Violence against women is a widespread problem in Bolivia. Seven in ten women are a victim of violence. We support an initiative called ‘Somos Sur’ that informs women through radio programmes and blogs about prevention of violence and seeking help if they are victimized.

“We use a new method for the prevention of violence against women,” says Ana Lia Rodriguez Quespe, project leader and psychologist in Cochabamba. This project is aimed at strengthening the self-confidence of women to reduce violence against them. “The training is aimed at care for yourself, for your own body and all trauma’s that are stored there and to take that as basis to care for the people around you, your family, friends and neighbours.”

Women’s group

Women between thirty and fifty years in particular join our training sessions. This group conforms to the traditional image of femininity in this South American country: the woman obeys the man and serves him. “We now see that there are women who ask themselves if there are other ways to be a woman. For example by playing a different role in the family. Women change their manner of dress and become less conservative. They also change their attitude and the way they talk. They are more self-confident and stronger,” says Ana Lia.

Their attitude and way of talking is changing.

We want to be free

Many of the women who give these trainings have experienced violence themselves. “We want the violence to stop. We want to be free and we want that for all the women in our project.” Cases of the so-called feminicidos, the murder of women, are increasing. It seems that women suffer increasing violent deaths. Ana Lia: “We are losing humanity in our society. That has to change.”

Zenobia: “I have more self-confidence.”

Zenobia Mamani Simon (45) is one of the participants in the workshops. She is Quechua (native) and from Potosi in the south of Bolivia. She has worked as a domestic servant since she was twelve. Her employer gives her permission to attend the workshops. “I have learned to express myself and offer my opinions. It is a good thing to share experiences. The mothers discuss their difficulties. They are actually not very different from us, the domestic servants.” In the meantime she has become chairperson of the syndicate for domestic workers in Cochabamba that stands up for their rights. “To this very day women are suffering. Women have a harder time of it than men.” Here we can share our experiences. These meetings help us to improve our lives.’

This training helps us to improve our lives.

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