We don’t normally don’t look at ourselves and think we’re ra-ra feminists. As Latinas we think the term feels white-washed and we’re almost afraid to admit we stand up for women’s rights and empower each other. Looking back, Latinas are feminists. We stand up for each other. We empower one another. After all, that’s what comadres are for. Latina companionship and feminism is about a circle of women who support each other and understand what we go through. Do you have a circle of Latina feminists? Check out the clip above and compare your experience to Kats.
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Warning: This story is contains accounts of sexual assault, and can be disturbing to some of our readers.
Two weeks ago, four police officers were accused of raping a 17-year-old-girl in their patrol car. Two days later, another officer was accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in a museum. Friday night, protesters took to Mexico City streets armed with pink glitter and spray paint to demand justice for the teenagers, and all femicide victims in Mexico. The next day, Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, the city’s first female mayor, announced the suspension of six police officers implicated in the first case. The officer on patrol at the museum has been arrested.
Still, after nearly a century of living under a police force that women are taught to fear, the women who started the #NoMeCuidanMeViolan (“They don’t take care of me, they rape me”) movement are demanding a declaration of a gender alert in the capital, and tangible action to end femicide.
An estimated 300 women flooded Mexico City streets, and even covered Mexico City’s Secretary in pink glitter.
One officer had been arrested on the grounds of rape the day before the protest, but the four who allegedly gang raped a minor in their patrol car were still active duty on the force at the time of Friday night’s protests.
Signs from the protest ranged from, “My friends protect me, not the police,” to “Sailor Moon taught me that you can kill monsters with glitter.”
The women ended the march at the Angel monument, where they raised their held hands up high.
The Angel monument celebrates the independence of Mexico from Spain, and is the chosen setting for quinceañera photo shoots, and town celebrations. The monument is a symbol of justice and freedom.
The protesters didn’t feel heard by the government, so they made sure the public hears them.
The base of the Angel monument was covered in “Kill the Patriarchy” and “Rape State” phrases, along with a pink feminist symbol on the culo of the lion. By morning, city workers had already begun power washing and repainting the base, now barricaded from view by a wooden wall.
A spokesperson for the National Fine Arts Institute said they were assessing the damage, and that the institute “respects freedom of speech and offers support for actions to eradicate all forms of violence against women.”
Police body-barricaded the doors of their station after protesters spray painted “RAPISTS” on its windows.
In a statement, Mayor Sheinbaum said she perceived the protest as a “provocation.” Sheinbaum thinks the protesters “wanted the government to respond with violence. But we’re not going to do that.” The protests ended five hours later around 11 p.m. when paramedics arrived to treat the injured, 14 of whom were police officers. Sheinbaum has said that there will be consequences for the violence.
The most recent rape cases ignited the fire of an already explosive rage beneath the surface for women in Mexico.
The United Nations estimates that an average of nine women are murdered every day in Mexico. The UN defines femicide as the deliberate killing of a woman or girl because of their gender, often after other violent, sexual crimes.
The Mexican government’s records of femicide rates are so inaccurate, journalist María Salguero, 40, has taken it upon herself to create her own map of femicides in Mexico. Salguero suspects that the state seeks to minimize gender-based violence, so she tracks the femicides for herself. Using Google alerts, Salguero records all of Mexico’s femicidal horror stories of 11-year-old taking the bus home and being found in the very same bus the next day, raped and murdered.
Mexican police have a long history of brutality against women.
“In the late 90s cops kidnapped three girls, three underage girls,” tweets one #NoMeCuidanMeViolan protester. “They raped them, and forced them to clean, cook and do stuff for them. One of them escaped and that’s how this was known. The three families however experienced retaliation.”
These stories are embedded in the fabric of Mexican society. Women have taken to social media to share the lessons their mothers taught them: to run from police. Never make eye contact. “Police are well known in #MexicoCity for being the main source of violence and corruption,” a protester tweets. “In 100 years since the establishment is #Mexico as we know it, no one has brought the police to account.”
Other teenagers have taken to social media to deliver chilling anticipatory goodbyes to their families.
If Human Rights Watch says Mexican laws do not adequately protect women and girls against domestic and sexual violence,” and law enforcement is actively raping young girls, how could they possibly feel safe?
To those more upset over vandalism than the violation of women’s bodies and lives, here’s your translation for the above graffiti: “The walls can be cleaned, but the girls will never return.”
#NoMeCuidanMeViolan protesters do not want to be compared to #MeToo.
“This week in #Mexico feminists protested against the rape of a 17-year old by cops,” tweeted human rights lawyer and journalist, Gisela Pérez de Acha. “As justice is non-existent and the media criminalizes victims, the #MeToo hashtag does not suffice. Latin American feminisms are amazingly organized. #MeToo is not our paradigm #NoMeCuidanMeViolan”
Pérez de Acha is right. In the aftermath of the march, major media outlets’ reporting has focused on the damage from protesters, rather than from police officers.
