GABRIELA USA Launches 18 Days of Action on International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 25, 2014
Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

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November 25, 2014 marks the thirty-third year since activists proclaimed this day as International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women (IDEVAW), in commemoration of Dominican Republic political activists, the Mirabal sisters. They strongly opposed the fascist dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, and were ordered to be killed on this date in 1960. GABRIELA USA is launching an 18 day campaign starting today and concluding on December 12, International Day Against Human Trafficking, to raise awareness and encourage action on key dates throughout the course of the campaign.

GABRIELA USA condemns the continuous failing of the B.S. Aquino administration that does not protect the rights of its people. In the Philippines, the Aquino regime perpetuates multiple forms of patriarchal violence targeting women, LGBTQ identified people, and children. The actions and–even worse–the inaction of this government are reprehensible, and the women of GABRIELA USA are raising our voices during the next 18 days to expose the systemic violence that perpetuates a culture of violence in our communities.

From the U.S. to the Philippines, state-sponsored violence runs rampant. The U.S. is a global power that has about 1,000 military bases and installments throughout 61 countries globally. Rather than protecting Filipino women and children, B.S. Aquino proves his subservience to the U.S. by continuing the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and recently signing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). These unequal agreements with the U.S. unnecessarily exposes Filipino women to further forms of violence, as seen in the recent murder of transgender woman Jennifer Laude by prime suspect U.S. Marine PFC Joseph Scott Pemberton, who has not yet been fully turned over to the Philippine authorities for proper detention or investigation.

“This case is reminiscent of the Nicole rape case in 2005 where Lance Corporal Daniel Smith was not convicted of his crime. What message is Aquino sending his people? That it’s acceptable for U.S. military personnel to rape, murder, and violate the rights of people of countries they are based in? Aquino is doing nothing to uphold the rights of his citizens against human rights violations committed by foreigners, and we say enough is enough!,” proclaims Tina Shauf, mass campaigns officer of GABRIELA USA.

The violence against Filipino women reaches across the world while Aquino continues neglecting migrant citizens’ rights and welfare. Economic hardship has created an exodus of Filipino workers forced to migrate under vulnerable conditions, a majority of whom are women. An example is the case of Filipino trafficked teachers, a major campaign of GABRIELA USA led by GABRIELA Washington, D.C. teachers who have suffered from exploitation and abuse by labor trafficker, Isidro Rodriguez. The trafficked teachers have felt the injustice of their government that has not advocated for their cause. “Here in D.C. where the Philippine Embassy is, it has taken numerous complaints over the years, and it isn’t until now that we have an organized group of trafficked teachers rallying outside their gates that they have taken notice,” stated Janet Basilan, GABRIELA D.C.’s Vice Chair of Campaigns.

Lastly, government neglect in the Aquino administration has continued to attack its own people through continuing pork barrel schemes allowed by the president himself. As politicians act on their own behalf with impunity, calamity relief and livelihood for Typhoon Haiyan-affected regions are left without recourse. This political violence against the Filipino people is a heavier burden on women as their responsibilities to work and attend to domestic duties are stifled because of politicians’ graft and greed.

The women of GABRIELA USA will not stand for this systemic violence. Instead, we demand accountability, justice, and genuine social change to uphold the rights and welfare of Filipino women globally.

Women Unite to Eliminate Violence Against Women!
Justice for Jennifer Laude and all victims of hate crimes! Trans Lives Matter!
Justice for Filipino Trafficked Teachers!
Justice for Victims of Typhoon Haiyan!
Junk VFA! Scrap EDCA! No to TPPA!
End State-Sponsored Violence!

Please join us to demand justice for Jennifer Laude by taking action and obtaining at least 1,000 signatures in our 18 Days of Action, concluding on December 12! Read, sign, and share our petition, which can be found here: bit.ly/justice4jennifer

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GABRIELA USA Stands in Solidarity with the Trans Community on Trans Day of Remembrance

November 20, 2014

Reference: Terrie Cervas, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

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GABRIELA USA joins in solidarity with the Trans and Gender Non-Conforming community on this Trans Day of Remembrance. We are outraged at the escalating transphobic attacks, murders and the struggles faced by Trans and Gender Non-Conforming people, including low-income, imprisoned, undocumented and trans people of color. We remember, grieve, and demand justice for those who have lost their lives to transphobic violence, including Aniya Parker in L.A., Zoraida Reyes in Orange County, Mia Henderson and Kandy Hall in Baltimore, Islan Nettles and Lateisha Green in New York.

