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‘March of the Butterflies’ Protest Calls for Action Against Femicide in the DR

Women marching in the March of Butterflies, 2019.

Women of the Dominican Republic have had enough.

Last Sunday, thousands marched their hearts out in Santo Domingo to protest against the high rates of femicide that have plagued the female community in their country.

“Marcha de las Mariposas” (March of the Butterflies) honors the hundreds of women whose lives were lost to gender violence because of their current partner or an ex. In a report compiled by the Dominican Political Observatory, at least 357 women have been murdered in the DR over the past four years. To make matters worse, eight have already died in the past month alone, according to NY-based activist Gina Goico.

Goico tells Latino USA that gender violence is often a result of machismo being upheld.

“We have a culture that objectifies women, where violence is ubernormalized in romantic relationships,” she explains. “It makes sense, and of course we’re going to have crazy murder rates and femicides in a country where being a woman is a second-class citizen, and if you’re a Black woman, if you’re a trans woman, odds are against you.”

Sunday’s march included special performances by artists Xiomara Fortuna and Adalgisa Pantaleón. Journalists and activists also came to express their solidarity with the march by giving passionate speeches and presentations. For their tribute to all the fallen women, protestors places shoes on silver plates spread across the square and chanted phrases like “Ni una más” (“Not one more”).

Latino USA covered a similar demonstration in Times Square, where a dozen young Dominicans held up posters in support for ‘March of the Butterflies’.

Katherine Cepeda, one of the New York protestors, states that this is an issue that goes beyond morale and law; it’s a cry for change in culture.

“It’s a lot deeper than just the law changes, but it’s colonialism,” she tells Latino USA. “It’s the patriarchy. It has to start at home, like we have to unlearn, relearn, and just decolonize our ways and our thoughts starting with the people in our families.”

Vivian Wang

Vivian is a travel enthusiast and food connoisseur living in New York City. Her curiosity and passion for languages and culture has taken her across eight countries over the past year. When not working, you can find her meandering in art museums or sampling food at the street markets.

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