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No alcohol, no violence: life inside the Bolivian community led by women
by Amy Booth
The Guardian Translate This Article
17 February 2017
On 17 February 2017 The Guardian reported:
Visually, there is little to distinguish the barrio of Maria Auxiliadora from the other barrios of the working-class southern periphery of Cochabamba, Bolivia. Despite its innocuous appearance, a remarkable history sets this neighbourhood apart: since 1999, Maria Auxiliadora has worked to create a safe environment free from domestic violence, under the leadership of women. Families wishing to live there have to abide by the rules established in the community: no sales of alcohol, and no gender-based attacks. [Its success] has been recognised on an international level. The community was a finalist in the 2008 World Habitat Awards, run by Building and Social Housing Foundation in partnership with UN Habitat. The nomination explicitly recognised the project's success in reducing domestic violence and promoting female leadership in a traditionally patriarchal culture.
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The community was founded by five women, and its leadership roles, president and vice-president, are always filled by women. The founders came up with the idea of Maria Auxiliadora while working on a committee on intrafamily violence and reproductive health, as a way to help families escape the pressures of living in precarious rented accommodation with abusive landlords. The community's land is collectively owned and cannot be sold for profit, so prices remain affordable to low-income families and guarantees them a stable home.
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