More Deynas, Fewer Carlas

DeynaOn Thursday, March 27th, in Costa Rica, the girls from the Vinotinto U-17 made history. The faced Canada, a formidable foe, in the World Cup U-17 in the quarter finals. They won and got a shot at the semifinals. They lost, and ended in fourth place overall.

Coach Kenneth Zseremeta scouted Venezuela with a fine tooth comb to find these girls. It was an uphill battle. He had to face a lack of a formal female football clubs, and parents who just did not want to see their girls playing a male sport. Such is the case of 14 year old Deyna Castellanos, the top goal scorer in the tournament together with Gabriela García.

It was her brother, fellow footballer Álvaro Castellanos (Aragua Futbol Club) that pressured her mother into letting her play. Because of her passion, Deyna was beaten by boys, and even called a Machito (tomboy) by other children’s parents.

That same day Venezuela beat Canada, a thousand miles away, in Maracaibo, another girl faced a formidable foe, but she didn’t stand a chance.

Young, uneducated, poor, and lacking parental supervision for most of the day, she was persuaded by her boyfriend and his pals to have a drink at the school yard. She was gang raped and had her head crushed in by a brick. Her body was left abandoned until the janitor of the school stumbled upon it on the early hours of the morning.

Carla Isabel was her name. She too was 14.

What made the difference? What gave Deyna a chance to break free from stereotypes but plunged Carla in to violence and death?

The WHO has identified the risk factors for gender-based sexual violence and the victimization of women. They include 4 levels: individual (like age, education, intra-parental violence, acceptance of violence, harmful use of alcohol), relationship (multiple sexual partners), community (weak community sanctions and poverty), and societal (traditional gender norms and social norms supportive of violence).

Women and girls who are victims of sexual violence suffer physical, psychological, reproductive, emotional, and mental harm. They can suffer from unwanted pregnancies, abortions, gynecological complications, sexually transmitted infections, post traumatic stress, and depression. Furthermore, sexual violence can also affect persons economic development, pushing the victims further down poverty and violence, making them more vulnerable to subsequent attacks.

Unfortunately, there are no official statistics on sexual violence in Venezuela. The government avoids data like the plague.

So, how can we assess the scope of sexual agression and gender violence in Venezuela? We might have to look at other available data to shed some light into what is happening everyday to our girls.

In 2008, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy in the United States hosted a congressional briefing on the racial and ethnic disparities in teen pregnancy rates.  They realized something very important, the correlation between sexual aggression and teen pregnancy.

This may be part of the reason why the small number of teen pregnancy reduction programs that have been employed in Venezuela have utterly failed. If we look at the Venezuelan picture, all teen pregnancy campaigns have focused on contraception education, but only 1 in every 10 sexually active teen uses them. The number of underage pregnancy has skyrocketed in the last years, as to make Venezuela in the region. So clearly, something else is at play here.

As Malika Saada Saar says

Teen pregnancy isn’t simply about girls and boys being promiscuous, or lacking access to sex education or contraception. Too often teen pregnancy is about girls losing agency over their bodies because of the unbearable injuries of being sexually violated.

Underneath the discourse about the educational strategies needed to prevent teen pregnancy lies a much harder and complex issue: Violence in girls’ lives leaves them at risk for teen pregnancy—especially for girls of color.

 

I remember reading a heartbreaking article about the Niñas Madres from Venezuela. The writers interviewed 4 or 5 mothers, under 18. All of them had been sexually abused in their home. Some got pregnant knowingly, to escape their horrid family condition. Others, dealing with the repercussion of the abuse, did not have a responsible or mature sexuality and ended up with unwanted pregnancies.

Saada Saar also theorizes that:

“… any campaign to reduce teen pregnancy must also become a campaign to reduce the unacceptable levels of violence against girls and to give all girls the opportunity to realize their full personhood, equality, dignity, and worth.”

In Colombia, a recent study (2011) indicated that not only was sexual violence pervasive in the female youth, it was also  consistently linked to increased risk of unintended pregnancy among young (13 to 24) females. Colombia by the way, has been one of the 5 Latin-American countries that have had more success in reducing their teen pregnancies from 2000 to 2010.

