Mairin Bila Baikra Report: The Voices of Indigenous Women

In recent years, the issue of violence against indigenous women in Latin America has been gaining greater visibility and important recommendations have been made by the Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues and other international bodies so that the various UN agencies and world governments can take into account the particularities of indigenous women when contemplating strategies to combat violence against women and girls.

However, one of the limitations to the understanding of violence against indigenous women and the development of programs and strategies for its eradication is the lack of available information explaining, from the point of view of indigenous women themselves, the various issues that are at stake.

In this sense, the need to generate first-hand information coming from lived experiences has become evident. We should be able to listen, from the voices of indigenous women themselves, to their stories, their suffering, their hopes, their proposals and their strength for change.

For many years now, FIMI has been journeying, together with indigenous organizations, through the process of understanding the situation of violence experienced by indigenous women, managing to implement strategies for the prevention, eradication and healing of violence. In 2006, FIMI produced a document entitled “Mairin Iwanka Raya: Indigenous Women Against Violence”, which was a complementary report to the United Nations International Study on Violence Against Women. This document is considered the first attempt by indigenous women’s organizations to conceptualize the problem of violence, planting the roots for all subsequent work.

In this context, as the International Forum of Indigenous Women, we came up with an intercultural research strategy based on an interactive methodology that allows us to contribute to the construction of theory on ancestral knowledge. We do this by bringing forth those values that allow for the development of anti-violence and spiritual healing strategies, and by using the evidence collected as a political tool for advocacy and structural transformation.

It is important to highlight that the intercultural research fostered by FIMI marks a breaking point with the traditional paradigm of the scientific research method, where there is a subject-researcher investigating a subject-object.

Intercultural research promotes an active role in the research processes for the members of the community. This allows for greater sensitivity, knowledge and appropriation of the investigated issues. The methodologies used are very effective to gather evidence, since the local context is rife with important knowledge. Likewise, intercultural research allows for the unlearning of violence by using principles from the indigenous worldview and by putting into question those elements that generate violence.

In this document, we strive to highlight the various dimensions and emerging forms of violence indigenous women suffer from in contexts including the family, their communities, and even the national scene.

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