Category Archives: Gender Violence

South Africa: Protesters demand action on violence against women

699FC421-E2A4-4475-92D2-E0AF30BEAF98Demonstrators took to the streets of Cape Town on Friday to protest violence against women [Guillem Sartorio/AFP]

Thousands of protesters wearing all-black, brandishing placards and singing apartheid-era struggle songs took to the streets of Johannesburg to demonstrate against what they called a scourge of femicide in South Africa.

Friday’s demonstrations, which police said were attended by 4,000 people in the Sandton neighbourhood, followed weeks of renewed activism and protests against gender-based violence in the country.

The move has been brought to the forefront of South African society after 19-year-old Nene Mrwetyana was raped and murdered in August by a post office employee Luyanda Botha.

Both told police he struggled to kill Mrwetyana, a University of Cape Town student, after luring her to the Clareinch Post Office in the Western Cape to rape her.

“Society has failed women at every level,” said an eight-month pregnant protester, Alex Fitzgerald.

“We have failed them in a legal sense, on a societal sense, in our community and in our churches. Every institution in South Africa has failed to protect women. It’s become so endemic in our society that people somehow think this is the norm,” she said.

Lindelwe Nxumalo, another protester who stood on a blocked-off street in the city centre, said Mrwetyana “had her entire life ahead of her, like so many women that are treated like this by the men in South Africa”.

Nxumalo wore a T-shirt that read #AmINext, the hashtag demonstrators have rallied behind.

Demanding change

The protest, which was organised by a coalition of gender rights activist organisations, culminated in a march to the city’s financial capital and the headquarters of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

There, the attendees demanded that South Africa’s corporate sector provides funding and detailed plans to assist with combatting gender-based violence, carrying placards that read “I don’t want to die with my legs open” and “Actions not words”.

Marching and dancing up and down streets adjacent to the JSE, the protesters brought parts of South Africa’s financial capital to a standstill.

“The pain the women in this country are feeling is palpable. I completely understand the need to be heard,” Nicky Newton-King, JSE’s CEO, told reporters as she accepted a memorandum of demands.

“The important point of this though is to how we mobilise the correct business response to what is a complete tragedy for this country. We have committed to take this to big business and devise how to respond appropriately,” she added as some jeered in the crowd.

The demonstration comes a day after police released official crime statistics showing a countrywide murder rate of 58 a day, a 3.4 percent increase in a year.

During the previous period, for every 100,000 women in South Africa, an average of 15.2 were murdered, according to government data.

The statistics do not provide a breakdown of the motive behind the murder of women, so it is not possible to say how many were killed because they were female.

A World Health Organization (WHO) report in 2016 indicated South Africa had the fourth-highest female interpersonal violence death rate out of the 183 countries listed, behind only Honduras, Jamaica and Lesotho.

Incidents involving sexual violence and assault have also spiked 4.6 percent year on year with a total of 41,583 reported cases of rape in the 2018-19 financial year, according to South African Police Service statistics.

Although this could be higher as a Rhodes University study suggests that only about 10 percent of all rapes are reported to the police.

The numbers also do not paint an accurate reflection of other vulnerable groups in the LBGTQI community too suffering disproportionate violence in South Africa.

“Patriarchy is so strong that it isn’t only straight women that get it. Men think they can do what they like, when they like in this country,” said another protester, Litha Malula, wearing a black beret.

Government response

The government has been criticised for a lax approach towards crime affecting women and children, even after President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation last week in the wake of the public outcry, promising tougher action against perpetrators of sexual violence and the national publication of a sex offenders register.

“Cyril isn’t serious!” read one angry banner draped at the protest on Friday.

Ramaphosa has since cancelled his scheduled trip to address the United Nations General Assembly next week to concentrate on “critical domestic matters”, according to a statement released by the presidency.

Ramaphosa will now address an urgent joint sitting of parliament and the national council of provinces on Wednesday, the first of its kind since former President Thabo Mbeki fired his then-deputy Jacob Zuma in 2005.

But many protesters fear tougher laws or other similar government initiatives would not deter offenders or change anything.

Academics have pointed to the high levels of unemployment, inequality and poverty as a major contributing factor to the violence directed towards women.

The unemployment rate is 29 percent in a struggling economy, which is expecting meagre growth in 2019.

