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Orange The World November 25, 2020

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Uncategorized.
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[WARNING: There are no explicit details in this post, but there are references that may trigger trauma.]

“Quedé viva para contarles la historia.” [“I stayed alive to tell the story.”]

– Dedé Mirabal, author of Vivas en su Jardín

“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, emerging data and reports from those on the front lines, have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified.

This is the Shadow Pandemic growing amidst the COVID-19 crisis and we need a global collective effort to stop it. As COVID-19 cases continue to strain health services, essential services, such as domestic violence shelters and helplines, have reached capacity. More needs to be done to prioritize addressing violence against women in COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.”

– quoted from the United Nations website for International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (2020 #OrangetheWorld)

There’s nothing pretty about violence and statistics about violence against women are particularly ugly. 1 in 3 women, worldwide experience physical or sexual violence. Prior to 2020, about 243 million women and girls (ages 15 – 49) reported experiencing sexual and/or physical abuse by an intimate partner within a 12-month period. That number has gone up during the COVID-19 pandemic and, in some countries, hotline and emergency calls regarding domestic abuse increased to 5 times the average numbers. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) considers violence against women and girls (VAWG) a human rights violation – in fact, they consider it “one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human violations in our world today.”

To combat this violence (and the accompanying stigma) that can manifest physically, sexually, and psychological – and that happens to people around the world regardless of education, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, age, health, or nationality – UNESCO designated November 25th as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The 2020 theme is “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!” and focuses on “amplifying the call for global action to bridge funding gaps, ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the pandemic, [prevention measures,] and collection of data that can improve life-saving services for women and girls.” Today’s observation kicks off “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” which culminates with International Human Rights Day on December 10th.

“For the purposes of this Declaration, the term “violence against women” means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”

– “Article 1” of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, issued by the United Nations General Assembly, December 20, 1993

When UNESCO started observing the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in 1999, November 25th wasn’t randomly selected because it was 16 days before International Human Rights Day. Today was specifically selected to honor the lives and legacy of the Mirabal sisters (Las Hermanas Mirabal), three of whom were assassinated today in 1960.

Patria Mercedes Mirabal Reyes, Bélgica “Dedé” Adela Mirabal Reyes, María Argentina Minerva Mirabal Reyes (known as Minerva), and Antonia María Teresa Mirabal Reyes (known as María Teresa) were married, Catholic-educated young mothers who had been raised in a middle-class household in the Dominican Republic. Three of the sisters (Patria, Minerva, and María Teresa) were also college educated professionals who actively and publically opposed the dictator Rafael Trujillo (known as El Jefe), who’s fascist regime lasted 31 years.

“We cannot allow our children to grow up in this corrupt and tyrannical regime. We have to fight against it, and I am willing to give up everything, even my life if necessary”

– Patria Mirabal Reyes

The sisters became known as Las Mariposas (“The Butterflies”) and they (and their husbands) were often harassed and even incarcerated because of their activism. There were many activists who spoke out against the dictator before the sisters – including organizers of the “Movement of the Fourteenth of June” and the sisters’ own uncle. But part of the reason the sisters (and their husbands) may have been targeted was because Minerva had turned down Trujillo’s sexual advances when she was in her early 20’s.

International attention on their plight may have saved Minerva and María Teresa from being tortured during their last incarceration – and definitely led to them being released. Their high profile, however, did not secure the release of their husbands. It also did not save them. As they returned from a visit to the prison where two of their husbands were being held, Patria, Minerva, María Teresa, and their driver Rufino de la Cruz were stopped by people associated with Trujillo’s regime (including members of his secret police force). There was an attempt to make their murders look like a car accident, but evidence to the contrary was very obvious.

Dedé, the surviving sister lived to the age of 88. She was also the only one of the sisters who did not go to college and the only one who did not publicly participate in the resistance. She was a “traditional” homemaker who also took care of the family business. After her sisters were murdered, she continued to take care of their children and started the Mirabal Sisters Foundation. She also turned the home they last lived in together into a museum and wrote a book, Vivas en su Jardín, as she saw that her legacy was to preserve herstory.

“Perhaps what we have most near is death, but that idea does not frighten me. We shall continue to fight for that which is just.”

– María Teresa Mirabel Reyes

“If the kill me, I’ll reach my arms out from the tomb and I’ll be stronger.”

– Minerva Mirabel Reyes

If you see a building or landmark being “oranged” in the next few days, it is a reminder of campaign against gender-based violence and a reminder of the importance of everyone coming together to promote a violence-free world. Curious about why the color for International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is orange. I thought maybe it would be tied to the symbol of the butterfly, but I could only find a UNESCO site that says “The color orange symbolizes a bright future, free of violence. It also serves as a means of demonstrating your solidarity in eliminating all forms of violence and…. As a show of solidarity, the UNESCO globe will be illuminated orange.”

Of course, the reason I was curious about the color choice is because in yoga and Áyurveda, as they come to us from India, orange is associated with the second chakra – which is the energetic center of our relationships. From the yoga perspective, our mind-bodies are a microcosm representing the macrocosm that is the world. So, from the yoga perspective, physical, mental, emotional, energetic, and spiritual healing begins on the inside and if we want to truly “orange” the world, we must find a way to physically, emotionally, and energetically honor a sacred truth.

“Sacred Truth: Honor one another. Every relationship you develop, from casual to intimate, helps you become more conscious. No union is without spiritual value.”

– from “Morning Visual Meditation” by Caroline Myss

Please join me today (Wednesday, November 25th) at 4:30 PM or 7:15 PM for a yoga practice on Zoom. Use the link from the “Class Schedules” calendar if you run into any problems checking into the class. You will need to register for the 7:15 PM class if you have not already done so. Give yourself extra time to log in if you have not upgraded to Zoom 5.0. You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below or by emailing myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.

Wednesday’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify. [Look for “Mother’s Day 2020”]

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.)

“Article 2

Violence against women shall be understood to encompass, but not be limited to, the following:

(a) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation;

(b) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution;

(c) Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.

Article 3

Women are entitled to the equal enjoyment and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field. These rights include, inter alia:

(a) The right to life;

(b) The right to equality;

(c) The right to liberty and security of person;

(d) The right to equal protection under the law;

(e) The right to be free from all forms of discrimination;

(f) The right to the highest standard attainable of physical and mental health;

(g) The right to just and favourable conditions of work;

(h) The right not to be subjected to torture, or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

– quoted from the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, issued by the United Nations General Assembly, December 20, 1993