Ni una menos: The Need for an International Day To Eliminate Violence Against Women

Violence against women BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of unwomen.org

“Ni una menos” is the cry for help of women in Latina America fighting for a dignified and safe life. However, women in this region are more susceptible to various types of gender violence, which manifests in many forms, sometimes even unexpected to the victim. 

According to an Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) 2020 report, “1 out of every three women has been a victim of or is now suffering physical, psychological and/or sexual violence at the hands of a perpetrator who was, or is, her intimate partner, which entails the risk of lethal violence: femicide.” 

Similarly, according to la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA), “in 2018, for every 100,000 women [in El Salvador], 6.8 were victims of femicide, which is nearly ten times the global average and the highest femicide rate in Latin America.” The isolation due to quarantining and depletion of health resources experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 has only exacerbated the violence women experience. These staggering numbers are not going down. 

In the United States, Black, Indigenous, and women of color run the highest risk of being victims of domestic violence. Undocumented Latinas are also particularly vulnerable, and more than half the cases usually go unreported because of their immigration status and fear that reporting their abusers could lead to deportation or separation from their children. 

Despite higher domestic violence incidents being prevalent amongst women of color, no woman is exempt from experiencing violence in her lifetime regardless of race, education, sexual orientation, or economic status. However, transgender women are disproportionately more likely to become victims of violent hate crimes. According to the Human Rights Campaign, in 2020, at least 44 transgender women were killed in the US through a violent act, and the majority of these women were Black and Latina. 

On March 17, 2021, the United States House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) established in 1994 to help prevent domestic violence and sexual assault as well as protect survivors. The US Senate has yet to introduce and pass the bill. Last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the reauthorization of VAWA, which offered hope to victims and survivors in the United States that the reauthorization of the law will soon take place.

On November 25th, 2021, we commemorate the United Nation’s International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women; this year, it falls on the same day as Thanksgiving. While the United States holiday is steeped in a history of violence itself, especially the systematic murder, abuse, and erasure of indigenous women, perhaps it could be a day to be grateful for the many women’s rights defenders who every day put their lives at risk championing for the rights of others. 

More importantly, it is a day to give thanks to the many women who have escaped domestic violence situations that threatened their physical and mental well-being or even their lives. 

On this day, the world remembers the many women lost to violence in this silent pandemic and continues to fight so that every woman and girl can enjoy a life free of fear to be hurt simply because they were born, or identify as female. ¡Ni una menos!