Equality: Marching from an Idea to an Experience
On November 25th, International Day Against Violence Against Women, the streets of San Salvador were filled with women of all ages denouncing gender-based violence. Chants rose up to the Legislative Assembly saying, “We are now in the 21st century! Women have rights! We want equality!” And “Violence is that the government and the church make decisions about my body!”
One of the women at Tuesday’s march, Amanda Castro, walked along side her 10 year old daughter, Azul Castro, carrying a picket sign advocating for the end to violence against women. When asked why she was there, Amanda responded, “For me, November 25th is a day to denounce the systemic violence against women that comes from the state.”
To what was she referring? El Salvador has one of the most rigid abortion laws in the world. If the experience of having a miscarriage were not emotionally and physically straining enough, the Salvadoran Government in 1998 found a way to cause even more harm to women who go through it. A woman in El Salvador can be sentenced to anywhere from 15 to 40 years of imprisonment for having a miscarriage. Many women at the march held up signs detailing the lives of 17 women who have been unjustly incarcerated under the terms of that law.
Amanda continued, “I am here with my daughter and all these other women today in the struggle to end sexism and inequality. Azul is intentionally here with me today. This is a consciousness raising event. She is a tool for the future.”
Young girls and women are the hope for a different future, one where equality will not just be an idea but will be an experience. Through community involvement and advocacy, young girls like Azul are challenging the current patriarchal system. Educating women and men alike about women’s rights is the answer to repealing oppressive institutionalized laws which claim complete control of a woman’s body. There is hope for the future, and in this case, her name is Azul.