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The Strength of Women

By Veronica Di Maggio

Let´s start from a fundamental concept, what is feminicide?

Femicide indicates violence against women in all its forms aimed at destroying their subjectivity, on a psychological, symbolic, economic and social level. Basically, women killed by men because they were women. Now, let´s clarify another concept: what is patriarchy?

Patriarchy literally means “law of the father”t and is used to indicate the social order in which authority and power are traditionally concentrated in the hands of male individuals.

These two topics intersect with each other creating a sort of cause-effect concept. One does not exist without the other. Patriarchy is the cause of femicide, or rather, the root of femicide lies in patriarchal culture and even if we don't want to admit it, there is a concrete misinformation on the topic, a concrete lack of institutions and the family itself in educating young people on the issues.

In many cultures, we tend to hide the problem behind the walls of the house or simply ignore it and therefore take it for granted that everything is normal even when it doesn´t seem so. A child who grows up in a family where violence is on daily basis will see this as normality and not as a problem. The chances that he will behave the same towards a woman are high and he will automatically assume these actions as normal and then create a sort of chain reaction. Violence will not be seen as a problematic act but rather the solution to the problem.

Even more important and not to be underestimated is how episodes of femicide are publicized and shared by those who we define as the information portals, the Media. How is the news transmitted by the media of a man who raped a woman, who killed her out of jealousy because he was left, for stalking and so on?

In most cases, there is always a tendency to blame the woman, the blame derives from a wrong action by the victim, as if the victim had done something to unleash the man´s anger and therefore “justify” the action itself. There is always a tendency to doubt or ask questions about the victim´s attitudes or actions and focus solely and exclusively on these, assuming that there is always a consequence to the cause.

With these two types of attitudes – misinformation and lack of sexual education in institutions there is a continuous chain reaction where patriarchy and feminicide are two uncomfortable topics to deal with in modern society. The less you talk about it, the less of a problem you have.

“If the girls had stayed home, where they belonged, if they had´t gone out at night, if they hadn´t agreed to go to those boys´; house, nothing would have happened.” This was one of the phrases said by the lawyer in a rape trial in Italy in 1975, where rape was not seen as a crime against the person but against morality.

As in Italy, the problem is repressed in Guatemala too. Remembering that episode of the 41 burned teenagers living in a shelter on 8 March 2017; in San Jose Pinula, 56 girls between the ages of seventeen and twelve were stopped and taken to a police facility after leading a protest. After hours crammed into inhumane cases, the building caught fire and 41 of them died in the flames. They called them the defendoras, and by the State these teenagers who had taken to the streets for their rights were considered dangerous criminals if not even witches.

And this is where I see my culture intersecting with Guatemalan culture, as it intersects with other cultures around the world. Guatemala has one of the highest rates of femicide in the world, with numbers growing every year. Only in 2020 did the rate grow from 1.3 to 1.6; 527 reported cases of femicide in 2021, 534 in 2022 and 69 from January to March 2023.


In Italy, a very similar scenario occurs with slightly lower numbers than in Guatemala where a woman is killed (approximately) every 2 days. What is most frightening is how over the years, in Italy, the phenomenon, rather than decreasing, grows year after year. A current of thought that approaches the times of the Middle Ages and which sees women increasingly as an object to be possessed and controlled.

In Guatemala, the “;phenomenon” is even described as an epidemic that characterizes these decaying societies that no longer tolerate women going out into the streets. It is said that these deaths are nothing other than the maximum expression of the use, practice and normalization of the exercise of violence against women.

There is a tendency to blame the impoverishment that has characterized the economy of the last twenty years of the country, the frustration of man who finds vent in violence against more vulnerable subjects. That the appropriation and strength of power over a woman makes a man more virtuous and therefore more respectable.

What is the basic problem? A state and a justice system that has never investigated or punished the subjects despite the continuous increase in these crimes. 71% of the murder of women in Guatemala go unpunished, a problem the state does not talk about.

But women in Guatemala are not alone. Over the years, the associations (NGOs) that deal with women´s rights and that deal with the topic without any type of transparency have grown more and more.

In Guatemala poverty is a woman, but it is the strength of each of them that makes the thought of never giving up and fighting day by day possible, their desires for expression but also their silences deserve all our efforts of understanding and actions.

Veronica Di Maggio, Italian 32 years old. She have been living in London for 9 years and work in the fashion field. In her free time she dedicate herself to photography, focused more on documentary and series photography.