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November 25: International Day Against Gender Violence

Monday, 25 November 2019


Political and social violence in Latin America is increasing attacks on human rights defenders.

In Alliance for Solidarity we join the mobilizations that will be held on this day in Spain and other countries against sexist violence.

The current situation of violence in many Latin American countries (Colombia, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Haiti...) is directly impacting women, especially human rights defenders who have seen violence increase gender-specific violence against its people, denounced Alliance for Solidarity, on the occasion of the commemoration of the International Day Against Gender Violence.

This November 25th we remember three sisters (Patria, Minerva and Teresa Miraval) who fought almost 60 years ago for human rights and women's rights and for a democratic Dominican Republic, for which they were murdered. Decades later, women defenders continue to lose their lives in defence of human rights while an increase in misogynistic, racist and sexist political discourse is detected in states that are also involved in direct attacks on women defenders and their families.

Only in Colombia, according to a recent report, the killing of leaders increased by 64.3% in the year 2018 compared to the previous year and only in the first quarter of 2019 13 social leaders were killed. Among these fatalities are María Pilar Hurtado, a community leader who fought in defense of land ownership, indigenous governor Cristina Bautista, lawyer Yamile Guerra and others whose crimes are considered 'account adjustments' or are considered 'account adjustments' or are disguised by causes beyond their activity.

From Alliance for Solidarity we remember that, while these crimes are the most serious (account for 17% of total aggression), severe social and political instability on the continent is increasing other types of violence, such as threats (43%), given threats (43%), given threats (43%), given threats (43%), given threats (43%), given threats (43%), given threats (43%), given threats (43%), given threats (43%), given threats (43%), given that while violence against leaders aims to eliminate them, women seek to frighten and punish them. Even in murder cases they tend to be more cruel when they murder women: 66% of murders against women find aggravating such as sexual violence and torture. Afro, indigenous and poverty-poverty defenders are hardest hit.

In this gender-based violence against female defenders, it is also found that it punishes that family members or loved ones are punishable as a measure of intimidation in a greater relative percentage than in the case of men, who use in threats – pamphlets containing language sexist and sexual innuendos are made that allude to their bodies, patterns that are not evident when men are threatened. In addition, a rejection of the leadership and advocacy of human rights exercised by women within their own organizations and communities, a gender discrimination that occurs in all scenarios.

The situation has been recognized by the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights defenders, Michel Forst, who has pointed out that the current political climate in several countries is a setback in this situation. In particular, the Alliance for Solidarity recalls the tremendous impact that the current political crises are having on women, where the demand for governments that improve the living conditions of the public is based and that the human rights. Remember that in recent weeks there have been, and in some cases continued, clashes on the streets of Bolivia over allegations of electoral fraud, in Chile over social inequality, in Ecuador over the elimination of fuel subsidies, in Haiti shortages of gasoline and food and recently in Colombia demanding clear and effective compliance with the peace agreement signed three years ago. In all these protests, allegations of sexual violence have taken place, a worrying event that results in a control of the body of women in the social protest (at least 12 complaints have been reported in Chile and two in Bolivia).

Harassment and violence against women is aggravated when women take to the streets to defend fundamental rights to guarantee their lives, such as abortion rights defenders. Many of the women who have abortions are being imprisoned in countries such as El Salvador, Argentina or Guatemala.

On the other hand, many women's organizations have been undermined by their capacity for advocacy and movement and are being persecuted for making the problem of gender-based violence visible, which moves to the second term in cases of political and social conflict.

For all this, on the occasion of November 25, from Alliance for Solidarity, which has been working for more than 20 years on projects to promote women's rights in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, claims:

  • Recognition of the importance of equal and active participation of women defenders, guaranteeing for them spaces of participation in spaces of power.
  • Guarantees of access to justice to end impunity for offenders, with protection systems that guarantee women their right to participation and movement.
  • More funding for women's rights actions to maintain a sustained commitment to support women's organizations and thus achieve real transformations.

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