Friday, September 2, 2016

Ni Una Menos Fights Violence against Women Throughout Latin America.

By Sabrina Hernández

Ni Una Menos, a civic movement calling attention to the high incidence of sexual violence and femicide, has gained traction in Peru, a country that ranks second in Latin America for the number of incidents of sexual violence with 10 femicides a month  Ni Una Menos organized a massive march on Aug, 13 to bring attention to the issue. (See Aug. 26 edition of NotiSur)

 An estimated 50,000 people showed up and footage of the demonstration in Lima can be seen here:

In Peru, several controversial rulings by judges in domestic violence cases served as the impetus for this call to action and effort to bring the matter of violence against women to the center of the national debate.

Impunity and violence against women is an issue that I tracked very closely during my years in California. I was still back home in the San Francisco Bay area, when a judge handed down an an appallingly paltry sentence to a Stanford University swimmer convicted of rape this past summer.

No matter what country, this is an issue that merits attention, and Ni Una Menos has managed to raise consciousness about the problem not only in Peru, but also throughout Latin America.  Here are synopses of how the organization and local activists have worked to address gender violence in various countries in the region.

Argentina  On June 3, 2015, a Ni Una Menos protest was held in the streets of Córdoba to demand an end to femicides and other types of violence against women. Thousandsof people took to the streets to demand an end to gender-related killings and relative impunity for the perpetrators of gender-related violence. This was only one of several protets in Argentina that year. According to The Huffington Postmore than 300,000 in Buenos Aires alone marched for Ni Una Menos, joining protestors in other cities. By some estimates, Argentina averages one femicide per 30 hours,  up from an estimated one death per 40 hours in 2008. But these are just estimates. One of the demands of protestors is that the government collect and release accurate statistics on femicide. Another focus of the protest is aimed at prevention; protestors interviewed made mention of the importance of educating men how to treat women.

Mexico  In July of 2015, Mexico held its own march against femicide and the violent killing of women and girls. The country, beleaguered by gender related violence, sees six women killed each day, which places it among the world’s worst countries for violence against women. The culmination of these coordinated protests has led the government to issue “gender alerts.” This alert, the government’s recognition of a serious and systemic problem, will signify that “urgent action” is necessary to prevent the killing of women and to work towards the resolution of the countless open and languishing investigations. As of July, 2016, the federal government has activated a gender alert in 33 municipalities in the states of Mexico, Morelos, and Michoacan. While women see the gender alerts as a step forward, they believe much more needs to be done in Mexico. On a Sunday in late April, of this year tens of thousands of women in 27 states marched through the streets of major Mexican cities to demand an end to domestic violence, harassment of women, and femicides. Organizers dubbed the campaign Primavera Violeta (Violet Spring), an effort to bring attention to the many ways in which women are accosted in Mexico. Read more in SourceMex, May 11, 2016

Bolivia  Activists have led protests to redress a staggeringly high incidence of gender related violence perpetuated by a patriarchal culture that views women as property of men. Bolivian government has taken a considerable action compared to other countries plagued with gender violence.  In 2013, Bolivia passed Law 348 which was designed to guarantee women a life free of violence and prevent partner violence and punish abusers. Recently formed within the Bolivian police is the Fuerza Especial de Lucha Contra La Violencia (FELCV) whose job is to prevent, investigate and combat violence against women and girls. While Bolivia is leading the way with good laws and legal framework, cultural mentalities lag behind and many women find that lack of services and societal pressure to remain quiet makes the process of reporting incidents to be stressful and life-threatening, according to the daily newspaper El Comercio.

Colombia  A new law on femicide was implemented on July 6, 2015. In Colombia, an average of one woman is killed every two days and protesters who gathered on Sept. 16, 2015r attribute that high number, in part, to Colombia’s macho culture and a lack of awareness among women about their rights. Experts now argue that the prosecutor’s office needs to change the way cases of femicide are identified and investigated in order for this new law to begin to chip away at the problem, according to Colombia Informa.

Brazil  With the Rio Olympics in full swing, protestors gathered to condemn the rampant sexual violence that plagues the country. In few other countries can the systemic and institutionalized nature of the problem be as outwardly visible. A high profile rape case involving the Party of Social Christians leader, Marcus Feliciano, serves to illustrate the true depth and extent of the problem in Brazil,  Ani Hao wrote in the online news site Broadly. This protest, in large part motivated by the sexual assault of four women in the Olympic Village, marks a year of intense activism against gender related violence and femicide. Brazil has been tail spinning into political, economic, and social crisis and June 1, 2016, marked the largest feminist mobilization in Brazil’s history in light of a gruesome sexual assault of an adolescent girl by at least 30 men, most of whom, have not been punished. In March 2015, Brazil finally codified a law against femicide, thanks in part to intense feminist activism.

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