On October 11, Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old transgender woman from the Philippines, was brutally beaten and strangled to death in a hotel room in Olongapo City near Subic Bay Naval Base by Private First Class Joseph Pemberton. Jennifer’s death, clearly the result of a violent hate crime, also underscores how U.S. militarization and unequal U.S. led agreements contribute to transphobic, transmisogynistic, and gendered violence. The U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), and now the greatly expanded Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), further perpetuate hate crimes and state violence like that against Jennifer Laude to occur.

Over a month since her death, no criminal charges have been made, and the prime suspect still has not fully been handed over to the Philippine authorities for proper investigation. These events repeat a pattern of protection and immunity granted to a string of U.S. personnel who have committed sexual violence, murder, and other human rights abuses in the Philippines. GABRIELA USA joins the global campaign to support Laude’s family in seeking justice, and to demand an end to unequal military agreements that enable ongoing human rights abuses against the Filipino people and infringes upon the sovereignty of the Philippine nation.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., trans women are four times more likely to experience police harassment and violence than all others reporting police violence. In just one case, a Washington D.C. cop shot into a car of three trans women after one refused his attempt to solicit sex. In 2008, video footage caught Memphis police brutally beating a handcuffed trans woman, Duanna Johnson, in their custody; soon after the exposé, Johnson was fatally shot. The criminalization and detention of trans people of color increases.

We are inspired by freedom fighters like Cece McDonald, a Black trans woman who was harshly punished and imprisoned for defending herself against a transphobic attack, but remains steadfast as an outspoken organizer for trans justice and against state violence. We stand in solidarity with trans people of color who have suffered at the hands of state violence, from police brutality and the prison industrial complex, to U.S. militarization abroad.

We recognize the links between state violence against trans people within the U.S. and U.S. militarization globally, which perpetuate transmisogyny and a culture of violence targeting queer, trans, gender non-conforming, and people of color. We desire a world in which we don’t have to fear hate violence, police intimidation, losing our homes and livelihood, for being trans. We desire a world where we all may thrive, where the human rights of all are upheld, where we are celebrated in all our gender expressions and identities. We pledge to continue to educate our communities about the need to fight for justice and self determination for all trans and gender non-conforming people, while building safe and supportive spaces.

Trans Lives Matter!
End Violence Against Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People!
Healthcare, Housing and Human Rights for Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People Now!
Justice for Jennifer Laude and for All Victims of Transphobia, Militarization, and State Violence!
Junk the VFA and EDCA! US Troops Out!

We request your support in the campaign for Justice for Jennifer Laude, and for an end to the VFA and EDCA. Please help us reach 1,000 signatures, by signing and forwarding our petition: bit.ly/justice4jennifer

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Reflections of a GABRIELA on Trans Day of Remembrance

GABRIELA USA commemorates Trans Day of Remembrance today, November 20th. Member of GABRIELA USA shares her reflections on the ongoing violence towards trans people and the recent murder of Jennifer Laude by a U.S. Marine.

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I was born male.
I am a transgender woman.
And I am a human being.

I cannot describe in a single word or even a sentence how a transgender woman’s life is: colorful, sad, joyful, painful, funny, name all the emotions listed in the dictionary, I may have experienced them all because of the stigma attached to my gender identity and how some people see me from their perspective.

I was raised Roman Catholic in a country where dogma exists, in a community where homosexuality is a taboo, like a disease that has no cure, a hopeless case. Where people perceive you through your gender identity, not what’s inside your heart and what yours is “made of.” I was ridiculed, maligned, misjudged, and belittled because what I believe in my brain and what I feel inside my heart does not complement the norm. It happened almost every single day, in every corner of every street that I’ve been, in my school, on public transportation, and sad to say, even in my home. It became a part of life, part of my system and a portion of me and my existence. Then I asked myself, “Am I cursed because I am a transgender woman?”

Gone are the days when I just sit down sobbing because I was not accepted and felt unloved. I am my and your God’s creation. I deserve to be treated the same way others want to be treated. Your rights are my rights too. I breathe the same air you breathe and drink the same water you drink. I have the same blood that runs in all the veins and arteries in your body. In every way we are all God’s creation, we are all the same, we are all equal. And as a transgender woman, I deserve to be treated and respected like your mother, your sister, your grandmother, and girlfriends deserve to be treated.

Yes, I was born male. Yes, I am a transgender woman. And yes, I am a human being, and your rights are my rights too.

Jennifer Laude, a Filipino transgender woman was killed by an American soldier. A human being was killed. A human being who helped her family in every way she could. A human being who deserved to live fully like everyone in this world is now dead.

Her rights do not end because she’s gone. She deserves a fair trial and justice just like anybody who was brutally killed by a heartless person. She deserves justice not because of the color of her skin, her country of citizenship, not even on the basis of her gender identity. She deserves justice.

Yes, she was a transgender woman like me. Yes, she was a human being like you. A human being who has the same rights as all of us.

Monalisa
A proud transgender woman