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Category: Violence Against Women

How Miss Peru Contestants Shined the Spotlight on Femicide

Latin America, Peru, Human Rights, women's rights, Violence Against Women

Picture this: Gorgeous women dressed in sequin gowns line up on stage. One by one, they step up to the microphone and introduce themselves.  

“My name is Camila Canicoba, and I represent the department of Lima. My measurements are: 2,202 cases of femicide reported in the last nine years in my country,” says the first.

“My name is Karen Cueto, and I represent Lima and my measurements are 82 femicides and 156 attempted femicides so far this year,” says the second.

No, this isn’t a UN Women gala. It’s the 2017 Miss Peru pageant. In a surprising twist, the 23 contestants broke the tradition of revealing their measurements (bust, waist, and hip) to announce far more important numbers: the statistics on violence against women in their homeland.

The numbers are easy to gloss over. (How many more women die in car crashes each year, you might ask.) True, statistics can come across as meaningless without the stories behind them, which is why the faces of battered women flashed behind the contestants as they spoke. But they didn’t end there. Each woman finished by answering the following: which law would they change to end violence against women?

Latin America's 'Woman' Problem

Pageant organizer Jessica Newton’s brilliant idea put women’s rights center stage and turned an old fashioned competition into a moment of solidarity. But why in Peru? And why now?

The Bigger Picture: #BringBackOurGirls is Only the Tip of the Iceberg

It has been two years since the abduction of 267 schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria. The tragedy initially shocked the world. Since 2014, the coverage of continuing kidnappings has dwindled, and the international community has seemed to remove itself from immediate concern.

However, the relative ease at which Boko Haram was able to carry out the kidnapping in Chibok has only led to an increase in abductions over the past two years. In order to educate the international community on the tragedies occurring in Nigeria, the female victims of Boko Haram deserve the ability to share their stories with the public both through peace negotiations and the media.

Beginning in 2012, schools became Boko Haram’s central target for abductions, which only worsened the already drastic education indices in northeastern Nigeria. The group has since destroyed almost 1,000 schools and targeted thousands of teachers and students.

The tragedies endured by the Chibok schoolgirls, which sparked the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, has been endured by thousands of young women in northeastern Nigeria over the past six years. Unfortunately, many of the victims continue to remain invisible to the world’s eye. According to the International Organization for Migration, the number of displaced people, or IDPs, in northeastern Nigeria has skyrocketed to 2.6 million, along with 17,000 people killed due to the six-year insurgency by Boko Haram.

Chill, It's Just Gender-Based Violence: The "Comfort Women" Settlement

Statue commemorating "comfort women"

East Asia neighbors South Korea and Japan have recently made international headlines in light of their brash resolution for “comfort women.” Heard of it before? Chances are more than likely you haven’t.

In arguably the most brutal crime against women in history, “comfort women” refers to the massive sexual slavery of thousands of Korean women at the hands of the Japanese government. Up until news of the recent “resolution” between South Korea and Japan regarding just this, the subject of comfort women has remained notably absent from the international conversation. But why all of the silence regarding such a pivotal part of history?

The answer is simple: the lives of women and the violence they too often suffer simply do not matter.

This is made alarmingly clear by the lackadaisical manner in which Japan and South Korea have "resolved" the comfort women debacle. Vacuous at best, the so-called comfort women resolution is a slap in the face to the very women who endured the unthinkable, the un-survivable. And despite the very public disapproval of Japan’s proposed resolution by surviving comfort women, the Korean government has accepted Japan’s settlement, which includes the removal of a statue honoring the legacy of the ever-resilient “comfort women.”

The passivity, and some may argue continued lack of acknowledgment, by the Japanese government trivializes this historic venom and shows us all just how undervalued the lives of women truly are.

Japan’s longstanding and blatant unresponsiveness to this historical obstruction of human rights parallels the global community’s tendency to pacify, trivialize, and/or ignore altogether human rights abuses against women.

Silent Violence Against Women

How many victims of silence there are, and at what cost! Silence has its laws and its demands.... Silence demands that its enemies disappear suddenly and without a trace. Silence prefers that no voice of complaint or protest or indignation disturb its calm. And when such a voice is heard, silence strikes with all its might to restore the status quo ante—the state of silence.     —Ryszard Kapuscmski, The Soccer War


November 25 is the UN-proclaimed International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Violence against women is a year-round occurrence and continues to an alarming degree. It presents an attack upon women’s bodily integrity and their dignity. We need to understand the universality of violence against women; the various forms it takes; and the ways in which gender-based violence, discrimination, and the broader system of domination are inter-related. The value of a designated day is that it serves as a time of analysis of the issue and of rededication to taking action.

Rape, Child Marriage and FGM

One in three women will be physically, sexually or otherwise abused during her lifetime, with rates reaching 70 percent in some countries. This ongoing crisis permeates socioeconomic classes, races, creeds, and geographical regions, threatening human rights on a global scale. In light of increasing political will to address this injustice through the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) and the Women’s Rights Treaty (CEDAW) , here are 10 facts you may not know about violence against women.

1)      The "R" Word

Over 22 million women in the United States have been raped in their lifetime.

2)      Intimate Partner Violence

The World Health Organization reports that 35% of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. 

3)      Reproductive Health

A woman dies every 90 seconds in pregnancy or childbirth - more than 350,000 women each year.

The Criminal Misogyny of Boko Haram

Women at a Nigerian traditional coronation ceremony. (By Linda Adiele from Port Harcourt, Nigeria - DSC01045, CC BY 2.0,

We all remember #BringBackOurGirls, a movement built around protesting the kidnapping of over 200 girls from Chibok Government Secondary School in Borno State, Nigeria.

