JASS Blog Archives for November 2011

by Alda Facio on November 22, 2011 on 11:12 am

Translated from Spanish by Emily Goldman

A few days ago, Iread the following item on Democracy Now!:
"In other news from ‘Occupy,’ activists in New York erected a tent to be used only by women, aftercomplaints of sexual assaults in the Lower Manhattanencampment.’”
AlexBorders of Occupy Wall Street said: ‘Many women felt their rights werebeing violated, to the point that they were on the campus and there were peoplewho were invading their spaces in the tents and stuff like that, and for thatreason we set up a tent to be used only by women.  We have 24-hour security that patrols theencampment.”’
Nan Terriof Occupy Wall Street said: ‘At this time, [the tent] houses 20 people, butonce we organize it, more will fit. That’s why I have my gloves on, because I am going to go clean.  But my idea is to get more women-only tents.  I am trying to get a tent measuring 80 x 80or 60 x 80 to put up on the other side and thereby ensure women’s security.’”
I am not sure what bothered me more – the way in which Democracy Now! published the above news item or the newsitself.  It would seem that the sexualharassment and even rape of women have become so commonplace that what became anewsworthy event was not that among a group of people protesting against theviolation of the most essential human rights of 99% of the world’s population,there are some men who rape women’s bodies. No, that was not newsworthy, because raping women’s bodies would seem tobe an inherent characteristic of being a man, whether the man in questionbelongs to the 1% of the elite or the 99% who are outraged.  The only thing that was deemed newsworthy wasthe fact that some women had erected a tent only for women, for the purpose ofprotecting themselves against sexual assaults. Just like that, as if the need to put up a tent only for women were asunavoidable as putting up tents for protection against the rain or ramps topermit access for persons utilizing wheelchairs or having sign languageinterpreters to include non-hearing persons.
But what saddens and frustrates me most is that we women remain silent in the faceof these violations of our bodies so as not to discredit a movement which isagainst the pillaging and violation of Mother Earth and in favor of theeconomic, social, and cultural rights of the large majority of the people. Whatoutrages me most is that I have not seen or heard any male co-occupier demandthat women’s bodies not be raped in Occupy Wall Street or any other place.  What makes me despair most is knowing that ifthe Occupy movement, or any other social justice movement, were to achieve itsgoal or dream, women’s bodies would continue to be raped because ending maleviolence against women is not part of the hoped-for transformations.  And I despair even more when I read thatthere are more than one billion women who have been raped worldwide, that rapesand femicides are ongoing in Congo and Guatemala, to name just two of the manycountries where women’s bodies are ravaged on a daily basis, or when I am toldthat pornography is freedom of expression and prostitution is a job like anyother.
I am tired of the fact that the rape of a woman’s body is only denounced when theviolation is committed by a man or men who are members of enemy armed groups orby groups against whom we are struggling but when the rapes are committed byour own brothers-in-struggle, we feel it best to keep quiet.  And we silence ourselves because we believethat the movement – be it anti-capitalist, -imperialist, -neoliberal,-colonialist, -racist, -corruption, -impunity, or any of the things againstwhich we organize– is more important than our bodies, or because we know thatdenouncing our brothers-in-struggle would be considered treason both by ourbrothers as well as by other women.
How long until we understand that the ones betraying the movement are those who violate women’s bodies, not those who denounce such atrocities?  How long until all of us who organize forsocial justice understand that if we do not pull out by its very roots thebelief that makes possible the millions of rapes of women’s bodies each year –that is, the idea that women’s bodies are merchandise or objects which can bebought or simply taken by force – we will never be able to eliminate thementality which permits and justifies coups d’état, wars, corruption, thepillaging of Mother Earth, her rivers and forests, as well as the appropriationby 1% of the world’s population of 99% of its wealth?  As long as we believethat it is only natural that some men will continue to rape some women, how canwe believe that we will succeed at getting 1% of the men to stop takingwhatever they desire by force?
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by Daysi Yamileth Flores Hernández on November 21, 2011 on 1:42 pm

Las palabras tienen vida propia; son magia, corren por nuestras almas como el agua se desliza por los rincones más infinitesimales de la tierra. Las mujeres hemos abrazado las palabras y aunque la historia  haya intentado robarlas, hemos aprendido a pasarlas, a sentirlas, a bailarlas, a tocarlas...a compartirlas. Nos acompañan toda la vida y las cargamos con mucha fuerza. A veces nos inundan y se nos desbordan como lava volcánica pero a veces, se ahogan en el profundo silencio aprendido. De cara al 25 de noviembre, las palabras nos asaltan y todas las luchas confluyen en la eliminación de la violencia contra las mujeres. Nos encontramos a nosotras mismas y a otras con quienes nuestra fuerza se conjuga en esta búsqueda incansable.

