This Monday, February 5, the Feminist Assembly of El Salvador held a peaceful demonstration in San Salvador to denounce a number of irregularities and human rights violations perpetrated during the electoral process currently underway in the country. During the protest, observers verified the presence of youtubers and people related to the “New Ideas” party photographing the participants with an apparent aim of intimidation. A drone was also seen flying over the protest.
Furthermore, in an apparent intent to discredit the demonstration, accusations proliferated on social networks against women banging on pots and pans in the streets in an effort to make their message known. Many of these contained misogynist comments that disparaged the women simply for being women.
An especially alarming tweet conveying scorn and irony was published by acting President Nayib Bukele against a feminist comrade and women human rights defender who was reporting the protest. Through this action, the official who should be supporting the rights of the Salvadoran people has not only discredited and ridiculed the legitimate right to protest but has also publicly exposed a citizen, placing her in a grave situation of risk and vulnerability.
We of IM-Defensoras and the Salvadoran Network of Women Defenders recognize, support and accompany the struggle of Salvadoran feminists and women human rights defenders, whose labor and history of struggle has been essential for the construction of peace and advancement in social justice and human rights, especially that of women, sex-gender identity dissidents, and historically excluded groups.
This is not the first time that such acts have been observed. The pattern has been reiterative since 2020, and we have constantly denounced it, making visible the existence of digital violence as State Violence. This not only occurs through campaigns of stigmatization and cyber harassment, but also espionage and hacking of cyber accounts.
We demand that the government of El Salvador, and especially President Nayib Bukele and his officials, along with his sympathizers, abstain from spreading stigmatic and misogynous messages that expose to derision and social violence against those who denounce human rights, inform independently, do not think like the president, or simply dissent from his political practice.
We call on the international community to express solidarity with our Salvadoran feminist companions and stay abreast of the situation in the country during the ongoing electoral process that will extend to March 3rd, when local elections are slated.