25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls

25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls

November 25 marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, also known as the International Day of Non-Gender Violence. The date commemorates the murder of the Mirabal sisters (Patria, Minerva and María Teresa) in 1960, opponents of the Dominican dictatorial regime of Rafael Trujillo.

Gender-based violence is understood as: «violence exercised on the basis of a person’s sex or gender, in different spheres of social and political life, but rooted in the dominant gender relations in a society. It is not synonymous with domestic or intimate partner violence, it encompasses all violence exercised from the dominant male position over representatives of subordinate positions, be they women, minors, older adults, disabled persons, members of minorities (of sexual, racial, ethnic or national diversity)» (Uruguayan Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence).

In the case of childhood, it is relevant to understand how patriarchal logic is superimposed with the predominant adult-centric gaze, producing singular violence on children and adolescents.

There we can identify:

  • The various forms of sexual violence, such as abuse, harassment and commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents.
  • The different types of violence exerted by multiple actors during the disciplining process for the imposition of expected gender behaviors according to biological sex.
  • The multiple violations of the rights of those children and adolescents who do not conform to the logic of binary sexuality.
  • Other forms of violation of children’s rights that are also directly crossed by the gender dimension, such as forced marriages, child domestic labour, stereotyped upbringing, among others.

It is also important to confront the social construction of silence that deprives children of their right to express themselves, disqualifies and devalues their opinions, promotes «non-listening» and the reclusion of conflict in the private sphere within the family. This results in guilt and shame for the victims and impunity for the adult perpetrators of the violence.

Promoting and protecting rights involves working to deconstruct the social representations that justify and perpetuate relations of asymmetry and subordination between human beings of different status. To this end, it is essential to address the intersection between childhood and gender.

The rights-based approach and the gender-based approach are mutually reinforcing as tools for promoting rights and addressing various problems. While the rights perspective is enriched by the gender approach insofar as it makes visible the incidence of this variable in the promotion and violation of rights, the gender approach and the struggle for the deconstruction of the patriarchal order, are enriched and strengthened by a conception that sees in childhood a powerful subject, capable of recreating and recreating the social environment.

Thinking together the notions of childhood and gender, or even more, articulating the perspective of children’s rights with the gender approach, is a complex but necessary challenge.