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Viral Chilean feminist anthem reveals powerful international sentiment against sexual violence

Originally posted on Breaking the Chains.

A Chilean feminist anthem against rape and the systematic oppression of women has gone viral worldwide. ‘Un Violador en Tu Camino’ – ‘A Rapist on Your Path’ – has been performed in Mexico, Colombia, France, Spain, the UK−to name a few.

The protest song was first performed for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 20 in Valparaíso, Chile. A large flash mob of women with black cloth covering their eyes chanted the lyrical protest while performing the song’s accompanying choreography. A Chilean feminist art collective called LaTesis, compried of feminist artists Daffne Valdés, Sibila Sotomayor, Paula Cometa, and Lea Cáceres, wrote the popular song.

The lyrics describe how the capitalist political structure comprised of the police, the justice system and the powerful elite uphold the systematic oppression of women:

“The patriarchy is a judge
Who judges us by birth?
And our punishment
Is the violence you do not see. (x2)
It is femicide.
Impunity for my killer.
It is disappearance.
It is rape.
And the fault was not mine, not where I was, nor what I wore. (x4)
The rapist was you.
The rapist is you.
It is the cops,
The judges,
The State,
The President.
The oppressive state is a macho rapist. (x2)
‘Sleep well, innocent girl,
Do not worry about the bandit,
Your sweet and smiling sleep
Is taken care of by your loving Carabinero.’
The rapist is you. (x4)”

While the song was written before the wave of protests began in October, still it describes the police repression of protestors that has resulted in numerous allegations of rape, torture, and murder. Protestors performed the song as a creative action within the wave of mass demonstrations against Chile’s neoliberal policies going into their second month.

The song and performance speaks directly to the Chilean experience but has become a worldwide phenomenon because it speaks to the experience of women across the globe. The song not only captures the political moment in Chile, but speaks to women fighting for justice worldwide.

Renditions of the song have taken place in various settings across the globe: public spaces, town squares and in front of municipal buildings. The song has been performed in many places worldwide, including Colombia, Costa Rica, Argentina, Spain, Germany, France, Mexico and Istanbul.

According to the United Nations report, a third of all women and girls experience physical or sexual violence, and half of women murdered were killed by their partners or a family member. An overwhelming 70 percent of women in the U.S. experience sexual harassment. The statistics rank rape among some of the most pervasive human rights crises in the world, yet it is one of the least reported.

Sexual assault is under-reported because it is often unpunished but also because the police themselves, to whom the reports are made, use sexual assault as a tool of repression. According to LaTesis’ Sibila Sotomayor during an interview : “In general, only 8 percent of rape cases in Chile end with some type of condemnation, so clearly there is something systemically at the level of public policies that is not working.” In the United States, only 4 out of 10 rapes are reported.

The viral song and performance refer to the Chilean police (carabineros) and satirizes the Chilean police slogan “A friend on your path.” According to a report by the National Institute of Human Rights (INDH) on Nov. 30, there have been approximately 508 complaints filed against the Chilean police since the protests began.

The Chilean militarized police have left at least 23 dead, 2,300 injured and 7,000 detained Women participating in the protests have brought numerous cases and allegations of Chilean police sexually assaulting them. Currently, there are 74 allegations of rape as well as reports that police forced women to undress and sexually abused them.

The global epidemic of sexual violence perpetuated against women is a remnant of women’s historic status as property that derives from the emergence of class society. The ongoing fight for the equality of women and the eradication of misogynistic violence is an international one. Women across the globe are mobilizing to demand the end oppression and inequality. As the popularity of ‘Un Violador en Tu Camino’ demonstrates, we can create a formidable movement for revolution and liberation when we join together in large numbers!

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