Criminalization in Texas and Celebrations in Mexico

“Today is a historic day for the rights of all Mexican women,” said Supreme Court Chief Justice Arturo Zaldivar. “It is a watershed in the history of the rights of all women, especially the most vulnerable.” On Tuesday, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that making abortion a crime was unconstitutional, establishing a precedent for legalizing abortion nationwide in a conservative Catholic country of approximately 120 million people.

The unanimous ruling from the nation’s top court follows a growing women’s movement in Mexico that has taken to the streets of major cities across the country, demanding greater rights and protections for women against femicide and violence against women.

This landmark ruling comes on the heels of a measure that Governor Greg Abbott signed into law to prohibit abortions as early as six weeks in Texas. Senate Bill 8 (S.B. 8) or the “Heartbeat bill” includes cases where the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. There is an exception for medical emergencies. Additionally, the S.B. 8 opens the door for almost any private citizen to sue abortion providers and others—making this bill the most restrictive abortion law in the U.S.

The passage of S.B. 8 comes after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case concerning a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks. Sequentially, it could lead to new limits on abortion rights. It is the first major abortion case heard before the court’s newly expanded conservative majority.

These two milestones in abortion rights have demonstrated two sharp contradictions in prioritizing women’s rights globally. It is blatantly obvious women’s reproductive rights in the U.S. are and will always be under the threat of attack. In addition to S.B. 8, the Texas Legislature has also enacted a lengthy list of conservative priorities on transgender rights, voting, and teaching about racism in schools—contradictory to the notion of the U.S. as a global leader in creating and promoting human rights.

The future of the Roe v. Wade remains uncertain. One thing is certain, countries around the globe are shifting to a new global standard for women’s rights and protections. But, more importantly, countries like Argentina and Mexico are global leaders in creating and promoting human rights and women’s rights.

(By Tatiana Ruiz)

(Photo Credit: AFP / La Jornada)

Chile’s Constitutional Reformation From a Feminist Perspective

Chile’s new constitution will be the first drafted in the aftermath of the global #MeToo movements and a wave of feminist activism across Latin America confronting strict abortion laws, violence against women, and femicide. The conception of the new document will be crucial in the fight for gender equality and political representation in Chile. The new constitution will spur progress for women in Chile and potentially set a new global standard for gender equality in politics. 

Generations of Chilean women have long fought for social, gender, and class equality—beginning under the two most decisive periods of Chilean history, the socialist government of President Salvador Allende and the military government of General Augusto Pinochet. More recently, feminists and LGBT organizations have mobilized to confront a brutal neoliberal and increasingly authoritarian state. Chilean feminists have protested state violence, anti-statism, and anti-capitalist beliefs. These movements centered on accessibility to legal abortion, violence against women, and femicide have ignited broader demands for social equity outside the parameters of gender and reproductive issues in Latin America. 

The 2019 Chilean feminist anthem, “Un Violador en Tu Camino” (“Rapist in your Path”), which is fundamentally rooted in the feminist theory and anti-statism, demands the Chilean state to claim responsibility and accountability for Chilean women’s violence and deaths. First performed in Chile by the interdisciplinary, intersectional, and trans-inclusive feminist collective, Las Tesis, the anthem and performance quickly became viral and spread from France, Mexico to Kenya, and India, igniting a global feminist movement against violence. 

In the wake of recent feminist movements such as “Un Violador en Tu Camino” and similar movements in Latin America, Chile has elected 155 members, 77 women and 78 men. The members will be in charge of writing Chile’s new Magna Carta and decide on fundamental issues as social rights, the country’s private property regime, and the state’s role. This process emerged in response to the demands of the social outbreak that shook the country in October 2019. The procedure, supported by 78% of the voters in a referendum in October 2020, will end in 2022 with another widespread consultation that will approve or reject the text that will replace the 1980 Constitution written under the military regime of Augusto Pinochet.

With the new constitution, what does that mean for women? The structural reformation will prove pivotal in creating a more inclusive and representative body. The nearly perfect, 77 women and 78 men, gender parity provides a step in the right direction. Feminist activists and organizers consider this provision a historic victory for women in obtaining political visibility. Activists believe the gender parity will create visibility for minority communities, including the country’s Indigenous communities, LGBT groups, and gender non-conforming people. 

