Connect with us

Global Affairs

‘I’m not alone’: survivors organise against sexual violence in Colombia | Sexual violence

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Children now play football on the field where the lives of the people of El Salado changed completely.

In February 2000, about 450 paramilitary fighters stormed this small Colombian town. They forced people from their homes into the field, and began to play drums and drink alcohol stolen from local shops. They then went on to torture and kill. Yirley Velasco was one of those gang-raped. She was 14 at the time.

The massacre at El Salado – which left at least 60 people dead and many more “disappeared” – was one of the most brutal events in Colombia’s decades of armed conflict.

Afterwards, Velasco, her family and other survivors fled to nearby cities and towns, where they often lived in deep poverty and faced stigma for having been forcibly displaced. Two decades on, only an estimated 1,200 of the 4,000 people in the community have returned.

Today there are no signs of the bloodshed on the football field and the children kick their ball over a faded peace sign painted on ground. “When I pass by here, all the feelings come rushing back to me. I saw a lot of people get killed. It’s not easy to forget that. And there is still pain. There is still sadness,” says Velasco.

Velasco and 12 other survivors created a network, Mujeres Sembrando Vida (Women Sowing Life), to support victims of sexual and domestic violence in the northern Colombian region of Montes de María, an area still plagued by conflict.

Sexual violence is a common tactic used by paramilitaries, guerrillas and state military forces to sow fear and assert power.

“Sexual violence against women and girls is a kind of discrimination that comes from long-existing structures,” says Linda Cabrera, director of Sisma Mujer, an organisation that defends victims of gender-based violence in Colombia. “What it has created is different kinds of traumas.”

In El Salado there is no official registry of the rapes committed by paramilitaries. Velasco said the topic was missing in conversations about reparations.

People commemorate the 10th anniversary of the massacre in El Salado
People commemorate the 10th anniversary of the massacre in El Salado, in northern Colombia, on 20 February 2010. Photograph: Ricardo Maldonado/EPA

“When they began to discuss El Salado, I heard them talk about thousands of things [the community needed] – a health centre, a road, a church – but when they finished I said to myself: ‘What about the women?’” Velasco says.

“Because I lived it. I’ve felt the pain, I know the helplessness that comes from being ignored.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, domestic abuse cases surged with protracted lockdowns across the world. It was particularly rampant in Latin American countries, with previously high rates of domestic and sexual violence. Although quarantines are no longer in force, gender-based violence has continued at alarming levels.

Velasco and her team guide victims to report cases and ensure these are handled appropriately, and try to address the sense of impunity that goes hand-in-hand with such crimes in Colombia.

“We do what the state entities fail to do,” she says.

Yirley Velasco, seated with baby, visits families in a rural area of Montes de Maria
Yirley Velasco, seated with baby, visits families in a rural area of Montes de Maria. Photograph: Kiran Stallone

Members of Mujeres Sembrando Vida are part of multiple regional and national support groups. WhatsApp networks have been crucial to contacting victims in rural areas.

Velasco and her team also run in-person workshops in rural communities, teaching women about gender equality, and have set up a collective savings account to help women in emergencies.

“Ninety per cent of women depend on what their husbands give them. That’s what the violence is born from. With this savings account, if a woman has an emergency, there is money,” she says.

So far the team have helped about 280 women in El Salado and nearby communities. They have helped women leave abusive situations, get medical help and created projects to enable financial independence.

For survivors of sexual violence such as Diana Chamorro, 56, such support has been transformative.

Diana Chamorro
Diana Chamorro is a rape survivor who works with other women in El Carmen de Bolívar who have experienced sexual violence. Photograph: Megan Janetsky

In 1998, Chamorro was walking to her brother’s house not far from her home when a group of men attacked and raped her. The men were in military camouflage, but she never saw their faces. She says she told no one about the rape.

“I told absolutely no one,” she says. “What do I say if I don’t know who it was? That was part of it. The other part was the shame.”

