Gathered in San Salvador (El Salvador) in the framework of internal working sessions, the members of the International Network of Central American and Mediterranean Feminist Organizations for a life free of any form of violence, share what follows:
In every patriarchal society, violence against women is determined by a transcultural dimension, which silences women voices and experiences, denying and cancelling their stories. With this in mind, we highlight that entrusting sexist violence reparations only to the institutions implies an important contradiction. Therefore, we constitute the following founding manifesto:
The institutional response to sexist violence is, in the best scenario, a superficial attempt to make up for the consequences that ends up mishandling the causes. States share an empty political discourse based on the development of a specific legislation. These laws are focused on eliminating violence against women, but they are hardly implemented. Hence, this line of action ends up being useless and with no real impact on improving the daily lives of women.
These laws alone, without proper funds or the right executive mechanisms, and, most importantly, without taking into consideration the claims and proposals made by the different feminist movements, will not transform women’s life conditions. They are created by patriarchal, racist and capitalist States, and they are not created accordingly to the interests of the socially excluded groups (women, indigenous women, black women, peasant women, workers…). In fact, they mostly encourage discrimination against women and promote total impunity of those who exercise violence against them.
Establishing the legal system as the only guarantee to deal with sexist violence means creating an obstacle to the recognition of women’s voices, experiences and practices consolidated within our fight against the patriarchy. In this sense, expecting the rule of law to be the only source of reparations to sexist violence suffered by women on their bodies and in their lives, ends up undermining them in two ways. Firstly, it means denying the fact that the recovering process lies and varies within every woman. And secondly, by reducing the scope of their own experience, its existence is determined only after being recognized by others. This last point turns out to be the main grievance.
We have finally realized that we can’t expect protection and reparation from a system that has denied our existence as political subjects since its foundation. The rule of law cannot allow our existence nor our identity because it’s based on the discrimination against women.
The patriarchy didn’t expect us to get this far, but from here we can see that we are moving towards a different direction and meaning of the world. One where we have historically held and preserved life.
These are the main reasons why we know that the fight to eliminate all forms of violence against women is rooted in this movement of redefining women’s stories and in the re-appropriation of feminist genealogies as our own space. And there, we will be able to build a symbolic order where we, the women, are voice.
We have established our political space in sisterhood, from where we can tell the story of our resistance and place women and their experiences in the core. As women, we own this place and we will learn from our bodies and our lives how to disarticulate the patriarchy as a biocide, genocide and colonial system.
We know the risk of breaking the silence around naming our own experiences, validating our own feelings and intuitions and calling out on sexual violence; but we are willing to assume responsibility out of our influential role, in order to stop this from happening again to others and, in this commitment with other women, we will transform the world.
Women all over the world are always moving and, by doing so, we have acknowledged that there are many of us taking a leading role in this collective awakening to name ourselves and the world we want to live in. Therefore, we claim the streets, and we recognize ourselves in every other woman.
These are the women’s laws: that the others, all of us, can be safe.
We do not want to be brave, we are free.
San Salvador, May 29, 2018
ORMUSA from El Salvador; CDM from Honduras; Actoras de Cambio from Guatemala; Mains Solidaires and Association Marocaine pour les Droits des Femmes from Morocco; Suds, Calala Women’s Fund, Tamaia and SURT from Barcelona, Spain; and UPWC from Palestine.