Movimiento Machista Colombiano (Male Chauvinist Colombian Movement)

By Maritza Gordillo

Image c/o Flickr.com

A recent news report on the Spanish channel Univision focused on a group of Colombian men forming a movement called, Movimiento Machista Colombiano (Male Chauvinist Colombian Movement). The group’s founder, Beto Barreto, wanted to start this political movement to defend the rights of the machistas. Barreto says he has seen many incidents in which men have been arrested for raping their wives, and he believes this punishment is ridiculous because there is no such thing as rape within a marriage; it is a woman’s obligation to attend to all of her husband’s needs. To be considered as a member in the movement, the Machos must have more than one woman at a time and cannot have a woman trying to sue him for rape or other abuses since that supposedly shows his incompetency at dominating his wife or partner. Barreto compares the absolute dominance he has over a horse to how men should dominate their women. One of his former followers, Otoniel Castañeda, gave an even more illogical comparison of women and dogs. Castañeda thinks that women should take care of the children and dogs are used to guard the home. Because of Barreto’s troubling belief in extreme masculinity, it comes to no surprise that during his political crusade there were two laws that he wanted to implement:

1. Men should not be held responsible for paying child support to their ex-wives, or give their ex-wives any amount of income to sustain them.

2. Adultery should not be punishable for men, but should be punishable for women.

These are just a couple of the gender-offensive laws Barreto proposed if he were to be elected for a position in which he fortunately did not win, but received an astonishing 8,000 votes. It is hard to believe that excessively sexist beliefs like this still exist and that many Colombian women continue to abide by Machos’ rules out of fear. Even though there are laws that protect these women, the fear of physical and psychological abuse keeps these women silent. According to Sonia Bernal, a lawyer and advocate of women’s rights in Colombia, this type of machismo originates from mothers who raise their children to have this mentality. Bernal says that mothers teach their sons that women should be hit in order for them to obey and that young girls are not autonomous beings, but are dependents of men. Barreto would agree with this child-rearing practice when he asserts that women should be hit in order to learn not to commit the same mistake again. Watching this news report was shocking because ignorant ideologies like these are what aid the continued violence towards women.

Take Back the Night 2011

By Bethany Reyna

TBTN march to JC Nichols Fountain (2010)

A 501 (c)3 charity since 2001, Take Back The Night is a mission to end sexual violence and to support survivors of sexual assault. Every year, the global community holds their own Take Back the Night rallies and marches to help raise awareness to end sexual violence. Women from Missouri to India feel unsafe walking anywhere at night, which is why Take Back the Night was established.

The first international Take Back the Night took place in Brussels, Belgium in 1976. At that time it was called the International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women. Two thousand women representing over 40 countries attended the Tribunal. The first Take Back the Night in the United States occurred in Philadelphia in October 1975. Both events were candlelight processions through the streets of their respective cities.

This Wednesday, April 20th, marks the 7th annual Take Back the Night at UMKC, which corresponds with Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The event will begin at 6:30 with a pre-march rally in the UMKC quad. At 7:30 the march will begin, starting in the quad and departing to the JC Nichols fountain where we will have a speakout with several survivors of sexual violence. I encourage everyone to come out to this event. I went last year and not only was it fun, but taking control of our own safety was empowering. For more information stop by the Women’s Center in 105 Haag Hall, or email us at umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu.

Guatemala: The epicenter of violence against women?

 By Bethany Reyna

Image c/o Google Images

Violence is becoming a major problem in Central and South America due to organized gangs corrupting the justice system and threatening local authorities. According to Amnesty International’s 2010 Report, 717 women were killed in Guatemala in 2009 and the majority of those cases went unpunished and unreported.

The United Nations reports that nearly 45% of Guatemalan women experience violence in their lives. Unfortunately, this percentage also includes violence committed against young girls. When Guatemalan girls hit puberty, some fathers confine their daughters to their homes to keep them safe, but this also prevents them from attending school. In response to this parental overprotection, some of the Guatemalan communities are creating groups that teach women and their families the importance of education and reporting cases of violence. These community leaders are convincing fathers to allow their daughters to attend school so that they can have access to knowledge and resources that may later save their lives.

PBS Senior correspondent, Ray Suarez, refers to Guatemala as the “epicenter of violence in Central America.” However, there are still numerous communities worldwide facing the same issues of community-wide violence. Awareness must be raised to help all women and girls living in violent communities to survive long enough to improve their communities; and hopefully help the generations of women after them.

No Where to Go for Many Latina Women

By Patsy Campos

Image from Flickr.com

I recently came across an article in Latina Magazine which made me realize that many Latina women have an especially difficult time trying to escape from a life of domestic abuse.  It seems that no matter where these women go, they can’t get any support.

 Women in Latin America who have suffered years of violent abuse from their spouses have a difficult time getting support from uncooperative justice systems in their native country. Desperate to protect, themselves and their families, they flee to the United States seeking asylum.  However, due to immigration issues, these women are met with hostility and another uncooperative system. And because of immigration issues, the U.S. has made it difficult for Latina women to be granted asylum status even though they can provide evidence that they are in a violent situation back home.

Latina women are faced with a battle everywhere they go.  If they stay in their home country, they are risking their lives by living through sexual and physical abuse.  If they come to the United States, they are looked down upon because of their undocumented status and they risk being sent home where the abuse will more than likely continue.  This is really unfortunate.  The immigration issue is blinding people from the real issue – which is the need to protect these women from domestic abuse.  

