2017 ushers in a new year in the fight for equity and gender equality. Venezuelan activists with the Network for Information and Safe Abortion (RIAS) shared the five points they consider fundamental for 2017’s feminist agenda, reflecting outstanding debts in the Bolivarian Revolutionary process for the rights of women and the gender and sexually diverse community.
Abortion: Moving Towards Decriminalization
For RIAS, who daily advise women from working class sectors about the voluntary interruption of a pregnancy, it is necessary to eliminate Article 430 and all those [associated with criminalizing abortion] in the Venezuelan Penal Code.
Venezuelan law establishes that if a woman intentionally aborts she will be punished with six months to two years of imprisonment. The sentence for whoever helps her carry out the abortion will be punished with a penalty of three to five years.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that three million young people ages 15 to 19 undergo dangerous abortions every year around the world.
Massification of Contraceptive Methods
Moreover, the massification of contraceptive methods with an emphasis on young women ages 13-35, especially from more densely populated working class sectors is key to moving this work forward.
As we reported previously, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that in Latin America the annual number of unsafe abortions among adolescents reaches 670,000 cases. In this context the UNFPA also indicates that Venezuela has one of the highest adolescent fertility rates, ranking first in South America
Reduce Gender Violence: Emphasis on Femicides, Sexual Violence and Obstetric Violence
“We firmly believe that the reduction of gender-based violence, through grassroots organizing and in collaboration with the Bolivarian process, should be a central agenda item for the design of revolutionary public policies in 2017,” says RIAS.
As examples of this work, relationship building between the popular movement and state institutions have discussed strengthening the [Latin American and Caribbean] regional campaign #NiUnaMenos (#NotOneMore) – initiated in Argentina – with activities, mobilization, sensitization and [political] formation.
Formative and Organizational Policies for the Collectivization of Domestic Work
RIAS proposes to strengthen communal construction nationally and to incorporate a feminist perspective on state politics.
In Venezuela, we have the Mission Mothers of the Neighborhood, a strategic policy that works to guarantee the protagonist participation of women in popular power spaces in our communities. Through this mission it is possible to work on socio-productive projects for mothers in extreme poverty.
However, the sexual division of labor persists and women must also fulfill gender imposed roles.
Recognition of Trans Identity
This year the activist Rummie Quintero, along with other transgender activists, achieved that the Administrative Service of Identification, Migration and Foreigners (SAIME) adopt a policy so trans women can request their identity documents with the gender expression that corresponds to their self-perception, However, name changes have are not yet allowed for identity documents. The lack of legal and social recognition of the community makes it difficult for the most marginalized sectors to engage in educational and labor opportunities.
2016 represented several feminist victories in Venezuela as we won the legal recognition of the first Venezuelan child of two mothers and the possibility of recognizing trans people’s full gender expression, but as in the rest of the region there are many struggles left to fight.
The feminist movement has mobilized energetically in recent months in response to gender violence cases. 2017 begins with accumulated energies to keep moving forward.
Translated and edited by Jeanette Charles for Venezuelanalysis.com.