Chile’s 8M comes at a politically tense time - amidst a social revolt and in the run up to a historic referendum vote in April to change the country’s Pinochet-era constitution. The country has been seized by mass demonstrations for for over 4 months.
Chile’s women share the demands of their regional peers — legal abortion, against violence, against impunity for abusers, greater equality — on top of this we’ll be seeing demands for justice for women who have been assaulted by the state.
Violence against women in Chile
Since October, when Chile’s uprising first broke out, the National Human Rights Organization (INDH) are investigating 433 cases against state officials to women: 247 for torture and cruelty, 112 for torture with sexual violence, 20 for unnecessary violence, 3 for frustrated homicide.
The two cases of frustrated homicide against women I know of are of 15-year-old Geraldine Alvarado, who was in Santiago’s main protest square Plaza Italia, 10 dec, when a tear gas canister was shot at her head. It left a wound so deep that her skull was exposed. She was left in a coma and was on the verge of death for 5 days.
Fabiola Campillai was waiting for a bus to work when police shot her directly in the face on 26 November. Her face was completely crushed by the impact, losing vision in both eyes and her sense of smell. She’s had one high-risk surgery, and soon she will need another. Still no police officer has been named or brought to trial for what they did, speaking recently Fabiola said “justice would be for them to give me back my eyes. There will never be justice for what they did to me”.
Feminist groups have sent out guidelines and precautions to women about how to stay safe during the march. This includes bringing protective eye wear and tear gas masks. Bringing laurel water and sliced lemon for tear gas relief, Milk Of Magnesia for pepper spray.
I went to four hard wear stores yesterday and all the gas masks were sold out. In one store, a mother was buying protective wear for her daughter’s first Women’s Day march. She said her friend “I can’t believe I have to buy this so my daughter can protest safely”.
The police are sending out women officers to guard the march, promising the event will be family friendly and safe. However protesters are highly distrustful of police. On Friday, a man died while protesting, caused by a tear gas canister impacting his head.
Women representing different causes will head today’s march. There are representatives for trans and lesbians rights, for those representing victims of police oppression since October, migrant voices fighting against racism, sex worker groups.
All march for their own fights but unite against the violation of human rights inflicted by the state since October “we demand that they stop shooting at us mutilating us, raping us and commit to protecting humans rights”, says march organiser, coordinadora 8m Santiago.
After the separatist segment of the march, all groups are welcome to join. Cis men, however, are discouraged from joining.