As a Mexican-American, I understand the problems many of these women face, especially the undocumented women.  I have had personal experience with women in these circumstances.  I know that they live in fear every day. They fear the U.S. immigration system. They fear going back home.  But most of all, they fear for their lives.  I understand the immigration issue is sensitive, but the system needs to show some compassion for these women who need asylum and can prove that being sent home is a matter of life or death. Rather than worrying about their immigration status, the focus should be on protecting these women from not only the violent physical and sexual abuse from their spouses, but also the neglect of a corrupt system in their native countries that has failed to provide them with their basic human rights.

Giving Thanks to Women Past and Present

Image from Flickr.com

By Arzie Umali

The UMKC Women’s Center blog will be quiet for the next few days as our staff takes a break for the Thanksgiving Holiday.  As we take this opportunity to spend time with family and friends, catch up on some well deserved rest and relaxation, or gear up for finals, we’ll also be reflecting on what we are thankful for. 

A recent Time Magazine article reminds us of some of the women we should all be thankful to.  These women were scientists, politicians, humanitarians, and all around brilliant and beautiful human beings.  Without women like Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa, Margaret Mead, Rosa Parks, and Hillary Clinton, the world would be a much different place.

Human Rights are Women's Rights

This Thursday and Friday the UMKC Women’s Center is proud to be working with the Kansas City-based Center for Global and Multicultural Education to co-organize the 2010 Activism for Human Rights Conference: From Issues to Action. The conference’s featured speakers are Barclay Martin, music director/composer for the Kansas City-based Christian Foundation for Children & Aging’s documentary Zamboanga: Poverty, War, Music; Elizabeth Alex, lead anchor at KSHB-TV; and Jolie Justus, Missouri State Senator, 10th District; there will also be panels and sessions featuring local activists working to promote human rights locally and globally (for a complete schedule, click here).

One question I keep hearing from people is “why is the Women’s Center involved with this conference?” My answer is because as Hillary Clinton famously declared at the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995: “Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.” Below is a video clip from that speech. Watch it and plan to join us this Thursday and Friday (October 14-15) to help ensure that women’s rights are a part of human rights.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXmm0mO3PG0[/youtube]

Cross-posted at http://brendabethman.com

The Revolution Starts with Girls

By Devon White


Fast Tube by Casper
The Girl Effect is a global project that aims to raise awareness about the 600 million adolescent girls living in poverty in the developing world. Their goal is to advocate for health care, educational opportunities and safe environments for twelve-year-old girls. Making these changes can have a big impact on the lives of girls, their communities, and the world.

 Changing the health care these girls receive, as well as providing education that would allow them to go on to get a stable job and making sure that they are in a safe environment to do so can help them avoid the risks of illiteracy, marrying too young, premature pregnancy, prostitution, and contracting HIV all of which can leave them in the same poverty as generations before them and to continue the cycle. This initiative is trying to help start a different cycle from generation to generation: from girl to girl.

 A lot of the data that The Girl Effect bases their ideas on comes from Girls Count, a research initiative that is a part of The Coalition for Adolescent Girls. Girls Count “provides some of the first critical research specifically focused on adolescent girls in the developing world. It demonstrates how providing support to girls age 10-18 dramatically improves their lives – and also results in significant benefits for society as a whole.”

 Both The Girl Effect and Girls Count are trying to take the information to the next level by providing toolkits for policy makers, NGOs, businesses, and even individuals that can help implement the change and recommending a global action agenda to improve the quality of life for young girls around the world. They are trying to inspire a revolution in how people view poverty and to adjust the way we go about changing the lives of the millions of girls affected by it.

 If you’re looking for a cause that asks you to be the active voice of change for millions of underrepresented girls, The Girl Effect just may be the project for you.

To experience The Girl Effect visit:

The Girl Effect Official Website

The Girl Effect on Facebook

Follow The Girl Effect on Twitter

Women for Women International

By Talyn Helman

Image from Womenforwomen.org

I recently came across this article on Bust.com about what you can do to help a wonderful organization called Women for Women International. The organization helps women in war torn countries, by providing them with clothes, food, clean water, an education, and skills to acquire a job. Some of the countries that WFW helps are in Africa, as well as countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

WFW hopes to make long lasting social and political changes to these countries. Their mission is simple: “Women for Women International provides women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency, thereby promoting viable civil societies. We’re changing the world one woman at a time.”

WFW has developed a program, that lasts about one year per woman, in which the woman is given immediate relief (such as food, water, medicine, etc.) then is taught to be a strong, independent person, and taught to assume a leadership role in her society. These women go on to rebuild their communities, and become strong role models for others. The organization even teaches these women about the rights they have, how to speak up for themselves, and teaches them vocational skills to acquire a job.

Women for Women International’s Theory of Change explains why they choose to focus on women in these countries: “Women for Women International believes that when women are well, sustain an income, are decision-makers, and have strong social networks and safety-nets, they are in a much stronger position to advocate for their rights. This philosophy and our commitment to local leadership builds change and capacity at the grassroots level.”

Right now, until October 15th, any donation you give to WFW, up to $200,000, will be doubled by the organization. To learn more about Women for Women International, click here.