Research Showcase: Abolition Feminism

Abolition Feminism for Ending Sexual Violence is a collective created by Nikki Godden-Rasul, Alison Phipps and Tina Sikka at Newcastle University in February 2022. This is a statement of its key principles:

This new collective brings together scholars with activists, practitioners and artists across the UK and overseas who are interested in abolition feminism and ending sexual violence. Our key aims are to leverage institutional funding and resources to support established abolitionist work, and to develop scholarship, pedagogy and activism around abolition feminism and sexual violence. We will do this through activities that will include hosting events, fostering interdisciplinary collaborations both within and outside academia, and sharing our skills and resources to support grassroots groups. In time, we hope to be able to make a positive contribution to the growth of abolition feminism in the UK.

We take our definition of abolition feminism from Angela Davis, Gina Dent, Erica Meiners and Beth Richie, as a feminism that is ‘actually focused on ending gender violence, in all its forms.’ [1] This means that ending sexual violence requires an end to state violence, especially the violence of policing and criminal punishment, and the violence of borders. Our concept of violence is expansive, spanning interpersonal, community and state violence, as well as the violence of war and occupation and violence against the planet. We are concerned with all kinds of harm, and do not believe in ending one harm by perpetrating another. 

We recognise and respect that abolition feminism has a long history and lineage, especially in Black feminist thought and activism, and that it must also be anticapitalist, antiracist, decolonial, queer, trans-inclusive and supportive of sex workers’ rights. Abolition feminism is co-produced by the local and the global, is in constant process and may have many different articulations in different places and at different times. 

We believe firmly in a feminism that is intersectional and takes into account how subjectivities are relational and multiple. Intersectionality also means understanding how the intersecting structures of heteropatriarchy, racial capitalism and colonialism make certain people more vulnerable to violence than others. We aspire to support efforts to connect gender-based violence with other issues in an intersectionality of struggles. [1]

Our collective is focused on learning, on imagining a world without sexual violence, and on supporting positive steps towards this ultimate goal. We are committed to thought and action which does not advance the interests of some groups at the expense of others. We do not see increased policing, prosecution, and imprisonment as a solution to sexual violence. We acknowledge a desperate need for accountability, but do not equate state punishment with justice. We do not believe oppressive systems can be reformed, and we do believe that liberation and healing must be built from the ground up through transformational acts of care and solidarity. 

As a new collective, we admire and draw upon the important work of established UK-based groups such as Abolitionist Futures, Sisters Uncut and Read and Resist, as well as international groups such as Alternative Justice in India, the Feminist Autonomous Centre for Research in Greece, and INCITE!, Critical Resistance and Survived and Punished in the US. As our collective grows in knowledge and experience, we hope to work with some or perhaps all these groups to achieve shared goals. 

Nikki Godden-Rasul, Alison Phipps and Tina Sikka, Newcastle University, 1 Feb 2022

[1] Angela Y. Davis, Gina Dent, Erica M. Meiners, and Beth Richie. 2022. Abolition. Feminism. Now. London: Penguin Books. 
If you are interested in joining the collective, please click here and enter your information (and if the link does not work for you, contact Alison Phipps at

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