Thankful for the Heroines Who Are Gone but Not Forgotten
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women was started in 1999 to commemorate the Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic who were assassinated in 1960 for opposing dictator Rafael Trujillo. It was a tragic but fitting beginning to an important day that marks the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, and aims to raise public awareness and mobilize people everywhere to bring about change.
It’s estimated that around the world at least one woman in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Women activists continue to be targeted and killed for simply daring to speak up against injustice and for what they believe in. This must stop.
Yesterday, most of us in the U.S celebrated Thanksgiving– a holiday that inspires families coming together, eating a meal, and giving thanks for all that we have. Today, we highlight four activists, but remember and honor women all over the world who have died fighting for social justice—women whose death have left a permanent, empty seat at their loved one’s dinner tables and hearts. For if we are to stop the violence, we must remember the fallen and lift the voices of those who no longer can.
Juana Quispe, an indigenous woman and Council Member in Bolivia had been victim of political harassment before being murdered in March 2012. Her murder – one of a series of violent attacks against elected female leaders across Bolivia – sparked nationwide protests and led to the adoption of a long-delayed law to tackle the issue of political harassment.
Francela Méndez Rodríguez, a transgender human rights defender was murdered in the Las Palmeras area of the city of Sonsonate, El Salvador in May 2015. Francela was a human rights activist who worked daily with Colectivo Alejandría, an organization that advocates for the rights of gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in El Salvador.
Sabeen Mahmud was one of the Pakistan’s most outspoken human rights advocates. She had long championed the cause of Balochistan’s “disappeared,” a term used to describe people who have been abducted in Balochistan, with their bodies often found years later. In April, 2015, she was shot dead immediately after an event she organised with Mama Abdul Qadeer, an elderly Baloch activist campaigning on behalf of so-called “missing people.”
Anna Politkovskaya was a Russian journalist, writer and human rights activist. She was shot and killed on October, 2006. She was known for denouncing the government of Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin for corruption and human rights abuses, particularly in regard to alleged atrocities committed by Russian troops during the Chechen war of secession.