Argentinien: María del Carmen Sarthes

In order to be able to help raped and maltreated women, they first have to recognize themselves as victims of violence.

— María del Carmen Sarthes

She has been weaving for 23 years. Her name is María del Carmen Sarthes. She comes from Argentina. With this traditionally female activity, she weaves hope, fighting for the rights of women, children and adolescents. She supports raped and maltreated women, gives workshops and seminars about sexual and reproductive health and against violence. She marches, teaches, accompanies and continues weaving. She has a husband, four sons and female companions. She teaches them how to weave and how to value and love themselves.

While hundreds of young members of the Argentinean Army died frozen during the The Falklands War (the Malvinas War), María del Carmen Sarthes wove overcoats, in red, green, pink and violet. Each hank of thread was part of the struggle: “During the dictatorship (1976-1983), we lived with fear, but when the military forced the Falklands War upon us, we regained our strength and campaigned for it to end.” The war finished in 1982, but it was only the beginning of Carmen's fight. With her woven scarves, she could wrap up and protect many violated women. She began to teach catechism in the Catholic Church of Virrey de Pino, in the province of Buenos Aires, where she was born. Later on, she came into contact with the Theology of Liberation, which changed her vision: “I saw the situation of many maltreated women. I felt bad because I could not find a solution within the Church.” Theology of Liberation is a Christian theological movement, which arose in South America. It was based on the fight against oppression and exploitation of the human being. After, she joined other women, also related to the Church, in their work against violence. It was the year 1996, and there were six women. The name of the group was Awakening, and they awoke to several truths: that women did not decide on their reproductive lives, that they had no access to sexual health, that they were solely responsible for their families, that they reared the children and did not have any time for themselves. And this was violence. Between 1996 and 2005, she gave around 30 workshops and seminars. Today, at age 55, María del Carmen Sarthes is a member of Catholics for the Right to Decide (CDD). She continues with her weaving, and each time she has her needles and wool, she thinks “women learn to weave, but they also have to learn about their rights as women.”

Católicas pelo Direito de Decidir (Catholics for the Right to Decide)