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9 December, 2016

State and Violence against Indigenous Women

A state that does not respect or promote respect for rights is a State that promotes violence.

Foto: CHIRAPAQ archive.

This November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. What is the source of this violence?

The numbers of femicides are maintained and in many countries have increased. Access to rights is particularly difficult for women, but it is even more so if they belong to an indigenous or Afro-descendant people, and the few figures disaggregated by ethnic group demonstrate this.

The figures show increases and percentage decreases in different areas of rights, to the point that they do not represent a novelty newsworthy. What is truly alarming is to find that these figures are maintained over time, why?

The State is the main guarantor of rights and the lack of these, or their violation, point to a structural problem: a State that does not respect or promote respect for rights is a State that promotes violence.

It is this absence of policies in favor of the eradication of violence end up facilitating its continuity, especially when it is the same State that causes much of these violence.

To understand the dimension of violence it is necessary to see them as a set, accumulated in time, of conditions that allow and enable their continuity and persistence in our society. These are not isolated or domestic events, or that are unleashed only in times of armed conflict or social violence, or to see both of them as separated with no greater connection to each other than the use of violence. Violence is the result of a long process of accumulation of denial and systematic exclusion of the exercise of rights and its justification appealing to morals, customs, traditions, norms or laws.

In this sense the role of the State as perpetrator of violence covers a wide range, either by direct action or by omission.

From legal gaps and inaction against social and economic situations that are the breeding ground for violence, to the exercise of various types of physical and psychological violence in charge of their most tangible representation: institutions and their officials, Of direct actions such as ignorance of the specific rights of the so-called and worse conceptualized “ethnic minorities” as is the case of territorial rights and the concession and exploitation of natural resources to third parties, whose operations have increased the vulnerability of Indigenous women, as different studies show, on specific topics such as sexual exploitation, domestic violence, loss of identity, suicide, food insecurity and increased HIV / AIDS in different Amazonian communities, as well as mercury and other metals contamination Heavy discharges into the flow of rivers.

As an example, there is the case of Machiguenga women around the Camisea gas project. The introduction of the monetary economy and the participation of men as workers has led to a fierce transformation of cultural patterns. Women formerly producing mastic and food products are subject to greater dependence on the male. Access to liquor – which no longer has to wait for its domestic production but its acquisition in stores – has triggered domestic violence, coupled with the increase in sexually transmitted diseases.

For the Andean area we have the case of forced sterilizations, whose evidence indicates that it was a systematic practice from the State and not yet implement comprehensive policies of reparation and condemnation of direct and mediate officials speaks of the continuity of violence by Part of the State.

But these are not only cases exercised by third parties. The responsibility of the State is made visible through its officials and the greater denunciations of mistreatment to the point of affecting the emotional stability and life of indigenous women occur in the health system, justice, education, citizen security and Social programs that far from representing the spaces of support and help become spaces of abuse and even death.

Efforts to reverse this situation have been taking place, but they are not enough and we need more and better initiatives that transcend victimization and give us a leading role to indigenous women in the sense of strengthening our role, resignify our role within the Society and to participate in the design of policies and to accompany their implementation.

In this way, the State requires greater intervention in the eradication of violence, being the first to eradicate violence within its practices of power and exercise of its sovereignty, making the integral recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples , The first step towards the construction of inclusive societies, but above all, for the construction of life and dignity.

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