Arts and Culture

Chilean Protest Song Becomes Feminist Anthem

First performed in November of 2019, the Chilean protest song Un Violador en tu Camino is now being performed by women all across the globe. 

The song and its accompanying choreography was created by Las Tesis, a group of four women based in the city of Valparaíso. They first performed it late November, as Chile’s nationwide uprising against social inequality entered its second month, to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The performance went viral on social media, and has now spread across Latin America and the rest of the world. 

The song’s lyrics describe rape culture and victim shaming, and the dance moves mirror the message. In one part of the dance, performers squat down to demonstrate the degrading position that female protesters are forced to assume when arrested. 

Some women perform the protest blindfolded or wearing green scarves, symbolizing the fight for legal abortion; many others do it in party dresses—emphasizing their right to dress up without fear of attack—or even topless, as a way of reclaiming autonomy over their bodies.

As the song spreads around the world, it is acquiring new layers of meaning, adapting to fit the political causes of the places it is performed in, such as India or Lebanon. In the United States, for example, it has been used specifically against president Trump, who has been accused of multiple sexual assaults, and has also tapped into African Americans’ fear of police brutality.

As the song accuses judges, police and politicians of committing or failing to stop rape, performing it in some countries has proven to be risky. In India, female protesters have faced police armed with water cannons, and in Turkey, female MPs sang it defiantly in parliament after police broke up a street performance.

Paula Soto of the British-based Assemblea Chilena En Londres, a Chilean solidarity group that staged a performance of the song near Tower Bridge in London last month, explains that the performance of Un Violador en tu Camino is more like street theatre than a traditional political protest—with its captivating music and symbolic movements—which is part of the reason why it has spread worldwide. 

“When it started going viral, what the collective said was that it was great that this had taken on a life of its own,” says Soto. “The important thing is that it talks to women everywhere from very different realities.”

Categories: Arts and Culture

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