Men: Eliminate Violence Against Women

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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.

The Wall has fallen

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The Wall has fallen.

The Wall has fallen. Of course, it is very well known which wall is the Wall. On this day thirty years ago, people started crossing the Wall without getting shot to death. O tempora, o mores! What a victory.

But it actually was a sort of victory. Building a physical wall to represent the ideological and mental division of people had not happened so often in history. Although with no obvious reason at the time the GDR leader Walter Ulbricht declared that ‘No one has the intention to build a wall’, two months later the Wall was – built. And it lasted for almost 30 years. For three decades the Wall was a symbol and a means of a regime that did not value (or allow for) freedom. It was sold to people as protection against the Nazi west. It was Mikhail Gorbachev, pressed by the people and his own visions of the future, who enabled the Wall to be demolished. As the Wall fell, Gorbachev’s Common European home was supposed to start.

Berlin, 10th November 1989

However, it was not easy to unite Ossis and Wessis. New Germany needed a factor that could unify culturally different populations of East and West Germany. They found it in the provisions of constitutional patriotism. Constitutional patriotism was developed in after-war West Germany in order to be able to accept the Nazi past and move forward to a society that condemns this part of its history. A ‘simple’ national identity would not allow for the collective acceptance of guilt and shame, hence a supranational level of identity was to be invented.

It is considered to be a post-national concept that could be applied in order to unify the parties previously involved in the cold war. Patriotism, as understood by this concept, is considered not to be built on national grounds, but rather on norms and values of liberal democracy. In this sense, it functions in a way different than national identity. The culture is not projected onto a concept, but rather the concept provides norms and values that are projected onto society. The universalism of the norms and values is considered to be especially suitable in post-conflict societies.

Originally, the norms and values provided by constitutional patriotism were grounded in Kohlberg’s post-conventional level of moral development. That is why Habermas named it post-conventional identity. At post-conventional level of morality, individuals are considered to follow the ethical principles of justice, liberty, and life, even if they oppose the official laws of the country. A better case is that the whole systems be arranged according to these principles, and democracies are theoretically based on Social-Contract Orientation stage of Kohlberg’s theory. Constitutional patriotism is supposed to be based on the highest level of morality, the Universal-Ethical-Principal Orientation. And that is what Germany tried to do with its constitution in order to reconcile different cultural groups within its boundaries.

Photo: Tijana Karić

Although at first it was seen as a substitute for ‘proper’ national identity, it soon became a concept that was considered to be applicable to Europe as a whole. There are other countries that can be referred to as based on constitutional patriotism, such as Switzerland or the USA. The concept is not without its critique. However, it seems to have worked in Germany and led the country to integrate its brutal past and developing a society of acceptance. In times of globalization, could this be the model for the future?

Exhumation of the Spanish Dictator: What’s The Controversy?

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Last Thursday, the 24th of October, the Spanish government with the Supreme Court’s approval carried out its promise to exhume Francisco Franco’s remains from El Valle de lo Caídos (The Valley of the Fallen). Many international media outlets have echoed and applauded this so-called controversial decision.

Despite the democratic intentions in fulfillment of the Historical Memory Law, some have criticized the government’s action as an “electoral move”, others have claimed its uselessness after 44 years, and many others have labeled the exhumation as “profanation” and an insult to Spain’s history.

What could be so controversial about removing a dictator from a National Public Heritage monument? The fact is that the exhumation has revealed Spain’s unresolved recent history, to be sure: the dictatorship following the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and its consequences even in the democratic moment.

Unlike other countries with a dictatorial regime, Spain only passed its Historical Memory Law in 2007, almost 30 years after the transition to democracy and the approval of the 1978  Constitution. Still today, Spain remains the second country in the world with more mass graves, only after Cambodia,  and particularly in El Valle de los Caídos, there are more than 33.000 unidentified people laying underneath.

The exhumation of Franco is a perfect example to reveal how sociological Francoism is still alive and present today in Spanish society. In 1977, when Spain was transitioning to democracy, the Amnesty Law was approved, impeding to judge the dictatorship crimes that are imprescriptible according to International Law, something that has been remarked by the UN Human Rights Office, even calling for Spain to repeal the Law. 

While the transition has been repeated to be “exemplary”, there was no depuration of responsibilities or any Commission for Truth and Reconciliation to shed light on the crimes of the dictatorship. In this regard, the only current open cause investigating and persecuting Franco’s repression and crimes is in Argentina.

The transition thus proved to be a reform of the political regime rather than a complete rupture. Institutions in Spain such as the Catholic Church or right-wing political parties have not yet condemned the dictatorship. Without a political consensus on the issue, Francoism rests surrounded by an aura of veneration or an image of a time that was not that bad.

Let’s not forget that democracy is incompatible with the defense of a dictatorship; and that it is never too late to improve the democratic quality of a country by removing a dictator from a National Heritage Monument. The past always requires to be dealt with, symbolically and substantially.