As many of you will know this has been a busy week for DPAC starting on Tuesday with a hastily organised protest in response to the underhand changes to entitlement Penny Morduant and the Tories plan to make to PIP, with support for International Woman’s Day and the Waspi protests on Wednesday, the Womens’ TUC Conference and culminating on Sunday with the DPAC team flying off to Geneva to present both the RoFA shadow report and out own response to the government’s reply to the UN inquiry which found the UK government guilty of the grave and systematic violation of disabled people’s human rights.
Added to that there’s been a couple of feature articles written and published, finding people for a legal challenge and the usual other things going on.
Credit: The Canary
As always however while we fight daily to try to uphold and advance our rights we nevertheless end up with some people whining especially on our facebook group about it being a waste of time to protest as it doesn’t make any immediate difference. While that may be correct we wanted to post this response from our very own Vicky Lopez which addresses the reason why continuing to protest is so important and why we need to keep making sure we are seen and heard – even if change and progress are not as immediate as we might all want.
“For me, as long as there are others who are willing and as long as I can then I will continue to protest for what I truly believe in.
The thing is the more people demonstrate, the less the government can ignore our plea when more and more public support us.
One demonstration seldom changes anything. It takes relentless shouting from the rooftops, obstructing traffic and opening peoples eyes in making an abrupt point in their lives that makes them understand what we are going through, why we are protesting and that it is them we fight for too. It can take years as already proven with countless equality changes but at the end of the day changes were made.
For previous causes, lives have been lost at the hands of military and police when they have attempted to prevent demonstrations and riots in chartist’s and suffrage movements and even some being murdered through our old death penalty in particular one man I believe was hanged for treason because he felt strongly in the rights of normal working men to have the right to vote the same as the upper class and authorities wanted to use him as an example to deter further protest. It took tonnes of petitions signed in their millions for all the above mentioned too.
It is proven demonstration has worked for some of the biggest changes in our laws to give equal rights and therefore it is about persistence. If we are willing to keep fighting, the more likely demonstrations give hope to the voiceless that there are people out there willing to fight for their (and our own) lives.
To put it in a picture in mind… imagine its a windy night, you are outside in the dark, no idea where you are and the only useful things you have is a candle and matches/lighter. Everytime you keep struggling with matches or a lighter and even get a flame, it goes out too quickly as the wind keeps blowing before the candle can be lit, the wind blows the flame out. But like parliament, the wind changes and then you find it just took for the wind speed to change and you keeping on persevering like people do with demonstrations, that even the slightest change can give you the opportunity to ignite the candle. Once the candle has a flame, you can use the flame from this to light another candle and this keeps continuing until there is enough lights to find yourself home.
If you give up trying to light the candle then you may have lost your chance of finding your way home… you automatically accept you will be in the dark forever.
But then imagine there are other people trying to light their own candles in the same darkness, then you may suddenly notice the light of hope from another candle being lit by someone else. If no one else was trying, there would be no chance of light at all.
If people stop protesting because they don’t believe change will occur, then effectively you are in acceptance of the hell that many of us are facing or about to face. To stop fighting you have let them win automatically. I would rather lose going down fighting and at least say I tried my hardest, then ever accept this and allow myself to be slaughtered without defending myself.
Unity is the key to progress.
Throwing in a bit more history for those doubting how protest can and has changed government majority mindset to change laws and show how a small group grow into a much larger capacity to make that change.
The suffragettes movement started in 1887 started by Millicent Fawcett (NUWS). It was a small group of women all with one common thing they wanted to fight for the womens right to vote.
Then the Pankhursts created WSPU not long after that as they felt Fawcett was not driving enough attention as she believed in non-violence whereas Pankhurst’s felt that heavier action was needed to create a stir for the government to take notice. The never ending protests whether peaceful or not started gaining more and more support, making the government restless about it but it took people to be jailed, go on protest by fasting, one throwing herself in front of a horse and dying publicly and many resorting to chaining themselves to fences of important buildings and many arrested and given convictions to do hard labour or prison time when prisons were not as nice as they are today and even assaulted/abused by authorities for trying to defy the law.
As we know the law did change, but it took until 1918 to start allowing some women who met certain criteria to vote and the rest is history…
My point is this… it took 31 years to fight for a basic human right for a woman to have her say in who she wanted to represent her in government. Think about it… 31 years. A few years more than my current age.
Also there was more recent the Gurkhas Justice Campaign to allow ALL servicemen from the Gurkhas to have automatic right to British citizenship. They protested nonstop for several years and the law was changed in their favour i believe around 2010 (please correct me if wrong).
Mens’ Chartism movement to give all men the vote regardless of income/status started around late 1830s. There was never ending protests countless petitions some with well over 1 million signatures to have the laws changed to give the right for all men to vote with i think 4 particular points inclusive of what was protested and requested from government (i.e. any man over 20, disregard class/income, given a right to secret ballot etc). In 1867 more men were finally given the right to vote (still with very strict criteria) and the following year the Tories were voted out when there was the general election. However, all the points requested were not fulfilled until 1918. From start to complete conclusion requested it took 80 years total.
Yes i know some on both sides of this debate may feel disheartened at the prospect of gaining full rights through 80 years but we already have in our advantage, guidelines within the equality act, the recent UN report as well, as a starter of ammunition to use in our favour and slowly slowly more are taking notice the more we speak up about it.
We now have online petitions, internet and social media on our side that many previous campaigns didn’t have.
These are only a few examples of protest impact where laws have been totally overturned as a result of relentless protest. No, change doesn’t happen overnight.
I brought up the above 3 examples above, as i felt they were relevant to fighting for equality. It shows it takes time and can take many years and much of that is to do with continually raising awareness and keeping the issue fresh in the public’s mind as well and to make it relevant to those who are still ignorant of this fight and also to change the views of even a few MPs who are willing to listen and speak on our behalf then it starts the ball rolling.