Numerous marches and protest events were held this Thursday in various cities of Chile to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, a phenomenon that affects the Latin American region more than any other.

A dozen united feminist platforms called demonstrations in many parts of the country from north to south, concentrating in Santiago thousands of women who marched shouting “No es no” through the main artery of the capital, the Alameda.

According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), 11% of women over 15 years of age in Latin America have suffered sexual violence, which is twice the world average.

In Chile, 43 femicides were committed in 2020 according to official figures from the National Service for Women and Gender Equity (SernamEG); however, feminist organizations point out that there are more.

The Chilean Network of Violence against Women recorded 58 sexist murders, in part because Chilean legislation until the beginning of 2020 only considered feminicide to the murders perpetrated by a formalized couple.

In March of last year, a law was approved that extends the range to informal relationships or at the hands of strangers if they have a gender cause.

“We know that in Chile 2 out of 5 women have suffered violence at some point in their life. It is absolutely unacceptable and requires the full commitment of the State to fight against it ”, affirmed the president, Sebastián Piñera.

Women participate in a demonstration on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in Santiago. (Pablo VERA / AFP)

FEMINISM IN THE NEW CONSTITUTION

During the day, a group of feminists who draft the new Constitution announced an initiative that seeks to enshrine “the right to a life free of violence against women” in the new fundamental law, something that the Constitutional Convention should study.

“With the introduction of this first regulation, we are in charge of a devastating reality experienced by thousands of women in our country. The prevention and reparation of gender-based violence will no longer be postponed issues ”, affirmed the lawyer and constituent Bárbara Sepúlveda.

After a wave of massive marches for equality that began in 2019, the country decided with 80% support, to leave behind its current Magna Carta and entrusted the task of drafting a new one to a joint assembly, something unprecedented in the world, chaired by an indigenous woman, the academic Elisa Loncón, and with the presence of more than 50 feminist women.

Thousands of women participate in a march called by feminist associations in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, today in Santiago (Chile).  (EFE / Alberto Valdés).
Thousands of women participate in a march called by feminist associations in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, today in Santiago (Chile). (EFE / Alberto Valdés).

Another of the hot topics of the day was the rise in the presidential career of the far-right candidate José Antonio Kast, an anti-abortionist who wants to eliminate the Ministry of Women and who will go to the ballot on December 19 against the leftist Gabriel Boric.

“We are in a complex context in which sectors that want to push us back are being strengthened, and we have decided to bet on a transformation agenda (…) to put the lives of women and girls at the center,” said the constituent Alondra Cheek.

The International Day Against Violence for the Elimination of Violence against Women was promoted precisely by the Latin American feminist movement in the early 1980s, to commemorate the date on which three sisters in the Dominican Republic were murdered in 1960, Minerva, Patria and María Teresa Mirabal.

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