Ladies in Chile voice fears over far-right presidential candidate | Latest News Table

Ladies in Chile voice fears over far-right presidential candidate

Santiago, Chile – Olga Valenzuela waits on the facet of a busy road within the Chilean capital within the late November warmth, carrying a black T-shirt with the title “Muriel” printed on it.

Muriel, Valenzuela’s daughter, was killed 4 years in the past by her boyfriend throughout an argument of their house. She was 19, and her boyfriend has but to go to trial or be sentenced.

“I’m not a political individual, however I’ve joined this group to be heard,” says Valenzuela, who joined hundreds of ladies in a march on November 25 to Chile’s presidential palace to protest violence towards girls within the South American nation.

A number of moms walked alongside her, every with names printed on their T-shirts and holding banners to denounce home violence. One member of the group carried a suited effigy with a cardboard cutout of the face of far-right presidential candidate, Jose Antonio Kast.

Kast, a 55-year-old religious Catholic and founding father of the far-right Republican Social gathering, earned extra votes than another candidate within the first spherical of Chile’s presidential elections on November 21, securing 27.91 p.c help. He’ll face 35-year-old progressive Gabriel Boric, a former scholar protest chief, in a December 19 runoff.

For Valenzuela and most of the moms round her, fears are mounting {that a} Kast authorities might cripple their bids for justice and exacerbate the violence that killed their daughters. “Nobody has listened to me – I’m only one extra mom on the lookout for justice,” Valenzuela tells Al Jazeera.

“However I don’t desire a Kast authorities, he’s somebody that doesn’t help girls.

“I gained’t have granddaughters,” she provides. “However I need my daughter’s buddies to stay with respect.”

‘In opposition to the feminist motion’

UN Ladies has referred to as on Chile to handle prevalent gender inequalities, together with the low political illustration of ladies in parliament, in addition to threats of violence. In 2018, 5.8 p.c of Chilean girls had reported sexual and/or bodily home abuse within the earlier 12 months, the organisation discovered.

As a part of his marketing campaign, Kast has pledged to curb home violence by harsher sentencing for perpetrators.

Nevertheless, throughout his 16 years within the Chamber of Deputies, he repeatedly voted towards gender equality acts and ladies’s rights laws. He has reiterated his beliefs in a patriarchal household unit and Catholic household values, which was condoned as misogynistic and retrogressive by girls’s rights activists.

In his presidential programme, Kast introduced plans to eradicate the prevailing Ladies’s Ministry, which was established in 2017 to eradicate gender inequalities and eradicate violence, and merge it with the social improvement ministry.

Earlier this week, in a bid to draw the help of ladies voters, he stated he wouldn’t eradicate the Ladies’s Ministry “by title”, however has not retracted his plans to downsize and merge it with the opposite division.

His programme additionally contains plans to supply subsidies to heterosexual households with kids – excluding single moms and same-sex {couples} – and to ban abortion beneath all circumstances, undoing a present rule that enables girls to entry abortion within the case of rape, hazard to the mom’s life, or if the fetus won’t survive.

“He has a technique towards the feminist motion and considers that their values are at odds with the idea of a household,” stated Paulina Vergara, professor on the Institute of Public Affairs on the College of Chile. “(Ladies) have such few rights, and with out them, we won’t have an actual democracy,” Vergara advised Al Jazeera.

Far-right occasion

Kast spent the majority of his profession within the Unbiased Democratic Union (UDI). The occasion was fashioned by legislators who held political workplace throughout the 17-year dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, which led to 1990.

Kast broke from the occasion in 2016, launching his first marketing campaign for president as an unbiased candidate a yr later, when he got here fourth with 7.9 p.c of the vote. In 2019, he based the Republican Social gathering with the help of breakaway members of the UDI who sought a extra traditionalist mannequin additional aligned with conservative values and libertarian economics.

The occasion’s manifesto is grounded on the defence of life from “conception to pure demise”, a “perception in God”, and the concept household items involving a person and a lady are “the inspiration of society”. It additionally advocates for low state intervention and a free-market economic system.

“The Republican Social gathering’s recognition is a part of a shift to the ultra-right that’s taking place all through the world,” stated Vergara, citing Poland, Hungary, and Spain as examples. “It has a Christian entrance, and is extra orthodox and extra excessive.”

In November’s primaries, Chileans elected 15 deputies from the Republican Social gathering, 12 males and three girls. Tweets and interview clips from one elected deputy, Johannes Kaiser, went viral quickly after his appointment attributable to their misogynist and violent nature.

“62% of ladies fantasize about being raped, and on the similar time, they exit and protest, why,” Kaiser tweeted in 2018. In a video revealed 5 years in the past, he referred to as immigrants “rapists” and questioned whether or not girls ought to have the correct to vote.

Chile’s presidential candidate Jose Antonio Kast gestures as he casts his poll throughout common elections in Santiago, the capital, on November 21 [File: Ivan Alvarado/Reuters]

Kast condemned Kaiser’s feedback, forcing his resignation from the Republican Social gathering solely days after he was elected – though Kaiser will preserve his place as an unbiased deputy. Kaiser additionally apologised for his feedback, stressing that he was being sarcastic.

To Vergara, these “jokes” replicate severe moral flaws inside the occasion. “They make jokes about rape and use arguments based mostly on freedom of speech to defend their views, however it doesn’t make it much less violent,” she stated.

The Republican Social gathering didn’t reply to a request for remark from Al Jazeera, neither did the press contact for Kast’s presidential marketing campaign.

However Kast has dismissed accusations of misogyny. “I’m the son, husband, and father of large girls,” he stated in a radio broadcast this week. “I’ll work tirelessly so that every one girls stay in freedom and tranquillity.”

Ladies’s vote ‘massively essential’

Nevertheless, the character of his programme has alienated many ladies, together with historically conservative voters. Natalia Borquez is a 43-year-old dental surgeon who has determined to vote for a left-wing presidential candidate for the primary time in her life this month.

“With Kast, we’d lose all our rights,” she advised Al Jazeera, explaining that she discovered facets of Kast’s programme disturbing, equivalent to eliminating the Ladies’s Ministry and prohibiting abortion in all circumstances. “Taking it away is to disclaim these items occur, positioning girls as soon as once more as second-class residents,” she stated.

Chilean presidential candidate Gabriel Boric has a lead over his far-right rival forward of the December 19 runoff vote, in response to polling information [File: Andres Poblete/AP Photo/]

Borquez plans to vote for Boric as a result of “she needs her vote to matter”, but stated it was not a straightforward resolution to make. She stated a few of her conservative-leaning feminine buddies have determined to abstain from the voluntary vote.

In a latest ballot, Boric surpassed Kast by 8 p.c, putting him in a snug lead, whereas 59 p.c of ladies surveyed stated they backed Boric.

Ladies account for 51 p.c of the Chilean citizens, and Vergara stated girls like Borquez and Valenzuela, who might use their votes to particularly denounce Kast, shall be instrumental in deciding the subsequent president.

“In 1988, the ladies’s vote was massively essential within the vote towards the Pinochet regime,” she stated. “I hope that this time historical past will repeat itself.”

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