It was only after meeting Velasco four years ago that Chamorro began to address the trauma she had felt for decades with a psychologist. Since then she has helped others.

“I felt protected, like I have someone to count on, that I’m not alone like a lot of women who have suffered more than I have,” says Chamorro. “I want to make sure that these women can join us.”

But the work of Mujeres Sembrando Vida has become increasingly difficult amid a resurgence of violence in Colombia. The Montes de María region is contested territory used by armed groups for drug trafficking.

Diana Chamorro shows some of the fabric products her group have created in El Carmen de Bolívar
Diana Chamorro shows some of the fabric products her group have created in El Carmen de Bolívar, Colombia. Profits go to a ‘solidarity savings fund’ to help women in emergencies. Photograph: Megan Janetsky

People say they felt some relief after the government struck a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) in 2016, which offered respite to the fighting. But the peace process has fallen apart as different groups vie for territory, says Elizabeth Dickinson, a Colombia analyst for International Crisis Group.

The militia, Clan del Golfo, or Gulf Clan, and a handful of smaller gangs control the Montes de María.

“Instead of one dominant group, you have three dominant groups [in Montes de María],” Dickinson says. “Then everyone wants a piece of the pie, and the ones who suffer are the civilian population.”

Activists like Velasco are constantly under threat. In Colombia, at least 1,205 social leaders have been murdered since the peace accords were signed in 2016, according to Bogotá-based thinktank Indepaz.

Velasco says she has received about 500 death threats via message, 100 by phone and five written threats on her door. The threats often make reference to rape, she says.

Yirley Velasco in El Carmen de Bolívar, Colombia
Yirley Velasco has two state-assigned bodyguards when she visits rural communities. Photograph: Megan Janetsky

Sitting in her backyard under a security camera that the authorities have installed, she reads aloud a recent text. “Yirley Velasco, we are going to kill you, we have a lot of people all around you … We’re going to kill your mother and entire family if you stay here. We’ll give you two days for you to leave … we’re the Clan del Golfo.”

When she drives she is accompanied by two state-assigned bodyguards in a truck with bullet-proof windows.

Despite the risks, Velasco and Chamorro aim to expand their work. “We want to bring [new women] with us to help clear their minds so they can live in better conditions, tell their stories, and so their wounds can heal.”

Source link

Global Affairs

After death of Elizabeth II, corgi prices hit record high | International

Voice Of EU

Published

on

The first of Queen Elizabeth II’s corgis was a puppy named Susan that was given to her by her parents in 1944, on her 18th birthday. The young princess fell in love with this typical Welsh herding breed. Indeed, she loved corgis so much that she would own more than 30 of Susan’s descendants over the next six decades. “My corgis are family,” Elizabeth II once said.

Corgis were often spotted walking beside the queen in Buckingham Palace, and appeared next to her in numerous personal photographs, as well as official portraits. They were an inseparable part of her image. After the queen’s death on September 8, the cost of a corgi dog has broken new records, according to the AFP news agency.

“The prices asked for by registered corgi breeders have today hit a new high, with average asking prices doubling over the past three days,” Pets4Homes, an online pet store in the United Kingdom, told the news agency. For the first time, a corgi was selling for over £2,500 ($2,678), even outstripping prices reached during the pandemic, when there was a huge spike in demand for pets.

Pets4Homes added that it was experiencing “over 10 times the volume of daily searches for corgis when compared to this time last week.”

According to Kennel Club, one of the largest purebred dog breeders in the UK, corgi prices also broke records back in 1944, when the queen was gifted Susan. “People – breeders – were servicing the market for a dog that has suddenly become very popular. It’s the 101 Dalmatians effect,” Ciara Farrell, the Kennel Club’s Library and Collections Manager, told the BBC in reference to the surge in popularity of dalmatians following the release of the 1961 Disney animated movie.

