“Being a woman human rights defender is a commitment for life. It implies breaking stereotypes”. This is how Yessica Trinidad, Director of the ‘National Network of Human Rights Defenders in Honduras’ explains what it means for her to be a woman human rights defender.
According to Front Line Defenders, in 2017 44 women defenders were mudered in Honduras. But the murders are only the tip of the iceberg. According to the report 'Defend to Live' from the National Network of Human Rights Defenders in Honduras, during 2016 and 2017 there were 1.232 aggressions against women human rights defenders, their families and organizations.
Amongst the most common aggressions that women defenders in Honduras and Mesoamerica face are psychological threats, defamation, smear campaigns, threats, criminalisation, sexual violence or killings. This is a specific violence that impacts the lives of women and those around them in different ways.
This videos comes from the Regional Conference that took place in October 2018 between the Mesoamerican Initiative for Women Defenders (IMD) and PBI. The meeting brought together representatives from each entity of PBI in Latin America as well as 30 women human rights defenders from 20 member organisations of the IMD. Together, they analyzed the psychosocial impact and the effects of differentiated violence on the bodies and lives of women defenders.
Women defenders tend to say they don´t have time or space to look after themselves. For this reason, at the conference they spoke about how self-care is an individual and collective strategy that invites us to re-think our activism and modify patterns that tire us out so our organisations, struggles and movements can be more sustainable.
In this January 2019 report on the situation of women human rights defenders, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst wrote: “Women defenders often face additional and different risks and obstacles that are gendered, intersectional and shaped by entrenched gender stereotypes and deeply held ideas and norms about who women are and how women should be. In the current political climate, in which there is a backlash against human rights, women defenders are often the first to come under attack.”