In 2004, a study in Aragua also found that the victims of sexual abuse were in the majority young girls (12 to 18 years old). And an astounding 43% of the attacks occurred in the home. They concluded that:

The most affected victims were female, since they occupy a vulnerable position in a patriarchial society…

Venezuela’s epidemic of Niñas Madres is actually showing us the astounding levels of misogyny and sexual aggression in our country. When violence is the norm, it is reflected in our girls very differently than in our boys.

For every boy killed, a girl is getting pregnant. For every bullet shot, a girl is being raped.

Sometimes the aggression becomes murder, as was the case of Carla. But Carla is just the most extreme example of the insecurity and violence that is bringing Venezuela to a halt.

 

 

 

39 thoughts on “More Deynas, Fewer Carlas

  1. I have found appalling this issue has got so little attention in Venezuela.
    I simply can’t understand why the same people who so often talk about violence in general don’t talk about this topic.
    Thanks, Audrey, for bringing this up.

    This is the piece of statistics I could find for a post of mine about three years ago:
    http://www.eluniversal.com/caracas/sucesos/111009/501-mujeres-han-perdido-la-vida-este-ano-atacadas-por-sus-parejas

    501 women killed by their couples or relatives in Venezuela in nine months. For comparison, about 51 women were murdered by their couples or relatives in Spain in twelve months around the same period. Spain has 16 million inhabitants more and a rather bad reputation for gender violence in the EU.

    That’s how bad Venezuelans are doing.

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  2. Murder is hard to hide because there is a body to dispose of. I imagine the rates of sexual violence are off the charts. Given that there is no justice system worth the name and near total rates of impunity for violent offenders in general, who is going to report?

    This blog post is the most I have ever seen dedicated to this subject.

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  3. I have 2 questions:
    When, not if, will the cerros come down?
    Where will the people of the cerros go to. Miraflores or chacao?

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  4. These stories are appalling and the social conditions to which they refer are at the root of Venezuelas terrible problems as a society . Young women are not only routinely abused, they are also often forced to use their bodies as a way out of the terrible lives they are forced to live , This is demeaning and sad . But think also of the children born of these transient unions , how they cannot be raised so as to achieve a healthy and responsible human status !! think also how they number thousands and not only this year but since a long time ago !!

    One correction however is in order , Venezuela is not a Patriarchal society , because patriarchs are domineering fathers and the problem in the barriadas are not domineering fathers but the absence of any fathers at all , what we have is Studs , machos , irresponsible men who feel stupidly conceited about impregnating women with their children and then abandoning them to a degraded fate .

    We are always thinking in european or middle eastern terms to explain phenomena that exist primarily in our countries . What we have is a Macho society which is extremely cruel to its women and to its children , condemning them to abandonment and penury .

    Little noted is the evidence that from before to the coming of the Spaniards the Aborigine males treated their females partners with great cruelty touching on sadism . Remember Bonpland stories of how he saw indian mothers drowing their baby girls at the shores of the Orinoco river to save them from the terrible lives that awaited them as women in a harsh Macho culture. Men were warriors of to their hunting or warring parties while women were their slaves .

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    • I think this might be a risky generalization. Is it genetic for you? Cultural? How come there is such a wide variation even within countries with a similar proportion of native American influence? (Chile versus Venezuela, at least genetically according to one study)

      Francisco Herrera Luque talked about a psychopathic factor in the “founding fathers” of Venezuelans…and he might have got a point there as well. I don’t know. Perhaps there are multiple factors. Whatever it is, it is a major problem and I don’t see any major politician talking about it.

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      • I wrote about this in the past and made a few points about how different aborigines from one area where from others , the andean indians were different from caribbean indians , the former made better parents and were generally more hard working and responsible (they cultivated the land and were sedentary while others where hunters and small time slash burn agriculturalists of nomadic habits).

        The early spaniards didnt bring wives along so they took indian women and female negro slaves as their concubines and transient sexual partners , women which the culture of the date considered inferior thus establishing a subliminal cultural habit of viewing women as inferior to men , to be used and discarded . Negro slaves were not always allowed to remain with their families although they were encouraged to breed , all highly abnormal situations which did little to raise the status of women within the culture..

