Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Sexism and violence

My friend Daniele has written an important article titled Sexism: It's to Die For dealing with the issues of sexism, machismo and femicide in El Salvador. She starts with the story of a gang rape of a disabled girl, and then looks at the attitudes which could allow a community to not be outraged and even to back the accused band of rapists:

These attitudes have a source. Whether spit from the mouths of fearful neighbors or from the pulpit in a twisted religious interpretation, these attitudes are called machismo, and one of El Salvador's big struggles (like most countries in the world) is how to finally shed sex discrimination. This discrimination can be propogated by societal structures, authorities, teachers, parents, etc, and it finds its extreme expression in violence against or the assasination of women, called feminicide. In El Salvador, sexism is so ingrained that the band of men found it completely acceptable to rape multiple women and girls in their own community, in the middle of the day, and not fear retribution. Their male and female family members felt that the Las Melidas team was in the wrong, and that their grandfathers, husbands and sons had done nothing unusual. In short: in this case in the Lower Lempa, Salvadoran "masculinity" was valued over the innocence of childhood. Clearly, it will take a concerted and well-coordinated effort to change this reality.

Danielle goes on to to discuss other societal and cultural forces which distinguish the violence perpetrated against women from that crimes against men. And in El Salvador, the rate of murders of women is rising much faster than the increase in murders of men.

Efforts are starting to be made to combat femicide in El Salvador. An organization named Ormusa is helping to advocate for changes to the way these crimes are addressed in the country:
Ormusa thus has designed a project to do just that. [Attorney] Silvia says that the Funes administration’s Commission for the Family, Woman, and Childhood has started to make mention of the subject; thus, now is the time to bring the issue to the forefront of the minds of civil society and lawmakers. Ormusa plans to publish articles, increase their political advocacy, and continue educating women about their rights. Silvia encourages us to walk in solidarity with the work of Ormusa and Cripdes in our everyday interactions, whether by using inclusive language or questioning assumptions about gender roles. Only by rooting out our own sexist attitudes can we build a world where childhood isn't sacrificed to errant ideas of adults.


Make sure and read all of Daniele's article. You can also learn more about the problem of femicide in my post from earlier this year.

1 comment:

Daniela said...

Thank you, Tim! I'm honored to be included in your great Salvador network. Come visit us again sometime soon.