Call for witnesses

contact: antisexist_awareness_group [at]
Sexual police violence during the protests against the G8 in Heiligendamm 2007
Report of the Anti-sexist Contact and Awareness Group

During the protests against the G8 in the area around Heiligendamm, sexism, sexual police violence and the threats of sexual police violence repeatedly occurred. We are looking for witnesses, on the one hand for an internal exchange and a strengthening amongst the affected persons, on the other hand so that a group of affected persons, in an anonymous form, is able to act. This is important, so that this theme will be out in the public politically, since sexual police violence is mostly not addressed, especially not in the public. It is also important for this to come to the expected commission of inquiry. For us it's also important to point out, that there was also sexism and sexual violence within the protest movement against the G8. Even though we are focusing on the police, it is important that the sexual violence within the movement isn't forgotten.

But first about the classification of sexism and sexual violence in general, before becoming more concrete. The division of people in two sexes and the hierarchization of sexes is the creation of a system of force, on which base our society is built. With that, inclusions and exclusions are made, specific attributions and duties are assigned, from division of work until for example speech style. In order to maintain this system of force, it has to be actively created anew over and over again. In this societal process, sexism and sexual violence is an instrument of power in order to create and maintain these relations of power and to create and maintain hierarchies and dependencies. So this is a common practice to create hierarchical gender ratios.

Now about sexism and sexual violence as practices of state-run institutions of force, like the police and the army:
Sexism and sexual violence and especially rape are used and sometimes recommended, among other things, in situations of war as an instrument of destruction, exercise of power and humiliation of the so-called enemy. But also in so-called times of peace, structural violence is created through sexism and sexual violence. In the ongoing discourse it's again and again suggested that sexual violence and rape are exceptions and exposed individual cases. Reality is however, that sexism and sexual violence are daily life conditions, therefore the rule. Sexism and sexual violence operate like a weapon and are a purposeful directed instrument for use of violence and repression. This has continuity, for example after the raid on the Diaz school in Geneva,several women were threatened with rape.

Sexual violence completely ignores the right of self-determination of the affected persons. It attacks the physical and psychic integrity and acts in a traumatizing way.
In addition to the terrible experiences of violence, powerlessness and humiliation for the victims of sexual violence there is also the burden with feelings of shame and guilt with which the affected persons often have to struggle. Moreover it is an incredible stigma to identify yourself as a survivor of sexual violence and to take the step into this process, to formulate the experience of violence, to politicize it, to name and accuse the perpetrator. Because of all these reasons, sexual violence mostly can't be named as such in public. Huge resources are needed, such as support through friends, counseling or supporter-groups, to place yourself in this position. But even if the survivor finds strength enough to speak about the experience, mostly there's a second victimization, thus more injuries in succession. In addition with the burden of repeatedly having to talk about traumatizing experiences, there are mostly disastrous reactions from the outside: Either the woman's story is not believed, detailed information is demanded, it's said she's also partly guilty for what happened, or she is being defamed as being ill, crazy or hysterical.

These are, amongst others, reasons why survivors don't dare to take legitimate steps. It maybe that their belief in the legal system is shattered, or they don't feel strong enough to be able and walk this path or try to escape the stigmatization from others. The bigger part of the incidences is not being reported, and we as a support group for survivors also advise against filing charges in most of the cases.

On the other hand, affected people act based on a strength, which comes from the knowledge beforehand, that repression might happen and that sexism and sexual violence is a part in that. They don't let it get to them and don't let it terrorize them. They are prepared inside and shield themselves against what might come. The strength and decisiveness of the movement was used by them to not let the experiences of violence get to close to them and to face all this full of self confidence.

The incidents with which people came and talked to us about, go for example from the denial of tampons, police controls where people were grabbed in the crotch and their breasts, sometimes accompanied with lewd noises, police controls or ID treatments during which people had to undress fully or partly before their picture was taken, to the point of threats of rape in jails (GeSa).

All this happened in a context, in which police arbitrarily demonstrated and enforced their entitlement of force and sovereignty through coercion and violence. Activists saw themselves confronted with partial masked and armored police forces in black. An arbitrary control and search or even worse, preventative arrest to “prevent danger”, speaks a very clear language: WE HAVE THE POWER – YOU DON'T.

Sexism and sexual violence, like shown in these examples, always stand in this context. They are used knowingly and purposefully, to intensify the already staged practice of humiliation and repression.

antisexist_awareness_group [at]