Monday, 25 November 2019 21:09

International Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women

Written by Rhiannon Mason
International Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women Self Defence Workshop International Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women Self Defence Workshop Self Defence Hub

Happy international day for the elimination of violence against women!

Doesn’t quite sound right, does it?

Happy international day for the elimination of violence against women!

Doesn’t quite sound right, does it?

While the topic of violence against women is no light matter and there is much work to be done in curbing the instance of the phenomena, there is still good reason to celebrate this day and great importance in promoting this day in order to work towards the elimination of violence against women.

Let’s take a look at some of the history surrounding this day and learn more about the brave women who played a central role in dismantling a regime built upon oppression and death.

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The History of the Butterflies

The 25th of November marks a fateful day in the Dominican Republic in 1960; Sisters Patria, Minerva and Maria-Teresa Mirabal were brutally murdered for their active opposition to president Rafael Trujillo’s violent and manipulative dictatorship.

The Mirabel sisters came from a middle-class farming family made up of their parents and sister Dedé, who did not join them in their later resistance activities at her husband’s request.

Minerva, the third youngest and the most radical of the siblings, was denied a license to practice law, despite completion of her studies at the University of Santo Domingo. Targeted by Trujillo after rejecting his sexual advances in 1949, he made life for her and her family difficult as punishment.

Continuously harassed and threatened by Trujillo, Minerva, with the support of her husband Manolo Tavárez Justo and a growing following, joined the fight to restore democracy, pushing back against Trujillo’s racist, sexist and generally hateful regime.

Having witnessed many atrocities at the hands of their president as well as seeing the torment their family endured, Patria and Maria-Teresa soon joined Minerva in leading the Movement of the Fourteenth of June, working to unite the middle-class against Trujillo’s dictatorship and call for liberation of their country and its women.

It is through this resistance that they took the name Las Mariposas or ‘the butterflies’ and gained notoriety for their fearless feminism and dedication to democracy for their country. They worked together to distribute pamphlets with the names and information of people killed by Trujillo and gathered materials to create weapons and bombs.

The 14th of June Movement failed in its primary goal of over-throwing Trujillo, yet it served as a catalyst for revolution amongst the masses and saw a rapid increase in resistance to the regime in the general population.

In response to the 14th of June movement, Trujillo had the sisters and their husbands imprisoned. However, the sisters continued promoting their devoted activism and fierce feminism behind bars and due to mounting international pressure were released in 1960. Their husbands, however, were not released at this time, rather, they were relocated to a remote jail that required long distance travel.

The sisters knew this relocation was a trap but had promised their husbands they would not leave them alone in jail under Trujillo’s order. They travelled with their driver Rufino De La Cruz until their Jeep was set upon by Trujillo’s right-hand men.

Patria ran to a nearby truck, alerting the driver of who they were and what was about to occur so the driver could spread the word. After he’d driven away, the women were separated and violently killed, their death poorly disguised as an accident by the killers working for Trujillo who drove their vehicle off the road with their bodies inside.

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The Aftermath

According to historian Bernard Diederich, "the cowardly killing of three beautiful women in such a manner had greater effect on Dominicans than most of Trujillo's other crimes". The killings, he wrote, "did something to their machismo. They could never forgive Trujillo this crime." and paved the way for Trujillo's own assassination six months later.

After their deaths, their surviving sister, Dedé, devoted her life to the legacy of her sisters. She raised their six children, including Minerva's daughter Minou, who has served as deputy foreign minister and then deputy for the National District in the lower house of the Dominican Congress from 2002. Dedé's own son, Jaime David Fernández Mirabal is the minister for environment and natural resources and a former vice president of the Dominican Republic.

As a tribute and honour to the Mirabal sisters, in December 1999 the United Nations General Assembly designated the 25th of November as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Violence against women in Australia

The use of violence and abuse of power were what the Mirabal sisters died fighting against. As we feel sadness and anger in how they died, we should celebrate and remember how they lived, fighting in our own ways, however we can, against oppression and cruelty and supporting those who need our help.

Violence against anyone is deplorable, of course. But the prevalence of violence against women in our society is vast and still, for the most part, overlooked. It affects women of all ages, cultures, religions, socio-economic status, financial situations, employment circumstances and backgrounds.

In Australia, violence against women is widespread, causing pain and great loss to individuals, communities and society.

On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner.