Though the outcome of this gender parity and the new body of laws remains yet to be seen, one thing is certain—feminist grassroots organizers globally are eagerly awaiting the long-overdue seat(s) at the table that has the potential to set a new global standard pf politics.

(By Tatiana Ruiz)

(Image Credit: Emily Matteson / Anthropology News)

Social Media and Social Movements: On the sixth anniversary of #BlackLivesMatter

July 13th, the Black Lives Matter Movement celebrates its sixth anniversary, marking six years since the viral hashtag ignited a global movement. In 2020, social media users surpassed 3.8 billion, making social media essential in the survival of social movements such as Black Lives Matter. With social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, any user can be a political activist. How essential is social media to social movements, and how do we address the toxicity in social media? 

Social media movements, such as Me Too and the Black Lives Matter, have sparked wildfires throughout social media. The viral hashtags have drawn global attention to immigration, racial, economic, and gender issues, drawing more than a million daily Tweets, posts, and shares globally. In 2006, activist Tarana Burke founded the Me Too campaign to help survivors of sexual violence, particularly Black women and girls, and other young women of color from low-income communities. The Me Too Movement sparked a global conversation on sexual harassment in the workplace. A 2018 study by the Pew Research Center found #MeToo was used more than 19 million times on Twitter since actress Alyssa Milano’s initial tweet in 2017.

In 2013 Black Lives Matter was started by activists Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin. It has since transformed into a global organization. The Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc. is active in the US, UK, and Canada, with the mission to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities.

In response to the death of George Floyd in police custody in late May 2020, the use of the Black Lives Matter hashtag peaked three days after the death of George Floyd. On that day alone, according to a Pew Research Center analysis, #BlackLivesMatter was tweeted 8.8 million times. In the following two weeks after Floyd’s death, users tweeted #BlackLivesMatter an average of nearly 3.7 million times per day. The New York Times reported that the Black Lives Matter Movement may be the largest in U.S history. According to a recent poll by Civis Analytics, about 15 million to 26 million people in the U.S. have participated in demonstrations over the death of George Floyd and others in recent weeks.

At the same time, social media is also an essential tool to expose the “Karen’s”. The use of social media platforms has created a constant state of surveillance, in which constant surveillance has grown beyond the parameters of fun, harmless videos into a form of social policing. Exposing CEOs, business owners, and schoolteachers for public outbursts has created viral villains. More often than not, these outbursts caught on camera lead to job termination, threats of violence, and public outcry. In July of 2020, lawmakers introduced legislation such as the CAREN Act, an acronym for Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies, which was introduced in San Francisco. The CAREN Act criminalizes individuals who call law enforcement based on racial bias. Social media acts as a double-edged sword. On one hand, it effortlessly and instantaneously carries dialogue across various social boundaries. On the other, social media acts as judge, jury, and executioner.

Companies that operate and manage Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have also exposed toxicity within the use and operational aspects of social media platforms. The use of social media allows for the uncensored spread of misinformation. With an estimated 3.8 billion social media users across a wide range of platforms, hate speech and targeted violence often go unregulated and uncensored. Consider QAnon. Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have seen a significant increase in QAnon content, which spreads medical misinformation, raising public health concerns. This increased visibility in misinformation has created a problem in the regulation of content on social media platforms. More than 500 advertisers are boycotting Facebook for failure to control these divisive and hateful content, pulling into question the policies and ethical practices of social media platforms.

In July 2020, complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Facebook allege patterns of racial bias against Black employees in evaluations, promotions, pay, and hiring practices. A recent report shows, eighty-seven percent of Facebook’s workers are either Asian or white, while Black workers make up just 3.8 percent.   

Social media have transformed the mobilization and solidarity for social movements. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, is no longer used to share the mundane daily activities of life. Platforms have been transformed into ground zero for the largest social movements this U.S has ever seen. The wide use and dependence on social media for mobilization furthers the exploitation and perpetuation of social inequities the movement is striving to eradicate.

(Photo Credit 1: Black Lives Matter) (Photo Credit 2: Houston Chronicle / Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)