In her article “Human Rights and Violence Against Women: Campo Algodonero Case,” Dandara Oliveira de Paula looks back in time to consider human rights from a gender perspective. She explores how human rights have developed and argues that legal human rights do not reflect the lack of equality experienced by women every day. De Paula uses the Campo Algodonero Case, the murders of multiple working women in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, to demonstrate how current legal human rights do not protect women from violence. The Campo Algodonero Case represented a historical milestone for the movement against gender violence as, after the State did not do its part to bring justice to the murder victims, it was the first time an international court acknowledged “femicide” as a word for the systematic violation of the woman’s right to live due to gender. This case depicted the truth for poor women living in patriarchal capitalist societies. De Paula points out that because of commercial deals, the government will turn a blind eye to human rights injustices in workplace. She goes on to argue that patriarchy normalizes injustices against women and deem them private matters that are unneeding of government support. Because of a lack of access to education, high poverty rates, and high domestic violence rates, women in Latin America are particularly affected by these injustices, as reflected in the Campo Algodonero Case.
De Paula’s article brings light to a substantial, important issue in human rights and does so by supporting it with specific and historical examples. Her article is published as a special feature in a larger narrative and is strong in its ability to give a detailed, informed explanation of women’s rights in Latin America. De Paula is a feminist and militant of the black movement in Brazil. She graduated from the University of Rio de Janeiro with a major in International Relations. She has dedicated her life to fighting for women’s rights and exposing injustices occurring in Latin America. In her article, she seeks to teach the audience about the history of women’s human rights and why we must keep fighting for them, and does so successfully.
“Human Rights and Violence Against Women: Campo Algodonero Case” introduces the issue of women’s rights in legal human rights and how that has allowed for violence against women, especially in Latin America. De Paula artfully demonstrates why women in Latin America are at a high risk of human rights injustices. She creates a space for more dialogue regarding the patriarchy, poverty, and violence against women in Latin America and how these interact to create an extremely hostile and hindering environment. Her text is applicable to all discussions regarding human rights in Latin America, as women’s rights are important in all human rights narratives.
The crosses in the above image represent the women killed in the Campo Algodonero Case. The crosses are placed in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, where the women’s bodies were found, and stand tall reflecting the fight for women’s rights in Latin America. The image is provided by the Keith Yearman for the Ciudad Juárez Femicide Declassification Project.