An invisible pandemic: “Women are dying”

The outcry was coming from Doris Saldarriaga of ‘Estamos Listas’, who in the Council of Medellín raised her voice and said: “They are violating us, they are there, waiting”. I think this is something that is very important: women in politics who defend women’s rights will always be there to defend them, to give these cases attention. Without this, we would not even find out. She is one more victim, another case of violence, but here is the additional point that they are violating us all and we will not allow it.

demoAbierta: What is the outlook for girls born in Latin America today?

Paola Silva: In Latin America and in the world, girls are born into a society of stereotypes where we expect them to do certain things, take care of certain tasks and study certain subjects. Since childhood, they are instilling in us that our job is in the home, that you have to be aware that you have to do all the housework. All these stereotypes are already taking away time from our lives from the moment we are being born.

It happens inside the home, it happens in educational environments, where girls who like scientific subjects do not continue with their studies because during their primary education they are usually telling them that women do not work in these fields. That is a men’s thing. This is very important and happens throughout Latin America.

In terms of physical violence, it is very common among boys and girls, but it does not make it less scandalous. Inside the home, 2 out of every 3 children are disciplined with violence in Latin America.

Another figure that is more related to girls, but we are not so aware of in Latin America, and that we say that only happens in African countries, is child marriage. One in four girls under 18 is getting married without being of legal age with people who already are. This is worrisome, but this is not visible, it is not something we talk about.

demoAbierta: What can we do to improve this discouraging situation?

Paola Silva: I think that every day we can carry out small actions that make a difference. The problem of micro-sexism is not taken seriously but has an important impact on everyday behaviours: all micro-sexisms become violence. Every man who has murdered a woman, surely carried out acts of micro-sexism with which he never corrected himself or was not corrected, and that society also accepts.

So the first thing is to question ourselves. To carry out the task of saying, is this ok? For example, in the work environment, in selection processes, it is necessary to ask if I am favoring men more, if I am making my resumes anonymous, without a photo, in order to actually hire the most suitable person, or if what I am really doing is not hiring a woman because she could get pregnant.

Another example is men in the WhatsApp groups: What are they sending? What are they saying? Are you sending photos of naked women without their permission?

This is a problem and it is a pandemic. Women are dying. The fact that every two hours a woman is killed because she is a woman cannot be something that one forgets or accepts.

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