By Illa // London Latinxs, Wretched of the Earth
On the 13th of August more than 500,000 women and supporters took to the streets in Peru, unified under the chant “#NiUnaMenos” (Not One Less). Weeks before the march, Cindy Contreras was sexually assaulted, beaten and dragged by her hair by her partner Adriano Pozo in a hotel in Ayacucho. Despite being presented with footage of the assault recorded by the hotel’s CCTV camera, the judges dismissed the claim that this was a clear femicide attempt. On the 15th of August Ronny Garcia, a well-known singer who avoided a kidnapping conviction after abusing his ex-partner Lady Guillen, publically stated on national TV how he was only a “victim of love”.
Like a spark lighting a fire, this triggered thousands of people to share experiences and testimonies of misogyny on social media, initiating a wider feminist movement that has continued to grow. In Peru, 10 women have been murdered every month since 2009 and 79% of these murders are committed by their partners or ex-partners. This year, according to the Registry of Family and Sexual Violence (SAU), 7 in 10 women have reported having suffered some type of sexist violence. A total of 2069, have reported suffering gender violence in the past 8 months.
The 13th of August was not only a day to challenge patriarchal norms in society through personal accounts, but to denounce the State as the root of patriarchal violence and juridical injustice.
According to the UN, 98% of femicides in Latin America go unprosecuted. This context of gendered violence puts Indigenous, transgender and Black women at high risk of victimisation by femicide, racialised misogyny and transmisogyny. Violence against women stems directly from a history of colonisation and exclusion, creating a culture where women are dismissed, turned away and refused access to services that protect them. In Peru, for example, 57% of transgender women have reported experiencing violence in public spaces and 67% have reported experiencing institutional violence. Statistics and testimonies show that transgender women are 3 times more likely to be victims of femicide than cisgender women.
During the march of #NiUnaMenos, Indigenous women chanted “Esterilizaciones forzadas, ¡Nunca más!” (“forced sterilisations, never again!”). These statements echo the ongoing struggle to bring Alberto Fujimori’s officials and doctors to justice, after forcibly sterilising more than 300,000 poor and indigenous women between 1996-2000, during the second half of Fujimori’s dictatorial regime. Their cases were dismissed in court, just a few days before the march, as there was “not enough evidence to constitute them as crimes against humanity” despite clearly proving that an ethnic cleansing plan was disguised as a ‘National Health and Family Plan’. Marching with them shoulder to shoulder were women from the #DejalaDecidir campaign (LetHerDecide) calling for the decriminalisation of abortion in cases of sexual violence. Estimated figures are alarming: an average of 35,000 pregnancies every year are a result of rape and 50,000 women die or suffer sever health complications every year due to clandestine abortions.
Patriarchal sexual violence, in the forms of forced sterilisation and the criminalisation of abortion, converges brutally with institutionalized terrorism on the bodies of poor and/or Indigenous people. We must fight for our and other women’s bodily autonomy, life choices and right to free and safe access to services, independently of ethnicity, language spoken, illiteracy, race, disability, location and class.
And this is why #NiUnaMenos speaks different languages: Aymara, Shipibo and Quechua. Manahuk Warmillapas Sarunchasqa Kananpaq – translated from Quechua as “Not a Woman Less”, connotes not one but many more meanings: Not one more woman catcalled, touched, beaten, repressed, forcibly sterilised, silenced, raped, murdered, dead, forgotten.
#NiUnaMenos, as a global movement, is rooted in an intersectional analysis: we are not the same but we are united. As a movement it creates alternative platforms and provides long-term support based on solidarity and direct action. #NiUnaMenos, a fearless raised voice organising against the racist and patriarchal processes of a violent justice health system, also acts as a community core where women create safe spaces/ espacios seguros;
to share/ para compartir,
to heal/ para sanar,
and to keep surviving-/ y para seguir sobreviviendo.
Si tocan a una, tocan a todas.
Photos: Ni Una Menos Peru Facebook Page