        One genetic study you mentioned showed that most Venezuelans are the descendants of white males and aboriginal and negro females from some 2 or 3 centuries ago confirming the idea of what kind of mestisaje we had in Venezuela and other caribbean countries .

        Because for a low status aborigine or negro female having a child with a white spaniard raised their status they were not altogether un happy about these kind of matches . Indian males and spanish males where machistas and conceited about their sexual prowess.

        My guess is that marginals in brasil , in coastal colombia , in much of central america and generally in the caribbean showed the same macho stud serial single mother mentality that we find in Venezuela , southern cone countries didnt have the same kind of mestisaje process and had more white colonizers bringing their wives along . Of course these are generalizations but they match what I have been able to observe and read from different sources.

        I do feel that this is a more important subject that many that are discussed in this blog but its hard to get people to find any interest in it. You appear to be an exception !!

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        • No, that is not the case. Almost all Venezuelans are mixed, but they are not more native American than the rest. In fact, they are less so than Chileans:

          http://venezuela-europa.blogspot.be/2014/01/venezuelan-genetics-in-context.html

          Even within Venezuela there were different, extremely different groups.
          Virtually everywhere in Latin America the pattern was: European male, native American female, or African female. Our black share is higher than that of Chile, not the native American.

          Native American societies from the Inca group, for instance, were not less Machista with their females.

          Things are, as I said, more complicated and if there is one genetic factor I would consider the most is the really very high proportion of criminals from Spain we got.

          By the way: the mestizaje started as soon as 1948 in Venezuela. It was massive from early on.

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          • Kepler : forgive my poor ability to communicate my thoughts because what your response reveals is how little you understood of what I wrote.

            1. I never said that machismo is genetic , what I pointed out is the historical and anthropological factors that have contributed to giving us a stromg macho culture of the stud that breeds prosmicuosly and then irresponsably abandons its women and children to destitution . the factors I mentioned precisely underscore the fact of the male white spaniard 2 to 3 centuries ago ( exactly following your narrative) and specially in certain areas mixed with basically indian females ( some negro females) to create our present genetic pool and why the lower status indian and negro women of that time where happy to pair with the higher status spaniard and give him children. a pattern that todays marginal society in caribbean society replicates in having women accept to pair of temporarily with studs that ‘represent’ them . Dont understand at all the reference to 1948 a date which I never mentioned .
            .
            2. I also pointed out how andean or mountain indians generally differed in culture from the caribbean indians , and maintained a living indian culture which largely ceased to exist in the caribbean and underscored how machista the caribbean indians were even before the spaniards arrived more than 3 centuries ago . Mestisaje was deeper in some areas than in others where indian communities were allowed to survive and breed among themselves ( Ecuador , Peru , Bolivia , Guatemala ) . The andean indian males were macho ( as were males from all primitive cultures) but if you engage in agriculture men and women work together and men just dont loaf about in their chinchorros because they are warriors and hunters and work would demean them as happened with the caribbean indians.

            3. I also mentioned how people in the cono sur generally included less indians and more white colonists than conquistadors, ie white men who came to farm or work the land accompanied by their european wives than was the case in other latitudes , were mestisaje was much more prevalent and how that made our culture more machista than most.

            If you re read carefully what I actually wrote you should note how Ive I followed a lot of the ideas which you have written about before .There are of course things I dont know and where I would appreciate any information on the subject ( I mean it ) . I dont think that all of latin america represents one same kind of culture , nor that there is absolute uniformity in the way these matters are treated in Venezuela , but there is a pattern in the marginal life of many central american , caribbean countries and in brasil that point to a common origin for the kind of macho culture that pervades their marginal life .

            Please dont take my observations on this issue as adversarial to your own , actually they match many of the things you ve said in the past only maybe taking them a step further . Please try and read what i write a bit more carefully , I welcome any of your comments where you have better information than I have available . For example were there many indians in chile when the spanish colonist started coming in , where the european colonists a larger portion of the population than was the case in caribbean countries, did they bring their european wifes with them ??

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            • I mistyped. I meant 1498. Our mix is not 2 to 3 centuries old but 5 centuries old. I am actually almost certain in my case the mix started at the latest a couple of decades before 1600.

