El Salvador: Thoughts on International Women's Day

Traditionally, International Women's Day has been a time for congratulating women on their day, but it is also a day that demands reflection and a call for gender equity. 2011 finds El Salvador with the highest rate [es] of femicides in the word, according to Spanish newspaper El Pais. Some Salvadorean bloggers have made their own reflections on the day and what it means for women in El Salvador.

Ixquic, female, lawyer, political scientist, dancer and single mother, published a post titled “Violence just for being a woman” [es] on her blog Xibalbá [es]. Ixquic says that violence against women is an ingrained cultural attitude, protected by the misconception that women are objects or inferior beings, a misconception that defines power relations in all areas of our life as a nation.

No es necesario seguir contando muertes, ni golpes, ni humillaciones. Las agresiones –porque somos mujeres— ya no deben seguir.

It is not necessary to continue counting deaths or beatings and humiliations. The attacks –because we are women–should not continue.

Mario France, author of the blog Quo vadis? [es], in his post “The reality of femicides in El Salvador,” [es] offers two solutions. The first is to rearrange the penal statistics to clearly establish criminal offenses, accompanied by a campaign to support the allegation of domestic violence with a 24/7 hotline. The second solution is that courts reduce the time to oversee these cases and that the trials be public.

No es natural que en un país con poco más de 21.000 km2 y con una población que oscila entre los 6 y los 7 millones de acuerdo al último censo, se disparen 197% las muertes en mujeres. Y si vamos a hablar lo ideal, no es natural que un ser humano la quite la vida a otro -aunque eso es material de otra discusión del tipo axiológico que en este momento no tiene cabida- pero ese es el tema que nos ocupa.

It is not normal that in a country with just over 21,000 km2 and a population ranging from 6 to 7 million according to the last census, figures of deaths of women skyrocket to 197%. And if we talk about the ideal, it is not natural for a human being to take the life of another, although that is material for another discussion of the axiological kind which at this time is outside this scope –but that's the issue we are dealing with.

Aniuxa writes a brief [es] and heartfelt post in her blog: “Nunca falta alguien que sobre” [es] (There’s always someone extra), reflecting on the twisted interpretation that businesses give to the day and how difficult it is to witness how much of the gained ground has been lost to marketing and consumption.

Terrible es cuando los discursos de la luchas se vuelven parte del marketing y el consumo. El listón morado y el orgullo por tener vagina como una celebración de muchachas solteras en las discotecas. ¡Feliz día de la mujer! Porque en lo efímero de la fiesta se ha perdido una revindicación y la conmemoración de la desigualdades entre hombres y mujeres.

It is terrible when the speeches of the struggle become part of marketing and consumption. The winner ribbon and the pride for having a vagina becomes a celebration for single girls in clubs. Happy Women's Day! because in the party's passing moment we have lost vindication and the commemoration of the inequalities between men and women.

Mural in favor of the economic justice for women in San Marcos, El Salvador. Image from Flickr rosaamarilla (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Aldebaran's in his blog Enfrentamientos [es] (Clashes) calls for two things in his post “For women and men“[es]: He tells women to not put aside the struggle for human, labor and gender rights, because nobody else will do it for them; and he tells men to work to reduce machismo and the “caveman” that they harbor within.

Por mucho que algunos hombres estemos de acuerdo con sus reivindicaciones y siempre nos apuntemos a luchar a su lado, ustedes deben llevar la batuta en esta tarea. Ojo: no todos los hombres somos sus enemigos y algunos podemos ser sus aliados en esta lucha. Por supuesto, no todas las mujeres son igualmente conscientes en este esfuerzo.

Even though some of us men agree with your struggles and even if we fight alongside you, you must lead in this task. Beware: not all men are your enemies and some of us can be your allies in this fight. Of course, not all women are equally conscious of this effort.

Rodrigo Amaya from the IT blog Mr. Byte [es], remembers the date with a post [es] in honor of Ada Lovelace, the first female programmer. In the same post, he salutes “IT” women and those “who support IT guys.”

On the blog [es] that supports the leftist political party Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), a group of organized women in the maquila sector take the opportunity to denounce the Secretary General of FENASTRAS [es] (National Federation of Salvadoran Workers), one of the oldest and most militant union organizations of El Salvador. They accuse [es] the Secretary General along with his wife of “selling” lists of their members to companies so that their owners reject any woman with a history of union participation. Also they reported harassment, abuse and even murders of women working at the maquilas.

