Almost 60 years ago, on November 25, the Mirabal sisters were murdered for facing Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. For formal records, the UN has decreed this date as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, but we regard it as a day of struggle, a day to expose the violence it’s carried on us throughout our lives and that kills dozens of thousands of women a year.
By: International Workers League – IWL-FI
Today millions of women in the world are fighting against “democratic” governments and dictatorships, saying that everything must be changed because it is not possible to keep on living like that. The best way to fight back sexist violence is to be ahead of these fights around the world.
The world situation
International organizations present programs to show that we are better, but even their own figures show otherwise. According to the UN and WHO, 120 million women have been victims of sexual abuse at some point in their lives, 60,000 die each year at the hands of femicides, who are a family man or her partner in almost half of the cases.
It is frightening to know that 1 in 3 women worldwide has suffered physical and/or sexual violence and that these figures are seen both in rich and poor countries. And that they are incomplete because they do not record trans-femicides nor many unreported cases, mostly because they are perpetrated within the family environment.
Worldwide, 22 million unsafe abortions are performed each year, mostly in poor countries that drive many women to death or mutilation. Not to mention the institutional violence that is suffered in countries where it is completely forbidden, such as El Salvador, which goes so far as to incarcerate women who have had miscarriages.
Latin America and the Caribbean is one of the regions where women suffer the most violence, home to 14 out of the 25 countries with the highest rates of femicide in the world. According to the UN, 12 women and girls are murdered daily in that region. In the European Union, 50% of women over 15 years old have experienced some form of sexual harassment; 1 out of 3 Europeans justifies sexual abuse in some cases. In central and southern Africa 40% of young women marry before 18 years old and 14% before 15 years old.
Even if there are women in public offices or we hear speeches that “include” us, sexist violence remains a worldwide epidemic that has to be combated.
The violence we suffer is part of the general violence that this capitalist system imposes on the poor, workers and oppressed. The economic crisis, hunger, and inequality hit women hard.
The violence is in hunger wages, cuts in public health and education for us and our children, we are not even allowed to retire with dignity. We are discriminated against when migrating from our land for some bread, we are the sexual object of big corporations to sell their products and we are condemned when we freely decide on our sexuality.
Young women suffer from a lack of jobs, as well as the brutal precariousness that often comes with sexual harassment at work. Girls, children, and teenagers are permanent victims of trafficking networks forcing us to walk fearfully on the streets.
But the increasing discrimination at work, violence towards black, indigenous or migrant people and our deaths go unmoving in the media and are part of an empty statistic.
Transvestites and transgenders hardly have access to jobs, they throw us into the scourge of prostitution, persecuted by the police, who hit and rape us without any possibility of defense. Not to mention the right to gender identity or sexual orientation that in most countries is not accepted.
But the peoples have said enough is enough and so did we. The masses in Ecuador, Haiti, Hong Kong, Iraq, Chile or Bolivia took to the streets. In these countries, we see women at the forefront of the struggle, overcoming all prejudice and fighting their governments for a more dignified life. Bolivian women, with their children on their backs, face the right-wing racist coup in their country and show that they are part of the struggle. The Chilean girls were the kick-offs of an ongoing revolution by evading the subway, mobilizing in the streets, facing Piñera’s repression and organizing themselves into popular assemblies, overturning the myth that our place is at home. Retired women march for their rights in the Spanish state and young Catalan women are at the forefront of the struggle for independence.
Sexist violence as repression
In Chile the military and police forces are responding with a brutal crackdown on the mobilized people, 22 have been killed, more than 2000 injured, including 200 who lost an eye due to police shots and thousands of detainees.
Governments tremble when people take to the streets, but if women lose their fear and unite, they become terrified. That is why in Chile they are using a more brutal method of repression against them: sexist aggression. At least 50 complaints of sexual abuse of lesbians have been reported and denudations and killings of women in the demonstrations. This modus operandi not only reflects the recalcitrant sexism of the military but is a method for frightening women.
The Chilean people and the world working class must firmly repudiate this situation, expose it and call on women to join the struggle more tightly, organizing their self-defense to defeat the repression. This is no longer an expression of repression, it is specific violence against half the population that should be emphatically repudiated.
Enough of violence against women, enough of exploitation!
Our struggle to end sexist violence is and must be part of the struggle of the working class and the peoples. We are ahead of the barricades to demand our rights as well.
The oppression we suffer is an instrument of further exploitation, for the benefit of big capitalists. Gender equality rights must be part of everyone’s demands and not just ours. There is no possibility of changing things in Chile if there is not a joint fight for women’s rights. Defeating the coup in Bolivia also means fighting for women, indigenous, poor and the working people.
Inequality is fundamental to the capitalist system and sexism is a form of control over us. To give us the worst jobs, to make family caring an unpaid task, and to divide the working class so that we won’t fight for common interests.
Ending sexist violence means ending this system that perpetuates our oppression for the benefit of the capitalists. We do not say that the revolution will solve all our problems immediately, but we are convinced that without it there will be no way out.
Changing this society is a matter of life and death. The IWL-FI go on to the streets along with the fighting women and the people and we shouting out loud on November 25:
- Enough of sexist violence!
- Enough of oppression and exploitation!
- Long live the direct struggle of the people!
- Down with famine and repressive governments!