Merle Africa on the Million Women March

MOVE women have been in prison 20 years now and I’ve watched the prison population grow at a staggering rate. It’s frightening. Frightening because so many young girls – 16, 17, 18 – are doing long prison sentences, including LIFE.
They are in prison for selling drugs, but a lot of them are in prison for defending themselves, their children from abusive mates. That’s not right. According to this system a woman doesn’t have the right to defend herself, her children, from attack. People say you should leave the man when he’s abusive. Some women don’t because they’re scared, some women do and the man tracks them down and continues the abuse. The cops and courts ain’t no help…
What is a restraining order when he’s bent on murder? … He will just kill the woman right in front of her children. What is a woman supposed to do when attacked, lay down and let her man beat her to death, hand him the bat, the knife, the gun? If the judge who gives a woman 5-10, 10-20 years, a life sentence, was in the same position, trust and believe he’d use his gun, fist, feet, teeth, his frying pan if need be to protect himself and his family. So what makes the threat any different for a woman and her children?
There are a lot of changes to be made in order to better the lives of women and I feel the Million Women’s March was a big step. The thing to remember is that the fight didn’t stop when people went home. We got to keep networking to regain control of our lives and the lives of our children. We got to fight this government to get back control of our communities, to put an end to the brutal genocidal murder of our boys and men at the hands of these cops and each other. We must always stand together, fearless and unified against any intruder that tries to take away our family, our lives, our freedom.
October, 1997
Merle Africa was arrested in August 1978 with 8 other members of the MOVE family after a police assault on their home in Philadelphia.