…lo mas grave de todo es cuando algunas compañeras trabajadoras han aparecido muertas y nunca hemos sabido ni el porqué ni quienes las asesinaron siendo no muy casual que esto ha ocurrido en compañeras que se han negado a ser abusadas sexualmente e incluso cuando sus maridos se han enterado de la situación y han intentado exigir investigación y justicia…

… most serious of all is when some fellow workers are found dead and we never know why or who killed them—this is not coincidental because this only happens to those who have refused sexual favors, even when their husbands became aware of the situation and sought to require investigation and justice…

Victor in his blog Alta Hora de la Noche (In the Middle of the Night) posted “Femicides, the root is within us” [es] where he joins the echo of self-criticism on the issue. He closes his deep reflection with the famous, always current words of Monseñor Oscar Romero, a Salvadoran priest known for defending human rights:

Antes de iniciar este post me preguntaba yo qué diría Monseñor Romero alrededor de este tema. Me doy cuenta que ya nos lo dijo antes:

“Los nombres de los asesinados irán cambiando, pero siempre habrá asesinados. Las violencias seguirán cambiando de nombre, pero habrá siempre violencia mientras no se cambie la raíz de donde están brotando todas esas cosas tan horrorosas de nuestro ambiente.” (Homilía 25 de septiembre de 1977, I-II p. 240).

La violencia hoy aparece también con este nombre. Y la raíz está, más que nunca, en nosotros

Before starting this post I wondered what Monseñor Romero would say about this topic. I realize that as we said before:

“The names of those killed will change, but there will always be murdered. The violence will continue to change in name, but there will always be violence until you change the root from which these horrific things spring up in our midst.” (Homily September 25, 1977, I-II p. 240).

The violence now also appears with this name. And the result is, more than ever, within us.

Virginia [es] in her post “Appliances and homicide: ‘Happy March 8!?'” [es] denies that the day is used for anything positive. She also argues that sexism is so ingrained in our society that it trivializes violence against women and it makes horrible femicides look normal.

Es normal que a una mujer le piten “porque está bien rica”. Es normal que a una estudiante de Medicina se le acose sexualmente “porque está en una profesión de hombres”. Y es esta normalidad las que nos impide alarmarnos ante las tasas de feminicidio, las mismas que han subido un 200% en una década, las que nos otorgan el pomposo primer lugar en la escala de asesinatos de mujeres en el mundo. Hurra por la sociedad protomacha. Y más vítores para las mujeres, tan vulnerables y delicadas, quienes son las que prolongan el machismo mediante los modelos de crianza. Hurra. V.Lemus

It is normal to catcall a woman “because she looks hot.” It is normal for a female medical student to be sexually harassed “because it is a profession of men.” And within this normality we are prevented from becoming alarmed by the rate of femicide, which has risen 200% in a decade, which gives us the pompous first place in the killings of women in the world. Hooray for the proto-macho society. And cheers for women, so vulnerable and sensitive, who are known to prolong machismo through their parenting. Hurra. V. Lemus

Hunnapuh-Comments [es] published the post “Femicides, a shameful reality” [es] which reviews mortality statistics against female deaths to prove that indeed femicide in El Salvador has tripled in less than a decade:

…la tendencia hacia el crecimiento de los feminicidios persiste bajo la mirada tolerante de TODA nuestra sociedad, que mantiene vigentes los principios y valores machistas en todos sus niveles, por lo que este mal debe atacarse con rigor desalentando la impunidad ante la violencia intrafamiliar…

… Femicides continue to grow under the tolerant gaze of our WHOLE society, which maintains patriarchal values and principles at all levels. This evil must be rigorously attacked and we must discourage impunity for domestic violence …

Roxana Ellerbrok, from the blog Conversations with Neto Rivas [es], makes a historical review of the date and notes that although women are the majority in Latin America, their opportunities to influence the political and economic sphere does not equate to those of men, despite that in many cases women are the family's sole breadwinner.

Y si bien es cierto, muchas cosas han cambiado en 100 años y las conquistas en todos los ámbitos han sido innegables e impresionantes y pese a todo el bombo y platillo que pueda tener la fecha, la verdad existen asignaturas pendientes y urgentes tales como la falta de oportunidades laborales y sociales por la preeminencia que todavía ostenta el varón sobre la mujer, es decir, el Machismo.

It is true that much has changed in 100 years and the achievements in all areas have been undeniable and impressive, despite all the fanfare of the date, the truth is that there are urgent pending issues such as employment and social opportunities that men still hold over women, in other words, Machismo.

Finally, David Mejia calls for reflection and greets [es] women on their day:

Es muy importante tomar acciones inmediatas y planes a corto, mediano y largo plazo, porque muchos no lo ven, pero la violencia y el maltrato hacia la mujer tiene muchas consecuencias, no solamente directas para con ellas, sino que genera más violencia en toda la sociedad…

It is very important to take immediate actions and plans in the short, medium and long term, because many do not see it, but violence and abuse against women has many consequences, not just towards them, but it generates more violence for the whole society …

Other voices:

- Que Joder: “On special dates like today” [es]

- Xibalbá: “To hell with the celebrations!” [es]

- Tiene que ser susto: “International Women's Day: Olympia” [es]

- Farabunterra: “Country of Death” [es]

- Evangelizadoras de los apóstoles: “Churches must break silence on issues of violence against women” [es]

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