Venezuelan feminists are shaking up social media and calling for real change – Sylvia Colombo

A few years later, an organized and robust feminist movement sprang up in Venezuela. After the North American #MeToo, #NiUnaMenos and many others in Latin America. And, like any organization that defends civil and human rights in the midst of Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship, it faces immense difficulties.

One of them comes from opposition to the regime itself. Among the most committed, there are those who wonder how it is possible that, in the face of such a humanitarian crisis, hunger, the shortage of medicines and the pandemic, feminists now want to speak out and demand respect for their rights. in priority. ? Yeah, that’s too lazy to explain it. But in the end, the union of several of them spoke louder, showing that, especially because of the humanitarian crisis, fighting for gender causes is as necessary as calling for free elections.

The Venezuelan movement is called “YoTeCreo” and although it has organized face-to-face events, it has gained its main strength on social media. First, because we are in a pandemic. Second, because the abuses against Venezuelan women have now taken place in several countries since the start of the diaspora. Today, nearly 6 million Venezuelans (UN) have emigrated and many of them live in countries in the region.

In some cases, the predator and the victim are immigrants, and the abuse occurs outside of Venezuela. As with the Venezuelan writer Willy McKey, accused of abuse by several women. After admitting the veracity of the charges against him, McKey ended up committing suicide by jumping from the ninth floor of a building in Buenos Aires. The case sparked controversy inside and outside Venezuela, with accusations from his friends that women had led him to commit suicide.

“YoTeCreo” went into effect in Venezuela on April 19, when a group of women began posting experiences of sexual abuse by friends, family or public figures. It was like an avalanche, and soon there were thousands of complaints. The main platforms are Instagram and Twitter.

As in the tragic case of McKey, there are several complaints against artists, such as musician Alejandro Soto, of the group Los Colores, or Tony Maestracci, of Tomatoes Fritos. Most cases, however, indicate abuse from different sides, and hundreds indicate companions, family members, or close friends.

There are movement leaders in Caracas and Mexico City who are now facing the challenge. Let the networks be the court of whistleblowers? It doesn’t sound like a good idea. And the case of McKey is exemplary. If, instead of being torpedoed on the Internet, he was brought to justice, he would not have died, but paid for his crimes as he should, in court and ultimately convicted.

The dilemma is which institution should complaints be addressed to? Caracas-based feminists at YoTeCreo have mixed views. There are those who think that it is worth bringing cases to justice of the Chavist regime, even if they know that this is ineffective, the lack of credibility of the institution and the fact that many police stations treat women poorly and underestimate cases of gender-based violence. . Others believe cases should be picked up on the Internet only, pushing for the perpetrator to “cancel”.

Actress Grecia Augusta Rodríguez, for example, has brought an accusation to the prosecution and urged, via social media, that others do the same and exert pressure on the authorities. There are those who believe this is the right strategy, others who no longer believe in the possibility of having a response from a failed state, who did not even pay attention to the collapse of the health of the country in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

From the networks themselves, other proposals have emerged. For example, a group of Venezuelans who are in Mexico are currently collecting local cases with Venezuelan victims, to bring them to the Mexican authorities, and encourage that this also be done in other countries where Venezuelans are located. . It’s a stopgap, it doesn’t resolve the gender issue in Venezuela, but it starts to move the pieces of the game and give strength to these voices.

Surveys by local Venezuelan NGOs indicate that out of 10 crimes against women reported to authorities, nine go unpunished. Since 2015, the regime has stopped publishing official figures on violence against women in the country. According to NGOs, in 2019, there were 167 femicides. In 2020, 256. The year-over-year jump is over 50% and shows how quarantine measures have increased cases of domestic violence.

Attacks against Venezuelan women also include lack of access to health care and pregnancy monitoring. Abortion legislation is not even a subject of debate in the new National Assembly, controlled by Chavismo.

Opposition to dictatorship encompasses feminist causes. However, if he has barely managed to play in this dictatorship-prone arena by holding free elections, opponents end up leaving gender-related causes in dangerous limbo, where women continue to fall victim to more. ‘abuse.

The women are tired and the hashtag #YoTeCreo is in the air. Women are emerging from the lethargy caused by the country’s serious crisis and are organizing themselves around its flags. Because, even though others say they are not the priority right now, they know they are.

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