Elizabeth II arriving at King's Cross Station, London, on October 15, 1969 with her four corgis after a holiday at Balmoral Castle. She used to travel with her pets, so images of Queen II surrounded by corgis were common.
Elizabeth II arriving at King’s Cross Station, London, on October 15, 1969 with her four corgis after a holiday at Balmoral Castle. She used to travel with her pets, so images of Queen II surrounded by corgis were common.STF (AFP)

Demand for the corgi breed rose again in the 1960s, with nearly 9,000 puppy registrations, as newspapers and television showed images of the young queen with her family and corgis. By the late 1990s, interest had begun to fade, and in 2014, the Kennel Club listed corgis in the vulnerable native breed category, with just 274 new puppy registrations.

In 2017, registrations increased by 17%, and by 47% a year later, in 2018. This period coincided with the release of the popular Netflix TV show The Crown, which follows the life of Queen Elizabeth.

The last two corgis owned by Elizabeth II were Muick and Sandy, who were gifted to her by her son, Prince Andrew, following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, in April 2021. Angela Kelly, the queen’s dresser, said at the time: “I was worried they would get under the Queen’s feet, but they have turned out to be a godsend. They are beautiful and great fun and the Queen often takes long walks with them in Home Park.”

Muick and Sandy stayed with the queen until her last moments, sources close to the palace told the British newspaper Daily Mail. On September 19, the corgis also stood with Prince Andrew outside Windsor Castle to farewell their former owner. Outside, many Britons had also decided to bring their own corgis to say goodbye to the queen.

It is now up to Prince Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, to take care of Muick and Sandy.

Source link

Continue Reading

Global Affairs

Iran launches airstrike against Kurdish group in northern Iraq | Iran

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Iran has launched a deadly cross-border airstrike into northern Iraq to punish Kurds for their role in supporting demonstrations over the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman in Iranian police custody that are still rattling the Tehran regime.

The attack occurred as the Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, addressed the nation to express his regret over the death of Mahsa Amini a fortnight ago, but also to accuse the protesters of being agents of foreign powers.

Activists in Iran, speaking to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, said: “Our confidence is growing. We are not backing down despite the arrests. It is very beautiful. There is a belief that something is going to change this time.”

Lawyers acting for Amini’s family have, in defiance of regime pressure, filed a formal complaint against those responsible for her arrest. They have demanded a detailed independent investigation into her death, including the manner of arrest and transfer to hospital, as well as photographs and videos of the arrest, and any brain scans.

Amini, now a symbol of resistance to the regime, died in police custody after she was picked up by the morality police in Tehran for not wearing a hijab properly.

As many as 13 people were killed and 58 injured in the Iranian drone strikes on military bases in northern Iraq that belong to the exiled Kurdish Democratic party of Iran.

The KDPI said in a statement: “The forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran attacked the bases and headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic party of Iran with missiles and drones.”

Iran said it was attacking terrorist bases, while the US described the strikes as brazen.

The KPDI urged its supporters inside Iran to return to the streets, with its London spokesperson saying: “Support for these demonstrations is building. This started about one Kurdish woman and the wearing of the hijab, but it is now something wider in over 100 cities. The chant in the streets is: ‘Death to the regime. Death to the dictator.’”

Reports on the number of deaths amid the protests differ; the Oslo-based human rights group Iran Human Rights said the figure was at least 76, while Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency has put the toll at “around 60”, including several members of the Iranian security forces.

The regime will be desperate to ensure the protests do not extend to more working-class districts, and is likely to portray the protesters as anti-patriotic liberals at odds with the values of the regime.

Iran’s police said on Wednesday they would confront protests “with all their might”. However, the country’s minister for women’s affairs, Ensieh Khazali, said she had visited arrested women in jail and was seeking the release of those not guilty of major offences.

The UN said its secretary general, António Guterres, had called on Raisi not to use “disproportionate force” against protesters.

