Archive for November 26, 2006

Nov 25th: International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Violence against women persists in every country in the world as a pervasive violation of human rights and a major impediment to achieving gender equality. Such violence is unacceptable, whether perpetrated by the State and its agents or by family members or strangers, in the public or private sphere, in peacetime or in times of conflict. … [A]s long as violence against women continues, we cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development and peace. —In-Depth Study on All Forms of Violence against Women: Report of the Secretary-General, 2006

Yesterday was International Day for the Eliminatio of Violence Against Women and the beginning of a period of 16 days chosen by women of 130 countries around the world to bring out awareness of the issue. Why 16 days? Because the period between Nov 25th and Dec 10th is marked by several important events in this fight:

Nov 25th: International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This day was chosen because it was on this day in 1960 that the Mirabel sisters, three women who had the courage to oppose the dictatorship of Trujillo in the Dominican Republican, were murdered.

Dec 1st: World AIDS Day. Established by the World Health Organization in 1988 to focus attention on this world epidemic.

Dec 6th: École Polytechnique Massacre. On this day in 1989 a gunman breaks into an Engineering school in Montreal and kills 14 women before killing himself. The day became a hallmark for the fight against gender violence.

Dec 10th: International Human Rights Day. Celebrates the adoption by the UN in 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in response to crimes committed by the Nazis against Jews, homosexuals, Roma, communists, etc and the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US.

Denise Arcoverde, from the blog Sindrome de Estocolmo and creator of the NGO Grupo Origem, made a public plea that we all say something about it during the next 16 days to create, hopefully, a bit more awareness. I felt compelled to answer so expect a post on each of those dates during the next 16 days… It would help if any of you in the blogosphere remember those dates, even if it is just one post during the next couple of weeks.

Around the world, violence against women is a major cause of death and disability among women aged 16-44 years of age. As an UN report points out, it is as serious a factor as cancer and a greater cause than traffic accidents and malaria combined. Here in Spain the issue is in every major newspaper. Over 60 women have been killed by their partner or former partner this year alone. Many had restraining orders issued against their attacker.

The numbers probably pale in comparison with places like Brazil, where over 200 are killed in one city alone, but it is intolerable nonetheless. The positive side of all of this is that people are talking about it. It seems most people I talk to are aware and concerned about it. They seem to agree that as long as women are in an inferior position, things like this will go on. But judging from the cases mentioned in the newspapers, it seems to me that many cases of violence against women are caused not so much by the woman’s inferior position but by the inability of certain men to accept their wive’s equal position within society and their marriage. While women’s rights and position have improved by leaps and bounds during the past 50 years, much within our societies has still to catch up with this change. Most women’s work is still of the underpaid, undervalued category, and many men (and women) still see women as inferior and treat them accordingly.

I think the first phase of women’s rights’ movements across the world involved, to a large extent, convincing women themselves of their rights and their equality. I think our governments and society now need to convince the men of that fact. We also need to admit that women are not equal to men. We are different. We are equal as human beings. We are equal perhaps in terms of capabilities. But we are different. It’s not enough to guarantee access to jobs and schools.  We also need a flexible workplace  that allows women who have children to consiliate their roles as mothers with their jobs. We need accessible childcare services so that single women can manage a family on their own. We need our law-enforcement services to adopt a zero-tolerance policy regarding violence against women. The list goes on. As the UN secretary-general said, our path towards peace, equality and development will be marred as long as violence against women persists. And violence against women will persist until our society fully embrace women’s rights and contributions.

Some sites on the issue:

Human Rights Watch: Women’s Rights – Latest news and campaigns regarding women’s rights around the world.

Instituto de la Mujer – Spanish government organ dealing with women’s issues. Provides many statistics regarding violence against women in Spain and the rest of Europe.

No más violencia contra las mujeres – Spanish site developed by Amnisty International.

Stop violence against women – Also by Amnisty International. Dedicated to the 16 days of activism to stop domestic violence.

Women’s Human Rights Resources Programme –  Located at the University of Toronto, Canada. Contains a database of legal resources related to international women’s rights as well as specific Canadian cases.

Not a minute more – Site devoted to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women created by UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women).

November 26, 2006 at 6:08 pm 2 comments

A Saturday in Montserrat

What a day. We just now returned from a hike up in Montserrat. It was a great hike, but right now I am really tired. I love the going up but coming down really plays havoc with my knee and right now, my knee is swollen. I’ll have to figure out an exercise to try and strengthen it for downhill treks. OK, I’m too tired to write anymore so I’ll go and work on the photos for this blog.

