November 25th marked the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. For me and many others, it is a day of remembrance for The Mirabal Sisters.
The Mirabal sisters were fours sister who rallied against dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo from the late 1940’s until 1960, November 25th to be exact. On this day, they were ambushed on a side road and beaten to death.
I remember hearing stories about them as a child. They called them the Butterflies because they symbolized freedom. Minerva, Patria, Dede, and Maria Theresa. They were and still are my heroes.
Most of what I have learned about Trujillo has been through stories.
1. He was extremely racist. He had thousands of Haitians murdered and mutilated. My grandmother says that she remembers hiding under foundation of her house while his guards chopped off the arms of the Haitians that worked on her father’s farm. Her father would try to hide them but often failed.
2. He would throw large parties. At these parties, he would pick out young girls that he wanted to sleep with. If the girl or her family rejected, there were repercussions.
3. Torture. He was said to have fed a prisoner the cooked body of said prisoner’s son. He was also known for having prisoners’ nails pulled off with pliers and having female prisoners raped.
Here is where the Mirabal Sister’s come in. Minerva was studying to become a lawyer when she rejected Trujillo’s advances. He was lenient (for him) and punished her by not allowing her to get a degree. A series of events then led the girls to the front lines of the resistance against Trujillo. Eventually, they were imprisoned, along with their husbands. In prison, they were tortured and raped. The Mirabals were later released, only to be murdered on their way to visit their still imprisoned husbands. Trujillo was assassinated the following spring. There lives and deaths resonated with the people and the world.
It is extremely important to raise an awareness for the elimination of violence against women and this day, but it is also important to remember the Mirabals. They should be remembered not only for what they suffered but for all that they achieved. These women changed a nation.