Feminist groups in Latin America
Colectivo Feminista Sexualidade Saude (CFSS) is a feminist health action group, that provides training for women and professionals. They encourage self-help and offer information and health care around contraception, abortion, pregnancy, childbirth and women’s mental health. Coordenadoria Especial da Mulher/São Paulo (CEM) is a municipal government agency that is looking at institutionalizcd violence around women’s and children’s mortality, and organizing actions against such violence.
Dr. Simone Grilo Diniz has worked with CFSS in São Paulo since 1985. “health institutions are strong, powerful agents of control over women’s lives.” She spoke at 1991 Center for Women’s Global Leadership institute on “Women, Violence and Human Rights” , on the whole range of the medical system’s violence against women: forced sterilization, gynecological rape, compulsory’ motherhood, and the ‘medicalization’ of pregnancy and birth. In São Paulo, 98.5 percent of the women give birth in hospitals, but poor women frequently have to go from hospital to hospital during labor in search of a free bed. One maternal mortality survey in São Paulo documented a case of one pregnant women in labor going to 11 hospitals before she was admitted. Once admitted to hospital, a woman has a 50 percent chance of undergoing a caesarian section and 15 to 40 percent chance of contracting a hospital infection. Often she is allowed no contact with the baby or with anyone she knows for hours.
Diniz says such treatment is institutional violence. She is developing a new epidemiology of violent death that takes into account any avoidable death of a healthy individual and in particular the death of women from avoidable complications of pregnancy, childbirth and battery. Lack of access to safe and legal abortion would be counted as ‘violent death.’ “denying a woman’s right to decide whether or not not to have a child is denying her status as a human being. Humanizing ourselves is gaining the right to decide about our own bodies.” The reason why reproductive rights are not considered “human rights,” she said, “is because men don’t reproduce.” CFSS, Pay. Pc. Manocl de Nobrega, sala 13-terco, Cep-0498, Parque Ibirapuera, São Paulo-S.P., Brazil
CEFEMINA, founded in 1975, is a non-profit women’s organization in Costa Rica. CEFEMINA works in five major areas: violence against women, women’s health, women and the legal system, housing and environmental issues. It began its work against violence against women in 1984 by helping women leave violent relationships. They started self-help groups and community housing projects which are safer for women and involved women in their design and implementation. CEFEMINA, Apartado 5355, San Jose 1000, Costa Rica. Tel. 244620.
In Costa Rica one organization that works with young mothers reported that 95 percent of pregnant clients under 16 are victims of incest.
In another study of 1,388 women seeking services (not related to violence) at Costa Rica’s national child welfare agency, one in two reported being physically abused.
Venezuelan Association for an Alternative Sexual Education (AVESA) was founded in 1984. They have three programs: sexual education and consciousness raising; sexual and reproductive health; and services for victims of sexual violence. Their first task was to raise consciousness about violence against women. Now they are conducting research into penal law related to child abuse and teaching women’s mental health. They are also working to legalize abortion, which is now permitted only if the life of the mother is in danger. AVESA, Avenida Francisco Miranda, Edfc. Hollywood 3 #88, Chacao, Caracas 1060, Venezuela.
Centro de la Mujer Peruana Flora Tristan (Women’s Legal Rights Program) is a feminist nongovernmental organization which has played an important role in raising women’s issues in Peruvian society since 1979. The Center works to develop awareness of gender consciousness and defending women’s rights. They help to strengthen women leaders so they can develop local responses to violence as well as political proposals. The women’s rights project provides legal services to victims of domestic violence and rape, training workshops for women police officers, and workshops on legal rights and citizenship for women. Centro de la Mujer Peruana Flora Tristan, Pque. Heman Velarde 42, Cuadra 2 Av. Petit Thouars, Lima I, Peru.
Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA) was founded in 1985 to meet the communication, information, research and solidarity needs of women’s activists and organizations in the Spanish, English, Dutch and French- speaking Caribbean. They carry out regional action/research programs which are developed collectively, on issues of concern to the regional women’s movement. The Women and Law Project produces popular education materials on legal issues affecting women; develops training programs for organizations whose work brings them into contact with women with legal problems; and organizes national consultations in the region. Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action, (publishes CAFRA News), P.O. Box Bag 442, Tunapuna Post Office, Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies. Tel. 809 633 8670.
A sampling of Latin American/Caribbean women’s groups working against violence against women
- Lugar de la Mujer, Corrientes 2817, Piso 5 “B”, 1193 Buenos Aires, Argentina. Tel. 961 8081.
- Belize Women Against Violence Movement, P.O. Box 1190, Belize City, Belize. Tel. (02) 74845; fax (02) 77236.
- Center for Information and Development of Women in Bolivia, Casilla 14036, La Paz, Bolivia. Tel. 374961
- A Violencia Domestica, Instituto de Acão Cultural, Rua Visconde de Piraja 550, sala 1404, Ipanema 22410, Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
- Isis lnternacional, Casilla 2067, Corrco Central, Santiago, Chile. Tel. 2253629 or 490271.
- Casa de la Mujer, Apartado 36151, Bogota, Colombia. Tel. 248 2469.
- National Coordinating Committee of Salvadoran Women (CONAMUS), Apartado posta13262, Centro de Gobierno, San Salvador, El Salvador. Fax (503) 262080.
- Comite Latinoamericano para la Dcfensa de los Derechos de la Mujer, Honduras (CLADEM-H), P.O. Box 3124, Tegucigalpa, d.c. Honduras. Tel. 22 0674; fax 31 7073.
- Say No to Violence! Sistren Theatre Collective, 20 Kensington Crescent, Kingston 5, Jamaica.
- Red Contra la Violencia Hacia las Mujeres, Xola 1454, Colonia Narvante, Deleg. Benito Juarez, C.P. 03020 Mexico, D.F., Mexico.
- St. Lucia Crisis Center, P.O. 1257, Castries, St. Lucia, West Indies. Tel. (809) 31521.