12 May 2022
Category : Reportage
Remember that we exist
Desde EUROsociAL + trabajamos para combatir el impacto de la corrupción de funcionarios públicos en las mujeres y niñas de América Latina. Como homenaje a las supervivientes de estas prácticas corruptas, hemos escuchado sus historias a través del arte como un medio para transformar percepciones, como un vehículo para generar concienciación y transformación social.La Camerata Vocal de la Universidad de Valparaíso representa ‘Mujer y corrupción. Voces que denuncian, cantos de libertad’. Foto: EUROsociAL+.
Sofia speaks before an audience of judges, prosecutors, aid workers, finance officials, auditors and transparency guarantors, among others. The young woman, a student at the University of Valparaíso, visibly moved, interprets the real case of a girl who went to give birth sick with syphilis. The minor had been the victim of a trafficking network for the purpose of sexual exploitation. This criminal organization operated thanks to the complicity of police officers, who received money from the pimps and free sex from the exploited women. “How can someone who swore to protect us be so despicable?” cries Sofia, putting herself in the girl’s shoes and moving with her performance the more than 80 officials from Latin America and the European Union present at the choral and theatrical performance, one of the various activities of the initiative ‘Women and Corruption. Expression of pain and hope’, a set of artistic dynamics integrated in the Meeting ‘Political and social pacts for a new Latin America’, organized by EUROsociAL + last January in Valparaiso (Chile).
Through the action ‘Women and Corruption’, the Governance Area of EUROsociAL + in the FIIAPP has worked to identify, make visible, measure, prevent and combat the effects of corruption on women in Latin America. We have conducted diagnoses and sought solutions with justice system operators, international agencies and civil society organizations, helping to position the issue on national and international agendas, generating tools and promoting regulatory reforms.
The importance of identifying and understanding the problem
Corruption has a differentiated impact on women and girls in Latin America, who suffer from corrupt practices in specific ways due to their gender and vulnerability. Judicial officials who demand sex in exchange for favorable treatment, university professors who proposition their female students, police officers paid by prostitution or human trafficking networks, prison guards who allow girls and women to enter prisons to be sexually exploited…. Some of these behaviors are isolated crimes, but others are part of a systemic phenomenon that must be identified and combated.
This has been one of the objectives of EUROsociAL+ over the last three years, a period of work that we brought to a close between the 12th and 14th of last January with the aforementioned Meeting in Valparaiso, in which the victims of corruption received special attention. The way to learn about their experiences was through the initiative ‘Women and Corruption. Expression of pain and hope’, an activity resulting from the collaboration between EUROsociAL +, the District Institute for the Protection of Children and Youth of Bogota (Idipron), the University of Valparaiso and the Peruvian artist Aisha Asconiga.
The objective of these initiatives is to use art in its different forms to give a voice to women and girls who suffer sexual extortion and corruption that facilitates trafficking and sexual exploitation networks. We wanted to have a first approach to know who they are, understand their story and share their experiences, to open discussions on the best strategies to fight more effectively against the crimes of which they were victims.
Art to reflect pain
Art is a window, a mechanism for reparation, awareness-raising, social and institutional transformation. It is also memory, an expression of resistance, pain and hope. Art must serve to humanize us, to forge new paths in the search for solutions with a different look.
In this context, through three dynamics, different plastic and musical visions inspired by seven real cases narrated by the victims and compiled by EUROsociAL + that you can see here.
The first dynamic was in charge of Idipron. Under the slogan #QuéCaminoRecorrer, three groups of people in Bogota (Colombia) made drawings based on the stories from three perspectives or paths, from three sensitivities.
The first artistic reflection came from the institutional sphere. Idipron’s communication area produced illustrations as a reaction to the victims’ stories, from a more technical point of view, as an institutional campaign. The second path was the one of the victims, expressed in drawings made by girls who left the Santa Fe neighborhood of Bogota and who are under protection measures after having been victims of sexual exploitation. They have a special feeling for the situations they are painting, because they have sometimes experienced them firsthand. The third vision is that of the street, that of the children who live in the area surrounding the Castillo de las Artes, in the aforementioned Barrio de Santa Fé, a former place of sexual exploitation, which was the scene of abuse and mistreatment for years and which now offers alternatives to young people through art. The boys and girls who made these drawings live in an environment where many inhabitants are captured by criminal structures, sometimes willingly, sometimes by force. Therefore, they understand very well this type of problems and dilemmas.
The objective of the dynamic was that, through the stories and illustrations, exhibited in a stand coordinated by Carlos Marín, Director of Idipron, the public attending the Valparaíso meeting would reflect on what public policies are necessary to address these problems and to make society aware of them. Can we be guided only by the institutional, without consulting the people who experience these types of situations first hand? Victims have a more personal vision, from pain, of what is happening. When it comes to identifying #quécaminorecorrer, we must address the issue not only from the action of the authority, but also from the connection with society. These crimes are often invisible and it is necessary to break the social inaction in the face of them.
The second dynamic was led by Peruvian visual artist Aisha Asconiga. Aisha explores the position of women in society and the violence associated with the mere fact of being a woman. In her work ‘When will I stop being an object’ she shows a female figure that aims to show how women are seen as an object, as a commodity in the collective unconscious, as a payment currency. Specifically, the work shows how women are impacted by the corruption of public agents when extortion or sexual exploitation condition their freedom and rights, and they are forced to pay with their own bodies.
The artistic dynamics culminated with the musical and theatrical performance ‘Women and Corruption. Voices that denounce, songs of freedom’, by the Vocal Camerata of the University of Valparaiso, conducted by Ximena Soto. It was an opportunity to share with the public musical interpretations interspersed with dramatized stories based on the experience of girls, adolescents and women affected by corruption.
Sofía, one of the members of the Camerata and the person with whom we began these lines, explains how she has lived the experience of creating art from traumatic experiences: “They are shocking stories, but we must show them to people because they happen every day. We must remember that this exists. And he continues: “What can we contribute from art to these social problems? When you sing, it’s not just about tuning the notes and making them sound beautiful. It’s also about the message. Music moves you to feel more deeply. There were nerves in the group before we started, but we were very happy because the audience are people who can do something to provide solutions and we did our bit to help those people to do something. There is a social responsibility that we decided to assume as artists; if one can contribute in some way from the culture that fills you, the heart takes you forward, it encourages you to continue”.
Borja Díaz Rivillas, Head of Good Governance, Governance Area EUROsociAL+/FIIAPP Program.
Ana Linda Solano López, expert in corruption and gender, Governance Area, EUROsociAL+/FIIAPP Program.
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