'The Rapist is You': The Global Feminist Movement's New Battle Hymn
Thu, April 22, 2021

'The Rapist is You': The Global Feminist Movement's New Battle Hymn

Gender-based violence is a human rights issue often overlooked across the world. While most countries have laws protecting women, these are often not implemented properly / Photo by: Giulio_Fornasar via Shutterstock

 

Gender-based violence is a human rights issue often overlooked across the world. While most countries have laws protecting women, these are often not implemented properly. In some cases, governments have a lack of political will to keep women safe. 2018 data by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) revealed that an average of 137 women globally are killed by a partner or family member every day. This makes home the most likely place for a woman to be killed.

Femicide is a sex-based hate crime term that involves intentionally murdering women simply because they are women. Preliminary findings of an ongoing study by the World Health Organization and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine revealed that more than 35% of all femicide across the world are committed by an intimate partner. Also, an estimated 5,000 ‘honor’-related murders are reported annually. These murders involve women being killed for an actual or assumed sexual or behavioral transgression. 

Unfortunately, despite reports and statistics showing how evident femicide is across the globe, governments’ continuous efforts are nowhere to be found. The culture of high tolerance towards violence against women is evident, particularly in Latin America. In Latin America and the Caribbean, 12 women and girls are killed every day – with over 98% cases going unprosecuted. The 2016 “Gendered Analysis of Violent Deaths” report showed that among 25 nations with the highest rates of femicide in the world, 14 are from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Femicide is categorized into several aspects: targeted killings of women in armed conflict; organized crime femicide; dowry-related femicide; the murder of aboriginal women and girls; sexual-orientation-hate crimes; honor killings; intimate femicide, and non-intimate femicide. Despite the continuous call of the feminist movement to hold men accountable and to change the system, violence and sexism still reign in patriarchal society. 

Rallying Against Gender-Based Violence

Every day, women are faced with the fact that they will never be safe in this society as long as patriarchy reigns in each country. Worse, femicide has become so normalized, many people see it as a common part of their lives. This is particularly evident in women who are socially and economically disadvantaged, where levels of education and development are low. Violence against women continues to be a major obstacle to the fulfillment of women’s human rights.

Recently, hundreds of thousands of women from Mexico to Sudan to France staged a protest, marking this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The mobilization aims to honor over 90,000 women murdered by men every year. It is also a platform to demand the end of rape and all forms of domestic abuse. Gender-based violence is rooted in a patriarchal system and macho culture.

Every day, women are faced with the fact that they will never be safe in this society as long as patriarchy reigns in each country. Worse, femicide has become so normalized, many people see it as a common part of their lives / Photo by: Lolostock via Shutterstock

 

Female activists in Chile appeared en masse as part of their country's ongoing protests against extreme levels of inequality in several aspects including education, healthcare, and other basic rights. The protest was held outside the Ministry for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, which was organized by the feminist collective Lastesis. The demonstrators marched in the streets with red hands painted over their mouths.

There are also protests from different parts of the world. Activists staged a protest in Mexico City, calling on authorities to do more to combat the high rates of femicide. According to BBC, a British free-to-air television news channel, demonstrators in Argentina adopted a similar tactic to Chile as they covered their mouths with purple painted hands. In Uruguay's capital Montevideo, women and men wore black as they marched against gender-based violence. 

Also, activists in Honduras hung stuffed animals from ropes in memory of murdered women, while women from Panama City lay under sheets covered in fake blood to represent those killed as a result of femicide.

New Battle Hymn

However, the highlight of all these rallies was Chile activists’ performance piece titled “A rapist in your way.” The performance piece aimed to protest the longtime failure of a patriarchal system to protect women. According to The Independent, a British online news publication established in 1986, it is the lyrical and visual antidote to the historical argument that being raped or murdered is the woman’s fault – that they should be the one to blame. 

It raises the issues surrounding victim-blaming culture as well as emphasizes how government institutions are responsible for the continued perpetration of violence against women. As Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, said, “Rape isn’t an isolated brief act. It damages flesh and reverberates in memory.” 

Their chant, translated roughly into English, goes: 

“The patriarchy is a judge who tries us for being born and our punishment is the violence you see now. 
It’s femicide, impunity for my murderer, it’s disappearance, it’s rape.
And it wasn’t my fault, not where I was, nor how I was dressed.
You are the rapist, you are the rapist.
It’s the police, the judges, the state, the president. The oppressive state is a macho rapist.”

Since it was performed, the chant has become a battle cry for the feminist movement. This serves as a reminder that despite progress, the fight for equality will take a long time to end. This is a wake-up call for governments to acknowledge that women’s rights should not be taken for granted and prioritize protecting women across the world. 

However, the highlight of all these rallies was Chile activists’ performance piece titled “A rapist in your way.” The performance piece aimed to protest the longtime failure of a patriarchal system to protect women / Photo by: erlucho via Shutterstock