“Its all leading to a general desperation in society,” said Lisa Vetten, of the University of Witwatersrand Institute for Social and Economic Research.

“The disenfranchised cannot exert much power and what that often translates to is people using violence to express their frustration,” she said.

To change the atmosphere of violence, the issues at its root must also be confronted by the men of South Africa, protester Tefo Tlale said.

“Women don’t feel safe. They don’t feel like this is their country. As a black African man, women are not seen as equal decision-makers or having a critical role to play in society,” said Tlale, who was among the crowd gathered outside the JSE.

“We have to undo that learning and ensure the next generation don’t grow up in a society where they think they are better just because they are men,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/south-africa-protesters-demand-action-violence-women-190913132640008.html

 

The world over, people in crisis suffer sexual violence – this scourge must end

Refugee campA woman in Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, covers her face with a headscarf. Many female Rohingya refugees say they were raped by Myanmar’s security forces. Photograph: Wong Maye-E/AP

Nomtaz Begum had lived all her life in Myanmar. Two years ago, men in uniform came to her village. They killed the men there, including her husband and three small children, boys aged two, five and 11.

She was raped by six of the soldiers, one after the other. They left after setting her house on fire. Badly burned, Begum and her daughter hid in the forest for four days before they were able to flee, making their way to a refugee camp.

This was one of scores of heart-wrenching accounts of sexual assault, fear and remarkable inner strength we have heard, from Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh to Yemen and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Now it is time to end this scourge. The UN, governments, the International Committee of the Red Cross and civil society organisations are coming together in Norway this week for a first-of-its-kind conference on ending sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian crises.

The aim is to strengthen collective responsibility, promote best practices and increase funding and political commitment to prevention and effective response.

The money we raise in Oslo – for civil society, including women’s organisations working tirelessly to support survivors, as well as UN-coordinated response plans, appeals by the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, and other mechanisms – will specifically address sexual and gender-based violence.

One in three women experience physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime, and this form of violence is greatly exacerbated during humanitarian crises caused by conflict or natural disasters. Boys and men are affected too.

When law and order collapse and food, water, shelter, education, and healthcare are scarce, millions of women and girls become more vulnerable, often resorting to negative ways of coping such as child marriage and survival sex.

In 2019, roughly 140 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, of whom 35 million are women and girlsof reproductive age. They require lifesaving health services, psychosocial and livelihood support, legal aid and justice, but also interventions to prevent sexual and gender-based violence in the first place.

For survivors and their communities, the devastating consequences of sexual and gender-based violence include injuries, unwanted pregnancies, fistulae, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, trauma and death. Survivors often face social rejection and exclusion that increase their vulnerability to further abuse and exploitation. Many therefore never report the violence.

Yet our interventions during humanitarian crises remain chronically underfunded, accounting for well under 1% of the record $15bn(£12bn) provided by donors to assist people through UN-coordinated humanitarian response plans last year.

Our strategy to address these shortcomings requires three steps.

First, we must put survivors like Begum at the centre of our crisis response. Rape, sexual slavery, trafficking, forced or early marriage and intimate partner violence are just some of the abuses women and girls face. We must do more to engage, listen to and support those who experience sexual and gender-based violence.

Second, we need to focus on prevention and address gender inequality, the root cause of gender-based violence, which is magnified during humanitarian crises. This requires sustained efforts by communities and grassroots organisations as well as increased attention from governments and the international community.

Third, more needs to be done to hold perpetrators to account. Humanitarian organisations and others need to work with governments on policies and laws to prevent violence and enforce protection. More training is needed for military personnel, public officials, law enforcement agents and armed groups on domestic and international humanitarian law, and how to address sexual violence. Laws must be respected and enforced.

Civil society groups, NGOs and survivors are key in guiding effective prevention and response. The call we reiterate in Oslo to end sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian crises is a tribute to the courage of survivors, and to women like Nomtaz Begum. We must live up to their strength and commitment.

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/may/23/the-world-over-people-in-crisis-suffer-sexual-violence-this-scourge-must-end

Pakistan Asma Aziz: Wife who had ‘head shaved for refusing to dance’

Violence photoAsma Aziz appealed for public help in a video posted online

A Pakistani woman has publicly accused her husband of beating her and shaving her head for refusing to dance for him and his friends, in a case that has raised new concerns about women’s safety in the country.

