Political violence: the new challenge for women

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With the high female political participation, another challenge comes: violence

Political violence: the new challenge for women

There is no doubt that it was a good year for women within the political sphere. In 2018, there was greater female representation within different agencies of important States throughout Latin America.

Leer en español: Violencia política: el nuevo reto de las mujeres

However, a recent study conducted by the Latin American Justice and Gender Team (ELA) revealed that 8 out of 10 women suffer or suffered from some violence within the Argentine political sphere.

But, when can it be considered a political violation? According to the ELA document, it can be said that there is political violence when "any action is presented, carried out directly or through third parties that, based on their gender, cause harm or suffering to a woman, and whose purpose is to undermine or annul the recognition, enjoyment or exercise of their political rights. Political violence against women may include, among others, physical, sexual, psychological, moral, economic or symbolic violence".

So, any discrimination that comes from a third party towards a woman, just because she is a woman and does not allow the full development of her rights, can be considered as political violence. What is the type of violence that predominates? Of the 45 women surveyed, 50% answered that it was psychological violence, followed by 28% of symbolic violence.

It seems that psychological violence was not so important, but it is. Among this type of violence is intimidation in the exercise of public functions, pressure to act against their will, verbal threats or even threats to renounce their position. Aditionnally, there is humiliation when they perform tasks of their position, or when, they are prevented from speaking at meetings or sessions.

On the other hand, symbolic violence is one that seeks to erase the legitimacy of the presence of women in the political sphere. Here, for example, the disclosure of women's information in politics is based more on their gender and their personal life than on development or political trajectory.

So what is being done?

To combat political violence, several bills have already been presented in Argentina. The first was in 2016, and it proposed to recognize political violence as a type and modality of violence against women, however, the project did not prosper. The same report adds that in 2018 several projects were presented, where in addition to recognizing the problem they also propose to solve it.

You may be interested in reading: How does 2018 end for women in Latinamerica?

It's not only in Argentina

Although the report only focuses on Argentina, Mexico is another of the countries where this problem is visible. The Central American country is one of the few that has a high number of female political participation. For Natalia Calera, from UN Women and in dialogue with Forbes, "the increase of women in spaces of power makes them a greater target of violence. If women suffer violence in all areas, this will not be the exception".

In addition, from 2012 until 2016, the Specialized Prosecutor's Office for the attention of Electoral Offenses detected 156 cases of political violence. This without adding the figures of this year, which, according to the National Citizen observatory, there were 106 cases and 16 resulted in homicide.

In Mexico, several reforms have been proposed that help women in the political sphere. As reported by Huffington Post, one of them is "the reform of the General Law of Electoral Institutions and Procedures that obliges the sex of the titular candidate and his respective substitute to be the same". Likewise, UN Women recommends that there should be a protection mechanism for victims; a law that can judge the perpetrators and promote the political rights of women.

Bolivia and the sanctioned law

Due to its quota law, Bolivia is the South American country with the most female political participation. In 2012, it became the first country to have a specific law and regent on the issue of political violence.

The Comprehensive Law against Harassment and Political Violence against Women (Law 243), aims to eliminate manifestations of harassment and political violence that affect women; guarantee the political rights of women, and finally develop and implement policies and strategies for the eradication of any form of harassment.

The consequences of having a high female political participation within Latin American governments, leads to new forms of violence against women. Political violence is not something new, but the visibility of this process is. It is important that governments already prepare contingency measures so that this type of violence does not become naturalized.


LatinAmerican Post | Laura Viviana Guevara Muñoz
Translated from "Violencia política: el nuevo reto de las mujeres"

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