Monday, September 10, 2012
Una Vida Libre de Violencia
There's a motto that you see all over Suchitoto - it's stenciled on many, many houses, the outline of the national bird, the torogoz, sitting on a flower (Suchitoto means bird-flower in Nahuat) and underneath these words: En esta casa queremos una vida libre de violencia hacia las mujeres. In this house, we want a life free of violence against women. (It's not on my house, alas, but only because the outside got repainted in December and I haven't been able to find anyone who could stencil it again for me).
This motto - it also appears on a big billboard at the entrance to the town - is up on our walls for the sad and necessary reason that there's far too much violence against women in El Salvador, and in our beautiful, apparently tranquil town of Suchitoto. For the wider perspective, there's an excellent recent article on Femicide in Tim's El Salvador Blog, and every day the terrible stories show up in the newspaper and the news shows.
Recently, over the long August holiday weekend, brutal violence almost took the life of a woman I know, a woman who's part of the fabric of Suchitoto, living and working here with her family and among friends. I don't know the details, except that the assailant was not a stranger, but Luz was stabbed many, many times and only survived thanks to heroic immediate work in the Suchitoto hospital and long weeks of intensive care in the capital. She's been in a coma through the past month, and has just begun to emerge, facing terrible pain and months of slow work to return to life.
I am praying for Luz, and for all the women, for my friends and neighbors, that here in El Salvador we may begin to find a path out of the brutal violence that haunts every woman's life and every woman's nightmares. Una vida libre de violencia: this should be the birthright of every woman, man and child. Until that day, the work continues.