“Standing against gender violence.”
With this slogan, a large group of representatives of French, feminist and immigrant groups marched Friday in Paris. Their manifesto points out that, in France, each year there are 86,000 rapes, but only 1.5 percent reach a conviction and a sentence. That 216,000 women are victims of domestic violence and 122 were killed in 2015.
“We live in a country where populist and reactionary discourses increase and would have you believe that closing the borders would be enough to stop the violence against women,” the feminists write. “We live in a country that participates in armed conflicts that cause bloodshed, sexual assaults, rape as a weapon of war, kidnapping, trafficking, deportations and increased poverty.”
It must, however, give priority “for negotiation and participation of women in peace processes” so that the land of human rights “will finally become one of women’s rights.”
Dec. 10 is the day of human rights for the United Nations. Until that date, U.N. Women launched the campaign “Dye the world orange: funds are needed to put an end to violence against women and girls.”
The resources for prevention and to ensure autonomy to women, however, are still insufficient. According to the U.N.’s records, 70 percent of women in Cambodia have insecure employment. Five hundred thousand work in the textile or shoe factories, where there is a high rate of exploitation. In Kyrgyzstan, violence against women and girls, and the practice of forced marriages after a seizure, are a sad reality. In Mali, the association Halte aux Violence Conjugales (HVC) returned to the streets, coordinated by Ballo Mariko, a network of women and men who began with a march against domestic violence in Bamako: They denounce that violence against women has reached “unimaginable proportions.” Women are killed by their husbands with impunity, to whom often judges, doctors and police are asking “what did she do wrong to deserve this?”
In May 2011, the Istanbul Convention of the Council of Europe came into force, to combat violence against women and domestic violence. This tool is based on four pillars: prevention, protection, legal procedures and integrated policies.
ARCI denounces however, that the provisions are disregarded and national policies are not aligned to the dictates of the Convention. The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network — a network of European, North African and the Middle Eastern social organizations, of which ARCI is part — noted “the lack of services available for the victims, the wide impunity, the lack of education among operators of important areas, including the police and the judicial system.”
The data are alarming. In France, a woman dies at the hands of her relatives every three days. In Morocco, six out of 10 women are victims of domestic violence, but only 3 percent of them makes the corresponding complaint. In Cyprus, one in five women has suffered sexual or physical violence. In Tunisia, 78 percent of women have been harassed or assaulted in a public place. And in Turkey, more than 1,400 feminicides took place over the past five years.
In Algeria, women demonstrated in remembrance of the murder of Amira Merabet, who was burned alive this summer by a man who had molested her on the street, in the town of El Khroub, to the north of Algiers. In Algeria, between 2014 and 2015, the complaints of gender violence have increased by 27 percent. The data capture only part of the reality, because many women do not report, or they back out of fear of reprisal.
“Violence against women is the 21st century Holocaust,” said Ana Bella, a domestic abuse survivor from Spain. “Around the world, 1.2 billion women are abused simply because they are women, twice the population of Europe: irrespective of their religion or the color of the skin, and sometimes even regardless of their economic or cultural background.”
Bella decided to run away from her husband, along with her four children, after 11 years of family abuse, back then she was just a victim. Then, she decided to react and, in 2002, created a foundation that bears her name. Now it helps about 1,400 women a year, from Spain to Latin America.
In Spain, just this year, 39 women were killed by their current or former husbands. “A woman helps another when she breaks the silence and holds on,” Bella said. “There is an alternative to being killed. You can be happy.”
Bella’s association is also present in Mexico, where one in two women suffer abuse, and where in one year, 2,289 feminicides were committed. Human rights organizations called the Mexican government for the approval of the Law against Torture, recalling the alarming increase in sexual torture against undocumented women.
That issue is also present in the United States. And in India, there have been demonstrations against “torture and rape perpetrated by the army and paramilitary groups as a weapon of repression in rural areas.” The MFPR also led a demonstration Saturday in Rome.
On Friday, the whole of Latin America took to the streets with the message “Not one missed” and “If they touch one of us, they touch us all.” Many bore signs inscribed with three butterflies, “las mariposas,” in reference the nickname of the three Mirabal sisters, who were murdered by the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo in 1960 and in whose honor the U.N. dedicated Nov. 25 as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. They are a symbol of resistance.
And, in fact, many have taken the portrait of Milagro Sala, the captive indigenous Representative in Argentina despite the U.N. appeal, and the Chilean Mapuche leader Francisca Linconao whose release is being championed by Amnesty International.
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