The legacy of “Las Mariposas”. International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

“The term ‘violence against women’ is understood as any act of gender-based violence that results in or may give rise to physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering for women, including the threat of such acts, arbitrary coercion or deprivation of their freedom, whether in private or public life” (United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, United Nations General Assembly, 1993).

Our NGO joins the recognition of this legacy and reiterates its active vocation of promotion, respect and defense of the universal rights of women, in the opportunity to share this note; said Pedro J. Torres, spokesman and president of the Torres-Picón Foundation.

Known as “Las Mariposas”, the sisters Minerva, Patria and María Teresa Mirabal were three young women between 26 and 36 years old, daughters of a wealthy family from the Dominican Republic, university students, married women and mothers of five children between the three, and by 1960, they had already had a decade of political activism and resistance against General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, a relentless dictator who for thirty years had kept his country subjected to a cruel, bloody tyranny.

Two of them, Minerva and Maria Teresa, had already known jail, since the regime had imprisoned them several times, and they were fully aware that the dictator had decided to make them disappear. In fact, on the night of November 25th, 1960, the car in which the sisters were moving was intercepted by the Trujillo secret police and the three women were savagely tortured and beaten to death along with their driver, Rufino de la Cruz. Then the four bodies were thrown into a ravine inside the vehicle to simulate a car accident.

Tired of the tortures, murders and disappearances of those who opposed tyranny, the entire country was horrified by this appalling crime, which was the turning point for the fall of the dictator Trujillo, who a few months later, on the 30th May 1961, he was shot dead on a highway.

Governments, companies, universities, research centers and communities should promote more prevention in health. Pedro J. Torres, of the Torres-Picón Foundation

The Mirabal sisters, “Las Mariposas”, then became a symbol of the Dominican Republic; timidly at first, then with more and more energy, the country began to pay tribute to these three martyrs of freedom.

Since 1981, the anniversary of his death has been taken in Latin America as the commemorative date of the struggle of women against violence. In that year, the first Feminist Encounter of Latin America and the Caribbean was held in Bogotá, Colombia. Later, the General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution 54/134 on December 17, 1999 ratified the date and established on November 25yh of each year as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

However, the struggle is far from over. Every day, all over the world, in all societies and cultures of humanity, the rights of women and girls are disrespected in many ways: deprivation of access to education, the right to a well-paid job, domestic violence, gender violence, economic violence, sexual violence, trafficking in women, exploitation, mutilation, emotional abuse, psychological harassment, and not infrequently, femicide.

That is why the commemoration of this date, rather than a memory, is a wake-up call, an urgent demand, a request addressed to the authorities, to national and international organizations, to civil society, to the entire population, to that they become aware of the serious situation for which millions of girls and women cross the planet every day, so that the necessary measures are immediately taken in order to correct these injustices, which would allow all human beings, regardless of their gender, can develop fully as individuals in a world that guarantees conditions of equality, without discrimination, threats or fear.

In this sense, in countless locations around the world, every November 25th many organizations carry out various activities, such as marches, meetings, conferences, concerts, among others, whose main message is the vital need to eradicate all forms of violence against women as well as offering information to women about their rights, which situations are considered as violence and, therefore, should not be accepted or tolerated under any circumstances, provide assistance to those who face this type of situation, and help them to develop as independent individuals.