Women for Justice in the Americas holds SF, Sproul Plaza demonstrations

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UC Berkeley students and community members held two demonstrations Monday demanding university support for international student strikes in solidarity with the fight against femicides and for the department of ethnic studies to receive funding to revive a course focused on gender-based violence.

The local collective, Women for Justice in the Americas, arrived at the Mexican Consulate in San Francisco at 8 a.m. for its first demonstration and at Upper Sproul Plaza at noon for its second demonstration. About 80 people gathered to give and hear presentations of poetry, experiences and art at the campus demonstration.

The demonstration at the consulate was also in solidarity with the national Mexican strike #UnDiaSinNosotras, or “A Day Without Us” translated in English, a movement demanding authorities put an end to violence and harassment toward those who identify as female.

The demonstrators also performed “Un violador en tu camino,” an originally Chilean, feminist performance piece on the Sproul Hall steps. Translated into English, the piece is titled “A Rapist in Your Path” and sheds light on violence against women.

“Really this piece has ended up expanding to issues of women’s rights across the Americas,” said campus senior Lili Siri Spira during the event. “The right just to be alive — I mean femicides are at a really high rate in Mexico and a lot of other countries, especially among indigenous women.”

The collective’s press release for the event cited data from the Gender Equality Observatory for Latin America and the Caribbean, which revealed that more than 3,000 women were femicide victims in 15 Latin American countries and that 12 women, on average, were killed every day in each country in 2018 alone.

The demonstrations followed International Women’s Day on Sunday, a global day honoring women’s achievements and championing gender equality.

Focused on uniting women, many demonstrators wore green bandanas associated with Argentinian abortion rights and painted the standard symbol denoting the female gender on their cheeks. Several people read prepared statements and poetry and shared personal experiences.

Campus senior Isabel Jimenez shared her story of growing up in Mexico and paid homage to one of her friends, whose case allegedly received little news coverage.

“There are thousands of women who experience microaggressions every day,” Jimenez said during the event. “These stories don’t reach the national press. They barely reach the Mexican press.”

As she spoke, Jimenez held a sign that read, in Spanish, “If one day I do not return home, do not put candles, mount barricades.”

After demonstrators shared their experiences, they returned to their chants. This time, spectators and attendees joined in chanting “América Latina será toda feminista,” which translated in English means “Latin America will all be feminist.”

Contact Rachel Barber at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @rachelbarber_.