The trio butterflies behind the international day to end VAW
CAIRO – 26 November 2017: On November 25, 1960 Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo ordered the murder of three Mirabal sisters; Patria, Minerva, and María Teresa, for their political activities in the republic. The date became historically recognized by Women activists in 1981 as a day against violence.
A decade later on December 20, 1993, the U.N. General Assembly adopted by resolution 48/104 the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. In 1999, the General Assembly designated November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (VAW), to honor the Mirabal sisters who lost their lives standing for what they believed, defending the freedom of their own people and saying no to sexist advances by dictator Rafael Trujillo.
Who are the Mirabal sisters?
The Mirabal sisters were bright young women who kept education above all in a time where education was not common for women. Three of the four sisters earned college degrees. While Dedé Mirabal stayed home to take care of the household. Together, the sisters led the Movement of June 14, a movement that ended up uniting the middle class against Trujillo’s dictatorship. The sisters were called, during this movement by an underground name, “Las Mariposas” (The Butterflies). Upon realizing a quiet revolution was happening behind his back, Trujillo had The Butterflies and their supportive husbands incarcerated. He ordered their murder on November 25.
The last remaining Mirabal sister, Dedé, raised their six children and founded the Mirabal Sisters Foundation. She continued to keep their names alive, until her death in 2014.
Several films documented the story of the Mirabal sisters. The most popular and recent one is called "In the Time of the Butterflies." The film stars Salma Hayek, Edward James Olmos, Mía Maestro, and Grammy-winning singer Marc Anthony. The Mirable sisters were also recognized in textbooks and are looked to by women and men as symbols of feminist resistance. Their home in Salcedo continues to stand as a museum.
Why an International Day on Violence Against Women?
Violence against women is one of the most devastating and widespread human rights violations in the world. It is a consequence of discrimination against women, in law and also in practice, as well as of persisting gender inequalities. It impacts and impedes progress in poverty reduction, combating HIV/AIDS, and peace and security. Marking this day sends a message to the world that violence against women and girls is not inevitable and that prevention is possible and essential.
Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will require more efforts, including legal frameworks, to counter deeply rooted gender-based discrimination that often results from patriarchal attitudes and related social norms.
Intolerable facts about violence against women:
According to the U.N. Secretary General; the latest report on progress towards the sustainable Development Goals, in 87 countries, 19 percent of women between 15 and 49 years of age said they had experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner. In the most extreme cases, such violence can lead to death.
In 2012, almost half of all women who were victims of intentional homicide worldwide were killed by an intimate partner or family member, compared to 6 percent of male victims. Another extreme case of violence against women is female genital mutilation/FG cutting, which declined by 24 percent since 2000. Nevertheless, in some countries one in three girls between 15 and 19 years of age have undergone the procedure compared to nearly one in two girls in 2000.
Moreover, only just over half (52 percent) of women between 15 and 49 years of age who are married or in a relationship make their own decisions about consensual sexual relations and use of contraceptives and health services. Also, the report show that achieving gender equality helps in preventing conflict and high rates of violence against women correlates with outbreaks of conflict.
2017 Theme: Leave no one behind
Logo for the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence campaign led by the Secretary General's initiative UNiTE to End Violence Against Women - UN Photo
The U.N. Secretary General's initiative UNiTE to End Violence against Women, launched in 2008, leads the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, which aims to raise the public awareness and mobilize people around the world to create and bring about change.
The 16 days run from November 25 to December 10, which is Human Rights Day. The theme of the 2017 campaign is “Leave no one behind: end violence against women and girls.” It reinforces the UNiTE Campaign’s commitment to a world free from violence for all women and girls around the world, while reaching the most underserved and marginalized women, including refugees, migrants, minorities, indigenous peoples, and populations affected by conflict and natural disasters, amongst others.
The campaign invites people around the world annually to “Orange the World,” the color designated by the UNiTE campaign to symbolize a brighter future without violence.
This article is part of Egypt Today's campaign “Break the Silence ... Say No to Violence” marking the 16-Day campaign of activism against gender-based violence GBV from November 25 to December 10.