WE BELIEVE SURVIVORS.

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This statement first appeared on the Equality Labs Medium blog.

In these these furious and difficult times we assert unequivocally that WE BELIEVE SURVIVORS.

Last week, the femmes of Equality Labs and Justice for Muslims joined survivors from all around the country outside the Senate in Washington D.C. to lend our support to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford who gave one of the most devastating testimonies in a grueling hearing that lasted for hours and played out under the watch of a million Americans.

We showed up because we believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and we believed Dr. Anita Hill first. Because we are exhausted by a culture which places the burden of proof on the survivors of violence while upholding and protecting the forces that led to their assault. We are here because the impunity around rape culture is so pervasive that a survivor is met with doubt and suspicion while the man that held her down and sexually assaulted her, is painted a victim.

We showed up because as Dalit Bahujan and Muslim femmes, we are deeply committed to holding space for ourselves and all survivors of color. We will not be erased and left out of this conversation for we understand how the contours of rape culture and white supremacy can lead to trauma that lasts generations. We also know that men like Brett Kavanaugh will only keep recreating this toxic cycle.

We understand what it means to have our lives and trauma undervalued to maintain the status quo. We speak for other survivors from our communities because we have survived this trauma and are now better equipped to eradicate it. We have held signs on the Hill and have joined thousands of other survivors marching and birddogging senators last week and this week to remind people, and indeed the world that is watching the United States, that fights for justice against gender-based violence, need to look beyond the grand American narrative.

At this trying time, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves that in service of the larger battle for the idea of ‘America’, Black, brown, immigrant, Muslim, Dalit, and indigenous survivors, whose bodies are the frontline for rape culture all around the world, are sidelined. The focus remains on white cis bodies, while gender non-conforming, and trans folks are brutally forced to wait to be recognized as survivors. Dr. Blasey Ford’s identity as an elite, white cis-woman made a case for her credibility in the eyes of a large portion of the American public and the media but that same allowance was not made for Anita Hill, who was attacked across the nation for her accusation of Judge Clarence Thomas.

As Dalit and Muslim women, we see our destinies tied with all the people who are fighting against impunity for their daily survival. We stand with indigenous survivors of violence and displacement, with survivors of police brutality across American cities who received no trial and are murdered at the hands of an impune state, we stand with those detained at our borders, and we stand with those who have been left behind without justice in Guantanamo.

Our communities have been historically oppressed by Savarna Hindus and we link our understanding of impunity with the urgent fight against Hindu Fascism today. To be truly intersectional in our fight against sexual violence, we need to start with understanding shared experiences of structural violence and center the survivors of this violence. For us this means, that even as a battle rages in Washington D.C, we should extend our fight into our own communities which have suffered because of the entrenched patriarchy, anti-blackness, Islamophobia and Caste Apartheid, in the diaspora and back in our homelands. We also need to call out when as settler-colonial immigrants, South Asian Americans are also wedge communities who can also push anti-blackness and anti-immigrant sentiments because of how our casteist mindset fits neatly in a racist mindset.

And this is why we showed up for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. The level of impunity on display at this hearing should force us to reexamine and question the power structures that we, as women, queer and trans people of color, are up against.

This hearing has been a reminder that no matter how far we have come in our fight and the might of the resilience we have shown, there is still a long way to go.

The time has come to stand together. Our stories are enough to be the foundation that can shake this aging system to its core. We urge all of our family to stand with each other and to stand with all communities that are marginalized and silenced by this violence. For it is only together that we can build a world where there women, gender minorities, Black people and other communities of color can not just survive, but thrive.

Though times are dark, we have each other and we will win!

Equality Labs