Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Security through Solidarity: Honduran Women's Post-Coup Strategies of Support and Survival

Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Security through Solidarity: Honduran Women's Post-Coup Strategies of Support and Survival

Article excerpt

Abstract (2)

As a follow up to the article "From Discovery to Dissidence: Honduran Women's Conceptions and Claims of Human Rights", published in this journal in May 2010 (Vol. 11 #4), this paper examines forty-eight Honduran women's experiences of state- based insecurity and feminist-based solidarity following the June 2009 coup d'Etat. The authors reflect on the ethical implications of the participant-centered and solidarity-oriented qualitative methodological approaches constrained by state repression. The women's testimonies shed light on the potential of a solidarity-security symbiosis.

Keywords: Women's Rights, Coup d'Etat, Solidarity, Honduras

Introduction

"What I want is that the truth become known about what has happened in Honduras and how we as women live and are violated by the oppressors. Help us bring to light the extent of the femicide."

(Workshop Participant 2005-2010)

In an article entitled "From Discovery to Dissidence: Honduran Women's Conceptions and Claims of Human Rights", published in this journal in May 2010 (Vol. 11 #4), the primary author highlighted the experiences of one hundred and fifteen Honduran women who demonstrated agency, resistance and solidarity in their individual and collective pursuit of gender equality following their participation in human rights workshops. In that same article, the primary author alluded to a follow up study that would explore the challenges the women were facing and the strategies they were employing in the aftermath of the coup d'Etat that abruptly destabilized Honduras' democratic (3) governance on June 28, 2009. In this current article, we convey the results of the ensuing study in an effort to shed light on the women's evolving capacities to utilize their workshop-based knowledge and solidarity to manage their [in]security amidst overwhelming political turmoil.

The circumstances that gave rise to the Honduran coup d'Etat in 2009 are undeniably complex (4) and have been debated through diverse political, corporate and human rights perspectives. While we recognize the importance of scrutinizing the conditions surrounding the coup d'Etat, our interest in this paper is neither to endorse nor to condemn political preferences and actions. Instead, our concern pertains to the nature and extent of the repression experienced by the aforementioned workshop participants after the coup and to their ability to negotiate their survival and safety amidst the political violence and instability.

Since the coup, thousands of Honduran citizens have been actively engaged in pro-democracy and anti-coup protests. The interim and subsequently elected (5) governments have left a wake of widespread human rights violations as they have countered civilian demonstrations with curfews, media censorship and violent repression involving the use of excessive police and military force. Consequently, human rights-oriented citizens, journalists, lawyers and judges have been victims of systematic (6) state-based violence, sexual aggression, arbitrary detentions, torture, death threats, employment dismissals, assassinations and disappearances (Amnesty International, 2010; Human Rights Watch, 2010a, b; Mejia and Fernandez, 2010).

The plight and role of activist (7) women have been especially significant in these volatile circumstances, since, on the one hand, their gendered vulnerability became even more precarious, yet on the other hand, their resilience was strengthened not only by their resolve to stand up for their rights to democracy and equality (Paredes and Sierra, 2010), but also by their solidarity-based strategies of support. In this light, we examine the Honduran women's experiences with coup-related insecurity and security-enhancing solidarity. With a view to prioritizing women's voices, we reflect on the ethical implications of the research methods employed. We then present the women's own accounts of their coup-related struggles, as well as their own reflections on the benefits and limitations of the solidarity-oriented efforts in which they engaged in order to overcome their multiple insecurities. …

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