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Photo by Tomm Morton via @XrebellionUK Twitter

Extinction Rebellion staged a topless protest in London this weekend

In protest of what they called ‘climate rape’

This Sunday, March 8 – to mark International Women’s Day – 31 Extinction Rebellion protesters made a barricade across Waterloo Bridge, topless and with messages written across their chests reading “climate rape”, “climate murder”, and “climate abuse”.

“Extinction Rebellion are taking to the streets in support and solidarity with women’s movements around the world,” read a statement from XR about the event. “As the climate and ecological crisis worsens, it will be women who disproportionately suffer the effects.” 

The activist group explained that the decision to be topless represented the vulnerability of women suffering under the climate emergency. They pointed to a study from January 2020 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which found that climate breakdown and environmental degradation are leading to an increase in violence against women.

“The report found that deforestation and the degradation of land mean women have to travel further to collect the things they need, like firewood, and are exposed to violence, rape and abduction when they make these journeys,” XR explains on their website. “UN figures indicate that 80 per cent of people displaced by climate change are women.”

The protest was held on Waterloo Bridge, otherwise known as “The Ladies’ Bridge” because it was built mostly by women during the Second World War. The human chain blocked off access on the bridge, as the protesters spread the message that climate change is a gendered issue. 

Elsewhere this Sunday, protesters took to the street to make a stand for women’s rights. Police used teargas to break up protests in Turkey, while activists in Santiago, Chile, campaigning for abortion rights, clashed with the police. Women in Mexico, meanwhile, protested against femicide, which has reportedly more than doubled in number in the country over the last five years. 

The protests also follow a report released last week which found that 90 per cent of people around the world hold a negative bias towards women.