              The situation of Chile and in Venezuela was very similar: in both places few Spanish women arrived. That
              was actually the case everywhere in Spanish America, everywhere.

              So this is not really correct:

              “I also mentioned how people in the cono sur generally included less indians and more white colonists than conquistadors, ie white men who came to farm or work the land accompanied by their european wives than was the case in other latitudes , were mestisaje was much more prevalent and how that made our culture more machista than most.”

              If there were so many European settlers with their European women as you think, you would not have this case for Chile:

              “The peculiar distribution of haplotypes indicate that the population of Santiago is the result of an asymmetric mating system in which the females ancestors were mainly Amerindian and the male ancestors mainly European.” (from one of the many genetic studies)

              Argentina’s Buenos Aires is not the whole of the Cono Sur. It is not the whole of Argentina either.
              But for Argentina since the early XX century, the rest of the Cono Sur was as asymmetrically populated (Spanish men, native women) as Venezuela. Please, try YOU to understand that.

              Venezuela was a capitanía general. The Independence war was actually a much bloodier time in Venezuela than in Mexico and definitely much more than in Central America. And that took a heavy toll.
              Why was that?

              Read this:
              http://www.soberania.org/Articulos/articulo_5318.htm

              Yeah, the countries you mentioned “Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia” have a heavier percentage of native Americans, but then you don’t consider the fact Guatemala has a horrible murder rate, unlike the others. Why? And then you have a place with a similar ethnic component just across the border in Mexican Yucatan and you have a much lower murder rate (the high murder rate being rather in Northern Mexico)

              Life for women in the Inca Empire was not better than in Central America or in what became Venezuela.
              It was pretty bad.

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              • Suma sumarum: if we were to construct a matrix of all parametres across the different Latin American countries I am sure one would have to get to the conclusion things are much more complicated

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              • Thank you for your corrections , there are a few points however which need clarification :

                1. To be noted is that the ethos of caribbean indians and the ethos of indians from other places where not necessarily alike and that such fact influenced the ethos that arose from the mestisaje in each region . its notorious that in Colombia Cachacos and Costeños are different (Father Alejandro Moreno has also pointed out differences between families in the Venezuelan andes and those from other regions ) . I suspect that this is the case because the amerindians in the andes and in the caribbean coastal regions where different from each other and also because the percentage of european stock in the andes is different from what it is in the coastal areas.. Its a mistake to assumme that all amerindians originally had one homogeneous ethos or that all latin american mestisaje processes were the same every where. this is a gross oversimplification

                2.- in some places the indian presence and culture was so weak that they ceased to exist as living communities , the women lived in largely transitory arrangements with higher status spaniards (or male mestizos ) which raised their status and male amerindians dissappeared from sight , the ethos that resulted was different from that which would have resulted if indian communities had survived . this was the case in most caribbean countries , not so in Ecuador , Peru , Bolivia and Guatemala where large number of amerindian communities continued to exist preserving more of their original native ethos and culture. Mestisaje was not as deep as happened in places where the amerindian presence was wiped out by the disordered lust of the spaniards and the willing complaisancy of amerindian and african females .

                .3.- I suspect that andean amerindians in places like Peru , Ecuador , Bolivia and Guatemala were less warrior like and acerbically macho than caribbean indians not that they treated their women kindly but the quality of their machismo was different . Ever hear a white peruvian describe their indians and you can detect sometimes the scorn of their manliness . ( “No wonder we lost to Chile , our soldiers were Cholos while theirs were of european or european mestizo stock” ) These horrible words I actually heard from a Peruvian aquientance.

                4. Central America harbours three ethos , the Costa Rican culture of the peaceful hard working dedicated mountain coffee grower , that of the hondureños and nicas and part of salvador ( very like the Coastal Colombian and Venezuelan Caribbean ethos ) and Guatemala . Guatemala indians were not originally violent , they were hard working , lived in tight peaceful communities , but they lived in a country where the White landowner clique was closed , extremely violent and oppresive and willing to do anything to defend their privileges . I had relatives and friends who knew Guatemala and Salvador before they had their wars and their impression of the indians was that they were extremely peaceful , it was after the guatemalan indians were victimized in very crule wars that all hell broke loose and a culture of violence installed itself in the coutnry . The indians werent violent , their masters were violent and socially shut in and tranformed the indians into the parcticioners of routine cruel violence .

