Bolivia: how many more dead women are needed for us to change?

With cases of women killed piling up, Bolivian society finds itself at a crucial turning point: to change and leave aside its pernicious ways, or to turn a blind eye and consider Andrea yet another statistical datum of femicide.Português.

Jorge Roberto Marquez Meruvia
9 September 2015

All rights reserved.

¿Do you remember Sophia Calvo Aponte? Possibly, your answer is no. Certainly her family does, and keeps her memory alive. It was Sophia who, in August 2014, assembled approximately 4.000 people in the atrium of the San Lorenzo cathedral in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, in demand of peace.

Sophia Calvo Aponte was another victim of feminicidio (femicide). Her loss prompted a huge rally in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, attended by civil society and the media. And yet, within a few months, she was all but forgotten, falling into oblivion along with many other women who have gone through a similar horrific fate.

To the media, many if not all of these women cease to be human beings and become simple statistical facts handled by police units devoted to fight violence. Paraphrasing Eduardo Galeano, they are "women who are not listed in world history, but in the crime reports of the local press.”

Now Andrea Aramayo Álvarez is, unfortunately, yet another victim of a society that does not want to question - and does not care about – the data of a woman who got killed. La Paz is now the city dressed in black, in mourning and anger. Andrea, Sophia, these are only names in a long list of women whose dreams were ended abruptly by some macho who did not think about the consequences of his actions.

Probably, many of these macho-men enjoy impunity within the Bolivian judicial system, well-known for its slowness and purchasable nature by the highest bidder. The attackers, the murderers, those who are still at large undeterred by their criminal actions, are walking the streets at the moment, as if nothing had happened. Andrea's case shows that the social status of the aggressor does not really matter, and sheds light on the self-indulgent Bolivian elites and their demeanour.

William Kushner Dávalos, known to be a member of a first-class and affluent family from La Paz, is responsible for the brutal killing of Andrea Aramayo Álvarez. In all probability his action took by surprise most of the city’s population, as they could not think of a member of the Kushners, one of the few elite families in Bolivian society, to become e a killer.

Back in 1930, however, writer Carlos Medinaceli claimed that those who define themselves as Bolivian upper class are "un-aristocratic", and show only "cocky love for luxury and comfort, and a peasant vanity”. Philosopher H.C.F. Mansilla also describes “our elites, the members of which are often rubes who got rich all of a sudden, unrefined and vain, mercilessly clumsy, and who have let it go to their heads and left it there. You have to see the contempt with which they treat their subordinates (they are feared by their secretaries and their domestic service) and how they humble themselves before those who are more powerful than them."

With cases of women killed piling up, Bolivian society finds itself at a crucial turning point: to change and leave aside its pernicious ways, or to turn a blind eye and consider Andrea yet another victim, yet another statistical datum of femicide.

Published for the first time in Asuntos del Sur.

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