Asma Aziz, from Lahore, made headlines when she published a shocking video on social media showing her shaven head and bruised face.

Her husband, Mian Faisal, and a servant are both in police custody. Mr Faisal has denied torture.

However, the case has prompted calls for more to be done to protect women from domestic violence.

In a tweet, Amnesty International said “systemic change” was necessary.

In her video posted on 26 March, an emotional Ms Aziz alleged that two days earlier she was tortured after refusing to dance in front of her husband’s friends who were at their house in Lahore’s upmarket Defence Housing Authority (DHA) district.

“He took my clothes off in front of his servants. The servants held me as he shaved my hair off and burned it. My clothes were bloody. I was bound by a pipe and hung from the fan. He threatened to hang me naked,” she said.

She said she went to the police to file a complaint but they procrastinated – the police deny the allegation, saying that immediately after Ms Aziz’s visit to the police station a team was dispatched to her residence but it was found locked and the DHA management prevented them from entering the premises.

Police acted only after the video came to the notice of Deputy Minister for Interior, Sheheryar Afridi, who ordered officers to register a complaint.

Mr Faisal and the servant, Rashid Ali, were arrested the following day. A preliminary medical report found multiple bruises, swelling and redness on Ms Aziz’s arms, cheeks and around her left eye.

Ms Aziz’s lawyers later pleaded that the case be tried under the stricter anti-terrorism law instead of the usual criminal procedure.

In papers filed to the Lahore police on Wednesday, the lawyers argued that the case had caused “wider restlessness and anxiety in society”.

Mr Faisal told the police last week that his wife had started cutting her hair under the influence of drugs, and that he, having also taken drugs, only helped her finish the job.

The case caused a furore on social media, with many voicing their anger at domestic violence in Pakistan.

Pakistani actress and singer Sanam Saeed was among those who spoke out in defence of Ms Aziz.

Women’s rights in socially conservative Pakistan has been a contentious topic of debate for years.

The UN’s Gender Inequality Index in 2016 puts Pakistan 147th in a list of 188 countries based on its poor record on women’s health, education, political empowerment and economic status.

Violence against women and girls remains a serious issue. Activists say official statistics do not reveal the extent of the problem – many cases go unreported.

Women’s Day marches last month brought complaints from some conservative groups. Some of the protest organisers said they received death and rape threats on social media.

Reporting by BBC Urdu’s Shahzad Malik in Lahore

 

 

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-47805840

Two Indian women enter Sabarimala temple in Kerala amid protests

India photo
The temple was briefly shut down for a ‘purification ritual’  following the announcement of the women entering [File: Sivaram V/Reuters]

by Zeenat Saberin

New Delhi, India – Two women in India’s southern Kerala state
have breached a centuries-old ban on entering an ancient Hindu
temple, despite strong protests by right-wing conservative
groups.

Bindu and Kanakadurga, who were in their forties, walked into
the Sabarimala Temple at 3:45am on Wednesday, according to the
ANI news agency.

The temple had been closed off to women of menstruating age
until India’s Supreme Court overturned the ban in September.
However, opponents of the ruling continued to block women
between the ages of 10 and 50 from entering the shrine.

“Today, two women entered Sabarimala Temple. We had issued
standing orders to police to provide all possible protection
to any woman who wants to enter the temple,” Chief Minister
Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters in Kerala’s capital city,
Trivandrum.

A video posted online by ANI showed the two women, clothed in
black, hurriedly walking into the temple. They offered prayers
there, ANI said.

The temple was briefly shut down following the move for a
“purification ritual” by priests.

According to the Sabarimala temple’s website, women of
menstruating age were not allowed to enter the shrine because
its deity, Lord Ayyappa, was celibate.

Since the top court’s verdict, Hindu hardliners, opposed to
the decision, have attacked female pilgrims, threatened
journalists and pelted police with stones.

On Tuesday, tens of thousands of women in Kerala formed a 620
-km human chain “in support of gender equality” from Kasargod
in the north to the capital, Trivandrum.

Manithi Selvi, who attempted to enter Sabarimala last month
but had to back down after being hounded by violent
protesters, hailed the two women’s entry to Sabarimala as a
“brave feat”.

