Press Release

On International Afro-Latin American, Afro-Caribbean and Diaspora Women's Day, the IACHR calls on states to eradicate stigmatization of Afro-descendant women

July 25, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - On International Afro-Latin American, Afro-Caribbean and Diaspora Women's Day, the IACHR calls upon states to eradicate stigmatization of women of African descent. The Inter-American Commission urges states of the region to take concrete measures to prevent, eliminate, prohibit and sanction all racial abuse, hate speech, racist and discriminatory acts and demonstrations against this group.

The Commission has noted with concern that, in the hemisphere, there have been persistent widespread forms of discrimination and aggravated violence motivated by ethnic-racial origin. In particular, the IACHR notes the widespread and worrisome dissemination of stigmatizing statements that generate the objectification, sexualization, and inferiorization of Afro-descendant women due to the historical processes of slavery, colonialism, exploitation, and social exclusion of this group. These statements result in an increase in cases of physical, psychological, sexual and institutional violence against them.

In this regard, states should adopt actions towards knowledge building of its employees, raising awareness of civil society and promoting the rights of Afro-descendant women. Such programs and public policies should include the participation of Afro-descendant women in their design, implementation and monitoring as they must play an active role in combating the discrimination and misogyny that affect them.

“States of the region must ensure that Afro-descendant women are active actors in the development of laws and measures to combat racism and sexism across the region. Such initiatives should be addressed not only to private actors, but to all public officials, either elected or not, as well as to the media” said Commissioner Margarette May Macaulay, Rapporteur on the Rights of Women and on the Rights of Afro-descendants and against Racial Discrimination.

Likewise, the IACHR emphasizes that public authorities play a prominent role in developing social perceptions. In this regard, the IACHR has repeatedly pointed out that public officials should adopt a discourse that prevents violence based on discrimination, as well as the need for active participation in the adoption of measures to enforce principles of equality and non-discrimination, aimed at the elimination of all residual forms and forms of discrimination. Such authorities shall foster an environment of tolerance and respect, by refraining from making discriminatory statements that increase the state of vulnerability faced by this group, exposing them to a greater risk of acts of violence.

In this regard, the President of the Commission, Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, recalls, “people who occupy leadership positions in countries of the region have a unique responsibility in developing a discourse of peace and social coexistence aimed at an equal and inclusive society, which rejects all forms of racial discrimination”.

Finally, the Commission calls upon all States of the region to adopt the necessary measures to ratify and implement, without delay, the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance, and the Inter-American Convention against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance, as an expression of their commitment to combat discrimination and all forms of intolerance in the Hemisphere.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 183/19