International Women’s Day: Violence against women in Bolivia
You won’t see me sipping on cocktails on a white sandy beach these next couple of weeks. Nope, this time you will see me visiting various local organizations in Bolivia for Dutch organisation ‘Mensen met een Missie’. Wander-Lust and a group of volunteers are here to support the human rights for women.
Women from different backgrounds at Levantate Mujer in Sucre with all the reporters
There’s a lot of violence against women in Bolivia. Seven out of the ten women are dealing with physical or sexual abuse. I haven’t seen any violence in the streets in Bolivia so far, but it happens at home where you won’t see it.
I thought it was normal that my husband physically humiliated me – Patricia
‘Mensen met een Missie’ supports young people and victims and I got the chance to talk with these women and to share their stories with you.
Today it’s International Women’s day, the day where we celebrate women’s achievements and opportunities worldwide. A very important day for these women in Bolivia.
The Women from Bolivia with a story:
“I learned to be independent”
A woman of 37 with two kids of 17 (student of a university) and 11 (student) wasn’t afraid to share her story. She was a victim of violence, but not anymore.
She learned via workshops how to stand up for yourself, how to treat your kids and how to be independent. She has her own business in kids clothes and is happy that her kids are doing great. She’s very thankful that she got the support which helped her to be where she is right now.
“I thought it was normal that my husband physically humiliated me”
My husband told me day in and out that I was stupid, not good enough for our kids, that I was ugly and a lot more. I got in contact with Levantate Mujer (local organisation which Mensen met een Missie supports) via my neighbours and after a few workshops from Mensen met een Missie I learned that it was not normal how my husband treated me. Within a few weeks Patricia got an enormous amount of confidence and decided to leave her husband. She learned how to educate her children (5 kids between 4 and 15) and her goal is to give them a ‘normal’ future. She now works on a local market where she sells bags and more handcrafted items.
“I got beaten up by my husband several times in the past, but he changed since he started following the workshops of Mensen met een Missie.”
I met this young and talented mother of 2 kids at Levantate Mujer in Sucre. She told us that her husband changed since he got in contact with this organisation. “Before he didn’t accept that women study, but now he does. He’s is a different man and he supports me in my ways. I now study history and work as a teacher at Levantate Mujer.”
“They all survived, but not all of them have. Some go back to their husband anyway.”
About Mensen met een Missie
Mensen met een Missie was founded in 1931 and is involved in about 350 initiatives of partner organizations in 16 target countries, Africa, Asia and Latin America. They join forces and coordinate their program with other stakeholders in each of the 16 countries. One of the countries is Bolivia, where they support local organisation Fundacion Levantate Mujer in 5 different cities. Levantate Mujer, means women who stand up’ is the organization who helps women to build up an independent life and teach them the rights for women (that’s it not normal that their husband is beaten them up). These women have has a hard time: now money to feed their kids and there was no place where they could go to. Finally there’s a place where they can go to.
One of the things they are focusing on is reducing the violence against women by learning women what their rights are. Mensen met een Missie is supporting this topic with workshops. Women get the change to enter one of the shelter homes of Fundacion Levantate Mujer where they learn how to cook, sew, knitting and more for free.
They also have the opportunity to learn how to work with computers.
Mensen met een Missie offers workshops every month where women get informed about women rights and how to educate their kids. This local organisation offers child service upstairs for their kids between 2.5-5 years old and for kids from 5-6 years old they help out with school stuff for their children that go to school. This way they make it a lot easier for women to take courses and workshops since they don’t have to babysit.
Hopefully it’s gives you a better understanding of where the money will go when you donate. If you haven’t done so yet then please do! It’s a beautiful initiative and they need your help to keep on supporting these women!
All images are shot by Ilsoo van Dijk