventional gaze, even normalized by some. If, as a society, we accept these injustices, we become complicit in the oppression of women. We have to break down this fear; we have to find a language to speak with clarity and reason against these institutionalized discrepancies. But the relationship between abuser and abused is not always one of domination. Often, it is a disguised dependency with complex dynamics as we learned this week when two very different women, Rosie Batty and Rachael Taylor spoke publicly of their experience. 

Speaking against reductive ideologies through the discourse of poetry. The Grace HotelI shared four of five poems from my books which are lyrical attempts to withstand this violence, to name it rather than be silenced. Sometimes I have used language that is stark and spare; I have experimented with poetic structure to disembody the poem as in “The Edit” from my first collection, The Accidental Cage. At other times I have used an autobiographical voice to dramatize and interiorize conditions of gender-based trauma as in the poem, “In My Father’s Absence”. One poem that uses metaphor to historically render violence against women is “The Siege” inspired by Agnes Randolph, who defended Dunbar Castle in 1338 against the Earl of Salisbury. It’s a favorite, the dramatic monologue transports me to a different life; the sonnet pairs beauty and brutality with a heightened lyricism. When I read it, I am reading another language; one of transforming resistance.

Talking to Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, Saba Vasefi and Anne WalshIt was wonderful to hear readings by poets like Chris Mansell, Michelle Seminara, Philadelphia-bard Anne Walsh Miller and a reading by Richard Allen’s daughter. It was fun and a privilege to meet the beautiful actor Kali Holmes (aka Kali Nutritious), and actor/environmentalist/comedian Jo Ranck who attended to record the event photographically. They are external to the familiar poetry traps. 

Thanks to Saba, the camaraderie after the event was infectious, with an atmosphere of inspiration and warmth. This expanding of our audience is crucial if the voices of Women are to be heard. My only reservation about what was a brilliant night was that poetry by men was prioritized over some of the women. I think events like this should give women the sovereign right to speak, to sing, to scream.

"Ending violence will come when we address the inequality in our society. Discrimination, suffering, exploitation and inequality all contribute to the violence women suffer. A society with values and standards that respect women is a society that can successfully build secure, peaceful communities for women and everyone".- Senator Lee Rhiannon.

"As a survivor of violence and oppression on a domestic and institutional level I have seen the ways in which violence against women is allowed to exist behind closed doors. I am trying to hold a mirror up to the society that kept me in the shadow of God, government, father, brother and husband. The society that stifled my voice, my language, controlled my body, my work and my words”. Saba Vasefi.