In the face of the recent global pandemic, the national government has announced a number of measures to protect the health of Venezuelan families, which aim to contribute to the prevention, detection and attention to the cases of Covid-19, and thus halt its spread.
From the feminist grassroots, we add our voices to these policies and we understand the need to sustain social distancing. We adopt these measures without neglecting the practices of sorority and mutual support that we practice daily.
Like all social phenomena, the current pandemic situation cannot fail to be analysed from a gender perspective.
Currently, there are millions of women around the world locked up with their assailants, isolated and quarantined. Venezuela is no exception.
The daily dynamics for women in a situation of violence are already complex, and social isolation measures undoubtedly increase the levels of vulnerability that may end in the deaths of women (and children) who are immersed in the cycle of violence. In a country where 50 femicides have been recorded in 60 days, this cannot be ignored, with the data showing that gender violence has caused more deaths than the coronavirus so far [in Venezuela].
It is urgent to care for and not abandon women in situations of violence, where the risk of forced coexistence with their aggressors is much greater. Within the government’s measures to deal with the pandemic, we believe it to be essential that the conditions of women at risk from sexist violence be considered. We appeal to the state and law enforcement bodies and institutions to address the following issues:
The implementation of a comprehensive plan to care for women and children who are victims of sexist violence which could worsen during the coronavirus isolation, making available the same measures and mechanisms which save lives in normal conditions during the current situation.
The activation and mass dissemination of an emergency telephone number to receive reports of violence against women, which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in accordance with Article 33, Chapter V of the Organic Law on Women’s Right to a Life Free of Violence. Under current quarantine conditions, the displacement of victims to the Report Receiving Bodies (ORDs) is currently impossible, and the existing attention lines for the Victim Care Unit of the Public Prosecutor's Office – 02125098684 – and the National Women’s Institute’s 0800MUJER are currently not providing service or are operating with limitations.
The immediate detention of flagrant perpetrators and the granting of protective and security measures "to protect women from violence compromising their physical, psychological, sexual and ancestral integrity, and from any action that violates or threatens the rights set out in this law,” as established in Article 87 of the above mentioned law.
Implement an online reporting system, which allows women in situations of violence to report their assailants without leaving home, and which allows the requesting and granting of protective measures for these cases instantaneously.
The creation of Emergency Shelter Houses, with visiting restrictions and which comply with the proper health protocols and recommendations, to care for women and children who have been the victims of violence, as well as for those who run the risk of death should they stay at home.
Coordination with public organisations, law enforcement bodies, legal bodies and the Ministry for Women so as to assure their involvement in caring for the victims of gender violence and to safeguard the victims during periods of emergency, as well as providing guarantees of compliance to every woman in a situation of violence.
To carry out a national media campaign so that women who have not experienced violence are able to detect it. The campaign should also promote everyone’s co-responsibility in looking after life and the home, so that during this period historical inequalities in the unpaid workload of women are not increased, because as it is one of the most forgotten forms of violence.
We, the undersigned feminist organisations, continue to work during this situation of national quarantine. Our volunteer staff in the Mayell Hernandez Loving Accompaniment to Women in a Situation of Violence program remain active, attending, advising and accompanying women who approach us by telephone. In the month of March alone, our team simultaneously attended 35 cases, even under the current conditions, and although we are not a body which receives denouncements, we listened and guided in sistership.
Let us all become loving companions of every woman in a situation of violence. Don't turn the other cheek, we'll only come out of this pandemic with solidarity. Let's engage as sisters in permanent sisterly practice.
Tinta Violeta Collective
Araña Feminista Network
Women Gender Rebel Feminist Collective
Entrompe de Falopio Collective
Women's News Magazine
Surgentes Human Rights Collective
We're Knitting Women
Comunachos Critical Laboratory
Indhira Libertad Rodríguez
Raquel Zahira Bravo
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Venezuelanalysis editorial staff.
Translation by Paul Dobson for Venezuelanalysis.