When she was 21 years old and eight months pregnant, Miriam Gutierrez was beaten so badly by her then-partner that she gave birth prematurely. Now Gutierrez is fighting back against gender-based violence — both literally and figuratively.
Gutierrez, a Spanish boxer who was crowned the European lightweight boxing champion in March, has devoted herself to raising awareness of violence against women, visiting schools and teaching self-defense classes, according to Reuters. Whenever she steps into the ring, she wears a mouthguard stamped with the words #genderviolence.
Gutierrez is also hoping to promote women’s rights in an official capacity. In May, she was elected city councilor of a Madrid suburb. But she is entering the political fray during a fraught time in Spain, when feminism and the issue of violence against women have become the subject of fiery debate.
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In 2004, the country passed a landmark anti-gender violence law, but acts of violence against women continue to be a persistent problem. At least 992 women have been murdered by a partner or former partner since 2003, according to The Atlantic; 47 women were killed in gender-based homicides last year.
In 2017, hoping to combat the issue, the Spanish parliament unanimously passed several measures intended to bolster the original 2004 law. Last year, millions of people joined together to promote women’s rights, with 5.3 million men and women participating in a general strike to demand equality in the workplace and at home on International Women’s Day.
But Spain’s conservative Vox party is not on board with such efforts. The party has railed against what it deems “gender jihadism” and called for an end to the country’s anti-gender violence law, saying it unfairly discriminates against men.
Gutierrez tells Reuters that she is “looking forward to pushing for women’s rights as a municipal councilor.” Nicknamed “The Queen” at her gym, she also intends to keep boxing.
“I’m going to be world champion, that’s for sure,” she says, noting that it’s “not a dream.”
Read the full story at Reuters.