8 of March: Stop gender violence

This 8 of March manifest yourself for women equality.

Photo: Julie Schroell/Managua, Nicaragua

This 8th of March is International Women’s Day declared by the United Nations in 1975, but it was on spot from the early 1900’s in New York City as National Woman’s Day.

In 1910, an International Socialist Women’s Conference was held in Copenhagen. Inspired in part by the United States of America, German socialist, Luise Zietz, proposed that every year in each country it should be a celebration on the same day as “Women’s Day” to press for their demands. This was seconded by advocate and activist,Clara Zetkin. No date was established at this conference, so for years it was commemorated during the last Sunday of February.

It was until 1914, that it started on the 8th of March in Germany to demand the right of women to vote in several European countries. However, women in Finland were the first to be granted the right to vote since 1906.

Gloria Steinem, a renowned feminist, journalist and activist once said: “the story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor any organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

This day is celebrated worldwide.  Women join their force to call to action the acceleration of gender equality. In Helsinki, Finland, women from different countries, associations, organizations, and activists will be gathering to shout out against women violence and to remember those women that are not present because they were  victims of femicide.

According, to the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women adopted by the United Nations in 1993, violence against women  means “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”.

Probably you are thinking, she is writing again about this topic. Well yes, because, it is causing the death of more women every day and it is not a new pandemic like the coronavirus.

As a journalist and blogger, I feel like writing is a way to combat this topic. So, here I will list ten types of gender-based violence with an example from the handbook for journalists published by the United Nations.

1-Cyberbullying online, this act of violence occurs by using the information and communication technology (ICT) such as mobile phone, internet, social media platforms and others to aggravate a woman because she is a woman. Doxxing is to published private information of a person.

Women journalists in many countries are victims of a double attack by threats, insults, harassment, etc. A friend and colleague of mine, Ileana Lacayo Ortiz, from Bluefields, faced doxxing when the social-political crisis broke out in Nicaragua April 2018.

2- Early marriage or child marriage, is defined as a union of a couple in which one of the members is under 18 years old. According to a study globally, 21% of girls (now 20-24 years) married before 18, and 5% before they turned 15 years. This is a violation of children’s rights that has significantly increased over the years with the humanitarian crisis or conflict around the world. In a lot of countries, girls are forced to get married at an early age if they become pregnant.

3- Female genital mutilation (FGM), is the partial or total removal of the female genitalia which is done without any medical reason. This is non- religious practice, a high violation of girls’ and women’s rights, harmful for their health and sexuality, and a discrimination to women.

A lot of women that had gone under this procedure have spoken against this brutal practice, such as the former Dutch, parlamentarian, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and top model, Warris Dirie.

4-Forced marriages, refers to the imposition of a marriage that is not-consented by one or both parties. This type of act can involve violence, blackmail, and physical threats. Countries in conflict, often experience this issue because armed groups used this tactic as a war weapon. For example, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) did it with girls in the countries they occupied. Regardless of context where it is done, we need to remember that it is a crime.

5-Gender-specific foeticide and infanticide, female foeticide “is a gender-selective abortion”. The fetus is aborted on the grounds of its sex.

On the other hand, female infanticide refers “to the murder of a young girl (after birth)”. This practice is done in several countries in Asia, the Caucasus and the Balkans.

Both practices are linked to a patriarchal structure of society, which gives a higher status to boys than girls. One of the main backgrounds of this practice is that boys will provide for the family and take care of their parents at elders’ age. Girls are a burden because, at the time of  marriage, their parents will have to pay a dowry to the husbands’ parents, a costly custom for many families.

Photo: Julie Schroell/Managua, Nicaragua

6- Sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape, sexual assault is non-consensual physical contact, for example, forced kissing, touching etc. with threat, violence or coercion.

Whereas, “harassment can be a precursor of sexual assault”. This abuse occurs when the aggressor is in a position of hierarchical superiority. Rape “is an act of sexual penetration without consent.  It is  carried out with violence, threat or surprise”.