Boko Haram has continued to abduct women and children in the eight months since that mass kidnapping. A December raid just north of Chibok included a kidnapping of at least 185 women and children. In a recent kidnapping that crossed over into neighboring Cameroon, Boko Haram took as many as 80 victims, with as many as 50 being children. Following the attack on Baga, in which as many as 2,000 were slaughtered, 300 women and children were imprisoned in a school. During that assault on Baga, reports indicate a woman was murdered while giving birth. The list goes on.

We Can Teach Rapists Not to Rape

Photo Credit: The Enliven Project by Paul Pierson

After the initial relief of the guilty verdict of the Steubenville rape case, I was horrified to see postings, tweets, and even newscasters giving sympathy to the accused convicted rapists. Complete victim-blaming rants along the lines of "Be responsible for your actions ladies before your drunken decisions ruin innocent lives," were scattered throughout the internet. As if the unconscious girl provoked the attack. As if she had any say in what was done to her. Now the brave survivor is receiving death threats.

These reactions make it no wonder that only 46% of rapes are even reported because of the fear and public shaming the victims receive. The Steubenville Case is only one out of 3% of cases that result in a conviction. One in 3%. It seems the impossible has happened --- justice for a rape survivor. Yet the backlash and rape-sympathizers that we have seen throughout the case and after the delinquent verdict, points to a huge problem our society has with women and girls.

Misconception about rape feeds these horrible reactions. Rape isn't just committed by scary strangers hiding in the bushes; they are most often a boyfriend you trusted or an acquaintance. In fact, 2/3 of rapes occur by someone known to the victim. It is sickening to think that cases similar to the Steubenville happen every weekend. Most will not result in a conviction.

The. Very. Best. Valentine. Ever.

CEDAW Valentine

This year I came up with the best Valentine's Day gift ever for my wife and daughter. It's inexpensive and, unlike a bouquet of flowers, should last beyond their lifetimes. They'll love it! I can't think of a better way to express how much I love them.

Rather than chocolates or jewelry, I am going to join a One Billion Rising rally to end the violence against women that has shattered lives and torn the fabric of societies around the world.

A billion women - one out of every three on the planet - will be raped or beaten sometime in their lifetime. That's one billion moms, sisters, daughters, and friends violated, one billion lives shattered, one billion hearts broken, and one billion reasons to rise up and put an end to this violence.

On February 14, rallies around the world are giving a billion women, and those who love them, an opportunity to dance, speak out and say, "Enough!" There are many ways to make a difference, but here in the United States we have a 32-year-old obligation that I'm focused on: Senate passage of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

This landmark international agreement affirms principles of fundamental human rights and equality for women around the world, including the rights not to be raped or beaten. But ours is one of only seven countries - including Iran, Sudan, and Somalia -that haven't ratified this treaty.

Free Webinar February 9: Ending Violence against Women

When: Saturday, February 9, 2013 from 1-2pm EST

Register Here:

The headlines are heart-breaking and gut-wrenching.  From India to Ohio and beyond, we see stories of women subjected to gender-based violence, rape, and abuse.  As 1 in 3 women will be raped or attacked in her lifetime, how can we as global citizens rise up and solve this global crisis?

Join as we talk with Eleanor Smeal of the Feminist Majority and women’s rights advocate Sandra Fluke!  We will discuss what is happening on Capitol Hill: will Congress finally Ratify CEDAW? Or the Violence Against Women Act? We will discuss what the United States is and should be doing to fight this global epidemic, and how to mobilize the youth to get involved and become the next generation of crusaders to fight violence against women.  We will also talk about the One Billion Rising movement, and what you can do to get involved! 


Eleanor Smeal:  As founder and President of the Feminist Majority, Smeal has led the way on women’s rights issues in the United States.  She served as President of the National Organization for Women and led the drive to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), arguably one of the largest national grassroots campaigns of the women’s movement.  Smeal is a political analyst, strategist, and grassroots organizer who has played a leading role in national campaigns to pass landmark women’s rights legislation such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Civil Rights Act of 1991, and the Violence Against Women Act, which has proven to save lives of thousands of women across the country.  In the past three decades, Smeal has proven her dedication to women’s rights, and today remains unstoppable.    

Time to Take Action!

As my regular followers (that is, I am hoping to have ANY regular followers) you know I write about 99% of these posts about women rights. Here is an important one. And I want you to do EVERYTHING on the list below. Ready, set, read:

We've all seen the news. A young woman brutally attacked and killed by a gang of men in Delhi. Youth here in the US making callous comments that have since gone viral about the rape of a young woman in their town. One in three women will be raped or attacked in her lifetime. That is completely unacceptable.

This is an issue that affects us all. It's time to end this global epidemic. Each of us can make a difference. Whether you've got just a few minutes, or are eager to hit the streets, it's easy to get involved.

1. Rally with us on February 14! Rally with and One Billion Rising, a movement that is bringing hundreds of thousands of concerned global citizens all over the world to rally, dance and raise our voices to declare that we will not tolerate violence against women anymore. Join us at the DC rally or start one in your own community. We have signs you can print out, Global Citizen t-shirts, CEDAW petition forms, info on rally locations and more. Contact (ME!) Arielle Weaver, to find out more.

2. Raise your Voice! Help us permanently influence the system by signing our petition urging the Senate to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) treaty during this 113th Congress. This is an important move to protect women's rights on the long-term.