Women's rights
She spoke about her own experience of sexual assault, seeing women around her suffer and be silenced, and even called out US President Trump for his silence.
iamhalsey/Instagram

A year after millions of people in the US took to the streets for the Women's March to protest President Trump's inauguration, demonstrators gathered in cities across the US on January 21, galvanised by their disdain for Trump and his administration's policies.

On Saturday, the Women’s March sought to turn the protests into political action, encouraging women to run for public office and to exercise their right to vote. People took to the streets across the country - including New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco and more.

Last year, the Women’s March focused on Washington DC because of its proximity to the Capitol - and was attended by over five lakh people.

Singer-songwriter Halsey, who sang the hit song ‘Closer’ with The Chainsmokers, was also present at the march in New York. The 23-year-old took the stage for a speech, but it wasn’t like another you’d have heard. In a freestyle verse poem ‘A Story Like Mine’, the singer delivered a rousing address about the need to speak up, and the need for women to be heard.

She begins by saying that this is her second march – she had also attended the one in DC last year. “I came back to do a speech this time, but I don’t really know how to do a speech unless it rhymes.”

She then starts her poem, which begins in 2009. Halsey spoke about her own experience of sexual assault, seeing women around her suffer and be silenced, about feeling coerced into sex, and even called out US President Trump on his silence on the issue at a time when hundreds of victims of sexual violence are coming out with stories.

Watch her full speech here.

(Trigger warning: Detailed description of sexual abuse)

Halsey’s emotional and passionate poem is something which will resonate with women across the world. The video, which she posted on Facebook, has over 87,000 shares.

Her most powerful lines are ones which call for the need for women and allies to rally:

So love your neighbour, please treat her kindly

Ask her story and then shut up and listen

Black, Asian, poor, wealthy, trans, cis, Muslim, Christian

Listen, listen and then yell at the top of your lungs

Be a voice for all those who have prisoner tongues

For the people who had to grow up way too young

There is work to be done

There are songs to be sung

Lord knows there's a war to be won

After the video of Halsey’s speech went viral, the young singer posted an emotional message on Instagram talking about how scared she was at the prospect of a speech, and how emotional it was for her to “speak her truth”.

“2 days ago I recited a poem I wrote called “A Story Like Mine” at the Women’s March in NYC. I was asked to give a speech and I panicked for days. I wasn’t sure where to start. The night before the march I penned this poem at 2 in the morning and the words spilled out of me like white water rushing down a river bend. I didn’t realize how emotional it would be for me to speak my truth but it was. And I’m so happy I did it. The support I’ve received since is overwhelming and it’s humbling and as a POET (which I always have been, songs or not) it was unbelievable to see people actually get the message. And terrifying and comforting and confusing to see how many had stories to share that reinforced the sentiment and the title. We have a long way to go. But I’m thankful we are united over this. […]Thank you (sic),” she wrote.

This year's march comes amidst the #MeToo movement, which has been about highlighting sexual harassment at the hands of powerful individuals.

(with IANS inputs)