A number of Bolivian women took it upon themselves to defend the conduction of a Mass at the Santa Cruz de la Sierra Cathedral in Bolivia with whips.
The event was interrupted by a group of feminists who entered the church with a set of posters and distributed flyers during the Mass.
One of the women who responded to the feminist group said that none of the people present in the cathedral reacted to the provocation. Therefore, the women had to run up to the feminists and use their ‘chicotes’ (a kind of traditional whip) to defend the church. She added that people were completely ambivalent to the interruption and they acted as if there had been no interruption at the church.
When asked by media how she and her colleagues chased the intruders out, the woman showed her whip and said, “With its help, we will deal the same way with all those who come here to enslave us, want to do evil things and are vandals, since it is our tradition to use this measure.”
Another woman who also took part in the incident emphasized that she would use the whip to “teach respect for our church.” She pointed out that the women’s fathers had done the same when they were girls and now, they would do the same to teach respect in Santa Cruz and all of Bolivia.
According to the local paper El Deber, the feminists’ actions were a protest against the Bolivian Church’s stance on the case of a serial rape of an 11-year-old girl who was impregnated by her grandfather. The man had already been detained by authorities.
Some government institutions and both domestic and foreign media initiated a campaign against the Church, which allegedly intervened to ensure the girl was unable to have an abortion. Meanwhile, the girl (who is 7 months pregnant) and her mother opposed the killing of the conceived child.
The girl is currently residing in a shelter maintained by the Santa Cruz de la Sierra archdiocese.
Bishop delegate for health affairs, Victor Hugo Valda, emphasized that the Catholic Church had not intervened with the child’s decision and in fact, had offered her support in the form of a shelter, education, health care and psychological help.