The 25th of November has been marked since 1999 by the UN as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Particularly this year, the United Nations has chosen as its motto “orange the world: generation equality stands against rape”.
However, the origin of the day is less known. On the 25th of November 1960, the Dominican Dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo gave orders to execute the Mirabal sisters, three well-known political activists that had fervently opposed the dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. In 1981 the Latin American Feminist Movement, paying homage to their assassination and raising awareness of the situation of women in Latin America & the Caribbean, declared the 25th of November as the day for the elimination of violence against women.
Let’s start by saying that violence against women is a structural phenomenon in mostly every society in the world and despite the efforts in addressing this violence and working for its elimination via international instruments such as the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) or by including it on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the figures and facts in 2019 are still alarming and us, women, are right to fear.
But what do we fear? The main problem arising from all these initiatives is mostly its degree of abstraction. More often than not, we don’t see either in Conventions like the CEDAW or in different initiatives an appeal to the extremely likely and direct cause of violence: MEN.
This might seem obvious, but this fundamental cause of violence against women is usually absent, and the focus to end the problem instead of being on the cause is always on the consequences:
Who kills women and girls? The UN says:
-“1 in 2 women killed worldwide were killed by their partners or family in 2017; while only 1 out of 20 men were killed under similar circumstances”
-Let me ask: who are their partners? the Partners are highly likely MEN.
Who marries child brides? The UN says:
-“Almost 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday”
-But I ask. Who are they forced to marry? Girls are forced to marry MEN.
Who rapes women? The UN says:
-“1 in 3 women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, most frequently by an intimate partner”.
-I dare ask, again, who is the partner? and again, extremely likely, a MAN.
Today, on this very 25th November, I challenge #allmen to start considering the ways you inhabit the world. I challenge you to think about all the times you weren’t scared when a woman was.
I challenge you to hold accountable other men around you. I challenge you to stop saying #notallmen (at least before you do, check these facts).
And to all the women, see you later on the streets.