Las palabras danzan en el tiempo exacto, brillan en el fuego intenso para unirse a un  grito casi unísono. Pero ¿de dónde viene esa fuerza? ¿Cómo hacemos las mujeres para levantar nuestras vidas una y otra vez si los golpes nacieron con nosotras? No  hay lugar en el mundo en donde cargar con un cuerpo de mujer no signifique ser golpeada;  a veces con gritos, abusos, calificativos, mentiras, traiciones, ironías… Todas nuestras historias están marcadas por los golpes: Desde niñas nos castran las esperanzas, nos borran las sonrisas, nos machucan, nos mandan a callar, a dejar de estudiar… a dejar de existir. ¿Cómo hacemos para sobrevivir tanta tortura? ¿Cómo sentimos placer después de que han violado nuestros cuerpos de múltiples maneras? Nos violan extraños, familiares, conocidos, novios, amantes…  ¿Cómo nos levantamos cada mañana a pesar de los engaños, las mentiras, los dolores y las marcas en el cuerpo y el alma? ¿Cómo vemos el sol y sentimos que calienta nuestro rostro aún después de los abandonos, las carencias y los dolores? ¿Cómo amamos nuevamente si nos gritan con amargura y sangre, muchas veces la nuestra,  que esto no va  a cambiar nunca? ¿Cómo seguimos adelante gritando que otra vida es posible con el alma herida...golpeada? ¿Cómo conservamos la esperanza ó de donde sale la fuerza para ir a buscarla? ¿Cómo seguimos enteras? ¿De dónde vienen los tambores que marcan el ritmo de las que luchan por ellas y por todas? Tal vez no viene de ninguna parte y tal vez viene de todas. Tal vez viene de la certeza de que  No hay  golpes, gritos ni disparos que borren la historia, porque la historia nos recorre las venas. Tal vez viene del  bailar con la lluvia y de creer en la paz real, no la de las palomas. Tal vez viene de aquellas mariposas que pasan por sus propias metamorfosis y se convierten en cometas, madres, estrellas, aguas, amores, amigas, hermanas, música, amantes, tierras, maestras, arboles, oxigeno, párvulas, refugios, poemas,  calores y libertades. Tal vez viene de la inspiración de las hermanas Mirabal[i], juntada con la de las miles de ancestras conocidas y anónimas que han resistido; aquellas que siguen resistiendo y  han guardado y pasado las palabras para nosotras.

Sin importar de dónde viene la fuerza, la historia la vivimos todas, aunque de diferente manera porque hay diferencias reales, pero todas  la vivimos aquí en este territorio cercano y tangible que se llama cuerpo. Por eso salimos con el cuerpo los 25 de noviembre a la calle en todas partes del mundo, para gritar con histeria que la historia nos acompaña y que la lucha contra la violencia no cesa, hasta ninguna mujer tenga que sobrevivirla. Porque LAS HISTERICAS SOMOS LO MAXIMO!


VAMOS A LA MINIFESTACION ESTE 25 DE NOVIEMBRE A LAS 8:00 AM en la secretaria de defensa, Les ESPERAMOS!!!!

[i] Patria, Minerva y María Teresa Mirabal fueron tres hermanas de una pequeña provincia de la República Dominicana llamada Salcedo. Las Mariposas, como les decían, tuvieron la valentía de luchar por la libertad política de su país, oponiéndose firmemente al régimen del tirano Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. Por eso fueron perseguidas, encarceladas varias veces y finalmente brutalmente asesinadas el 25 de noviembre de 1960.

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by JASS on November 21, 2011 on 10:12 am
By Vimbai Njovana

The period from the FTX till now has been something of a whirlwind tour for me and an exhausting one too. As I reflect on the skills gained and the time spent at the FTX and how it has impacted my work, I can really see how I have been building women’scollective power in my organizing. A few months back, I, along with my colleagues, visited a growth point in Zimbabwe called Buhera to set up Anti-Domestic Violence Clubs. On our most recent trip this November, we visited Buhera again to conduct refresher courses on local level advocacy and build women’s skills in basic counseling.
The idea behind these clubs is that even though Musasa Project has offices in Harare, Bulawayoand Gweru, the three major towns in Zimbabwe as well as an office in Chiredziwhich is a town in the Lowveld, it is important for us to establish ‘little Musasas’ in as many areas as we can. Musasa has worked in Buhera for a numberof years now and the growth point is among the first to have Anti-Domestic Violence Clubs.
Writing, a tool for women to build colllective power
During this most recent visit to Buhera, I realized the impact we have begun to have on the lives of the women in those clubs. In the reports they submit to Musasa, they tell of interventions they have made in their rural districts to create communities that are free from domestic violence. For women who could probably write before but really had nothing to write, I saw what those short reports could mean for them. Being able to sit down and write about something may not seem like much of an achievement to many of us, but for these women it means a lot. As I came to this realization, it dawned on me that although we have not reached the level of working with ICTs like computers or mobile phones, ordinary pens and paper can be tools for women in Buhera to build their own collective power.
Vimbai Njovana participatedin JASS’ Feminist Tech Exchange in Johannesburg earlier this year. She is Programme Manager at Musasa Project, an organizationthat addresses violence against women in its many forms in Zimbabwe.
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