22 de enero: Historias cruzadas
Today, the United States-based feminist blog Jezebel–in addition to a number of other international news sources–reported on the horrific case of the alleged rape of a woman on the floor of the Bolivian parliament meeting room. The purported rape, which was captured on video, was allegedly perpetrated by Bolivian congressman Domingo Alcibia Rivera after a holiday lunch meeting late last year in which the woman in question, ostensibly a janitor, passed out after drinking heavily. For readers of English, see the Jezebel blog here; for readers of Spanish, see one editorial by Bolivian feminist activist Maria Galindo.
Even if you (understandably) prefer not to view the video of the attack, which has been broadcast on youtube and elsewhere, it is important to look this reality in the face. I have noted in other posts the distressingly high rates of sexual violence that plague Bolivia. What this story points to, however, is how normalized the phenomenon may be. If a Bolivian lawmaker feels compelled–even drunk–to rape an employee of his own workplace at his workplace, which happens to be the seat of government, where the man must know all activities are videotaped, then how much can we reasonably assume he fears retribution or legal consequence? How much can we even expect that he regrets what he did, or recognizes the monstrosity of his actions? In Bolivia, where only about a quarter of complaints of sexual violence end in conviction, perhaps Alcibia has little to fear. Unfortunately, women have a lot to be afraid of.
Postscript: In other news, today marks the 40th anniversary of the supreme court decision that legalized abortion in the United States, Roe vs. Wade. Congratulations to U.S. women for 40 years of struggle!