Images: Uquira. Image reads ‘We need each other united’
Two weeks ago, the #MeToo movement erupted in Venezuela (under the slogan #YoTeCreo – ‘I believe you’) with hundreds of testimonies disclosing cases of harassment and sexual violence, committed mostly by men against minors and women. Accusations started with Alejandro Sojo, singer of Los Colores, and the wave continued with other musicians, writers, theatre directors, comedians and actors. Venezuela’s General Attorney launched investigations, as some of these men admitted their guilt publicly in their social media accounts. One of them was Willy Mckey, a writer who committed suicide a week ago, after publicly admitting his guilt for sexual abuse accusations. In these 2 weeks activists, feminist and civil society organizations have received hundreds of testimonies, providing survivors with psychological and legal aid; victim blaming and slut shaming have revictimized survivors, with few of them being called by the police for ‘cybercrime and defamation’ reports launched by their aggressors. The declaration below, written by several feminist organizations & activists such as Uquira, 100% Estrogeno & Mujeres en Lucha, calls for a united feminist movement against what seems to be the tip of an iceberg hiding multiple violences, in order to find justice for the survivors and put an end to the accomplices’ society in Venezuela.
As feminist organizations and individualities of the Venezuelan civil society, we have observed since the first day, the wave of complaints about harassment and sexual violence against women, teenagers and girls across the country. We want to highlight that the work of feminist organizations, as well as that of individual activists, is about accompanying and providing orientation, about support and advisory to those who have lived traumatic experiences and who usually cannot find answers in state authorities.
As feminists we believe in justice and that is what we demand. In no way will we allow the blame to be redirected towards those who bravely decided to raise their voices, being the light in the darkness for many survivors.
We want to emphasize that even though the means to discover hundreds of testimonies about harassment and sexual violence was social media, it does not minimize the magnitude of the problematic of violence; on the contrary, this must trigger an awakening to change as a country, as persons and as a society.
It was the absence of the State what led women to raise their voices through social media; there, a political arena was created to confront the sexist power and an entire system that revictimizes us. It was also there, in virtuality, where we wove ourselves, where we supported each other and we said again and again ‘I believe you!’ and we confirmed that the personal is political.
When authorities fail to respond, when society does not believe us, we unite in one voice, as the force of the other one to denounce the violences we go through. So we invite all feminist organizations and other individualities, women in politics, civil society, all the women who felt represented by those testimonies and said ‘Me too!’ to work together in order to expose the structural sexism that surrounds us and asphyxiates us.
- We demand the concerned authorities to improve their complaints’ reception system for survivors to be able to denounce without fear of being revictimized, respecting their right to denounce anonymously, without being judged by their age, physical and mental states, their gender, identity or sexual orientation, among other grounds of discrimination.
- We demand protection for the people who have exposed their testimonies before the public opinion, since many are receiving threats and only the institutions mandated to ensure safety are responsible to guarantee that complainants will not see their rights violated during this process.
- We urge institutions – public and private – which are lacking them, to create and execute security protocols to assist survivors of gender-based violence (GbV), supervising urgently the complaints’ reception processes to guarantee an absence of prejudices; we also call on immediate and continuous specialized training on GbV for civil servants.
- We remind everyone that in order to stop the normalization of harassment and sexual violence, it is essential that every institution and entity – public or private – takes the responsibility to ensure there are safe spaces for women, according to what is established in national and international human rights legal frameworks.
- We demand official statistics about the complaints received by the corresponding state authorities, not just from the current wave of complaints but also from previous cases that are still being processed, including other crimes linked with GbV on which the state must act, with the objective of having an official diagnostic of the problem of violence against women in the country.
The femicides registered earlier this year, as well as the increase of kidnapping attempts of teenagers and women in several points of the country at the hand of what seems to be trafficking networks, prove that the current wave of complaints is the tip of the iceberg under which other violences are hidden.
This declaration echoes the diversity of organizations and individualities that are part of the Venezuelan feminist movement, in support of all the women who have decided to denounce.
In the same cry for justice
They need us united (caption of the image below)