02 12 / 2012

Violence against women and girls is the most frequent, silenced and unpunished type of human rights violation. It is a global problem that impacts on women of all ages, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds, and is rooted in the power inequalities between men and women which are based on cultural values and norms.

One of the main obstacles to eliminating violence against women and girls is that cultural norms continue to be considered something that are “natural”, which impedes their recognition as a human rights violation. In the framework of this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence Campaign, the Fundación para Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer (FEIM) will perform two public activities in Buenos Aires City that aim to sensitize people on this problem that involves all of society.

The first activity will be a poster exhibition, which will use art and culture as a way to make the problem of violence against women and girls visible. The images that will be exhibited were created by a group of young artists during a project developed by FEIM and Casa Escuela de Arte.

The works of art, originally made with stencil and serigraphy techniques, are the result of the collective analysis of, and work around, the causes and different types of violence against women and girls, as well as the rights that protect women. The messages were created by young people aimed to target other young people and address symbolic and media violence. They are aimed to deconstruct stereotypical roles of women and men and to intervene in the early stages of violent relationships that are seen more and more often.

The proposal draws on the power of art and culture to contribute to changing cultural norms that maintain gender-based violence and inequalities between women and men. In the framework of this project, visual production is used as a means of aesthetic expression at community level and as a tool of communication for social action and transformation.

The second activity will address the reciprocal link between violence against women and the feminization of the HIV/AIDS epidemic through an activity targeting young students at the University of Buenos Aires.

Violence against women increases women’s vulnerability to HIV, and, at the same time, HIV/AIDS is a risk factor that increases the possibility of women suffering from violence. The context of inequality between men and women is a common factor that lends itself to violence and HIV infection. Therefore, prevention among young women and men is vital.

FEIM, together with the National Network of Youth and Adolescents for Sexual and Reproductive Health (RedNAC) and the First Year Basic Cycle of the University of Buenos Aires will organize and set up an informational stand to sensitize and inform students. Visitors will receive information on the different forms of violence that women and girls suffer, the risks that increase vulnerability to HIV, and how to prevent it. Female and male condoms will be exhibited, and there will be demonstrations on their correct use. Moreover, materials will be distributed that explain how all forms of violence against women and girls are both cause and effect of the feminization of HIV/AIDS.

by Mabel Bianco

Mabel Bianco, MD, MPH, is an epidemiologist and President of Fundacion para Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer (FEIM) in Argentina.