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Years back, a crackdown on protestors took place in Mexico where several women were brutally assaulted. These Women of Atenco have taken their case to Human rights officials.
Around 10 years ago, in the city of San Salvador Atenco in the State of Mexico, a crackdown was ordered on protestors, which led to brutal sexual assault of dozens of women. Local flower sellers had reached an agreement with municipal authorities whereby they would be permitted to sell their flowers in the main market square. However on the fateful day of May 3rd 2006, masses of state and municipal police were waiting for them. And the police response to the protest included beatings, house raids and brutal sexual assaults on women on the way to the police station.
There is a feature on the 11 plaintiffs, who took their case to international human rights officials and now they may be on their way to justice. The 11 women of varying age groups are beautifully photographed and written about in this feature which portrays their fight – sometimes just to live, the continuous pain, the helplessness and the hope to get back to living.
I would like to dedicate this post to each one of the plaintiffs and what they had to say.
“I made the conscious decision to survive, to be alive and well today, to feel pretty again, to love me and see me in the mirror and recognize the person I saw. It was that they stole from me, my way of being, of loving, of feeling.”
“The stigma that falls upon you is terrible. My boyfriend didn’t want to be with me, friends used to treat me as if I was going to break all the time, as if I was made of glass. I had to come to terms with the fact people — my family included — didn’t know how to treat me.”
“This process of 10 years has been very difficult and at the same time very beautiful. Regardless of the fact we started it so hurt, so broken, physically and emotionally, we had and held each other and we didn’t let it destroy us.”
“My kids were emotionally destabilized by what happened. My son, who was 8 at the time, promised he would become a lawyer to get me out of jail. My youngest daughter used to draw policemen with blood all over them. She was 6 years old then.”
The basics of being and feeling loved, to see in the mirror and feel good about oneself and being able to pull each day and feel alive is what they would have been fighting for.
If the physical, emotional and mental pain of the assault wasn’t enough, what about the pain when your loved ones disown you? Even the worst of criminals, sometimes have their family by their side. Why does a woman who has already gone through so much pain, have to lose her so called family too? Guess there is no answer. At least yet.
In such a situation, if the traumatized women received support from the men in the family, then maybe the loss of self-respect and the feeling of isolation would have lessened, but sadly many women didn’t receive support from them too.
If there are men who were responsible for the assault, there will be others who will blame the woman for it. A hope to a regular life of dreams and aspirations is completely lost. Belief in the world which is very much theirs as it is of the assaulters’ is horribly shaken.
What something like this that happened to their mothers could do to the kids is nothing less than havoc. Young minds which should ideally be filled with positivity and hope, either leading carefree years of childhood or looking forward to a bright future; now look at a world which can be really dark and disgusting.
How unfortunate can this be; that victims are left with criminal records – and assaulters, just by virtue of their power, roam free. Even if you block the pain out from your mind, and get set on your feet raring to go, time lost never comes back.
However, out of all the pain, grief and fights evolves a very strong sense of togetherness which helps one fight with the extreme atrocities. To derive beauty from an extremely adverse situation is what a woman is capable of. And therein lays her strength.
Kudos to the team Atenco! They do represent thousands of women who might have gone through similar brutalities but haven’t had the courage or resources to step up.
Image Source: Youtube