Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Zapatistas: Revolutionary Women's Laws

Zapatista Women

"Women have been the most exploited . . . We get up at three in the morning to prepare corn for our husband's breakfast and we don't rest until late at night. If there is not enough food we give it to our children and our husbands first. So the women now have decided to take up arms and become Zapatistas." -Comandante Ramona, EZLN

Indigenous women make up almost a third of the Zapatista army. They go to the hills to join because of their need to help in the fight for their homes and because they know that that the EZLN is committed to equal rights for men and women and will not tolerate sexism within their ranks.

The EZLN has come up with comprehensive laws concerning women. The following are the ten Revolutionary Women's Laws:

Women, regardless of their race, creed, color, or political affiliation, have the right to participate in the revolutionary struggle in a way determined by their desire and ability.

Women have the right to work and receive a fair salary.

Women have the right to decide the number of children they will bear and care for.

Women have the right to participate in the affairs of the community and to hold positions of authority if they are freely and democratically elected.

Women and their children have the right to primary attention in the matters of health and nutrition.

Women have the right to education.

Women have the right to choose their partner and are not to be forced into marriage.

Women shall not be beaten or physically mistreated by their family members or by strangers. Rape and attempted rape will be severely punished.

Women will be able to occupy positions of leadership in the organization and to hold military ranks in the revolutionary armed forces.

Women will have all the rights and obligations elaborated in the revolutionary laws and regulations.

Although most of these items seem like basic rights, most women in Chiapas do not have these rights given to them. Abuses against women are widespread and frequent all over Mexico. While the Zapatista women are granted these rights, the majority of women are subjected to practices that are barbaric. Since 1994, there have been 684 documented cases of assaults on women and children, including over 300 rapes, mostly by government forces.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We are a group of American Indians and friends that know and worked with Joy Loftin while she was employed at the Vanderbilt YMCA here in New York City. During the length of her employment, several extremely disturbing incidents occurred that cause us to be concerned and call into question the motives and the integrity of Shan Colorado Finnerty, Hortensia Colorado, and Elvira Colorado.
On several occasions, Joy came to work with visible bruises on her neck and arms. She eventually explained to us that Shan had punched, beaten, and choked her and she asked us for help. As wardens for the community, we tried to place Joy in women’s shelters around the city in an effort to mitigate the abuse. However, at the urging of Shan’s mother and aunt, Hortensia and Elvira, she returned to their apartment and refused to press criminal charges against Shan Colorado Finnerty. The abuse continued and one day, she came to work very early, visibly distressed and crying, with more bruises and abrasions. She said that Shan had verbally abused and beaten her once again; that she wanted to return to California, and that she was going to quit her job and reunite with her family. She tendered her resignation later that week. Out of concern for her safety and in an effort to find out what happened to her, we requested an officer from the domestic violence unit of the 5th Precinct conduct a welfare check at their home on Kenmare Street. However the officer was unable to find anyone at the apartment, and therefore could not verify that Joy was safe. We realize that she is suffering from battered women’s syndrome and may be unable to help herself due to the isolationist environment that the Colorados have formed around her. Abusive men are often enabled by their family, while the victim is persuaded to believe the abuse is her fault, and the pattern of emotional and physical trauma continues. Taking into consideration what has happened to Joy Loftin, it is especially deceitful that their display “Altar: El Llanto De La Resistencia” at the American Indian Community House was in part dedicated to victims of domestic violence.
In light of these events, we are dismayed, disappointed, and outraged to know that members of the American Indian Community would commit, condone, and perpetuate domestic abuse and violence, while simultaneously conducting workshops, writing and performing plays, and displaying works and art that would have the public and those who support them believe otherwise. It is a vulgar and offensive misrepresentation of American Indian Culture, and further support of Coatlicue Theater, Hortensia Colorado, Elvira Colorado, Shan Colorado Finnerty and their work is tantamount to supporting domestic abuse and violence. Considering their duplicitous behavior, having them represent American Indian Culture is an insult to the dignity of American Indians and an affront to human beings.
We are therefore informing you we will not attend nor support any Coatlicue Theater productions or events where they will be featured. We will be encouraging others that might consider attending, participating, or funding them to do the same. Our actions are warranted, and to be associated with the aforementioned individuals and Coatlicue Theater would be equivalent to enabling and contributing to such offensive behaviour.
We urge everyone to reevaluate their support of Coatlicue Theater and the Colorados, and question the individuals concerned. Until the responsible individuals are held accountable and measures are taken to verify that the abuse is no longer occurring, we will continue with our boycott, and will strongly urge others to do the same.