For over six months, we have been working to establish a place where women*, queer, trans, and nonbinary people can meet and organize in a safe environment. Away from the usual male dominated spheres, this project is organized with a radical, antiracist, antipatriarchal, and queer feminist framework to fight for the liberation of women*, with and without papers. Our project has been highly successful in bringing together many diverse women* living in Athens. We forged a community which is welcoming to migrant women*, who must not only endure the harsh realities that most migrants face, but also must navigate the specific societal oppressions that come with their gender and the intersection of their gender with their race, nationality and religion. Through self-organization, we regularly hold assemblies, events, discussions, film screenings, and moments for casual socializing. Twice we have been forced to relocate our project: one time due to manarchism and the second time by the police, directed by the logics of property and ownership. Despite this, we will continue to resist all efforts that prevent us from taking up the space in society that belongs to us.
Besides creating this space within the city, one of our main points of action has also been to participate in networks supporting women* without papers that are incarcerated in the Elliniko women*’s detention center of Athens and cannot enjoy access to any such spaces. During the last year these women have fought for their freedom and the improvement of the horrible living conditions through hunger strikes, resisting deportations, refusing to go back to their cells, taking out their mattresses and disrupting the normal function of the detention center. These struggles have been met by the vicious and revengeful reaction of the state and the police, which includes beatings, decriminalization of resistance and the complete indifference towards basic rights, such as communication with the outer world and medical care. At the same time, the solidarity movement that has emerged around those struggles has managed to break the silence and invisibility surrounding the only women’s detention center in Greece, through actions in the streets, continuous contact with the detained women, the dissemination of their own word, their material and legal support. From phone cards and clothes to trial expenses and housing after their release, the women*’s needs are ongoing and impossible for the people in solidarity to cover.
At the moment, some women* from our project, including migrant women and children, are in urgent need of support for legal housing and medical costs. While we continue our struggle to transform empty buildings into lively squats, the existing housing capacities cannot provide safety or fulfill the pressing housing needs of migrant women and their families arriving in Athens or former detainees that have been released from Elliniko detention center and have nowhere to stay. Seeing as they are in imminent danger of homelessness, we have decided to rent some spaces as a temporary solution until alternative accommodation is found. Apart from that, we intend to establish a network of solidarity lawyers that will take up the legal representation of detained women and create a fund to pay the legal expenses that they themselves are unable to pay. We also seek funds to cover the cost of a lawyer for those of us who were arrested during our last eviction. We need your solidarity, in the form of words, actions, and monetary support.
No one is free until everyone is free.
Women* spaces are just the beginning.
* we use the term ‘women’ conventionally for practical reasons. We don’t recognize an essentialism of gender. The space is open for women, trans, intersex and people who don’t conform to gender binary. We want to be aware as well that when we use the word women we describe a political category that consist of people with a very different social positions due to class, race, ethnicity, sexuality or physical ability.