We were out the door at 7:15 to meet whoever was coming on this hike. We were meeting at Placa Espana near the tower at 8:00. Sebastian, Alex, myself and Zephyr, Naomi’s nephew were the hiking crew. We caught the 8:36 train and arrived in Monistrol de Montserrat an hour later. Last time we were there we took the funicular to the monastery and we missed the beautiful old streets ofMonistrol de Montserrat.

I wonder about the traffic through these streets 500 years ago.

As soon as we got off the train, the trails were marked. You had to keep your eyes open to catch the markings but they were there. We followed them trhought the town and ended up at the trails GR5 and GR96. The GR (Gran Recorrido (Spanish) or Gran Recorregut (Catalan)) is a network of long-distance footpaths in Europe, mostly in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain. Many GR routes make up part of the longer European walking routes which cross several countries so we are only connecting to a small portion of the trail. GR5 and GR96 are a single trail at this point. We passed an old orchard, and I mean OLD, and the remaining trees assumed some really amazing shapes. This was one of the most gnarled. The reason, it was made up of two trees that had wound around each other.

This old path had two sentries guarding the way. It looked like the entrance to another world and the area had a very mysterious feeling to it.

At the beginning I couldn’t shake the feeling of all the souls that had passed this way before. This trail was also part of the pilgrimage route to the old monastery. It was almost 1000 years old and had seen many pilrims pass this way.

We had passed the place where GR5 and GR96 separate. We took GR96 upwards and as we climbed higher, we could see GR5 far below us winding its way along. The two trails meet at the monastery but from here, looking down on GR5, you wouldn’t know it.

After a while, we stopped for some food and to take in the area. Of course, Sebastion saw the old frame on the post and suggested a photo in it. So here we have Alex, Sebastian, Zeph and myself.

We still had to walk well past thatdistant bluff with the boulder at it’s bottom and we noticed that the clouds were getting lower. It looked like it might get foggy again.

We’re getting closer to our destination and the sun is trying to break through the low clouds.

The rock cliffs are made up of smaller stones held by some sort of hardened clay or other cement like material. It’s really hard and the embedded stones are quartzes, flint like rocks, marble. Much of them seem to be rounded by water like in stream beds. I’m just guessing on this so it might be interesting to read up on the geology of this area, how it happened to come into existence.

We were quite high up when the fog began to beat out the sun for dominance. The vegetation at this location was quite dense with fair sized trees.

Well, a few more metres onwards and the fog came in. It was really beautiful but I’m glad it came late. If it hadn’t we wouldn’t have been able to see the wonerful views on our way up.

There were some really interesting berries on the way up. Here is a photo of one of them. Zeph was also commenting on all the wild spices he found growing alongside the trail.

We finally made it to the monastery. The fog made it absolutely stunning. I wish I could have had the expertise to take some more photos of the area but this is all I can offer.

Alex wanted to go into the cathedral because she heard that the choir was going to sing at 1:00. The children’s choir at Montserrat is world famous for it’s music and school of music. Here’s a detail of inside the cathedral. There was a choir singing but not the one Alex wanted to hear.

From the cathedral we made our way to the cafeteria to eat something and chat for a bit before heading back. On our way back to the trail we passed this modern version of a knight in a medieval alcove. The artist also had a work in the Generalitat in Barcelona. It’s the inverted maiden that I have photos of in flickr. The Knight is also inverted in the stone.

Wow, the fog really picked up on our way down. It was really beautiful the way the wind would blow it by. We were going to return by way of GR5 so we would have a different trail to return on.

And on the way down, more interesting berries. Sebastian saw the colour of these and I had to get a picture.

As we descend the fog begins to lift. It wasn’t coming and going as we thought (or as I thought) but it was us who were going into it and coming out of it. It was the cloud ceiling itself and we were climbing into it on our way up and descending out of it on our way down. I should have realized it when we saw the peaks from Monistrol. They were in the clouds.

The GR5 was a wide path with a gentle slope downwards. Most of the climb down was immediately after leaving the monastery. There were stone steps, hundreds of stone steps, leading down to the wide path. It be a big surprise to those who take GR5 upwards. A nice leisurely walk until you hit the steps. It must be a 400 metre climb up those ill spaced steps.

The sun trying to get out again.

And we finally make it back to Monistrol de Montserrat. It was a great day.

By the way, upwards is fine, downwards is hell. My knee has a great deal of trouble going down. If anyone has any suggestions to get it into shape, please, let me know.

Have a great week.

November 26, 2006 at 5:20 pm 3 comments


November 2006
M T W T F S S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  

Flickr Photos

Blog Stats

  • 124,898 hits