Lest we Forget

Lest we Forget

Lest we Forget

(This is an article referring to North America and Canada, but the message is relevant to women all over the world)

Remember that this is the first time in over 6000 years that women have had the right to own property; the right to choose to be single; the right to have or not have children, and the right to participate in life as an equal.  While there are still inequalities, judgments and misogyny, in only 81 years we have overturned centuries of repression.

This is the story of women who were ground-breakers. These brave women from the early 1900s made all the difference in the lives we live today.

The women were innocent and defenceless, but when, in North America, women picketed in front of the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote, they were jailed.

And by the end of the first night in jail, those women were barely alive.

Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden’s blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of ‘obstructing sidewalk traffic.

They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack.

Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the ‘Night of Terror’ on Nov. 15,  1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson’s White House for the right to vote.

For weeks, the women’s only water came from an open pail. Their food–all of it colourless slop–was infested with worms.

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited.  She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

All women who have ever voted, have ever owned property, have ever enjoyed equal rights need to remember that women’s rights had to be fought for in Canada as well.

Do our daughters and our sisters know the price that was paid to earn rights for women in North America?

2010 is the 81st Anniversary of the Persons Case in Canada, which finally declared women in Canada to be Persons!

Please remember to celebrate the rights we enjoy.

 

“Knowledge is Freedom: hide it, and it withers; share it, and it blooms” (P. Hill)

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