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Council of Crones

Statement from the Council of Wise Women

Women's Tribunal on Violence Against Women
Boston Social Forum July 25, 2004

Yesterday the Women's Tribunal heard testimonies from a group of women who spoke about the unspeakable crimes and violence done to girls and women. We want to honor their pain and celebrate their triumph as survivors. They are battered women suffering from years of abuse from their husbands. They are victims of incest and child abuse. They are welfare mothers left through the cracks of our systems. They are homeless and depressed women struggling against the bureaucracy that is supposed to help them. They are children who suffer from environmental degradation we have created. They are women forced to be sex workers, providing service to the lobbyists. They live in our cities, in our suburbs. They are brown, white, black, and yellow. They are our sisters, our mothers, our friends, our children, and our neighbors.

Every year there are approximately 69 million newborn girls. Assuming one out of five will encounter domestic violence some time in their lives. 14 million newborn girls worldwide will suffer from domestic violence. There are about 2.1 million newborn girls in the United States per year, and among them 425,000 will suffer from domestic violence during their best years. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the United States. Yet, it is our best-kept secret.

Violence against women cannot be eliminated without addressing the interlocking oppressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, and economic injustice. As we struggle against violence in the United States, we also remember our sisters suffering from war and atrocities in Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq, and other places in the world.

The Council of Wise Women indicts the federal government and the state for failing to put violence against women and girls as a top priority. The fight against terrorism must start with terror at home, at our workplace, and in our communities. We condemn the perpetrators who maim women's bodies, and break women's spirits. We call for a bipartisan effort to pass necessary legislations, devise appropriate policies, and provide adequate means to ensure the safety of women and girls so that they will live with dignity and hope. Our tax dollars must not go to war and to prepare for war, while our women are left to live in fear and despair. Instead this money should be used to prevent the perpetration of domestic violence and sexual violence in our houses, on the streets, and in our institutions.

We call upon colleagues in the Boston Social Forum, the Democratic National Committee and people of goodwill to stand in solidarity with women and girls who suffer from all forms of violence and to work for a future that women everywhere will live, and live abundantly.

Women's Web Council of Wise Women

Christina Brinkley is a demographer and sociologist and professor of Africana Women's Studies at Simmons College in Boston whose research combines narrative with statistical data.

Vinie Burrows is an award winning Broadway actress who has served as the Permanent Representative for the Women's International Democratic Federation with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and on the NGO Committee on Southern Africa for the U.N.'s Economic and Social Council, the Commission on the Status of Women.

Julia Perez Kennedy is a community organizer in the Cambridge Public Schools and a member of the Sojourner Feminist Institute and of the William Joyner Center for the Study of War and its Consequences.

Kwok Pui Lan is Professor of Christian Theology and Spirituality of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA, and the author of Introducing Asian Feminist Theology. She was an advisor to the Asian Task Force against Domestic Violence in Boston, volunteer for the Massachusetts Conference on Women Bringing Beijing Home, and is active in promoting civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.

Artist, filmmaker, and activist Grace Poore has worked for the US-based National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women in Sri Lanka. She is from Malaysia and has lived in the US for over 20 years.

Eva Quistorp helped start the new women's movement, the anti-nuclear power campaign, and the peace movement in Europe in the 1970s. She was a founding member of the German Greens and a member of their presidency from 1986-88, and served as a member of the European Parliament from 1989-1994. She is the co-author of the Beijing Platform of Action, the Agenda 21 in the field on environment and peace and of the Resolution 1325 of the UN.

Loretta J. Ross is the founder and Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights Education (NCHRE) in Atlanta, Georgia. She is an expert on human rights, women's issues, diversity issues, and hate groups and bias crimes, and was one of the first African-American women to direct a rape crisis center in the 1970s.

Program for the Tribunal.
Location of events indicated for each event.

Portraits of Iraqi Children, Tribunal Displays from Tufts Women's Center and the Clothesline Project
Space will be provided for poster displays by community organizations
Friday, July 23 Saturday, July 24 Sunday, July 25
1:30-2:30: World Tribunal on Iraq: A Spontaneous Demand for War Crime Accountability A few steering committee members of the NY session of the World Tribunal on Iraq, which took place in NYC, May 8, will share their experience in the Tribunal as well as their thoughts on achieving justice for the Iraqi victims of the US war and occupation. There will be also a report on future plans for the WTI. A short videotape of the NY session will be shown too.
Location: Small Science

2:30-4:30: Award-winning Broadway actress Vinnie Burrows will perform segments from her one-woman show "Sister! Sister!" Through demonstration and lecture, she will illuminate the process of transforming oral history and testimony into performance for the stage.
Body and Sold: Actors as Emissaries A window into the world of sex trafficking and teen prostitution in the U.S. and India, "Body and Sold" is an original play by Deborah Lake Fortson
Location: Small Science

Preparing Testimony: a writing and performance workshop While experience is the core of testimony, testifying to one's own or another's experience requires something more: a level of comfort with the material, attentiveness to the potential readings and misreadings of one's audience, a clear sense of purpose. In this workshop, Louise Dunlap and Jaclyn Friedman will guide participants through the process of transforming raw experiential material into a crafted gift to facilitate community reflection, healing, and positive action.
Location: CPCS Plaza: 4th Floor Wheatley Hall

8:00 - 9:30: Hanging of testimonial exhibits: women from across the state and around the world are bringing written and visual reports of their experiences of violence, and of community responses. These will be exhibited in the foyer to the CPCS Plaza.
Location: Foyer to the CPCS Plaza: 4th Floor Wheatley Hall

11:00-12:30: Violence on Trial, Testimony Session I (This is a closed session for tribunal speakers, council members, and the tribunal's counseling staff only.)

