16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women

The 16 Days of Activism against Violence against Women is an international campaign, celebrated in over 100 states across the world, by more than 1,700 organizations.

As the start and end of the Campaign, the dates November 25 (International Day against Violence against Women) and December 10 (International Human Rights Day) are chosen in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights.

This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates including November 29, International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, December 1, World AIDS Day, December 3, International Day of People with Disabilities and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.  The 16 Days Campaign has been used as an organizing strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women.

November 25 was declared as International Day against Violence against Women at the first meeting of feminists in Latin America and the Caribbean (Feminist Encuentro), held in Bogotá in 1981. At the meeting, the women talked about domestic violence, rape and sexual abuse, and violence that women suffer under regimes including torture and violence against political prisoners. November 25 was chosen as a day of remembrance of the Mirabel sisters (Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa) who was brutally murdered by dictator Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic in 1960.

In 1999, United Nations resolution 54/134 officially confirmed November 25 as the International Day against Violence against Women.

Who were the Mirabel sisters? Sisters Patria, Minerva, Maria Teresa and Dede were born in the Dominican Republic. Under the name “Las Mariposas” (Butterflies), acted as political activists and became a visible symbol of resistance to the dictatorial regime of Trujillo. Because of their revolutionary activities and struggles for democracy and justice, they were arrested several times along with their husbands. On November 25, 1960 Minerva, Patria and Maria Teresa Trujillo were killed by the secret police of Trujillo while they were going to visit their imprisoned husbands in Puerto Plata. All three sisters were strangled and their bodies were found with broken bones. The news of their murders shocked and infuriates people. The brutal liquidation of the Mirabel sisters was one of the events that contributed to the swing of movement against Trujillo regime.  On May 30 1961, Trujillo was assassinated, and shortly after, his regime fell down.

The Mirabel sisters have become a symbol of national and feminist resistance.