25 November is designated as the UN day for the eradication of violence against women. But what is the significance of this date and why is it often marked with butterfly logos?
On 25 November, 1960; three young women and political activists from the Dominican Republic, known as the Mirabal Sisters, were killed, it is believed, on the orders of the Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo. There were four sisters: Minerva, Maria Teresa, Patria and Dedé. They all married and raised families. Dedé was at first mainly focused on the home and farm as her husband did not support her to attend college or take part in political activism though she joined her sisters later. Minerva graduated in law but her access to practicing law was blocked after she allegedly rejected the sexual advances of Trujillo. Minerva remained politically active and her sisters Maria Teresa and Patria joined her. Patria was motivated after having witnessed Trujillo’s men commit a massacre on the 14th of June. This later came to be the name given to their group: “The movement of the Fourteenth of June” but they actually called themselves Las Mariposas – the butterflies. They collated and distributed information on torture, disappearances and extra-judicial killings and started stockpiling weapons for when the revolution would take hold. They and their husbands experienced spells in prison and other harassment.
25 November, 1960; Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa, along with their driver, were stopped when returning from a visit to their husbands in prison by some members of Trujillo’s secret police force. They were beaten and put back in their vehicle which was pushed off a mountainside to fake an apparent accident. In 1961, the Mirabal sisters’ awaited revolution kicked in and Trujillo was assassinated. Thereafter information emerged that confirmed that the killers were Trujillo’s men. It is broadly assumed that they were killed on his orders although he denied this. However it is widely believed that such an event by his own men could only have occurred unchallenged, if not on his orders, then with his knowledge.
The date of 25 November was established in 1999 as the UN date for the elimination of violence against women.
Read more 25 November: UN Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women