“This is a massive victory for the women of India. These two
women have protected India’s constitutional rights and smashed
the walls of patriarchy. But this is only the first step, we
need to guard our rights in the family, in the home, in the
workplace,” Selvi told Al Jazeera.

“Those who have tried to purify the temple today after the
women entered are standing against the constitution of this
country. We have to reject these ideas,” she added.

Bindu, one of the women who entered the temple on Wednesday,
was threatened by right-wing protesters earlier and her house
was vandalised, according to Selvi.

Conservative Hindu groups said they will continue to oppose
women entering the temple.

“The temple has now been closed for cleaning ritual following
this incident where the women forcefully entered the temple.
We will definitely go back to the top court to fight this
battle out. It’s not over yet and we will win,” Rahul Easwar,
president of the Ayyappa Dharma Sena (Ayyappa Religious Army),
that claims to protect the interests of the Lord Ayyappa told
Al Jazeera.

KK Shailaja, minister for social justice in Kerala, said her
government stands for “gender equality”. She had also
participated in the “women’s human wall” on Tuesday.

“We are upholding the top court orders and our government here
will continue to strongly back all women. We stand for gender
equality. Those saying that women are impure should be ashamed
of themselves. How can they say women are impure in front of
God?” Shailaja said.

“There is no logical reason to stop women from entering any
temple,” she said.

The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has backed
the anti-women protesters despite the court order, in what
critics say is a move to fan Hindu religious sentiment to make
inroads into the region.

Menstruation is rarely discussed openly in India and menstrual
blood is considered impure by many communities.

Across cities and towns, menstruating girls and women are not
allowed to prepare food, enter a temple or touch an idol.

An estimated one million Hindu pilgrims travel to the
Sabarimala temple in the southern state of Kerala annually.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

 

Sisters in Philippines ‘go orange’ to protest violence against women

End violence photoSr. Regina Kuizon, Good Shepherd Philippines-Japan province leader leads the signing of pledge against violence against women. (Ma. Ceres Doyo)

By Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

Wearing orange on the 25th of every month is a practice followed by a number of sisters and staff of the Religious of the Good Shepherd, Province of the Philippines-Japan. But on Nov. 25, Good Shepherd-run institutions and centers in the Philippines were especially ablaze in orange to commemorate the start of the 18-day anti-violence against women campaign in keeping with the United Nations’ “Orange Day” campaign to raise awareness and prevent violence against women and girls.

Sr. Regina Kuizon, province leader, led the signing of the commitment to end violence against women. Among the signatories were the sisters and those who work with them in various apostolates.

Programs were held in three Good Shepherd-run schools as well as centers that cater to women and girls.

Began in 2013, the U.N. campaign picked the 25th of every month as “Orange Your Day” and Nov. 25 as the start of the 16-day campaign. Around the globe, demonstrators came out in support of the campaign. Tear gas was used against people gathered in Madrid, Spain, and Istanbul on Nov. 25. In Tel Aviv, 20,000 people rallied on Dec. 4, while a nationwide strike was observed with many employers allowing workers to participate.

In the Philippines, said Good Shepherd Sr. Añanita Borbon, the awareness campaign lasts for 18 days in keeping with the directive of the Philippine Commission on Women. The Philippine campaign will last from Nov. 25 to Dec. 12.

“One out of four women aged 15-49 [24.4 percent] has experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence committed by their husbands or partners according to the 2019 National Demographic and Health Survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority,” the commission said Nov. 24 in a statement.
Women’s groups, church women among them, have denounced the Philippines’ current President Rodrigo Duterte for continually exhibiting misogynist, anti-women tendencies with his pronouncements and actions.

These women groups continually show vigilance through statements and active protests and online presence.

Borbon, a provincial councilor of the Good Shepherd Sisters Philippines-Japan, heads the sisters’ Ministry Center located at their main compound in Quezon City, Metro Manila. In the compound besides the Good Shepherd Provincialate are other centers with services for women and girls, among them, the Ruhama Center for trafficked and prostituted women.

The Heart of Mary Villa helps expectant mothers, mostly either unwed or abused, in the adoption process as an option after giving birth or how to move on with their lives as single mothers. The Center for Overseas Workers gives seminars and counseling to foreign-bound overseas Filipino workers and returning ones who are in crisis.

