What is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women?

This day is observed in many countries as the International Day Against Violence Towards Women. This year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women launches 16 days of activism to be concluded on December 10, 2021 — the day that commemorates International Human Rights Day.

According to UN.org, about 1 in 3 women have been abused in their lifetime. During times of crisis, the numbers rise, as seen during the coronavirus pandemic and recent humanitarian crises, conflicts, and climate disasters. A recent report from UN Women, based on data from thirteen countries since the pandemic, shows that 2 in 3 women reported that they or a woman they know experienced some form of violence and are more likely to face food insecurity. Only 1 in 10 women said that victims would go to the police for help.

Who Were the Mirabal Sisters / Las Hermanas Mirabal?

Las Hermanas Mirabal were three women who fought against the Dominican Republic’s dictatorship. Three of the four sisters – Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa – gave their lives for their cause when some henchmen who followed orders of Dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, savagely murdered them. The sisters and the group they were involved in were a threat to Trujillo because they were involved with plotting to overthrow his cruel, ruthless and fascist government. The remaining sister, Dedé, preserved the Mirabal’s memories until her death in 2014.

The assassination of the three Mirabal sisters was the final blow to Trujillo’s regime. The people of the Dominican Republic, along with the Catholic Church, were outraged. Trujillo was assassinated six months later. Several of the children of the Mirabal sisters grew up to hold important posts in the later democratic governments of the Dominican Republic. The three sisters were assassinated on November 25, 1960. That date was chosen as The International Day Against Violence Towards Women.

A Review of In the Time of the Butterflies

This movie is based on the historical fiction novel written by Julia Alvarez and tells the lives of the Mirabal sisters. I really enjoyed the performances of Salma Hayek, Edward James Olmos, telenovela legend Ana Martin, and Lumi Cavazos of Like Water for Chocolate fame. Although I was already familiar with the tragic fate of the three sisters, I was very immersed in the story and had some emotional moments, coming from a mother’s point of view. This movie is best watched without interruptions. I watched it for free on YouTube and having the commercials arrive during some really intense parts made things so frustrating!

The movie had Minerva Mirabel as the main sister on board with the resistance instead of her sisters, who up until near the end of the movie, were constantly disapproving of her acts. I must admit that I need to read more on the sisters to see if this was accurate in real life. Without giving too much away, I strongly feel the movie ended far too soon. It ended right after the sisters were assassinated and we don’t get to see the Dominican Republic’s outrage or seeing Trujillo get what he deserved. Perhaps they had a limited budget, who knows? As much as I really liked most of the performances (well… Marc Anthony was just blah, let’s be honest), I wouldn’t be upset if there was a remake in the future.

Also, this isn’t really a critique of the actual movie itself but the more common promotional image I’ve seen related to this feature is an injustice to the film. There’s a common misconception that the film is a simple romance movie starring Salma Hayek and Marc Anthony (who only appears during a quick early part of the film) and I feel that this has stopped many people from watching it. Now more than ever, this movie should be seen as the legacy of the Mirabal sisters deserves to be known!

Note: The Wikipedia page where I found the image states it is under fair use.

My Experience with Sexual Violence

I was sexually assaulted by a family member when I was of elementary school age and a second, separate incident happened to me when I was shopping at a thrift store with my mom. I told her that I would hang out in the book section while she went to look for women’s clothing. A man walked near me as I was reading a book and groped my butt a couple of times. The first time, I seriously thought I had an itch and didn’t see anyone and thought nothing of it. The second time was when something seemed off. Thankfully, my mom immediately had been coming back to me and yelled at the man and he ran away. I honestly don’t remember anything after that but as an adult who has two little girls, this terrifies me. It doesn’t help to know that the city I live in is known as one of 13 High-Intensity Child Prostitution Areas.

Thorn, An Organization Trying to Eliminate Violence Against Women (and Children)

I have been following updates from Thorn for years and they are doing amazing work. From their social media page, “Thorn builds technology to defend children from sexual abuse. We join forces with the sharpest minds from tech, non-profit, government, and law enforcement to stop the spread of child sexual abuse material and eliminate the online sexual exploitation of children.” Thorn’s child sex trafficking investigations tool, Spotlight, has reduced agents’ investigation time by over 55% last year and supported the identification of over 2,000 children. As of this writing, Thorn is having a Giving Tuesday fundraiser where you can gift any amount until Tuesday, November 30th.

This post was emotionally draining for me to write, but it had to be done. This issue is a very personal one for me, as loved ones close to me have been victims of sexual violence and together we can work to end it.

Gracias,

Sara aka the Super Latina Nerd