12:30-1:30: Shaking Hands with Your Local Terrorist: Stopping Violence in the Home and Abroad Through slide show and discussion, Minga Claggett-Borne will inform grassroots activists on the perniciousness of intimate partner abuse and how it contributes to the culture of war.
Location: CPCS Plaza: 4th Floor Wheatley Hall

1:30-4:30:Violence on Trial, Testimony Session II This public session of testimony will open with a performance of Refugee Ragas by Aparna Sindhoor and close with a musical performance by Susanna Porte of the Cello Chix. The testimony to be presented has been gathered from diverse women living in Massachusetts and offers a unique window into the conditions of our contemporary lives. Observers welcome.
Location: CPCS Plaza

4:30-6:00: Poetry Jam for Transformation hosted by the Center for New Words This poetry jam, organized by the Center for New Words, will close the Women's Tribunal. Testify with your poems! Create a new vision with your poems! Help build a safe and beloved community with your poems! Receive the power and healing in the poems of others. Open mike available
Location: CPCS Plaza

12:30-2:30: Findings and remedies of the Council of Crones will be presented as part of the Convocation program.
Location: Athletic Center

2:30-4:00: Connecting Human Security to the Realization of Human Rights Despite government's insistence that "security" lies in militarism, policing, and punishment, increasing numbers of people realize that there can be no real, human security without human rights. This workshop will discuss the crucial relevance of human rights to human security, emphasizing implementation at the state level.
Location: Wheatley 124

4:00-5:00: America's Checkbook: What It Looks Like and What It Has to Say About Our Nation. WAND national board members Barbara Hildt and Suleyken Walker will make the connection between fiscal and military policy on Capitol Hill and our lives on the state and local level. The emphasis will be on the importance of Women's participation in the political process as a means to change the way this nation spends its money.
Location: Wheatley 127

About the People and Groups Participating in these Events

World Tribunal on Iraq:
Kiyoko McCrae served as a member of the Jury of Conscience at the NY session of WTI. She is a co-founder of Peace Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and a member of the Steering Committee of the United for Peace and Justice.
Jennifer R. Ridha is an Iraqi-American attorney who specializes in civil and criminal trial. She served as one of the Advocates dealing with war crimes in the NY session of WTI. She recently visited her relatives in Iraq.
John H. Kim (A Korean American attorney who specializes in international human rights law. As a member of the Steering Committee of the WRI-NY session, he advised on the legal issues in the Tribunal.

Vinnie Burrows began her career as a child performer on radio. After a successful early career on Broadway, she became frustrated by the quality of the roles available to the serious actor of color. This led her begin writing and producing works of her own, and in the Black Theatre Network honored her with their Fletcher Award for lifetime excellence. For more than two decades, Vinnie has been NGO representative to the United Nations for the Women's International Democratic Federation.

Trina Jackson is the Project Coordinator of the Boston CARE Community Network, a project that promotes greater access to domestic violence and sexual assault prevention services for the African-American community. In her position at Boston CARE, Trina hosts "It's Our Business," a local cable-access television program dedicated to recognizing the work of women of color -primarily women of African descent - to end violence in their communities.

Carol Gomez has been involved in the violence against women movement and advocacy for immigrant and trafficked persons for the past eleven years. She co-founded the Trafficking Victims Outreach and Services network in MA and sits on the Governor's Commission on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault's Immigrant and Refugee Subcommittee, the South Asian Health Advisory Board, and the Asian Pacific Islander Women's Social Justice Project. She is a member of the Boston chapter of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence.

Monica Ghosh Driggers leads the Testimony as a Tool workshop. She served as the Policy Director for the Womenıs Rights Network (WRN) at the Wellesley Centers for Women. She co-authored WRNıs report, Battered Mothers Speak Out: A Human Rights Report on Child Custody and Domestic Violence in the MassachusettsState Court. Monica will be joined by
Gail Burton, founder of the Freedwoman Project, a collaborative of professionals who address civil andhuman r ights issues among incarcerated and poor women.

Louise Dunlap is a practicing Buddhist, peacemaker, and advocate who teaches "writing for social change" and yoga.

Jaclyn Friedman is an award-winning poet and performance artist whose work challenges political, personal and sexual boundaries with nerve and honesty. Her poems, columns, and interviews can be found at and, in the Underwood Review, Philogyny, and Sojourner, and in the anthologies Pinned Down By Pronounes and Shameless, as well as other publications. Friedman is the Program Director of the Center for New Words, a non-profit organization that serves as a catalyst for diverse women's and girls writing, voices, and ideas.

Aparna Sindhoor, a choreographer and dancer has garnered international acclaim for bringing traditional Indian dance forms together with contemporary themes. She has performed widely in India, Germany and in North America. Sindhoor is the Artistic Director of Navarasa Dance Theater.

Raju Sivasankaran is the writer/director/producer of critically acclaimed dance theater works such as River Rites and Agua-Thanneer-Water and he is one of the founding members of the Navarasa Dance Theater and has directed and produced his first film, State of the Art. Three of his plays have won the James Baldwin Playwright Award.

Minga Claggett-Borne is a non-violence trainer and licensed family therapist.

Amy Agigian, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Sociology at Suffolk University (Boston), where she is Founding Director of the Center for Women's Health and Human Rights. Her new book Baby Steps: How Lesbian Alternative Insemination is Changing the World, is published by Wesleyan University Press.

Lawrence Curry has been a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives since 1993. He has worked successfully to bring his state's legislation into compliance with international human rights standards.

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