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TOPIC: gender violence


One Painting, Many Women

One patient tells our Naples-based Dottoré about trauma and aptly-named victims.

“Dottoré, when I was a kid, I was told at catechism:

‘Do you know that you have the name of a bad woman? When she was a child, a man hurt her very badly, but instead of forgiving, she harbored angry feelings. When she got older, that hatred pushed her to make horrible paintings, depicting scenes of terrible violence. You should not become like her. You must learn to forgive and transform hatred into love. This is the only way you can become a good wife, mother, and woman who will be welcomed into heaven.’”

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Sexual Violence In War: Listening And Healing — And Never Again

Three women who were victims of sexual violence during the Colombian Civil War recount their stories of struggle and survival. They speak up in the hopes that the judiciary will open a new case to bring justice to them and many more survivors of sexual abuse perpetrated during the conflict.

BOGOTA – Jennifer, Ludirlena and Diana suffered a living death at the hands of their aggressors. It was their self-love and resilience that saved them, after experiencing sexual violence during the nation’s civil war.

The Colombian government forgot about these women. But now, they are champions in a battle towards justice and dignity. With different perspectives, they manage to find a connection, something that will unite them forever: advocating so that no one else experiences what they endured.

All sides in the war perpetrated sexual violence. But in the case of these three women, it was specifically the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and United Self-Defences of Colombia (AUC) paramilitary groups who exerted power over their bodies, through the cruelty of their crimes.

These were not isolated incidents and, to the shame of our society, they remain a massive, forgotten outrage.

According to official records, during the war in Colombia there were 15,760 victims of sexual violence. Of that total, 61.8% were women, and another 30.8% were young girls and teenagers. Unfortunately, underreporting plays a significant role in these numbers. Organizations such as the Network of Women Victims and Professionals, the collective Focal Groups - Men Victims of Sexual Violence and the British organization All Survivors Project estimate that the real number may be as much as three times higher.

The three protagonists in our story show how armed conflict has marked the lives of thousands of women in Colombia. They are three voices among many that have come together to demand the opening of a "macro-case," or investigation into sexual violence through Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), which would uncover the patterns of sexual and gender-based crimes among armed groups which have devastated entire communities.

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Domestic Violence: Why Do Some Women Retract Accusations?

Fears of reprisal mixed with emotional guilt prompt some of the women battered at home to withdraw accusations against an aggressor. In Argentina, however, depending on the gravity of allegations, the state must investigate household violence regardless.

BUENOS AIRES — On the morning of Dec. 10, 2011, Argentines were informed of another femicide in their country, this time in the province of La Pampa. Carla Figueroa, 18, was stabbed to death by her husband. Their two-year-old son witnessed his mother being stabbed 11 times.

The assassin, Marcelo Tomaselli, had been freed from jail a week earlier. Convicted on rape charges, he was "pardoned" with Carla's consent, which led him to marry her and then kill her.

His prior violence was no secret and had even made the news. According to Carla's family, the convict's lawyer "pressured" her to sign a conciliatory agreement or pledge of good conduct (avenimiento), allowing Tomaselli's release. This formula, envisaged as an extrajudicial solution to cases of domestic strife, was abolished in 2012, soon after the Figueroa case.

The norm came to be seen as sexist towards women and as "unacceptable in a democratic society that respects human rights," says María Laura Altamiranda, a judge at the Criminal Court Number 6 of Lomas de Zamora in Buenos Aires. Altamiranda, a veteran of household violence cases, told Clarín that, furthermore, it violated Argentina's international treaty commitments to "duly investigate and sanction culprits" for sexist crimes.

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How Spain’s "Only Yes Means Yes" Law Has Freed Sexual Assault Convicts From Prison

Spain's groundbreaking "only yes means yes" law on consent was supposed to crack down on sexual abusers. But early signs say the real-life effect may be just the opposite. Critical voices of its effects keep appearing.


MADRID — In May 2022, Spanish lawmakers introduced what was touted as a revolutionary feminist bill aimed at toughening legislation around sexual abuse. The law was conceived by the Ministry of Equality following the trial in an infamous 2016 gang rape case of an 18-year-old during the running-of-the-bulls in Pamplona. A video had shown the victim was silent and passive, which was interpreted by judges as proof of her consent.

