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“The Rapist Is You!” Santiago Feminists Stage Powerful Protest Against Sexual Assault

The Santiago agitation of November 25 can be seen as a protest against both state misuse of power and sexual violence against women.

On Monday, November 25, known for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the streets of Santiago de Chile were lit up with the sound of hundreds of angry women calling out the state and patriarchy for being ‘rapists’.

In a stunning protest that has now gone viral across social media, feminist collective Lastesis from Valparaiso took to the streets dressed in provocative clothing, eyes blindfolded, and belted out an anthem calling the cops, judges and state ‘rapists’.

One of the locations they stood was facing the Ministry of Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in the centre of the Chilean capital. In a well-organised performance, they sang a Spanish song with lyrics such as, “And it was not my fault, not the place where I was nor the dress that I chose!”

The song is not only a protest against the sexual assault of women, it can also be seen as an allegory accusing the suppressive Chilean regime that has had the people up in arms since October 18 this year.

The protests began earlier as secondary-school students launched a coordinated fare evasion campaign across Santiago, which quickly led to mass civil protests against a raise in the Santiago Metro’s subway fare, the increased cost of living, privatization and inequality prevalent in the country.

On 18 October, the situation escalated as the Santiago Metro network was vandalized, leaving 81 stations massively damaged and 17 burnt down. On 25 October, over a million people took to the streets throughout Chile to protest against President Piñera, demanding his resignation is what is being seen as the biggest civil protests since the end of the military dictatorship in 1989.

Chile’s national police, Carabineros, resorted to a massive lockdown and, according to the Human Rights Watch, committed serious human rights violations, including excessive use of force in the streets and abuses in detention. In the days following the protest, scores of people died, thousands were injured and many thousands more arrested amid several reports of human-rights violations by police and military forces, including torture, sexual abuse and rape.

The women’s protest of November 25 then is powerfully symbolic of both state misuse of power and sexual violence against women. Taking inspiration from the ‘Slut Walk’, a global movement that began in Canada in 2011 after a Toronto Police officer suggested that “women should avoid dressing like sluts” as a precaution against sexual assault, the protesters dressed in revealing, ‘sexy’ attire while simultaneously calling out the ‘rapist’ mindsets of Chile’s patriarchal society and military regime.

Here are the complete lyrics of the song:

The patriarchy is a judge
who judges us by birth
and our punishment
is the violence you can see.

It is femicide.
Impunity for my killer.
It is disappearance.
It is rape.

And it was not my fault, not the place where I was nor the dress that I chose!
And it was not my fault, not the place where I was nor the dress that I chose!
And it was not my fault, not the place where I was nor the dress that I chose!

The rapist is you!
The rapist is you!

It’s the cops!
The judges!
The state!
The president!

The oppressive state is a male rapist!
The oppressive state is a male rapist!

Sleep well, innocent girl.
You don’t have to worry about the bandit
Your sweet and smiling dreams
are taken care of by your Carabinero* lover.

The rapist is you!
The rapist is you!
The rapist is you!

*Carabineros is the official name of the Chilean police, derived from the word carabine, a long gun firearm.

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