Women Objectors in the Colombian Context
Alejandra Londoño Bustamante, Red Juvenil de Medellín
I am a conscientious objector, but not because I believe that objection is a refusal which has legal backing. On the contrary, it is a legitimate social and collective organisation which initially aims at change within individuals for the good of society.
I refuse to continue reproducing the patriarchal practices which support inequality and exclusion. I am not an objector because I fear that my son or my brother will go off to war. I am an objector as a woman because, even though I am not wielding a gun, I could still be contributing to the reproduction of patriarchal tradition which places women in a submissive role. These practices destroy women’s dreams and their capacity to decide, have an opinion and act. They are denied pleasure and they are placed in a position of servitude towards others. As conscientious objector, I am trying to change the everyday elements which go unnoticed amidst the gunfire. I am also trying to change my immediate personal environment. This is essentially an environment which allows for the continued use of weapons.
I constantly hear questions from soldiers and the general population, who ask, “Why are there women objectors, given that it is the men who go off to war?” It is precisely over this point that we have the most strength in claiming that this is not a demand restricted to men. Objection is not merely a proposal which arises from an armed conflict. It is a clear way of demonstrating a popular, nonviolent struggle, which states that in order for the desired changes to take place, a change needs to happen at an individual level. It is a continuing question when looking at ways in which to create power with and for everybody.
Thanks to Francesca Denley for translation from Spanish to English