November 25 reflections

25 nov forum

The sentences in the drawing came out of a three days European and Spanish forum against gender-based violences that took place last weekend in Barcelona. I thought I would only dedicate this post to it so to have for this International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against women more data, rational analysis and facts to contribute to an understanding of the issue. Then I thought that maybe, if I really wanted –as I do- to do my small part to keep changing things- that for once I would also express my feelings, something ‘women’ are often not taken into account for doing and ‘men’ are better avoiding.

When do I myself feel I receive violence for being considered a woman?
Anytime I am scared to walk alone at night. Anytime I am treated as a possession, a doll to dress and undress, an everlasting kid or ‘condemned’ as a witch, a slut, and a hysterical if I rebel. Anytime I hear a male-chauvinist comment or someone calls me whistling in the streets like if I were a dog. Anytime I receive the message that I would do better hiding my intelligence. Anytime I see that in spite of the immense cultural, social, economic, sex and gender orientational factors (that make it impossible to reduce it all to men and women and least at a global level) the basic message of the patriarchy is one, common and mostly accepted and I don’t know how to fight against it. Anytime I hear some high school student I am working on gender issues through theatre with that it has always been like this and it will always be. Anytime my will of doing well my job and to have a child collide with a system that desperately need them both but doesn’t allow them to be possible unless I am willing to fight it all in an uneven game. Anytime I need a 25 November.
And I am undoubtedly a lucky woman.

Here goes the original post:
A three-days space “to break the silence towards violence against women thanks to active participation, sharing of experiences, reflection on the causes and mechanisms that allow, justify and perpetrate it and to express the necessity that we, as members of society, have to maintain other kinds of relationship, until the day that it won’t matter which sex or gender we belong to”, Montserrat Vilà says. “And, of course, an event to sensitize public awareness and so to prevent such violence”.

The event that took place last weekend in Barcelona – organized by the Catalan Unitarian Platform Against Gender-Based Violence coordinated by Monsterrat Vilà, started with the III European Forum Against Gender-Based Violence, where European platforms, Spanish and Latin American women’s associations – such as Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE), the Anna Bella foundation or Colectivo Maloka met to share their work experiences and to discuss issues such as discrimination towards women in the working world or the necessity to have common indicators and a European legislation on violence towards women. “Even if it is a world-wide phenomenon, sometimes women’s networks working on it are not connected, partly because the same system isolates us”, Monsterrat Vilà points out. “We have discussed on the difficulties we are facing due to a will to go backward with respect to many rights women have fought to achieve. The UN 15 years report following up the accomplishment of the objectives established in the 1995 Beijing Platform, shows that out of the 189 countries that signed it only one, Finland, seems to be accomplishing them”.

Two days after the international meeting, the VI Forum against gender-based violence organized by the Platform (made out of one hundred local organizations) took place. High school students, teachers, parents and the civil society in general were asked for a critical reflection around different socialization environments and cultural expressions perpetuating unequal relationships and discrimination towards femininity (media, advertisement, cinema) and to find out which can be some of the tools that we can all use to fight against this all.
Preventive socialization in the educational field with the objective to promote ways of dialoguing among equals and preventive action of the media were often repeated concepts in the numerous workshops and speeches that took place throughout the forum.

Invisibility of the women taking care not only of the house, children, elderly and sick persons – as if it wasn’t enough – but also, as Mireia Bofill, expert on issues of women and economy pointed out “of basic needs of us all which are fundamental for the social welfare”. Invisibility and lack of protection of migrant women, violence towards disabled ones, also systematically usurped in their sexual rights or boys and men questioning the hegemonic masculinity in the educational environment were addressed.

Among the proposals coming out from the European Forum, the creation of a Spanish committee to give answers to common issues stands out; all the associations working to end gender-based violence agreed upon, which turns out to be significantly relevant in a moment where the Spanish Ministry of Equality as a specific one has stopped to exist and has been substituted by a State secretary under the Ministry of Health. This fact, according to many, not only makes the issue associated with some kind of sickness, but also makes it harder for gender issues to be addressed by the Spanish government with the same authority and credibility they have had in recent years. This year only in Spain the number of women killed so far by their partners was more than 64 (9 more than in 2009), while the number of those suffering from both physical and, never to be forgotten, psychological consequences here as much as in every other corner of the world remains an unknown, mainly unspoken, unreported and sadly still accepted issue. The reason for it? As a documentary’s title presented at the forum cites: For nothing. Didn’t you want to know why they kill them?” Well, of course it is much more complicated than that, but in the end not really.

Violence towards women (defined as a group in spite of the enormous differences among us) is the most visible and known kind of gender-based violence, but unfortunately not the only one. Homosexual and bisexual orientation, transgenderism or intersexuality are also well-working detonators of a violence our society seems not very much aware of yet. Yesterday the Spanish LGBT Colegas confederation ask in an online campaign for homosexual couples to be included in the national law against gender-based violence which has been implemented for five years and has brought to have 145 thousand people already condemned.

Domestic violence itself includes more actors than the ones who receive it directly. According to Save the Children hardly 4% of the possible 800,000 (there are no statistics) Spanish-wide cases of children coexisting with violence receive assistance. Bibiana Aido, former Minister of Equality and new State Secretary of Equality (expressly loathed by the Spanish right-wing) and the Save the Children have just lunched the campaign “There is not only one victim” to try to implement measures – which will probably be approved tomorrow by the Board of Ministers – improving the attention children receive. Even if in the last three years the number of denounces had a 17% increase, relinquishments had a 46,4% one.

Awareness of male-chauvinist violence mechanisms, meanings and possible solutions has probably never been as strong as it is today. As the Spanish case might show, one more year there is still a long path the newer and older generations all together need to walk.

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