LIMA, Perú— Shouting slogans as diverse as the movement they represent, more than 1,500 feminists from 20 countries across the Americas marched on Peru’s soot-stained capital Tuesday afternoon to commemorate the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women.
The march culminated the 13th Latin America and Caribbean Feminist Meeting, a loose sisterhood of women of all types and tastes.
Despite the plurality of voices and agendas, the trans-feminist family is united by a common desire to eliminate all forms of violence against women.
The rhythmic chants emanating from the various clusters of women wending their way through Lima’s historic streets, past the city's unexpectedly ceaseless assemblage of used book stores that peek out shyly from the filthy facades of once-stately buildings forgotten underneath years of tailpipe mascara, exemplify the complexity of Latin America’s feminist movement.
The pro-choice contingent chanted: “Si El Papa fuera mujer, el aborto seria la ley.” (If the pope were a woman, abortion would be the law!) [it rhymes in Spanish]
The hypothetical female pontiff didn't return our hypothetical calls for comment.
Also from the pro-choicers: “Nosotras parimos; nosotras decidimos!” (We give birth, we decide!) [rhymes in Spanish]
Then there's the slightly less melodic: “Las mujeres deciden, la sociedad respeta, el estado garantiza, y la iglesia no interviene.” (Women decide, society respects, the state guarantees, and the church doesn’t get involved). [this doesn’t exactly rhyme in Spanish, but whatever].
“Hombre, Mujer, No sea indiferente; estan matando mujeres en la cara de la gente!” (Men, women, don’t be indifferent; they’re killing women right in front of our faces!) [rhymes in Spanish]
From lesbians: “Mujer, Andina, prueba la vagina” (Andian women, try vagina!) [rhymes in Spanish]
-“That’s racist,” grumbled one woman in the march.
A PC version was later adopted: “Mujer, latina, prueba la vagina” (Latina women, try vagina!) [see, you don't have to be racist to rhyme].
A group of Afro-Caribbean women chanted: "Negra! Negra! Negra! Negra! Negra…Y Que?!" (black, black, black, black, black…and what of it?!) [sounds way cooler in Spanish].
Also from the lesbians: “Chucha con chucha, esa es mi lucha” (loosely translated: vag with vag, that’s my struggle) [rhymes in Spanish; elicits nods in all languages].
There was also a lot of focus on moving the feminist movement beyond traditional gender constructs to better include trans-women.
“Alerta! Alerta! Alerta que camina! La lucha feminista por America Latina!” (Alert! Alert! The feminist struggle is advancing in Latin America!) [rhymes in Spanish].
“El machismo mata, tenemos que erradicarlo!” (Machismo kills, we have to eradicate it!) [this one doesn’t rhyme in Spanish or English, but it's an important message —35 percent of women and girls around the world experience some form of physical and or sexual violence in their lifetime, according to the UN].
A sizable Mexican contingent carried signs and placards to commemorate the 43 missing students in Guerrero. "Vivos se los llevaron! Vivos los queremos!" (They were taken alive! We want them returned alive!)
Peruvian feminists chanted something about former strongman Alberto Fujimori's campaign to sterilize thousands of impoverished indigenous women during his government in the 1990s. The Peruvian judicial system found the incarcerated former president, who claims the sterilization program was consensual, innocent of those charges earlier this year. But human rights activists claim that's bunkum. During Tuesday's march, women dressed up as Fujimori to denounce the sterilization campaign, but I don't remember their exact chant, or whether it rhymed in Spanish, although it probably did. Maybe.
The protest march, which lasted for several hours, drew curious onlookers from men, women, children and hounds alike.
All photos by Tim Rogers/ Fusion.