The Rapist Is You

Chilean women protest. All photos by EPA

Marking this year's International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, held for the last 40 years on Nov. 25, hundreds of thousands of women from Mexico to Sudan to France took to the streets to honor the roughly 90,000 women murdered each year by men, and to demand the end of rape and all forms of domestic abuse. According to the World Health Organization, one in three women worldwide will endure physical or sexual violence in her lifetime, with the UN deeming that violence one of the "most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today." In Latin America, military dictatorships, a macho culture and the use of sexual violence as a weapon of state terrorism have long reigned - experts estimate at least 12 women a day are murdered, often by partners - so it was unsurprising that female activists in Chile appeared en masse as part of that country's ongoing protests against extreme levels of inequality and for equal access to health care, education and other basic rights.

Their rally, organized by the feminist collective Lastesis and held outside the Ministry for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, was aimed both at the longtime failure of a patriarchal system to protect women - earlier protests have touted the message "Machismo Kills" - but at grotesque police violence during the protests. While Amnesty International has objected and Human Rights Watch has proposed police reforms, the abuses continue. The Chilean Special Forces, National Police and the military have reportedly killed at least 26 people, detained over 15,000, caused thousands of gunshot wounds, and been accused of 1,100 cases of torture and inhuman treatment; they've also been charged with over 70 cases of sexual violence and countless allegations by women of beatings, rape, and threats of rape. A Santiago psychologist reported arrested women have been stripped naked in front of men and touched in the genitals; many were penetrated by a rifle and told "they are going to be raped and then killed." So it was that women this week offered a fierce, fearless, furious chant slamming all the players of the state's toxic patriarchy - cops, pols, judges, president - as perpetrators.

 Their chant, translated roughly into English:

Patriarchy is a judge

Which judges us for being born

And our punishment

Is the violence you see


Impunity for my killer


And the blame wasn’t mine


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Or where I was

Or how I dressed

The rapist is you

They are, the cops

The judges

The state

The president

The oppressive state is a macho rapist

The rapist is you

In Brussels, red shoes signify women's deaths

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