                5.- whatever mestisaje happened in Argentina and other southern cone places in colonail times became irrelevant after these areas were flooded by european colonizers bringing their women and culture along .

                6.- Its possible that where the spaniards had a more deeply rooted institutional and cultural presence ( the Virreinatos in Peru and Mexico) the macho ethos was less accentuated ( more european beaurocrats and businessmen came with their wives) .

                kepler is absolutely right in that looking at the mestisaje phenomena we will find many differences and complications , my main focus is in examining specifically how the specific mestisaje ocurring in Venezuela , coastal colombia , central and nothern brazil , the caribbean and most of central america has produced a macho culture or ethos which not only victimizes women but which also affects the way children are irresponibly abandoned by their parents both materially and emotionally , specially in marginal society with very troubling consequences for all .

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              • Bill, you are putting forward hypothesis upon hypothesis and I am not sure you have taken too much time trying to analyse the conditions. And I am not so sure why you are so obsessed with our native American part or the treatment thereof as the main reason for the mayhem and violence.

                If you revise the articles on native Americans of Venezuela in Wikipedia: I contributed to a lot of them (idioma pemón, idioma warao, idiomas de Venezuela, etc, etc Conquista de Venezuela)…and yet I don’t consider myself an “Indian” expert. If you go along the Venezuelan coast, the Western part was Awarak Indians and the Eastern and central part Carib – roughly speaking as the Warao are yet completely different, as different as Turkish speakers from Greeks. Arawaks and Caribs had completely different dynamics (apart from languages). Should one part be because of that more dangerous now? No.

                Also: just bear in mind Colombia – including the Andean part- was more violent than Venezuela until a few decades ago. There goes your Cachaco and Caribbean differences: they exist but don’t make sense to explain Venezuela at all: the Andes in Venezuela and Colombia and the Caribbean in both areas are rather similar. You are kind of contradicting yourself.

                AGAIN, for the NTH time: I am giving you the example of Chile, which is more comparable to Venezuela than the Peru-Bolivian case. And Chileans are not more European than we are…and there was the same asymmetry in gender and yet you have such a difference. If you read a little bit of Chilean history you will see the native Americans there were not very peaceful either. The criollos were fighting them up to the XIX century.

                And again: Chile and Argentina are NOT more European than Venezuela and the female component is even slightly more native American than in Venezuelan (or to say it otherwise, Venezuelans have a slightly higher proportion of ancestors who were Spanish women than Chileans).

                The real difference is actually in the case of a higher proportion of African Americans in Venezuela.

                Sorry, all this is “pub’s science”. I stop it here.

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              • Mestisaje is often viewed as a purely genetic phenomena , but the real mestisaje was about world visions and behavioural patterns of conduct , it was a fusion of different kinds of ethos , not a question about how many aboriginal dialects there were but about how different aborigine tribes lived their lives and how different historical and anthropological factors changed the mix in different places . Generally andean indians acted differently than caribbean indians , this is historical fact , Different processes of mestisaje give rise to different cultural results . your cultural self image may differ from your genetic origins . Last time I saw venezuelans saw themselves as 55% mestizo , 33% white and 10% black , in the report you posted , Chileans are reported as 60% white and 40% mestizo. All these facts are relevant and help to build an interpretation of our marginal societys falwed vision of marital and parental responsibility .

                Because you see everything from a genetic angle you miss the ethological and cultural and historical factors that model these phenomena . There is a caribbean culture that differs from an Andean Mountain Culture . ( Read you biography of Bolivar by the Holstein fellow to further understand this issue) the violence is not racial , its cultural and culture sometimes has anthropological roots , please read what I wrote about Guatemala .

                Pubs science is better than mistically pure science that has no answers to questions because they dont even see the questions !! and human beings cant help but ask themselves these questions even if purportedly scientific pundits have nothing to say .!!

