Colombia: Against capitalism and patriarchy, this March 8th we take to the streets

By Impulso Socialista – ISL Colombia

The economic and social situation of women and sexual dissidence was aggravated in the context of the pandemic. The crisis fell on the shoulders of the working class, and for us it was a double and triple burden. The quarantine abruptly increased unemployment. As mothers, heads of households, domestic workers, teachers, unemployed, housewives in situations of economic dependence on men, informal employees, nurses, etc. were the ones who were hit the hardest. In the last mobilizations that have taken place in the country, women and youth have been the protagonists, since we are the ones who occupy the highest rates of unemployment and precarious jobs.

The pandemic also brought an increase in the wage gap, leading us to occupy the lowest paid jobs. We were and are at the forefront of this pandemic. The health and teaching sectors have high rates of occupation by women, and at the same time they were and continue to be the sectors which are most exposed to labor exploitation, double burden and low salaries. Worldwide poverty data show that 70% of the poor are women, which leads us to speak of the phenomenon known as the feminization of poverty. We are the engine of production and reproduction for the world economy, and we are the most violated by this patriarchal system that oppresses us and the capitalist system that exploits us.

Violence against women: National Emergency Due to Violence against women

If there is something that has characterized the fourth international feminist wave, it is the constant denunciation of the multiple gender-based macho violence. The oppression of women and sexual dissidence can no longer be hidden. This is reflected in official figures from international organizations such as UN Women. In 2020, 243 million women and girls have suffered abuse: one in three women has suffered physical or sexual violence, mainly by an intimate partner. The worst thing is that silence remains an imperative, which, although decreasing, hides the dimension of reality. In the world, less than 40% of women who suffer violence report it or ask for help, less than 10% seek institutional support and in one out of four countries, laws do not protect women against domestic violence, but instead strengthen the impunity of the aggressors.

It is known that Medicina Legal and State institutions as a whole are not correctly quantifying the figures of violence against women and femicides. Women’s and human rights organizations are identifying more cases than those officially registered. The Observatorio de Feminicidios Colombia of the Red Feminista Antimilitarista has registered 2,140 femicides from 2017 to 2020. So far in 2021 in Colombia 20 women were murdered in the first 16 days of the year. The Trans Community Network has identified 30 cases of trans-travesticides in 2020.

Let’s take into account that when the outbursts occurred in the country on November 21 and September 9, we were the sexual objects of repression, where violence and aggression were expressed in the police CAI. Let’s add the violence perpetrated by state institutions, such as the military forces, which trigger cases of sexual violence. Let us not forget the case of the rape of a 12-year-old Embera woman. Let us remember the denunciation made by our comrades in Manizales repudiating the misogynist chants of the National Army, which are nothing more than demonstration of how these military institutions are indoctrinating or training to exercise macho violence, that which sustains the war against the people. We also have a systematic and highly worrisome wave of disappearances of women and girls in recent months, and although the women’s and feminist movement, specifically Estamos Listas, have put an eye on this by bringing out trends such as #BuscarlasHastaEncontrarlas, it is necessary for this phenomenon to investigate and address; that the causes of why they are occurring with such systematicity can be recognized and studied and that ways of organizing against them can be proposed.

For this March 8, 2021, it is urgent that we declare the country in NATIONAL EMERGENCY FOR FEMINICIDES AND VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN. Because a year of quarantine with more than six hundred femicides is a national emergency and when we have a State that only typifies a quarter of these, that is not in charge, that is inoperative as well as complicit; this is enough to go out to denounce, and above all to fight, that patriarchy and state inefficiency are killing us and snatching our friends and sisters.

The right to decide is still on the table

Our reproductive autonomy continues to be in the hands and subordinated to the decisions of the State and the Church. This year the Constitutional Court denied the petition for the Abortion Law that the Causa Justa movement brought for the modification of sentence C355 of 2006, which decriminalizes abortion only under three grounds. We believe that this decision of the judicial institutions responds to the fact that they are the ones that cover up feminicides and rapists, the ones that operate in an anti-democratic and patriarchal way. Consequently, the failure of the Law had to do with the fact that there is no social movement of women and feminists that supports and pushes for this type of collective demands and rights. This right corresponds to all bodies with the capacity to gestate, therefore, it is up to us to be in the streets demanding it, and for this year, this becomes a key task that the feminist and women’s movement must face. We must strongly mobilize the green tide for free, legal, and safe abortion in Colombia, the one that arrived to never leave, because we know that, if there is constant mobilization and pressure in the streets, it is possible to obtain victories as our sisters did in Argentina.

Tasks of the feminist and women’s movement in Colombia

It is worrying that the union bureaucracy, the National Strike Committee and the reformist parties -which are still the left leg of the regime and a product of their tradition of doing politics in a bureaucratic and patriarchal way-, do not take our demands as something fundamental in the struggle against the Government and the Uribista regime. It is essential that as women and sexual dissidents we strengthen ourselves as a movement in the country, join forces and energy with the working class, the youth and the students, which are highly dynamic, with the oppressed sectors of society as a whole, and advance in measures that favor us as an oppressed and exploited class. For this, we will have to call for local and regional popular assemblies and national meetings, where we can organize and influence our demands. We believe that on March 8 we must show them the meaning of struggle and demands, push hard for the Women’s Strike on this day too because we know that if women stop, the world stops.

Banners of the struggle

National Emergency for Violence Against Women NOW. That this be declared immediately and that in that sense an emergency budget be allocated to Law 1719 of 2014.

Total decriminalization of abortion, so that all restrictions of the C355 of 2006 are lifted so that we can have access to a free, legal, safe and free abortion.

International Women’s Strike this March 8, 2021

We believe that the way to really achieve a just, egalitarian society without any kind of oppression or exploitation, is to go for a socialist revolution where the working class is leading, where in parallel we carry a strong policy of deconstruction and transformation of the macho and patriarchal conceptions and practices. Therefore, we bet on a socialist feminism that understands that the struggle must be to advocate for the unity of the entire working class and all the oppressed sectors of society, because the way out of our oppression and exploitation is not only through the conquest of reforms within this capitalist and patriarchal system. We bet on an anticlerical feminism, which allows us to highlight the historical role of the Church in the impediment to achieve our conquests; one that recognizes this institution as the niche of many of our oppressions, that is why we ask for the separation of Church and State. More than urgent, it is necessary to strengthen and position a socialist and class feminism in Colombia, that goes far beyond the claim and demand for rights; that understands that our emancipation is constant and transcends the limits of reforms. Socialism will only be socialism if it is feminist, if it carries forward all the demands of women and sexual dissidence, because if we do not fight against the patriarchy, there is no way to overthrow capitalism.

If women stop, the world stops. We have plenty of reasons to go for an International Women’s Strike to put pressure on the government and assert our demands.