While living in a machista country, these women are taking a stance and climbing ice cold mountains…in their skirts.
An indigenous group of women in Bolivia, known as “Cholitas,” are mostly recognized for their traditional attire, including round hats, large earrings, and colorful skirts. These women are sticking to their indigenous attire while they battle against gender roles of women in Bolivia.
What started off as a group of women who once worked as cooks in the mountains, then turned into a group of women who had a passion for mountain climbing. Leader of the mountain climbing Cholitas, Jimena Lidia Huayales, points out the criticism they’ve received such as, “How could a woman climb a mountain? That’s wrong!” Although mountain climbing is not under the expected criteria of what it means to be a “proper” Bolivian woman, being on top of a mountain is what makes them feel so free – above the world and above every oppressive inequality.
A former female firefighter was just given a settlement of $3.2 million by the city of Boston for what she characterized as a culture of sexual harassment, shaming, and silencing. Nathalie Fontanez says she was retaliated against by the Boston Fire Department for reporting a sexual assault she experienced at the hands of a colleague.
In 2018, Fontanez says she was sexually assaulted by fellow firefighter David Sanchez.
It all began when Fontanez joined the Boston Fire Department in 2011. The department was looking to hire fluent Spanish speakers, and Fontanez considered the opportunity a “golden ticket”. It was an opportunity for her, a single mom, to provide for her daughter without the assistance of welfare. And, she could prove to her daughter that women can do anything.
But Fontanez’s dream soon turned into a nightmare. After joining the department, she faced an inordinate amount of hazing and harassment because she was a woman and a Latina.
“I’m not a veteran. I’m not a man. I’m a Latin woman. If there was a totem pole, I was at the very bottom,” she explained. “I felt that I had to tolerate anything that came my way, because I was lucky to be there,” she said.
After reporting the incident to her superiors, she says that her colleagues turned on her.
In a recent press conference, Fontanez explained the experience in more detail. “Incidents began to escalate and I was then shamed and labeled a trouble-maker,” she said. “The guys that I once relied on for my life’s safety now turned against me.”
Fire departments don’t get the scrutiny law enforcement gets on racism/sexism because it’s mostly work related. The public sees firefighters putting fires out and views them as heroes. We don’t see the ugliness that takes place back at the fire house.
While Sanchez was convicted of assault and battery and sentenced to two years of probation, Fontanez says that she was harassed and isolated by her station mates. According to her, the retaliation also included being denied a promotion and being ignored at social events.
“I was often reminded by some of my colleagues that I had taken a job from a man who could have been providing for his family, even though I was a single parent providing for mine,” she said.
Last month, the city settled with Fontanez for $3.2 million. But Fontanez says it’s not about the money–it’s about changing the toxic culture of firehouses.
“I’m breaking my silence because I believe that women firefighters deserve equal treatment in the Boston Fire Department,” Fontanez said during the news conference. “However, at this point that is the dream, but not the reality, for many women firefighters. The department is overdue for change, and the time for change is now.”
LGBTQ Bolivians are celebrating the news of a gay couple who have been together for 11 years and just now had their relationship legally recognized by the government.
After a two year legal battle, the nation’s Constitutional Court ruled that Bolivia’s registró civilmust recognize the couple’s relationship and afford them the same rights that opposite-sex couples have.
Many are hoping that this court ruling from the nation’s highest court will lead to additional changes for the country’s LGBTQ community and finally bring marriage equality to one of the few remaining countries in South America that don’t already recognize same-sex marriage.
A gay couple has become the first same-sex couple to get legally married in Bolivia.
After a protracted legal fight, David Aruquipa, a 48-year-old businessman, and Guido Montaño, a 45-year-old lawyer, were able to marry one another thanks to a court ruling in their favor.
Although the country’s constitution still defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, many are seeing this legal ruling as a victory for Bolivia’s LGBTQ community, not to mention the newlywed couple.
Aruquipa and Montaño’s legal battle kicked off in 2018 when the Bolivian civil registry refused to recognize their union, arguing that the country did not allow same-sex marriages.
Bolivia’s constitutional court ruled in July that the civil registry must recognize their relationship as a free union. The court also ruled that the country’s constitution must be interpreted in a way that lines up with human rights and equality standards. Referencing a 2017 opinion published by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the constitutional court ruled that all rights enjoyed by opposite-sex couples should be given to same-sex couples.
And although this court ruling didn’t legalize same-sex marriage in Bolivia, it’s a major step forward towards reforming the country’s marriage laws.
David and Guido have been together for more than 11 years and hope their marriage brings hope to the LGBTQ community.
Aruquipa and Montaño have been together for more than 11 years, with two of those years being involved in this complicated legal battle. So, it was a major win for the couple to be able to finally see their union recognized by the government.
Following the court’s ruling in July, José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch, said: “Gay and lesbian couples are an integral part of Bolivia’s social fabric and deserve to be recognized by the state and its institutions.”
At a press conference following their marriage, Arequipa said of their marriage that “It is an initial step, but what inspires us is [the goal] of transforming the law.” He added that “All civil registries in Bolivia should stop treating us like second class citizens and start recognizing our unions.”
“It is an initial step, but what inspires us is [the goal] of transforming the law,” Aruquipa said at a press conference.
Despite religious pushback, Latin America has gradually come to accept same-sex marriage.
Despite considerable opposition from religious groups, gay marriage has become increasingly accepted in Latin America. In fact, same-sex couples were legally able to marry in Argentina (2010), Brazil and Uruguay (2013) before they were accepted in the United States (2015).
Colombia and Ecuador were ahead of the curve, having de facto recognition of same-sex couples since 2007 and 2009 respectively. Meanwhile, parts of Mexico have been accepting same-sex marriage since 2010.
In January 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that the American Convention on Human Rights recognizes same-sex marriage as a human right. This has made the legalization of such unions mandatory in the following countries: Barbados, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Suriname.
However, public opinion and treatment of the LGBTQ community remains complicated. Paraguay and Bolivia still maintain constitutional bans on same-sex marriage but people’s attitudes can be even more challenging. Violence against same-sex couples and transgendered people are still major issues that affect the LGBTQ community across Latin America.