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        • Raul : With all respect 99% of things in peoples heads consist of ideas based on untested generalizations which we give credence to simply because they are most familiar and conventional , prejudice is simply someone elses idea which we dont like .!! Believe me I have no ax to grind on these issues but they are things I have read a lot about , heard many informed people talk about , have reflected very seriously upon !! probably lots more than most people visiting this blog . I am fully aware that some of these ideas may be wrong , there are so many things that we dont know , but to me at least they are plausible . the thing tormenting me is that there must be an explantion for the habits of indiscriminate prosmicuity and irresponsible parental treatment of children that we see in our marginal society and which cause us so much harm . Just saying that its the result of poor education just doesnt cut it .

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  5. Bill Blass,

    Venezuela has more than just one culture…there is the culture of Caracas and a few who live in the small towns that are Patriarchal, and then there are the matriarchal folks who dominate the barrios and small towns.

    But the judiciary system in Venezuela strongly favors men, so that even the strong matriarchal women are beholden to a corrupt system that makes them unequal before the law.

    Not only that,just because a woman is the head of her household does not mean that she is treated well by her oft times serial husbands, or husband.

    The motto that many have is:

    “Un hombre no tiene que servir, pero una mujer si ” allows men to escape responsibility

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    • Of ourse fierepiggette you are quite right , there are different cultures in Venezuela , the one I was referring to was the marginal culture which includes the better part of Venezuelas population and which because of Venezuelas high social mobility has a big influence in modelling the culture of a large percentage of the middle class .

      For the rest I suspect that the patriarchal model was the prevalent one , with one proviso which I havent really assessed but which I find appealing . Noted again and again by foreign visitors was the charm personality and cultivation of caracas women folk , more than was normal in other places . I see so many talented women of character arround me that I think that one way or another they ve created for themselves position of respect and even of admiration . Strangely enough sometimes the people most prejudiced in recognizing these womens merits are other women ( more so that most men) , is there an explanation for this ?

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      • BB,

        Just a quick reply because I am running.

        I think these successful women who are admired by the men and not by the women are often( not always of course) part of the phenomena of machismo .There is a fierce competition out there for worthy men( of which there is a shortage because of machismo)….this makes women often jealous of other women, but these prize women who are dressed to the nines, subtly and expertly flirtatiousness, aggressive, and competitive, often make a man’s ego grow a few inches.

        Machismo creates competition among women and augments a kind of consumerist mentality.

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  6. I find it kind of sad this kind of posts attracts much less attention than things about currency control and the like.

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    • Perhaps because people is just looking for their political jinx?
      It is very simple to say that it is a Macho society.
      However I remember El Conde talking about this in his early recordings: the mom shakes the baby boy’s penis saying: este pipisote pa las carajitas!; but they never say: esta cucharita para repartir!

      Sad and nice post.
      Unfortunately when parents with all backgrounds and levels of society drink wiskey on their kids parties and allow girls as young as 7 to dress like teens (sexy teens at that), dance reaggeton while shaking their asses like Beyonce and go out of their way to put them in “Escuelas de Modelaje” …I’m sure that there is more at work than a Patriarchal/Macho society.

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        • Audrey you dont seem to have had any contact with traditional Patriarchal fathers , if anything they are totally opposed to any sexualization of their wives or baby girls , they see women as forming part of two worlds , THEIR women are to be nuns and the women out in the street are proto street walkers and they dont want either women to mix . There is a generational divide , the ones which love sexualizing their women are actually not patriarchal at all , they are modern day sifrinos: Part of the Patriarchal ethos is the division of women into two separate categories .!!

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          • Actually, I would theorize that the patriachy model is obssessed with the control of female sexuality. Be it to avoid it completely (genital mutilation, high price for virginity, name calling for having sexual relationships) or to sexualize women and render them objects for male satisfaction. They are in fact, the same thing, control of female sexuality by men.
            When you say their women, vs. the street women, it still makes no difference, the father who represses his girls sexuality at home is the same one who is hypersexualizing women outside.

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            • Audrey, Im always a bit worried because so many of us find righteous pleasure in blaming wicked people for this or that crime or sin while what maybe matters first of all is seeking , with detached composure , ( sine ira et estudio) the explanation for the kind of conduct we condem .