In Cavite, south of Metro Manila, the sisters run Bukid Kabataan (Children’s Farm) for abused and former street children. In Davao City in Southern Philippines, the sisters help former women entertainers in Japan, many of whom performed in nightclubs, who had children with their Japanese partners but who returned home after they were abandoned or separated.

So the monthly “Orange Your Day” and the annual 18-day campaign against violence against women come naturally to the Good Shepherd Sisters in the Philippines. “We learned that similar anti-VAW events were held in Good Shepherd missions in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia-Singapore,” Borbon said. “We want to have bigger groups next time.”
The Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines, comprised of both men and women congregations, has an Office of Women and Gender Concerns that focuses mainly on raising gender awareness especially among religious formators. In May, a letter of support for Sr. Patricia Fox, the Australian missionary who had been the target of a deportation campaign by Duterte, was issued by the association on official letterhead. In that letter, the superiors also took issue with the tenor of violence against women by the Duterte administration, though not mentioning him by name.

“We again raise our voices in support of the missionary work of Sr. Patricia Fox and all religious who continue to work in the peripheries and all women who stand up against misogyny, chauvinism and the degradation of women,” the statement said. “We stand with women legislators speaking truth to power and yet dehumanized by men, we stand with women who oppose the creeping dictatorship in our midst, we stand with women who defend our democracy and the rule of law.”

Duterte has made anti-women statements, among them, ordering soldiers to shoot women rebels in their vaginas, saying he wished he had been first to rape an Australian missionary when he was mayor and, lately, threatening to slap International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda after he learned that she has started an investigation of the extrajudicial killings in the president’s bloody war against drugs.

Duterte said: “And that short lady there, the black, announcing investigation … if I see you I will slap you. Who are you to threaten me?”

Three women have been prominently in the news for Duterte’s open hostility toward them. Fox, of the Our Lady of Sion congregation, spent 27 years in the Philippines but was forced to leave; her visa was not renewed and she faced a deportation case against her. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Maria Lourdes Sereno was impeached in May, and former justice secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima is in prison for alleged drug trafficking.

Filipino women are making plans for Dec. 12, the end of the orange campaign.
https://www.globalsistersreport.org/news/equality/sisters-philippines-go-orange-protest-violence-against-women-55683?utm_source=GSR+digest+12-6-18&utm_campaign=cc&utm_medium=email

 

 

“I’ll Tell You a Story” – Violence Against Women in Peru

By Andrea Vale
IPS News

andrea-vale-Peru-629x472
Poor women from the Andes highlands queuing up for aid in a village in Peru’s Puno region. Credit: Milagros Salazar/IPS

LIMA, Aug 4 2017 (IPS) – Domestic violence is alarmingly prevalent in Peru. Not only is it statistically more common than in other, more progressive cultures, but Peruvian women tend to accept it as simply a ‘part of marriage.’

It was therefore both surprising and understandable that the domestic violence classes at a women’s center in the Cajamarca region, observed throughout the summer of 2016, were always crowded and bustling, teeming with adult women and teenage girls.

“Whenever he sees her with someone, that’s when he starts to get angry. And that’s when he hits her.” –Cecilia

“A lot of women don’t speak out against domestic violence because they aren’t as educated, they don’t know about it as much,” one woman called out during class one afternoon. Her fellow classmates all nodded. “Their husbands will insult them and hit them, and the women believe that it’s their fault, that they deserve that kind of treatment.”

One of the class attendees, Cecilia, was reluctant to speak after initially offering to do so, instead staring down at her skirt while her friend sitting next to her, Yolanda, asked, “Are you ready to talk about it?” To which Cecilia quietly replied, “No.”

(Surnames have been omitted to ensure confidentiality.)

When asked if she or anyone she knew has had experience with domestic violence, Yolanda’s eyes immediately darted to Cecilia.

“Many of my friends have experience with it,” she said in Spanish.

When asked if she thinks that some women don’t object to being subjected to domestic violence because they think it’s simply a part of marriage, or a part of the larger culture, Yolanda whispered to Cecilia, “Come on, tell them, tell them.” Cecilia, however, did not answer.