37% of women have experienced physical abuse since the age of 15.

Close to one in five women has experienced sexual violence.

One in six Australian women has experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner.

Women are more than twice as likely as men to have experienced fear or anxiety due to violence and are four times more likely to be hospitalised following violence.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women report experiencing violence at three times the rate of non-Indigenous women and are 32 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence.

These statistics obviously don’t include those who choose not to or are unable to report their experience. The impact of violence against women creates a ripple affect that extends far beyond the immediate victim.

That’s why it is important for us to continue to fight against violence and make ourselves heard in order to eliminate this culture of violence and the cyclic nature of abuse.

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How You Can Help.

Self Defence Hub is running a FREE 2 hour self-defence workshop designed to introduce self defence skills while empowering students to see the strength in their bodies and their abilities.

Profits from the workshop will be donated to Djirra, Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation which provides specialist prevention, support and services to Aboriginal victims / survivors of family violence and sexual assault www.djirra.org.au.

It is the perfect opportunity to learn self-defence with other beginners in a fun, safe and supportive environment.

We hope to raise at least $250 to go towards an organisation that helps women escape violent relationships and situations. 

In order to reach this goal and encourage accessibility for all, we are holding this workshop for free and hope that those who are in a position to do so will bring along a donation or donate upon registering.

Any donations on the night will be gratefully accepted.

The workshop will be held this Friday the 29th of November at Laverton Community Hub (opposite Laverton Train Station).

We believe the best results come from empowering the individual. So during this short course, you will learn various essential self-defence techniques as well as relevant skills that directly relate to your lifestyle and circumstances.

Self Defence Hub Free Workshop

This self defence workshop covers:

  • Dealing with an escalating situation
  • Wrist grab escape
  • Defence from holds against the wall
  • Weapon avoidance
  • Body language & communication
  • Basic grab defence and strikes

The workshop is available to all women, female identifying, trans, and non-binary folk.

If you’re worried about coming for any reason or have some questions prior to the event, contact me to discuss any concerns or questions you may have.

You are most welcome to bring children but please note, there are adult themes discussed in this workshop.

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Self Defence Hub

At Self Defence Hub, we are extremely passionate about empowering women and using self defence as a tool to help women and gender diverse individuals to experience their body in a confident and liberating way.

We don’t do specific styles. We do survival.

Self Defence Hub was founded in January 2014 by Andre Conate, who has an extraordinary passion for people's empowerment and safety.

Looking at the Australian national statistics of crimes (particularly against women), Andre knew there needed to be a safe environment where everyone can learn safe and practical self-protection in a non-threatening and understanding environment.

Andre has studied martial arts for over 25 years and is committed to bringing out the best in others and creating a supportive community through Self Defence Hub.

Self Defence Hub is the first Martial Arts company of its kind, focusing on female instructors teaching self-defence classes. Classes are all about creating a safe space to learn self-defence and above all, having fun doing it!

Global Action: Orange the World

Participants the world over are encouraged to wear a touch of orange in solidarity with the cause - the colour symbolizes a brighter future and a world free from violence against women and girls.

The 2018 theme was Orange the World and I encourage anyone participating to wear a touch of orange.

If you cannot make the workshop you can still join the campaign! You can participate in person or on social media via the following hashtags: #OrangeUrWorld, #OrangeTheWorld, #HearMeToo, #EndVAW #selfdefencehub.


Who can participate?

The workshop is available to all women, female identifying, trans, and non-binary folk.

Can I bring my kids?

You are most welcome to bring children but please note, there are adult themes discussed in this workshop.

Is there any contact in this class?

There is precision striking on training pads. During this workshop you will be testing self defence moves so there is contact with others in the program. There will also be light contact if we go through basic knife defence but there is no point in the class that you will be hurt.

I have never had martial arts lessons before, is this right class for me?

We run through skills for women wanting to learn street smart self defence skills in a supportive environment. If you would like to gain some new skills with a great group of people then this is the program for you.

This workshops suits all fitness levels and little to no level of previous experience.

What should I wear to class?

Participants should wear comfortable and loose fitting work out clothes. 

Bring a bottle of water.

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Self Defence Courses with Female Instructors

We are about creating a safe space where you can learn self defence

For private group bookings we can come to your location.

Melbourne, Altona, Albert Park, Kilmore, Yarraville and other areas around Melbourne Metro Area and Greater Melbourne.