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About Rahila Gupta

Rahila Gupta is a freelance journalist and writer. Her work has appeared in The Guardian and New Humanist among other papers and magazines. Her books include, Enslaved: The New British Slavery; From Homebreakers to Jailbreakers: Southall Black Sisters; Provoked;  and 'Don't Wake Me: The Ballad of Nihal Armstrong (Playdead Press, 2013).  She is co-authoring a book with Beatrix Campbell with the title Why Doesn’t Patriarchy Die?  Follow her on twitter @ RahilaG

Articles by Rahila Gupta

This week's editor

Rosemary Belcher-2.jpg

Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Imagine a feminist village of the future

On the last day of the AWID International Forum in Brazil, more than two thousand women came together to help imagine a feminist future, and to look at the hard realities of getting there.

Feminist inclusivity and moving onto the agenda

While feminist activists fight for inclusion in social agendas, how far have women’s movements themselves met the challenge of inclusivity? From AWID International Forum in Bahia, Brazil.

Taxing lives, trading women

Tax havens and international trade deals are feminist issues. At this year’s AWID conference in Brazil, activists from across the globe are discussing strategies for engaging with these systems.

'Feminist Futures': activists from across the globe gather in Brazil

The AWID International Forum in Bahia has started. We meet some of the 2,000 women brought together under the 'Feminist Futures' banner, including a lesson from Tanzania in how to employ a holistic approach.

Reclaiming Black women’s history: the Montgomery bus boycott 60 years on

With police violence against Black communities giving rise to the #Blacklivesmatter campaign, anniversaries of civil rights victories are an opportunity to bring to light the invisible actors behind historic moments. 

Rojava revolution: how deep is the change?

Is optimism in the future of revolutionary change misplaced in a region torn apart by war and a society where patriarchy has been so entrenched?  Part 6 of Witnessing the Rojava revolution.

Rojava revolution: on the hoof

Rojava is a fast moving, dynamic place where things change by the minute. What are the material conditions which support this woman-centred revolution ? Part 5 of 50.50's series  Witnessing the revolution in Rojava, northern Syria.

Rojava revolution: reshaping masculinity

Rojava's battle with ISIS stronghold  Raqqa is not simply a military one, but an ideological one in which the position of women could not be more polarised. Part 4.

Rojava revolution: It’s raining women

In less than four years, the women’s umbrella organisation, Kongira Star, has set up an autonomous, grassroots, democratic structure which has resulted in shifting patriarchal mindsets and reversing gender discriminatory laws. Part 3.

Rojava’s commitment to Jineolojî: the science of women

Travelling in Rojava is to witness the ways in which the different commitments to the revolution present a conundrum. How can one system satisfy the vast differences in human aspirations? Part 2. Part 1.

A revolution for our times: Rojava, Northern Syria

Travelling in Rojava is to witness a revolution experimenting with a form of stateless, direct democracy with women’s liberation, race and class equality at the heart of it. Part 1.

Defining modern slavery out of existence: who benefits?

Academics who suggest that the very idea of ‘modern slavery’ is inane and clichéd undermine anti-slavery activism and deny an appalling reality for thousands who are trafficked, sold and enslaved.

Mona Eltahawy and sexual revolution in the Middle East

'Traumatised into feminism,' Mona Eltahawy speaks of her decision to unveil and understanding that 'Muslim women’s bodies are the medium upon which culture is engraved, be it through headscarves or cutting.'

16 Days: cutting Black and minority ethnic women's organisations

The EU Victims Directive comes into force this month. Will it prevent the further decimation of Black and minority ethnic organisations offering specialised services to women facing violence in the UK? 

16 Days: asset stripping the women’s sector in the UK

The quality of service in the independent women's sector is no guarantee against the future as the British government continues its assault on specialist women’s services protecting women from violence. 

Preventing violent extremism: a noose that is both too tight and too loose

The British government's programme to counter violent extremism hands religious fundamentalists the gift of a narrative of victimhood, narrowing the political space for secular feminists and others to challenge fundamentalism.

Freedom to speak? No-go areas and unsafe spaces

At the heart of the debate on free speech and censorship are contested understandings of where power resides. Where should the line be drawn?

