A Powerful Chilean Feminist Street Protest is Rocking The World
By WAF Editors
Organized by the feminist collective Las Tesis (“the theses”) female activists in Chile flooded the streets to protest violence against women on Monday November 25, in conjunction with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Wearing black blindfolds, the hundred-plus women performed a choreographed chant repeating the chorus “the rapist is you” (*see lyrics and choreography below.) In it, they singled out the country’s patriarchal culture for fomenting gender-based violence and they blamed Chile’s police, judicial system, and even its president for failing to prosecute the men who commit it.
The event from Las Tesis was quickly uploaded to the Internet, and since then, it has been replicated in 52 countries and counting. As it spreads around the globe, the song is acquiring new layers of meaning, becoming intertwined with other political causes in places such as India, Lebanon and Turkey. In the US, it has tapped into black Americans’ fear of police brutality and it was sung outside Harvey Weinstein’s trial in New York City.
Las Tesis’ chant was inspired by Argentinian-born anthropologist and professor Rita Segato. She has taught how to tackle gender-based violence by dismantling power structures that place men above women. “When a crime is committed against a man it tends to be seen as a crime against humanity as a whole, while crimes against women are usually interpreted as crimes related to intimacy, eroticism, and for that reason, they are “minor crimes” and singular,” argues Segato.
Latin America has a long history of macho culture and boasts the highest rate of femicide in the world. Experts estimate that at least 12 women a day are murdered, often by partners. According to data published by the United Nations on Nov. 24, 2019, one in three women is a victim of physical sexual abuse at some point in her life and, according to a recent Human Rights Watch report, during the first 30 days of protests in Chile against extreme levels of inequality, 442 complaints were logged, 71 of which were reports of sexual abuse.
The chant reads in English as follows:
Patriarchy is a judge
That judges us for being born
And our punishment
Is the violence you see
Impunity for my killer
And the blame wasn’t mine
Or where I was
Or how I dressed (4)
The rapist is you (2)
They are, the cops
The oppressive state is a rapist macho (2)
The rapist is you (2)
Top photo: Elvis Gonzalez-EPA-EFE-REX- Shutterstock