“We are increasingly concerned about reports of rising fatalities, including women and children, related to the protests,” the UN chief’s spokeperson, Stéphane Dujarric, said.

Iran has shut down the internet to prevent protesters using social media to inform the outside world of the scale of the repression. Up to 20 reporters have been arrested, and newspapers are increasingly toeing the government line that the protests are being manipulated by Saudi Arabian or western media. Some papers are staging debates on whether the compulsory hijab is required by sharia law.

The regime has continued to claim the west’s response followed what it regarded as a successful performance by Raisi at the UN general assembly in New York. But the regime is being battered by the persistence of the demonstrations and the willingness of prominent Iranians, including musicians, actors, sports stars and academics, to demand the voice of young Iranians be respected.

Fatemeh Motamed-Arya, an award-winning actor, appeared without hijab to speak at the funeral ceremony of fellow actor Amin Tariokh. The Iranian football coach and former player Ali Karimi has also backed the demonstrations, as has the composer Hossein Alizadeh.

In Britain, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British Iranian dual-national who spent five years in an Iranian jail, cut her hair for BBC Persian cameras to show solidarity with the protests in Iran.

Companies said the continued shutdown of the internet was damaging business.

On Tuesday, authorities in Iran arrested the daughter of the former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani for “inciting rioters”, the Tasnim news agency reported. They have also been threatening celebrities and football stars who have supported the protesters.

Source link

Continue Reading

Global Affairs

‘Never Had Such Pathetic Experience’: Indian Actresses Harassed at Movie Promo – Video

Voice Of EU

Published

on

https://sputniknews.com/20220928/never-had-such-pathetic-experience-indian-actresses-harassed-at-movie-promo—video-1101313685.html

feedback@sputniknews.com

+74956456601

MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

2022

Sangeeta Yadav

https://cdnn1.img.sputniknews.com/img/07e4/08/1b/1080292803_0:121:960:1081_100x100_80_0_0_7490b319dab9611e309056b177265184.jpg

Sangeeta Yadav

https://cdnn1.img.sputniknews.com/img/07e4/08/1b/1080292803_0:121:960:1081_100x100_80_0_0_7490b319dab9611e309056b177265184.jpg

News

en_EN

Sputnik International

feedback@sputniknews.com

+74956456601

MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

https://cdnn1.img.sputniknews.com/img/07e6/09/1c/1101314169_94:0:1170:807_1920x0_80_0_0_471f16e84279bf249208ccef52c75f96.jpg

Sputnik International

feedback@sputniknews.com

+74956456601

MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

sexual assault, sexual assault, sexual assaults, actress, movie, movie stars, movie star, promotion

sexual assault, sexual assault, sexual assaults, actress, movie, movie stars, movie star, promotion

Subscribe

International
India

Police have filed a case and launched an investigation to identify and trace those who sexually assaulted the movie stars.

Two Indian actresses from Malayalam-language cinema have revealed that they were sexually abused at a movie promotion event in the Kozhikode district of the Indian state of Kerala.

A video of the incident shared online shows the moment when an unknown man gropes one of the actresses, Saniya Iyappan, as they were trying to get through the crowd surrounded by bodyguards. The actress can be seen turning around in an attempt to slap him, but he escaped.

Following the assault, Iyappan took to social media, saying that both she and her colleague have been to several places in the country to promote the upcoming movie — but had never had “such a pathetic experience” elsewhere.

“Kozhikode is a place I loved a lot. But, tonight while returning after a programme, a person from the crowd grabbed me. It disgusts me to say where! Are people around us so frustrated?,” the actress wrote.

She also revealed that her co-actress had a similar experience, but did not have a chance to respond to the attacker.

“She reacted, but I couldn’t in that situation as I was dumbstruck for a moment,” the victim said in a post.

“Later, I also encountered a similar experience but I reacted… I wish that no one has to face this kind of unwanted trauma in their life,” the other actress confirmed.



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!