The Mirabal sisters and the red symbol: how the day against violence against women was born

by Angelo Lo Verme

“Las mariposas”which translated means “The Butterflies”, was the code name of Mirabal sistersrevolutionaries of the Dominican Republic at the time of the dictatorship of Raphael Leonida Trujillo. Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa, born respectively in 1924, 1926 and 1935 all in Ojo de Agua, and all three killed with sticks by Trujillo’s assassins in Salcedo on November 25, 1960, returning from a visit to their respective husbands in prison , like them opponents of the regime.

To simulate an accident, the killers loaded the three sisters and the driver into the car which they then plunged into a ravine. However, no one believed this false version. Public opinion coalesced against the regime which ceased the following year on May 30, the day on which Trujillo was shot and killed in an ambush in Santo Domingo. It is estimated that in 31 years of the regime the bloodthirsty Trujillo, nicknamed the tiger of the Caribbean, was responsible for sixty thousand victims who somehow opposed his tyranny, including the Mirabals.

Today, November 25th, the victims of feminicides are commemorated all over the world. It is good to specify that it is about femicide when a female is killed by a male for reasons of gender.

On November 25, 1981 there was the first “International feminist meeting of Latin American and Caribbean women” and in 1999 the UN institutionalized that date. This is how events, various performances and flash-mobs are launched all over the world every year, the theme of which is violence against women and the possible solutions to eradicate this bloody phenomenon from the root.

The greatest symbol of this important day is the red representing the blood shed in feminicides. Then there are the shoes feminine red, used for the first time by the Mexican artist Elina Chauvet in an art installation on August 22, 2009, using 33 pairs of shoes. The message was and is to commemorate the victims of feminicide, including her sister, killed by her husband at the age of 22. Also the bench painted red as a symbol of November 25, it was introduced for the first time by the artist Karim Cherif in Turin in 2014.

In the 2022 104 women have already been killed in Italy, of which 88 killed in the family circle. Of these, 52 were killed by their partner or ex. Statistics from past years reveal an impressive number of feminicides: an average of about 150 victims per year. It means that in Italy, on average, a woman is killed every two days. In France, 285 women were killed in 2019; Germany is in second place in this macabre ranking, with 276 women killed, and Spain was third with 126. Immediately after there is Italy with 111 victims in 2019. In 2020, 81,000 women were killed worldwide , of which 47,000 in the private sphere, that is, about 5 feminicides per hour in the world.

Even if solutions have been adopted to reduce and eliminate feminicides, such as the electronic bracelet worn by the potential feminicide (as he has already repeatedly used violence on his partner) and the seizure of firearms, unfortunately the victims continue to be many. The only solution can come from social prevention of the phenomenon, that is, eliminating all those social and cultural factors which in fact determine a subtle dependence of the woman on her husband, boyfriend, etc., including the economic one. An emancipated and strong character and economically woman will hardly tolerate the oppression of her partner.

Obviously it is the man who has to overcome its culturally congenital machismoor, in order to be able to see the woman as his equal and not as something that belongs to him.

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