Some protesters knew the media would bypass the femicide and rape crisis and focus on property damage.
After coming home from the march, one protester tweeted their “final thoughts” about what tomorrow would bring. “Tomorrow’s headlines will inevitably emphasize the destruction of property by women protesting Mexico’s crisis of rape and femicide.”
Mexico’s largest media outlet, El Universal, chose to focus on the counter-protesters, “With hashtag #EllasNoMeRepresentan [They don’t represent me] condemn acts of vandalism during feminist march.” ABC News‘ headline read “Mexico City assesses monument damage after anti-rape march.” The Independent‘s headline chose to focus on a “TV presenter punched live on air during protest.”
So far, the media has quoted more art historians than protesters.
In fact, in all the major U.S. outlets we reviewed, we haven’t seen a single protester quoted in their stories. Instead of spreading more statements from art historians, mitú is aiming to amplify the voices that make up #NoNosCuidanNosViolan.
“I’m thinking about who the media criminalizes and how,” Mexico City journalist Madeleine Wattenbarger tweets. “About what we consider violence, about how the symbolic violence of breaking a window has more impact than the direct violence of attacking, raping, killing a human being.”
Estamos contigo, México. ✊🏾
The case involving four police officers allegedly raping a 17-year-old in a patrol car has gone cold after prosecution said there were inconsistencies in the teen victim’s testimony.
Cecilia Palmeiro is the fierce mujer behind Argentina’s “Ni Una Menos” (not one less) campaign against femicide. Their first national protest was in October 2016, and since then, the movement has touched different corners of a larger issue of systematic female oppression. Abortion is illegal in Argentina, recently ratified after a failed attempt to legalize abortion last year. Ni Una Menos sees abortion rights and economic security as two sides to the same coin.
On Monday, Palmeiro organized another major national strike, drawing in thousands of Argentine poderosas to call on the country to take emergency action for women.
In recent years, Argentina’s economy has plummeted into crisis, causing the government to cut social services.
The families that once relied on these services are forced into private debt. Palmeiro also sees a rising pattern of women being forced to stay in abusive relationships because it is financially unfeasible to leave.
This year’s protest may have had an undercurrent of economic goals, but the message is the same.
Protesters held signs showing the faces of women who have been murdered by their abusive partners. The message is simple: we can’t afford to lose one more woman to unfettered sexism.
With another election coming up in October, protesters regrouped the next day to advocate for abortion rights.
Abortion is only legal in Argentina if the woman was raped or the pregnancy is a risk to her health. Congress rejected the National Campaign for Legal, Safe, and Free Abortion’s bill last year. They’re submitting another bill this year to legalize abortion.
These three touchstones–ending domestic violence, ending the economic crisis, and legalizing abortion–are the key to gender equality for Palmeiro.
Like most social issues, there isn’t one easy fix. It’s an issue that we, as a society, have created over generations and that take sweeping efforts to untangle and undo.
And, like always, women in poverty feel the effects of patriarchal laws the most severely.
Yamila Picasso of the National Campaign for Legal, Safe and Free abortion told Al Jazeera, “We see that there is a clear relationship between these factors because abortion is a matter of social justice. Those who have the economic means can have an abortion, and those who do not must have unsafe or clandestine abortions.”
Around Buenos Aires, you’ll find political art wherever you look.
#NiUnaMenos is calling for stricter punishment laws against men who commit violent acts against women, in the hope of deterring and changing the culture. Women feel a danger walking the street that most men don’t, and this bench exemplifies this implicit policing of women’s bodies.
Here, you’ll see the shoes of murdered Argentine women.
The National Register of Femicides reported 1193 femicides between March 6, 2015 and May 20, 2019. Leaving the shoes of these women at the steps of Congress was an effort to make their absence more visible.
A walk around Buenos Aires shows abundant examples of protest.
This wall effectively reads “Death to machísmo!” #NiUnaMenos’ message is everywhere–from random walls to not so random walls.
#NiUnaMenos is also targeting churches at the heart of abuse scandals.
Twitter user @mariekeriethof posted this photo of graffiti on a church that reads “Trash Church.” She writes, “Anti-Church graffiti on the side of Salta’s main church, focusing on abuse. I’ve seen a lot of very angry graffiti on this topic around Chile and Argentina. Also churches with buckets of paint thrown at them by protesters. #niunamenos”
Even the cast of Orange is the New Black is speaking out.
If you care about this issue, tweet out about it using the hashtags #NiUnaMenos or #VivasNosQueremos. Argentina, estamos contigo.
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