              Using labels as a kind of epithet of course helps rouse our indignation up , but behind the labels there are human beings whose character or attitudes we must try and understand to get a handle on how best to stop the kind of conduct that incenses us .

              This is not an easy task , I agree with you that its nothing to do with genes , or necessarily with poverty , its usually to do with culture , with the way people see the world and develop habits of behaviour from generation to generation . Sometimes cultural factors are associated with racial factors but its not the race but the historical experience of a race that sometimes influences how people think and feel about things .

              I myself think that behind much of the beastly conduct of men who mistreat women there is a cultural construct that is called Machismo , which translates into the cult not of manliness but of animal or feral manliness , where men find narcicistic pleasure in feeling strong and brutal and domineering and enjoy inducing themselves into states of anger against those they emblematically and scornfully see as weaker than themselves , that includes women and sometimes young children or in sexually abusing and mistreating women to gratify their raw animal instincts .

              Most primitive or archaic cultures worship manliness but the cult of animal manliness is specially prevalent in Latin America which is one area of the world were mistreatment of women is also very common .

              Patriarchs are proprietary of their womenfolk which of course is not good for women who legitimately cherish their independence , but they also tend to be protective of their women vs the predatory designs of other men .

              Machos in contrast are much more inclined to be predatory than protective of the women they come to dominate or seduce . its the difference between a barrio don juan or lothario and a rural father that doesnt want his wife or daughter exposed to the predatory plans of a passing don juan .

              Patriarchs usually take responsability for their children , whichever women they had them with , The feral macho doenst take any concern for their children whom they quickly abandon together with the women they had them with .

              All of the above of course is conjecture , but sometimes it helps to use reasoned conjecture to improve our understanding of things .

              I begun to understand about the abuse of women (never having seen it first hand) from a work experience years ago when I watched a big corporate boss, at a company party drunkenly act less than decorously with a couple of lady colleagues I respected , they were flustered but didnt know what to do . i felt very bothered and uncomfortable with what I saw , a friend noticed and told me, ‘ take it easy companies are just people´, then I realized how uttely unfair It all was , I then I realized that I felt as if my SISTERS were being bothered , thankfully enough the boss stopped his boorish conduct and things returned to normal .

              Do excuse this longish message but I share your concern at this topic which I celebrate your bringing to the attention of people active in this blog.

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  7. Once, on the highway out of Caracas, I saw ahead a motorcycle parked to the side with a young man and young woman next to it. The man punched the woman square in the face, knocking her back and to the ground. I screeched the brakes, skidding past them, then reversed up to the motorcycle. When I got out, the woman was wobbling standing up, told me to forget it, that she was ok, and to go away. The man told me to butt out because it was his wife. I told him I didn’t care, and told the woman that she only had to say the word, and I would help. She insisted, no, go away, don’t intervene. After some heated exchange, I mentioned I was going to call the police. She looked to the floor, and he said, “I am the police”, pulling out his badge. “Even worse”, I said, “using your training and authority like that.” He threatened with shooting me if I didn’t leave, I replied I would not leave. He turned to her, stuffed a helmet over her head, and pushed her onto the bike. I kept asking her just to say the word, but she insisted, crying, that I butt out. They took off.

    I followed, full speed, until the peaje, through which he just whizzed right by without getting the tarjetón. I stopped at the guardia nacional to report that I had just seen the man on the motorcycle that just sped through punching the woman to the ground. They almost laughed, and tried to ignore me, until I mentioned that the guy had pulled out a police badge. Three of them got in vehicles and sped after the motorcycle. Another called to a post ahead, and told me that they would take care of it.

    The odd interest came, not because a woman had been beat up; it was almost a joke to them that I would have thought that was serious enough to report. What got to them was that it had been a policeman, which seemed to be a strong motivation as a guardia nacional to have the opportunity to bring down a policeman, for any reason… Sad, sad, sad.

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    • Years ago, on my first run through college, I worked one job as a paramedic for a couple of years. Domestic disputes often result in the police summoning an ambulance to deal with injuries incurred and to provide medical documentation of the assaults (both man on woman, and woman on man). By and large, the majority of the injuries are inflicted on women, but what always surprised me is that the conflict would continue and sometimes escalate with the police right there.

