Have you heard about the Mirabal Sisters? If you have, great! Not? Well, today you will hear about them.
Let’s try this! Ever heard of “International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women”? Again, great if you have. And if not, again, you will hear about them.
Well, what does the Mirabal sisters and this day have in common? I am glad you asked! Simply put, “International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women” exists BECAUSE of the Mirabal Sisters. How? Keep scrolling!
A Little History on the Mirabal Sisters
The Mirabals, are a group of four sisters from the Cibao region of the Dominican Republic. They were born between 1924-1935 and were considered social elites. The sisters in order of their birth:
- Patria Mercedes Mirabal Reyes (27 February 1924 – 25 November 1960)
- Bélgica Adela Mirabal Reyes (1 March 1925 – 1 February 2014)
- María Argentina Minerva Mirabal Reyes (12 March 1926 – 25 November 1960)
- Antonia María Teresa Mirabal Reyes (15 October 1935 – 25 November 1960)
In 1930, Dominican Republic had a new leader named Rafael Trujillo. Rafael Trujillo was a tyrant who ruled the country for 31 years. His first encounter with the sisters was when Minerva (#3) caught Rafael’s eyes at a party. Of course, he made his advances, which she turned down.
It was said that Minerva was the most outspoken of the sisters. As a result, her parents tried to stop her from higher education. This was in fears that she would study law, protest Rafael’s regime, and might get killed. Boy were they right!
Minerva discovered a friend’s father was killed by Trujillo for opposing the regime, thus, influenced Minerva’s fight against the regime. Two of her sisters, Patria (#1) and María Teresa (#4) soon joined her movement.
It was said that “No matter how many times Trujillo jailed them, no matter how much of their property and possessions he seized, Minerva, Patria and María Teresa refused to give up on their mission to restore democracy and civil liberties to the island nation.”
Their life’s mission was to restore democracy to their country. That was not a crime. The efforts were not without push back from Rafael Trujillo. Their husbands and sons were jailed, houses burnt down. People they knew and loved were killed, tortured.
Finally, on 25 November 1960, the sisters were killed. They, along with their driver were strangled and clubbed to death by Rafael Trujillo’s henchmen. Six months later, Rafael Trujillo was assassinated. Clearly, the Sisters’ assassination had a great effect on Dominicans and is said to have paved the way for Rafael’s assassination.
After the death of the sisters, the surviving sister, Adela Mirabal Reyes (Dedé) raised the kids of the other three. In addition, she devoted her life to their legacy by:
- Creating the Mirabal Sisters Foundation in 1992
- Opened the Mirabal Sisters Museum in the sisters’ hometown, Salcedo
- Published Vivas en su Jardín which tells the story of the sisters, and
- Lived in the house in Salcedo where the sisters were born until her death in 2014, aged 88
The intent of my sharing the story of the sisters was to provide context. But maybe also hoping to incite inspiration in you the reader. Really, if this does not inspire you, I don’t know what will. I say this with love.
How the Mirabal Sisters ‘Started’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
Okay, they did not ‘start’ it. But it exists because of them!
The assassinations turned the Mirabal sisters into “symbols of both popular and feminist resistance”. In 1999, in their honour, the United Nations General Assembly designated 25 November the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
The purpose? To raise awareness around the world that women are subjected to rape, domestic violence and other forms of violence; furthermore, one of the aims of the day is to highlight that the scale and true nature of the issue is often hidden.
This day, also marks the start of the “16 Days of Activism” that precedes Human Rights Day on December 10 each year.
Why Is This Day Important?
While the Mirabal sisters were brutally (and wrongfully) murdered for political reasons, it is a good time to also remember that women all over the world face higher rates of various gender-based violence.
DID YOU KNOW?
On average, more than five women or girls were killed every hour by someone in their own family in 2021
More than 1 in 3 women experience gender-based violence during their lifetime.
Less than 40 per cent of women who experience violence seek help of any sort.UN Women
The story of these women are a reminder to the brutality women and girls face, but even more so, a call for all of us to stand for something like they did. Will you stand against gender-based violence?
One way you can be a part of this day is join the “16 Days of Activism” campaign.The campaign is supported by the United Nations through the Secretary General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women initiative.
This year, the UN marks the 16 Days under the theme “UNiTE! Activism to end violence against women and girls”. Share the information from this package to create awareness. Be open to talk about the issues surrounding violence against women and girls.
Next Generation of the Mirabal Sisters
This does not end well, if I didn’t tell you about the next generation of the Mirabal Sisters. Because, this for me is true legacy! Here are two quick examples. PS: no surprises here at all
- Minou Tavárez Mirabal, Minerva’s daughter, served as deputy for the National District in the lower house of the Dominican Congress since 2002 and was deputy foreign minister before that (1996–2000).
- Jaime David Fernández Mirabal, one of Dede’s children was the minister for environment and natural resources and a former vice president of the Dominican Republic.
The Mirabal Sisters inspired the creation of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. However that day came into existence, it is a much needed day.
This day builds up to human rights day for a reason- that we remind ourselves of our collective human race. For this reason, we all have a part to play. None of us are OKAY if SOME of us are not okay! And violence against women and girls is not okay!
You can start with the little things- share content on the 16 days of activism. We all have braveness inside of us. We just need the right cause to trigger it.
The sisters have given us a cause to fight for. Who or what, are YOU going to fight for? What legacy will you leave behind? Think on this!
Thanks for reading. Much Love.
Learn more about my own personal story of dealing with sexual violence. It took faith, resilience and good support to come out of it. I want the same for everyone who has experienced sexual violence. If this is not your experience, you can purchase to gift someone or read to educate yourself. Be an ally.
As part of the 16 Days of Activism, we would like to gift Reve-Healed to survivors of gender-based violence. Sponsor books for NGOs to distribute to those in need. Prices are at 50% discount if purchasing and sending directly from Amazon!
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