All three types of violence are unacceptable behaviour and practiced in our society by individuals, state and armed groups.

Since the rise of the MeToo movement in 2017, hundreds of women have told their stories of sexual assault and rape, allegedly in the political and film industry.

7- So-called ‘honour’ crime, is the act of killing a girl or woman by a family member (male or female) to protect the family’s reputation in society. According  to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 5,000.00 of this crime is committed each year.

A renowned case of this crime was the killing of the Pakistani social media influencer, Qandeel Baloch, in 2016, by her brother.

8-Trafficking persons and smuggling of migrants, this act of crime means to transport human beings with the objective of forced labour, sexual exploitation, and organ trafficking. Many girls and women are used for this lucrative business worldwide

The smuggling of migrants, which is the illegal crossing of a border for remuneration, constitutes a unique contractual relationship. For instance, at the Mexico border with the United States of America, many migrants, girls and women; from Central America, daily are exposed to both cases.

9- Violence against women in conflict, this crime covers many of the above acts of raping, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, enforced sterilization, forced marriage and any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity, perpetrated against women and girls. The Democratic Republic of Congo is a vivid example of this crime.

10-Violence by an intimate partner or ex-partner and domestic murders,  these acts include physical violence (slapping, hitting, etc.), sexual violence ( pornography, forced sexual intercourse with others etc.), emotional abuse (insults, constant humiliation, cyberbullying, threats to take away children), and controlling behaviour, (isolating a person from family and friends, depriving them of identity documents etc.).

The ultimate way of violence is femicide, which is the act of killing a woman.

Gender-based violence is a world illness. We have the right to have a life free of violence, so I insist that we need to talk about it, combat against it from our home, and press to improve the public political strategies.

The viral gender performance

It is not a song to the raper it is a denounce of gender violence from north to south and east to west.

Text by: Shirlene Green Newball Photo: Rosamaria Bolom

“El patriarcado es un juez, que nos juzga por nacer, 

y nuestro castigo, es la violencia que no ves. 

El patriarcado es un juez, que nos juzga por nacer, 

y nuestro castigo, es la violencia que ya ves”.

 “The Patriarchy is a judge, who judges us for being born, 

and our punishment is the violence that you don’t see. 

The patriarchy is a judge, who judges us for being born,

and our punishment is the violence that you see”.

These words and choreography started on the streets of Chile on the 20th of November and spread across the Pacific Ocean to many countries in America and Europe such as Mexico, Peru, Colombia, United States of America, Uruguay, Nicaragua, France, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Finland, Sweden and many others in a week.  

I am sure that you had heard these words over and over on social media during the past week.  These are part of the performance A rapist in your way (Un violador en tu camino) composed by Las Tesis

But who are these women? Las Tesis is a Chilean feminist collective formed years ago by four women from Valparaíso. Sibila Sotomayor and Daffne Valdés are performing artists, Paula Cometa Stange is a designer and, and Lea Cáceres is a costume designer.  

The performances aim to act feminism theories to reach to different audiences colloquially. The first one was done in 2004 based on the book The caliban and the witch (El calibán y la bruja), of scholar Silvia Federicci.  The current performance, A rapist in your way took inspiration from the feminist Rita Segato’s thesis that develops the structure of sexual violence and rape against women as a form of fragile masculinity. 

In an interview given to El Tiempo newspaper,Sotomayor said: “Our interventions last only fifteen minutes, the idea is that it be so, precise, concise, and effective”.

In the second paragraph of the performance, you need to do four squats, which symbolize the squats women are obligated to do after being arrested and naked by the Chilean police. This violation of human rights has also been perpetrated in Nicaragua, which is under an authoritarianism government. A report given by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights describes this type of action (page 64). 

“Es femicidio

Inmunidad para mi asesino

Es la desaparición

Es la violación”.

“It is femicide

It is Impunity for my killer

It is the disappearance

It is rape”.

The last part of the performance refers to part of the Chilean police anthem, which is an irony between words and their actions. 

