Activists aren’t born, they are made.
On 25th November 1960, in the Dominican Republic of the Carribean three sisters were assassinated. It was a Friday and the Mirabal sisters, Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa, had been stirring a political revolution against the country’s President, Rafael Trujillo.
Elected in 1931, Trujillio reigned both as president and as an unelected dictator for over 31 years in what has been recorded as one of the bloodiest eras of the Americas. It is estimated that Trujillo, a megalomaniac, was responsible for the deaths of approximately 50,000 people with 10-30,000 occurring during the Parsley massacre of Haitians in 1937.
At the height of Trujillo’s violent regime the Mirabal sisters formed the Movement of the Fourteenth of June. As part of the Movement they distributed leaflets against Trujillo exposing his crimes as well as collecting guns and bombs to be used if and when necessary in military opposition. For their actions, the sisters and their husbands were imprisoned – and freed – multiple times. On 25th November the sisters were visiting the incarcerated husbands of Maria Teresa and Minerva, when they were stopped by Trujillo’s henchmen. Clubbed to death, their bodies were placed back in their Jeep and driven off the mountainside to look like an accident.
Their murder sent shockwaves through the country and challenged the masculine ‘machismo’ identity that had shaped Dominican politics and social life. It also acted as the catalyst for Trujillo’s demise from power culminating in his assassination a year later. By 1977 the sisters were regarded as national martyrs and in 1999 the United Nations General Assembly delegated the 25th November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It’s the start of 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence which ends on 10th December – International Human rights Day.
The Mirabal Sisters weren’t born heroes, activists, or revolutionaries. Rather, they looked at their society, their country, and they saw injustice, oppression, deceit and they decided to make it stop – and stop it did. So we remember them and we remember the power of women to transform their lives and the lives of others. That’s why over these 16 Days we’ve been showing how #SistersAct to bring about revolutionary change.
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