Lecturer discusses violence against women
Kathleen Meyer | Friday, April 26, 2019
Dr. Nancy Pineda-Madrid spoke regarding the current crisis of feminicide in Latin America as a part of the 34th annual Madaleva Lecture series Thursday in Carroll Auditorium.
Madrid, the T. Marie Chilton Chair of Catholic Theology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, defined feminicide as the systematic assassination of women because of their gender.
“While there are diverse forms of violence against women — rape, domestic violence, gender mutilation, sex trafficking and many others — I focus on feminicide because it remains the most serious and extreme form of violence against women,” she said.
Madrid said feminicide is tragically escalating around the globe. In Latin America, the issue of feminicide is on the rise.
“We live in a time of distressing paradox,” she said. “On the one hand, women in large numbers and around the globe have stepped into significant positions of public leadership. On the other hand, women are being brutally assassinated in increasing numbers in our time.”
The most widely studied feminicide takes place in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, Madrid said.
“Feminicides are also ongoing in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Peru, Colombia and Argentina among many, many other countries,” she said. “These feminicides demand the attention of Christology today.”
Only by remembering the victims as part of Christ’s body, Madrid said, can hope in salvation be plausible.
“If we do not recognize feminicide as a contemporary crucifixion and if we do not recognize our need for a message and vision that impels us to see that all humanity is essentially interconnected, then we render our belief in a God who saves limp and irrelevant,” she said. “The ongoing crucifixion of many women and girls represents a grossly misformed social imagination.”
Feminicide identifies the most extreme form of gender-based violence against women, she said, which is also a form of sexual violence against women.
“On the one hand, some scholars have used the term femicide,” Madrid said. “Femicide is synonymous with homicide, except that it refers to the killing of women exclusively. Like homicide, it can be used to refer to one murder.”
However, feminicide is a term that is growing in scholars’ discourse, Madrid said.
“Feminicide has become the preferred term of use by an increasing number of scholars and activists, including myself,” Madrid said. “It refers to the brutal killing of women by men, a large number of assassinations and feminicide also refers to a system of impunity for the perpetrator or perpetrators.”
Pineda-Madrid said that when the character of a society deteriorates resulting in the violation of women’s health, wellbeing and freedom, then these violations contribute to the assumption that women are usable, abusable, dispensable and disposable.
“Over time, this contributes to a climate in which feminicide can erupt and develop,” she said.
Madrid said the eruption of feminicide makes clear the need for a more gripping vision of human oneness. A vision that confronts any hierarchical stratum that assigns human beings to various levels of value and dignity is necessary.
Pineda-Madrid said activists draw attention to this vision by using pink crosses as a symbol of protest against feminicide.
“At the most basic level, the protestors of feminicide link female humanity to the cross and crucifixion every time they paint a victim’s name on the crossbar and every time they organize marches on days that recognize female humanity,” she said. “When protestors denounce feminicide in their public practices, they subordinate evil. Their protests represent a radical fidelity to God’s name in our time.”