Over 50 women from several Latin American countries, Finland and other countries also did the viral performance. The cold weather, of course, did not stop us to shout and march once more to denounce rape, femicide, and impunity in cases of gender violence committed by the state or individuals.  This event was organized in two days, so a lot of us rehearsed at home. In my case, I did it on the buses and trams on my way to work. 

If you had not participated in the performance, I invite you to organize it with your friends, adapt it to your context, film, and share it. We need to be heard; no matter what language you speak because we are tired. 

“And it’s not my fault, nor where I was, or how I was dressed”.

“Y la culpa no era mía, ni donde estaba, ni cómo vestía”.

“Syyllinen en oo mä, Ei missä olin, ei mun vaatteet”.

Gender violence stories

From Dubai to Chile women took the streets to demand an end to violence against women. Three stories of violence.

Text by: Shirlene Green Newball Photo by : Kimmo Lehtonen

Santiago, Chile

My phone rang and I saw it was a loving friend calling, so I picked up. On the other side, I heard her sad and weeping voice saying: “He hit me and I had the baby in my hand”. She was referring to her partner and father of her child. I was mad since I also had my experience in my teen.

When I arrived at her house I saw a bruise on her left cheek. We sat down and she told me her outrage violence story. She decided not to press charge against him, which was unacceptable to me, but I knew I had to respect her decision and just let her know that I was there to support her. And so I did. 

Gender-based violence forms can be physical, psychological, sexual, economic, and others carried by individuals and states. Every day hundreds of women and girls around the world live it, so my friend’s case was not an exception.

According, to the Global Study on Homicide 2019: Gender-related killing of women and girls research published in July by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in 2017, a total of 87,000 women were killed intentionally from which, 50,000 were killed by an intimate partner or relative, meaning that 137 women were killed daily by a family member. This act of killing a woman is known by international organizations, some governments, academic, and women movements, as femicide.

The study also highlights the total women murders by continent; Asia being the continent with the largest number fallowed by Africa and the Americas.

United Nations Research

Since I became an activist, every 25thof November, I participate in manifestations on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Historically, this day is based on 1960, when Dictator Rafael Trujillo assassinated the three Mirabal sisters in the Dominican Republic.

My friend was at home in her porch when the episode occurred, which confirms that our home is not a safe place for us, but so are the streets, public transportations, and  social media channels. 

Can you imagine that in Granada, Spain, during the manifestation on Monday (25 November) a group of girls was attacked by a man with a knife? This act is insane and ironic. Why did he attack women in a protest against violence?  Is it because of hate speech, superiority or misogyny? What is clear is that someone almost got injured because of these extreme thoughts. 

Currently, the media and the Internet are spaces that lead to a lot of contents of violence against women.  

Do you remember the ridiculous attack Greta Thunberg faced during her visit to the United States of America in September? This teenage activist raising awareness about climate change was attacked tremendously on national television and social media by the right party. The accusations were crazy, from the way she dresses, her hairstyle, her whiteness, etc. 

On the 23rd of September during the broadcast of Fox News, Michael Knowles called her “a mentally ill Swedish child”.

Another ridiculous statement came from Laura Ingraham, the Fox News host who called Greta’s United Nations speech as “chilling”, with a head title saying, “Climate change hysteria is changing our kids”. 

Since social media plays an important role in being informed and active today, my friends and I got caught in this discussion. One of my friends was so tired of answering that it occurred to her we needed a strategy to continue, so she started to tag others in her answers with the purpose of getting support of our statement against the furious women and men attacking Greta and all her supporters. 

Gender-based violence has increased over the years. As women, we all are exposed to attacks any day. So it is not only the on 25thof November that we need to remember this, it is every single day. 

The strategies women create to counteract violence may seem foolish for some people. However, whatever you invent to protect yourself, make sure that it is effective and of great help to you. 

My friend was brave to call me and tell her story, but unfortunately, not every woman does it because they are scared and ashamed. From my experience and my friend’s, it is better to break the silence, look for help, go to a shelter home and press charges. Remember you are not alone and there is always support.