Dubbed the "Only Yes Means Yes" law, the new legislation aims to ensure that a case like this would never come to be again. Now, a sexual act where no explicit consent is given (even without violence or threat) would be classified as rape. Spain would be joining 12 other European countries who have changed their legal definition of rape as sex without clear consent.

It was a watershed in criminal justice and society at large, aiming to completely redefine acts of sexual abuse and give ultimate power to the victim to acknowledge her trauma and pursue legal action .

But the new law came with a caveat: some of those already convicted of sexual assault and abuse would see an automatic reduction in their prison sentences because the new law created a wider range for sentencing. And indeed, more than a year since the new law took effect, studies indicate that a troubling number of rapists and other sexual offenders have been released from jail.

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Catalina Ruiz-Navarro

Why Dior's Frida Kahlo Show Was So Offensive To Gender Violence Victims

Dior recently tried to fight gender violence in Mexico City, in a catwalk inspired by late artist icon Frida Kahlo. However, this took place in the form of an elitist show, with hollow slogans and no real action.


BOGOTÁ — Dior's fashion show last month in Mexico City revived a longstanding debate on whether or not fashion can be political, and even at times feminist.

The collection shown at the San Ildefonso palace was, according to Dior's first ever female head, María Grazia Chiuri, inspired by Mexico's iconic 20th century painter, Frida Kahlo. This isn't bad per se, though it is a little clichéd by now, especially if Frida is to be the only cultural reference abroad for Mexico.

Some of the dresses were near replicas of those she wore in the 1920s and 30s, of traditional huipil gowns one finds in market stalls or of the tight, charro jackets worn by Mariachi bands hired at parties, though probably more finely cut. This alone would have constituted an acceptable though not outstanding collection of designs, conveying Dior's superficial and unremarkable vision of a nation's arts and crafts.

But things became a little complicated in the last parade, when several models walked on wearing white cotton dresses and red shoes, in an allusion to works by Elina Chauvet, an artist from the northern state of Chihuahua.

In 2009, Chauvet collected shoes donated by members of the public, and painted them red for an installation exploring the distressing phenomenon of femicides in Ciudad Juárez, her state. The reference here was trivial if not meaningless, as nothing was donated, there was no collective effort or mobilization, nor any commemoration of the women and girls murdered in Juárez.

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Mariana Rolandi

Shakira, Miley Cyrus And The Double Standards Of Infidelity

Society judges men and women very differently in situations of adultery and cheating, and in divorce settlements. It just takes some high-profile cases to make that clear.


BUENOS AIRES — When Shakira, the Colombian pop diva, divorced her soccer star husband Gerard Piqué in 2022, she wrote a song to overcome the hurt and humiliation of the separation from Piqué, who had been cheating on her.

The song, which was made in collaboration with Argentine DJ Bizarrap and broke streaming records, was a "healthy way of channeling my emotions," Shakira said. She has described it as a "hymn for many women."

A day after its launch, Miley Cyrus followed suit with her own song on her husband's suspected affairs. Celebrities and influencers must have taken note here in Argentina: Sofía Aldrey, a makeup artist, posted screenshots of messages her former boyfriend had sent other women while they were a couple.

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Mara Resio

How Argentina Is Changing Tactics To Combat Gender Violence

Argentina has tweaked its protocols for responding to sexual and domestic violence. It hopes to encourage victims to report crimes and reveal information vital to a prosecution.

BUENOS AIRES - In the first three months of 2023, Argentina counted 116 killings of women, transvestites and trans-people, according to a local NGO, Observatorio MuMaLá. They reveal a pattern in these killings, repeated every year: most femicides happen at home, and 70% of victims were protected in principle by a restraining order on the aggressor.

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Now, legal action against gender violence, which must begin with a formal complaint to the police, has a crucial tool — the Protocol for the Investigation and Litigation of Cases of Sexual Violence (Protocolo de investigación y litigio de casos de violencia sexual). The protocol was recommended by the acting head of the state prosecution service, Eduardo Casal, and laid out by the agency's Specialized Prosecution Unit for Violence Against Women (UFEM).

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Mexico Violence: Femicide 'State Of Alert' In Guadalajara

GUADALAJARA — Mexico"s state of Jalisco is experiencing a violent crime wave against women.

Mexico City-based daily El Universal reports that the number of murders of women, also known as femicides, rose to 150 there in 2015, part of a troubling rise in killings since 2009, when only 58 were recorded.

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