      I’ve witnessed it personally, and almost every cop I have ever known can relate similar stories: when the police would detain the aggressor, the wife would either break down into tears over the arrest and blame the cop for taking the husband, or attack the cop as well to protect him. Moreover, barring the police witnessing the domestic abuse, charges were rarely brought because the women refuse to protest.

      There’s a certain mentality that sets in within the victim’s head, once the abuse begins, that the she deserves the treatment; that she did something that would not only justify a beating by someone who loves her, but that it was fundamentally her fault as well.

      Cops (at least in most OECD countries) hate domestic violence calls for this reason. They are often powerless to help or resolve the situation and both the victim and the aggressor end up in a symbiotic relationship that perpetuates it. The patterns and relationships are simply too difficult to break.

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      • Pitiyankui:

        “There’s a certain mentality that sets in within the victim’s head, once the abuse begins, that the she deserves the treatment; that she did something that would not only justify a beating by someone who loves her, but that it was fundamentally her fault as well.”

        Interesting you say this,,,it is so true…but also it represents exactly the opposition of many in the opposition at this point.They begin to act in a masochistic way.They justify government repression.The criticize more the so called violence from the Guarimbas than they do the violence and criminality coming from the government.

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  8. Great post.
    I believe that the greatest factor is family support.

    From what I’ve read, a loving, caring, functioning family outperforms any troblesome, neglected, dysfunctional one.

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  9. Thanks for your article Audrey. I think discussions around politics in Venezuela need to address issues like this, mostly forgotten in all “real politik”. I appreciate that you bring them into light.
    Gender violence in Venezuela is extensive and is a long lasting problem, it is intrinsically related to the high rate of adolescent pregnancies as well as with the alarming rates of maternal and neonatal mortality. There have been attempts to tackle this issue during the last 15 years, many of them not effective. One that I think should be taken forward is the Ley Orgánica por el derecho a una vida libre de violencia, particularly its definition of Violencia Obstétrica, which is deeply related to the experience of women in the exercise of their sexual and reproductive rights as well as their basic right to bodily integrity. Of course this Law is not a solution on its own but should be taken into account in activist circles as well as into further discussions about this issue. Another silent move toward attending to this problem is the creation of Casas de Abrigo. According to the old Ley de Igualdad de Oportunidades they should have been created in every state of the country. Only now I have noticed serious steps in that direction. Again this is not a solution to the high rate of gender violence in the country (although unaccounted by public statistics) but it is a necessary step in order to make life livable to all the victims. Finally, as you mention, the issue of data and statistics is critical. One place to move this forward is the Gender Committee at INE, which as far as I understand welcomes activists from different paths of the Venezuelan political spectrum.
    Thanks again Audrey, for this compelling article.

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  10. I want to add: yeah, laws are fine, but they are nothing without enforcement.

    And we know how enforcement goes in Venezuela.

    Beyond that, one thing that I find particularly shocking is that there is no public discussion about this topic in our country. When I mean public I don’t mean that doctora Ramos and doctora Pérez and doctor Rodríguez and the students X and Y discuss that at some NGO or university. I mean: there is no public discussion on normal TV channels (not at “11 am time” but in the evening), there is no discussion about this at school, in neighbourhood meetings, on the streets.

    Look at this: A Venezuelan woman is 15 times more likely to be murdered by her (ex) partner than a Spanish woman. And yet in Spain I do see the whole discussion about abuse everywhere. I see boards about that. I see frequent articles on El País and ABC and so on. I watch that on TV.

    Spain has actually produced tough but excellent films such as Te Doy Mis Ojos

    What about us? Miss Universe, Miss World crap.

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    • Thanks Kepler, it is important info. I have to say I really enjoy the discussion that goes on on the comment sections. They always help me figure out new topics. I think it is necessary to investigate more about what the experts are saying about patriarchy and matriarchy in Vzla society. Also, although I find it interesting the discussion on searching for a genetic explanation for gender violence, it is a worldwide epidemic,1 in every 3 women will suffer from some sort of physical violence. There are in fact few remaining matriarchal societys in the world, where women hold important decision making positions in the society. So, maybe the answer lies in social stereotypes that have no longer any place in modern society.

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