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Deviant and visible against sexist violence

11/12/2023| Publications / Events

As women who use drugs, we are 25 times more likely than others to experience violence. Various conditions of vulnerability, such as living without a home, having unstable income, or living with mental health diagnoses often push us to the fringes of society, where we endure the daily oppression stemming from this patriarchal, racist, colonial, and LGBTQIphobic system. 

It’s as if almost 100 years hadn’t passed, for our current situation is far too similar to that of the women incarcerated by the “Patronato de Protección a la Mujer“ (“Women’s Protection Board”). A francoist institution operating under the Ministry of Justice, the “Women’s Protection Board” used religious doctrines to manage centers of repression between 1941 to 1984. Young women and girls between 16 and 25 years old were sent there for “immoral” conduct, which included things like kissing in public, walking hand in hand with one another, smoking, dressing in a certain way, having been sexually assaulted, etc.

Far from offering protection, the “Women’s Protection Board” was the place where women were sent when they were seen to be “bad apples” who had gone astray, women who dared to defy the status quo, women who were free. These women could have been us, and in fact… we are them. Because while these institutions may have changed their names, they remain governed by the same powers with the same objective: to control our bodies through oppression, violence, and prohibition.

For these reasons, at Metzineres we have once again taken to the streets for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. We believe it absolutely necessary to keep denouncing the discrimination, stigmatization, and criminalization that we face. We must make historical memory using a feminist perspective that, among other things, demands reparations from the institutions complicit in the existence and crimes committed by the “Women’s Protection Board.” 

This 2023, we protested with our faces exposed; we didn’t wear masks or disguises. Because we want to be seen. We will no longer hide. For it is enough that the States and governments exclude us from their services, like health, social, judicial, labor, and housing services; that the media dehumanizes us and makes us invisible behind numbers and headlines; and that a large part of society treats us like delinquents, bad womxn, bad daughters, and bad mothers.

If we have one thing clear it’s that we will never again stay in the shadows: there are many of us, and we have names and diverse lived realities that need to be brought to light. And so, on the 24th and 25th of November, with our lights and our signs we stepped out into the open. We made ourselves heard, shouting once again that we are anti-prohibition feminists. Throughout history, we have been (and continue to be) forbidden from doing many things: studying, managing our money, dancing, kissing each other in public, smoking, drinking and using other drugs, having an abortion… and what we have found is that far from helping to educate and discipline, prohibition only leads to secrecy, disinformation, and violence.

Following many years of work, we are now organized and can fight together, like we did on Saturday, November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. After gathering at the door of our locale to read the manifesto (link) we recently published through the campaign #EVAWUD2023, we headed towards the Paseo de Gracia con Diagonal. 

Dancing through feathers, we were an intergenerational mass of people. We do not always have the opportunity to make our presence known and to occupy certain spaces because we are busy trying to survive. Our presence there was a way to put various demands on the table: our participation in creating, developing, and monitoring the politics that affect our lives; a guaranteed access to systems that protect and denounce violence against women, as well as for sexual and reproductive health; the end of prohibition and criminalization; the expansion of “full spectrum harm reduction,” a perspective that deconstructs falsities about substance use and places focus on the exclusion and marginalization that don’t allow wellbeing to those who are vulnerable. 

On both days, we heard proclamations from our Palestinian comrades. Among others, “Queers in Palestine” called for solidarity from intersectional feminist groups and that we show up for them and their resistance the same as with all decolonial struggles in the world. Other comrades talked of voluntary motherhood and parenting, denouncing custody losses, calling for the abolition of the immigration law, and asking that Metzineres join them, as well.

All in all, we can say that we have put our heart and soul into fighting for what we deserve. But, above all, we have kept celebrating (and will continue celebrating) that we are alive, together, and strong, and that no one can stop us!