Home Institution

University of Colorado Boulder

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

Chile: Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development


This project is a visibilization and analyzation of gender and human rights abuses. Focusing on the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile and the following democratic transition, it unravels the systematic and social oppression of gender. The question remains, how is gender manipulated as a tactic of conflict and a means of control? There are clear social elements working to obstruct justice following the catastrophic forms of torture at the hands of the state. These forms of torture were blatantly gendered as a means for intensified state mandated terrorism. In other words, sexual violence in all forms was clearly a tactic of the state to install not only a deeper level of fear but also a direct mean of control. This trauma had become a vulnerability. It has bred a sort of shame and silence that disables communities to the point that it is normalized. Sexualized violence operates on a continuum. When there is no persecution of the military, no conversation about the severity of sexual violence, nor the understanding of just how many women and children were subjected to these horrors, violent behavior towards women and their bodies settles into the day to day lives of the people. Oppressive systems of power seem inevitable. This project illustrates the ways women were affected differently by the dictatorship, not exclusively in regards to sexual violence, but with the consideration that most women prisoners were subjected to such. It reveals that the values of the dictator live and thrive in society today. It furthermore inquires into the ways survivor’s stories are silenced. My primary sources are interviews with five, female survivors of political persecution. Their testimonies corroborate the use of sexual violence as a form of torture, the imprisonment of minors, and the neglect of the newly democratized state. This sense of ambivalence is what many survivors are fighting against now. I use the themes of the continuum of sexual violence, shame, silence, and the lack of reparations to create a conversation based off of said testimonies.


Gender and Sexuality | Inequality and Stratification | Political Science | Politics and Social Change | Women's Studies


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