Every year, November 25 marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. November 25 is, therefore, the start of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, which ends with Human Rights Day on December 10. November 25 is a day to celebrate women, while also fighting for equality.
The day was started in honor of three sisters who were murdered on November 25, 1960 in the Dominican Republic. In 1960, the Dominican Republic was ruled by then-president Rafael Trujillo, a ruthless dictator that had been running the country for 30 years. The Mirabel sisters, Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa, were political activists that opposed Trujillo’s rule. The sisters created an anti-Trujillo protest group, known as the Movement of the Fourteenth of June, that would regularly and openly protest the regime of Trujillo. The three sisters were beaten to death on November 25, 1960 by Trujillo’s men as punishment for their protests. The deaths were then made to look like they were caused by a car accident to cover up the work of Trujillo’s men.
The sisters knew they faced a great deal of danger by protesting with what was referred to as “Las Mariposas” or “the butterflies”, but they continued to fight for what they believed in anyway. Many believe that it was their bravery in speaking out against Trujillo that led to his assassination six months after their deaths. The killing of the three sisters had a remarkable effect on the people of the Dominican Republic at the time. The brutality of the event caused an upset that none of Trujillo’s other crimes had seemed to cause.
What happened to the Mirabel sisters shows the violence that women regularly face. One-third of women worldwide experience some sort of violence at some point in their lives. Violence against women comes in many forms, including domestic abuse, sexual harassment and assault, child marriage, human trafficking and genital mutilation. The most common form of violence against women is different forms of domestic abuse, ranging from physical to psychological; in fact, most of violence inflicted against women is imposed by a partner. Sexual harassment and assault can occur in many different ways, including unwanted sexual advances, rape, sexual abuse and forced marriage. Child marriage has a huge effect on the young bride, particularly in that those who marry as a child are more likely to experience sexual violence from their spouses than those who marry later in life. Human trafficking dramatically effects many people throughout the world, but 71% of those who are victims of human trafficking are female, making them more susceptible to violence. Over 200 million females that are alive today have been victims of genital mutilation, and a majority of them experienced this violence before they were 5 years old.
Although the Mirabel sisters’ murders happened in 1960, violence against women is still rampant all around the world today. November 25 is a time to honor all the women that have experienced violence in their lifetime and to fight so women in the future don’t have to deal with the same horrendous experiences. Ending the normalization of violence against women is important to creating a better world for everyone. Stand with those who are fighting for a change on November 25 and every other day of the year.