Within the framework of the Erasmus+ “Mutual Share Women Care” project, (Erasmus+ 2019-1-IT01-KA202-007410, Coordinator Cooperativa Sociale Siderea, Latiano, Italy) we visited the European Women’s Center “Mariana Pineda” in order to present the activities that our project will carry out . Mariana Pineda was an empowered and free woman of her time, and she has appeared to us as a reference model for those European women subjected to situations of abuse.
Dramatic numbers on gender-based violence can be read in a 2019 report created by UN Women, the UN organization dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. To provide examples:
- Up to 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from a partner during their lifetime (in some countries the percentage rises to 70 percent);
- It is estimated that 87.000 women were killed worldwide in 2017, more than a third (30.000) by their current or former partners;
- At least 200 million women and girls between the ages of 15 and 19 have undergone female genital mutilation.
These and other very serious facts about many other types of GBV can be found at the following link https://www.unwomen.org/es/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures. These data show us how this phenomenon is a serious problem, although often hidden, both in the most disadvantaged countries and in the richest ones, where we tend to think that this type of event is the exception (and instead it is the rule).
In this context, we believe it is very important to remember all the personalities whose lives have been marked by resistance not only to this type of violence, but to all forms of deprivation of individual freedom.
The character of Mariana Pineda Muñoz, who will be remembered and celebrated by the city of Granada on May 26th, is one of the most important and emblematic figures in our country of the opposition between absolutism and liberalism in a very complex period of Spanish history: she represents, in fact, the struggle for equality and freedom during the Restoration carried out by Ferdinand VII during the first half of the 19th century.
Her story begins in 1804, when she was born to an aristocratic father, Mariano Pineda Ramírez, a navy captain, and a mother of humble origins, María de los Dolores Muñoz y Bueno. The two never married; the father, due to his chronic illness, signed a document that guaranteed the mother all rights with respect to the daughter. Shortly afterwards, Don Mariano reported the mother for theft, who tried to run away with her daughter, but she was arrested and forced to hand over the child to the father. As she found herself an orphan, from the age of fifteen months, Mariana grew up with her paternal uncle, José Pineda, who transferred his parental responsibilities to some young dependants.
At the age of 15, Mariana married Manuel de Peralta y Valle, a liberal who was a member of the Masonic lodge and close to the constitutionalist circle of the Count of Teba, and with whom she had two children in the following two years: José María and Orsula María. After the end of her marriage, when her husband died in 1822, she kept on attending liberal circles, firmly opposing the re-establishment of absolutism by Ferdinand VII.
In this Granada, full of conspiracies and persecutions to the liberals, who continued to work for the restoration of the Constitution, in 1831 Mariana's struggle against the absolutist system reached its climax: she became an intermediary for the exiles in Gibiliterra, hiding the wanted ones in her home and organizing the escape of Fernandez Alvarez de Sotomayor, a cousin of hers who was a commander of the Army and was condemned to death.
On March 18th, 1831, the police broke into her home, number 6 of house 77 in Calle del Aguila in Granada, where they found an embroidered flag for the insurgents, with three words written on it: "Law, Freedom, Equality".
Mariana tried to escape on several occasions, and always refused to betray her alleged accomplices. This led to her imprisonment in the convent of Santa Maria Egipciaca and, after a very long trial, to the maximum penalty.
Despite the contrary opinion of Granada people, who strongly supported Mariana's cause, and despite the demonstrations that took place in her support, Ferdinand VII issued the death sentence. On May 26th, 1831, at only 26 years of age, Mariana Pineda was executed in Campo del Triunfo in Granada, becoming a victim and martyr for the people of her time and of today.
Her life, as well as her death, was a tribute to individual freedom. Freedom that we are still looking for today, and that inspires the struggle for a more righteous and united world.
To learn more about Mariana Pineda’s story it is possible to visit the European Women’s Center “Mariana Pineda”, located at Calle Aguila 19 in Granada, Mariana's home in 1831, when she was arrested and accused of conspiracy. This Centre, established by the the City Council of Granada, is the headquarters of the Municipal Council of Women, and it is open to the women of the city as a place of meeting and projects with the aim of ending gender inequality.
The opening hours are from Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 13:30 and from 17:00 to 21:00 (in July and August it does not open in the afternoon).
A large exhibition room on the ground floor retraces and explains Mariana's life in all its aspects and in a very vivid way, with the help of items dating back to that period and her life, useful for understanding both the historical context and the heroine's personality.
There is also a documentary room, located in the old courtyard of the house, where the bibliographic collections allow us to explore in depth the figure of Mariana and the liberal movement in Granada.
By Marta Buono. Translated by Francesca Carbone