Women who defend the environment are the most threatened activists in Latin America

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Source: Contagio Radio / The Dawn News / June 27, 2016

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According to the most recent report of the Urgent Action Fund, women who fight for the environment, human rights or women’s rights —or other gender issues are at greatest risk currently in Latin America. Environmentalist women are at highest risk among them, because their struggle includes all of the others.

Faced with criminalization, environmentalist women are especially at risk because of their gender. Most of the aggressions they suffer have a sexual tint, as stated by researcher Laura Carvajal, member of the Fund. They suffer criminalization, threats, intimidations, harassment, evictions, tortures, detentions, attacks to offices and homes, destruction of crops, stigmatization by public officers, smear campaigns and even murder. Berta Cáceres being a tragic example of this.

“Justice officials tend to be more parcial due to the patriarchal logic. Women are re-victimized just because of their gender, their statements are usually taken as lies, their testimonies are dismissed and underrated, and that’s why there is a greater risk that agressions against them can go unpunished”. Criminalization is part of a structure of gender-based violence in which extractivism, due to its patriarchal logic, exacerbates all forms of violence and inequalities, Carvajal adds.

Despite the fact that women are the ones who produce most of the foodstuffs, they are the sector of the population with most difficulties to access a portion of land and to participate in assemblies, which usually turn up to be “a farce, because the States have several fraudulent mechanisms to supersede the communities’ consent”, according to Carvajal. This is why the governments are being called on to take effective measures that can guarantee the participation of women, their quality of life, and the protection of the environment.  

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