Jeremy Corbyn: Labour’s gift to British women?

Jeremy Corbyn's Working with Women policy document has been well received by feminists, but the silence on the intersectionality of religious fundamentalism and women’s oppression, and on prostitution, raises questions.

Pragna Patel: a politics of hope and not hate

"At the heart of my work is the idea that human beings are to be intrinsically valued, that we can all co-exist through mutual respect and rights."  - Pragna Patel

Migrant women in the UK: settling for rather than settling in

Women with a high level of educational qualifications who migrate to the UK to join their British husbands are finding the path to employment strewn with obstacles.

UK border agents in the house of God

Immigration officers are now being placed in religious institutions.  It may not be too farfetched to ask: how long before we’re forced to wear our immigration status on our sleeves?

The personal is political: the journey of a feminist slogan

All successful slogans are subject to misappropriation: it is a sign of their success. The personal is political – but mind the gap.

Amnesty International: some alliances are more impartial than others

The recent furore surrounding Cage’s defence of ‘Jihadi John’ has reopened the debate on appropriate alliances between Cage and human rights organisations.

Roast or toast? Mapping changes in violent men

Recognising that we have reached a stalemate in dealing with violent men, and an impasse in policy and research on perpetrator programmes, there is fresh interest in whether men can be engaged in a process of change.

Women defenders of human rights: the good, the great and the gutsy

Harriet Wistrich is a beacon in the darkness that threatens to engulf the British legal system today with massive cuts in legal aid, and the prevailing culture of disbelief of asylum seekers and women escaping violence.

What will it take to end violence against women in the UK?

A decade on from the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004, progressive policy, laws and attitudes are being undermined by draconian cuts to legal aid which are drastically reducing access to legislation put in place to protect women against violence.

Is denying a visa to Julien Blanc the wrong strategy?

More than 275,000 people have signed online petitions to stop Julien Blanc from entering the UK. Banning undesirables from entering Britain by invoking immigration laws has a long history, but is this the best way to tackle Blanc's racism and sexism?

'Victim' vs 'Survivor': feminism and language

Rahila Gupta argues that the term ‘victim’ needs to be reclaimed by feminist politics; whilst 'survivor' is important because it recognises the agency of women, it focuses on individual capacity, but the notion of 'victim' reminds us of the stranglehold of the system.

Apostasy and asylum: escaping the clutches of religion

In countries where there are no apostasy laws, blasphemy laws are frequently used to persecute and punish apostates. Rahila Gupta reports on how the dangers of apostasy in Muslim majority countries is making British courts more open to granting asylum.

Sri Lanka: women in conflict

What happened to the aspirations of Tamil women in the national liberation struggle which lasted nearly 30 years? Rahila Gupta covered the conflict in the mid-80s, and reflects on the situation today when the war appears to be decisively over, but the post-war reality remains as harrowing as ever, particularly for women.

The Modern Slavery Bill: does the British government really care?

If we are really serious about abolishing slavery in the west today, Rahila Gupta argues that we have to abolish immigration controls so that people can take action against their abusers without fearing deportation.

Women demand freedom, not surveillance

In the wake of the brutal gang rape of a student in Delhi in December 2012, Kavita Krishnan shot to international fame when her speech demanding protection of a ‘woman’s freedom, not her body’ went viral. She spoke to Rahila Gupta about her campaigning work for women's rights.

Red tape or a red rag?: the Equality Act in the UK

With austerity measures in full swing, the government's decision to review the duty on state and government bodies to proactively tackle women's inequality in the UK has raised alarm bells amongst leading women's rights organisations

Power structures and the politics of knowledge production

With the publication of the updated Beyond the Fragments, Hilary Wainwright spoke to Rahila Gupta about the politics of knowledge and using her experience of the women’s movement to address the question of how to realise the capacities of each for the benefit of all as the basis for alternative, horizontal models of political organisation.

Transgender: the challenge to feminist politics

There are so many battles yet to be won by feminists that we must not be distracted by internal schisms. If we can identify a shared political goal with trans women, says Rahila Gupta, we should be able to end this polarisation.

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