Gender Violence, State Action, and Power and Control in the Northern Triangle
in Raquel Aldana & Steven Bender,eds., From Extraction to Emancipation: Development Reimagined, American Bar Association and Carolina Press, 2018.
31 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2018 Last revised: 18 Jul 2019
Date Written: 2018
This chapter, Gender Violence, State Action, and Power and Control in the Northern Triangle, is the concluding chapter in Raquel Aldana's and Steven Bender's edited volume, From Extraction to Emancipation: Development Reimagined, published by the American Bar Association and Carolina Press in May 2018. The book brings together the work of various scholars from the North and South. It addresses the question: "Should it be legal for multinationals to do business with corrupt and failed democracies willing to compromise their people and their country for self-gain?" Part V, the final section, looks at the phenomena of migration and development, in light of the surge, in recent years, of Central American women and children fleeing to the United States. It confronts the harsh reality that the countries from which they flee cannot or will not protect them. Blake Nordahl’s penultimate chapter, which narrates the story of Evelia, makes a powerful case for why we need to move our own asylum laws beyond stories of individualized violence to recognize refugees who are victims of structural persecution involving collusion between the state and corporations. This chapter is all the more important in light of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recent decision finding that so-called "private violence" is rarely a basis for asylum. My chapter is based on my experience as an Attorney-Investigator with the United Nations Truth Commission in El Salvador from 1992-1993, and my more recent work on behalf of Central American women and children fleeing violence in their homelands. In this chapter, I examine the role of gendered violence directed at women in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras both during the political upheavals of the 1980s and 1990s and over the last decade, examining how the failure then to confront gender violence as a form of state-sponsored terrorism led to its role today in contributing to the climate of fear and instability that plagues the region. In light of the U.S. government's and particularly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recent decisions and pronouncements gutting protection for Central American asylum seekers, it is essential that both policymakers and advocates recognize that the gendered violence that propels migration today from the Northern Triangle is connected to the dark yet largely untold history of state-sponsored violence against women in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. While Northern Triangle states as well as the U.S. government largely blame gangs for the resurgence of violence against women, this chapter shows that this new terror cannot be disentangled from these nations’ dark past with gendered state-sponsored violence.
Keywords: immigration, migration, gender violence, domestic violence, asylum, refugees, AWCs
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