In many Peruvian families, men’s education takes priority over that of women. According to a report by the United Nations, only 56.3% of women in Peru have received at least some secondary education, as compared to 66.1% of men. According to UNESCO, only 6.3% of adult males in Peru are illiterate – as compared to 17.5% of females.

As with almost any aspect of society, education makes a huge difference, but especially so when it comes to domestic violence. According to a study carried out by Princeton University, the less education you have, the higher your chances of being domestically abused are: 42.04% of women with no education at all, and 42.80% of those with primary school education had been abused – compared to 28.93% of those with tertiary, college or more.

“Mothers teach their boys to not do women’s work, that they don’t cook and clean and that’s the woman’s job,” another woman chimed in during class one afternoon, “If the women doesn’t cook and do women’s chores, then they’ll be abused. They won’t be able to get out of it because they don’t have any education, they don’t have any resources.”

All of the women in the class fell into one of two camps. Some wore jeans and tank tops. Others wore traditional long skirts, button down shirts and cardigans. Some were timid – some were not. The ones who spoke openly, condemning Machismo Culture and lecturing the others on the importance of marrying your best friend, were wearing leggings. The ones with waist-length braids and farming boots stayed quiet.

Contributing to that Machismo Culture is the reality that Peru is a sometimes vision-bending fusion of the Old existing alongside the New. While many in Peru drive cars, have cell phones and wear modern clothing, the simultaneous perseverance of a rural lifestyle that feels like going back in time offers fertile soil for that outdated, patriarchal society to take root in.

Consequently, domestic violence is more prevalent among rural women, as is their willingness to put up with it.

“It’s even worse in the rural areas. There, women are just expected to stay in their homes and that’s it,” Yolanda said. “The women from out in the country are quiet. They don’t talk, they don’t say anything. They were raised in that home. Their father hits their mother, and when they get married they get hit. They see it as normal.”

According to the Pan American Health Organization, physical violence within domestic abuse – as opposed to emotional, sexual or verbal violence – is “used much more frequently on women with fewer economic resources” in Peru.

According to the World Health Organization, the lifetime prevalence of physical violence by an intimate partner is 50% in urban areas of the country, as opposed to 62% in rural areas. And there, more than other countries, domestic violence often becomes fatal.

According to the Peruvian publication La Republica, there have been 356 feminicidios, or ‘women-icides’ in the country within the last 4 years, with an additional 174 attempted feminicidios. What’s more, judges have been markedly lenient in their punishments for perpetrators, with almost half receiving less than 15 years in prison, and two receiving less than seven – that is, if they end up being convicted, which only 84 were.

After staring over periodically at Yolanda while she spoke, and visibly reacting to one of Yolanda’s answers, Cecilia became willing to speak. When asked if she knew any stories of domestic violence, she stared down into her lap for a long silence, then nodded.

“Yes. I could tell you a story,” she said.

She proceeded to describe in detail the situation of a ‘relative’ who happened to be the same age as herself – twenty-nine.

“She got engaged to this man … He is always telling her that he loves her, and that he wants her, all the time right?” Cecilia said. “And always saying how much he loves her, and how he’s willing to give her everything, right? But in reality, I can see that it is not good.

“When he tells her that he needs her, she’ll go and be with him. But she is alone. He says that he loves her so much, and that’s why he doesn’t want her to work. He says she should only dedicate herself to her child. She has a daughter, and because of that she can’t work.

“Every instant the phone rings to call her, he asks, ‘Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with?’ And he’ll find her.”

She finished, “He forces her to stay with him. She tries to leave, but he’s there always, always behind her, listening and waiting for her. Whenever he sees her with someone, that’s when he starts to get angry. And that’s when he hits her. She has tried to get out, but he’s forcing her. Because right now she lives more in fear, out of fear that he’s going to kill her if she were to have another partner.”

Cecilia’s hesitancy to speak – whether or not she actually was talking about a “relative” – says leagues about her situation, and that of all the women facing the Machismo Culture in Peru. It’s difficult to grapple with an issue that is in many ways tied into the larger economic, political and historical storylines that have resulted in the perseverance of a rural, anachronistic culture.

The education they are receiving at classes like the one taught at the women’s center is a necessary start – but only if paired with empowerment, so that women like Cecilia can know that they don’t have to be afraid to tell their stories.