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In Mexico City, Widespread Protests About Women’s Rights Target a Monument and Museum

Dozens of breastfeeding mothers gathered at Mexico City’s Museum of Modern Art in protest of discriminatory regulations, while the Angel of Independence monument was vandalized with feminist graffiti and crocheted hearts.

Angel of Independence (via Wikimedia Commons, by Juan Manuel Gomez Ruano)

Mexico City’s Museum of Modern Art found itself in the middle of a protest over the weekend as demonstrators called out the cultural institution for expelling a patron for breastfeeding. On Sunday, November 24, mothers brought their babes-in-arms to breastfeed outside and then inside the museum in protest. Ximena Rueda, one of the mothers breastfeeding at the museum, told the Associated Press, “This shame we feel is the thought that breasts are for something sexual and not something as natural as feeding,” and noted the irony of excluding women for breastfeeding although museums can exhibit women topless in art. Since the incident went public, the museum’s director, Natalia Pollak, said the institution has since changed its policy to allow breastfeeding throughout the building.

The Museum of Modern Art wasn’t the only site of a demonstration in Mexico City that day. Down the street at the Angel of Independence monument, other women crotched pink and purple hearts and painted the barricades around the landmark that were erected after feminist protestors graffitied the statue with messages decrying violence against women last August. In Mexico, about 10 women die every day from violence, and many of these cases never make it to court.

Sunday’s protests took place just before International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Monday, November 25, where demonstrations were planned across the globe. In Mexico City, protestors once again took to the streets, but this time, they were met with police forces. Other protests in Latin America took place in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Honduras, and Panama.

In September, the United Nations launched a Latin American initiative to address gender violence, citing Mexico as one of the countries beginning to confront its high rate of femicide. Across Latin America, 12 women die a day because of gender violence and the region has 14 of the 25 countries with the highest rates of femicide. According to the UN’s announcement, 98 percent of these cases are never prosecuted.

The latest wave of pink-and-purple protests began with the “glitter protests” back in August, when women took to the streets after a teenage girl was raped by four police officers in a town north of Mexico City. At their first protest, demonstrators threw pink glitter at the city’s chief of security. Subsequent protests saw the city’s landmark Angel of Independence monument graffitied with pro-feminist statements.

Earlier in November, just after Dia de Muertos, protesters marched the streets bearing 100 purple crosses bearing the names of women who were killed or reported missing. Others hoisted photographs of women who met the same fate. The protest was called “Dia de Muertas,” drawing attention to the country’s high rate of femicide.

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