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LibreOrganize 0.6.0 - Documentation

Femicide, “Ordinary Terror”

from the March 3, 2021 Bulletin

social movements women and LGBTQ

Heather Dashner has been a socialist activist since the 1970s. But she always disagreed with the prevailing thinking that women's liberation should wait until after the revolution. Recognizing women as an oppressed group based on gender, Dashner joined the feminist movement and has been part of every struggle for women's liberation in Mexico since then. She currently participates in the Feminists with the Voice of Corn collective.


Many countries have seen a class divide between self-defined feminists and working-class women. Has that been the case in México as well?


Heather Dashner: Let’s say the two tracks in women’s organizing have overlapped and sometimes joined together. In the 1970s, university-educated women came together in consciousness-raising and study groups. At the end of that decade, they joined with union, student, and left party militant women to propose legislation on a woman’s right to choose.


In the 1980s, working and peasant women formed community organizations in response to a worsening economy. Their issues focused on the tasks women perform at home: “There’s no running water!” “We need electricity!” And seamstresses organized — and won a major union recognition victory — after the 1985 earthquake when garment shop owners came to rescue the sewing machines, but did nothing to help their workers.


Women have taken to the streets again in recent years. How did the current wave of the women’s movement begin?


In the 1990s, the women’s movement hit a downturn and became institutionalized in NGOs, academia, and within the PRI government. Some gains did come in the 2000s, on the right to abortion and same-sex marriage in Mexico City and with a national law establishing the right to a life without violence.


But then in 2008 the right wing went on the offensive, introducing right-to-life legislation. Suddenly, lobbying wasn’t working. We needed a social movement again. Droves of young women, newly outraged by the dangers women face, hit the streets with women of all ages. More than 100,000 marched in a landmark April 2016 demonstration in Mexico City.


Organized relatives of the victims of femicide increased pressure on the government, asserting that femicide is a family issue,” and many well-publicized cases have triggered new waves of outrage, including the 2017 strangulation of a woman student with a telephone cord, a murder initially ruled a suicide. Just this last month, a doctor who had reported sexual harassment in the little town where she was doing public service was found strangled in her room.


A national, decentralized grassroots movement has been sparked that continues to burn. The main demand today: end the violence against women.


Has the AMLO government responded by prioritizing women’s lives?


No, and the demonstrations have continued, using many different tactics. In one creative action, activists covered a government spokesperson who came to negotiate with demonstrators with pink glitter. Facebook pages all over the country suddenly erupted covered in glitter!


Aren’t other AMLO policies improving women’s lives?


Certainly, some new anti-poverty social benefits do that. But AMLO still doesn’t recognize women as an oppressed group. This means that some of his reforms hurt women. For example, in cutting government waste, he proposed defunding women’s shelters and childcare centers and giving money instead to women as individuals. Yes, we need to eliminate waste and excise corruption, but AMLO’s using a machete when he needs a scalpel! Child care? AMLO has said, “Let grandma do it!” Women’s oppression will not be overcome with a call for “family values”!


With elections coming up, will feminists vote for Morena candidates?


So far, that prospect doesn’t look great: Morena and AMLO insisted on running a major figure for a governor’s seat who’s been accused of raping three different women, and the investigations into these rapes have been shelved. Feminists, even many in Morena, have led the outcry: “Say no to the patriarchal pact!” and “No rapist will be governor!” [See the Clicks section below for the latest developments in this struggle.]


We women have to strengthen our movement and keep pushing the government from the left, continuing to educate, demonstrate, and organize!