Cover the thumb as a cry for help

Canarian women recognize the international gesture that saves the lives of victims of abuse. Covering the thumb with the rest of the fingers is the new silent 'cry' of women.

One gesture can save the lives of many women. And how to do it? The mechanics are simple: just bring the thumb to the center of La Palma of the hand and protect it with the rest of the fingers. This technique has become the new international sign against sexist violence, a movement battered women can turn to to give a scream silent relief anywhere in the world. Alexandra, Lidia, Nadia, Arancha and Yolanda, are just some of the Canarian women who already know this gesture that has spread like wildfire throughout the planet. Women of all ages who agree to describe the gesture as a "great initiative" and who hope not to have to need it in the future.

"It is difficult for victims to verbalize the problem, which is why this sign is so relevant," explains Alexandra Angelov, a young 21-year-old student who discovered the initiative from her mother. But the truth is that the sign is so well known thanks to social networks. The signal was created by the Canadian Women's Foundation through an online campaign during last year's lockdown. Many victims had to comply with quarantines locked at home with their assailants, which is why this distress signal was created. Lidia Dóniz, Alexandra's friend, learned about the phenomenon through social networks, so she is concerned that the message will not reach sectors of the adult population. "The gesture has to permeate all of society, not just stay with the youngest," he explains. But the reality is that this gesture does not understand ages.

This is defended by Arancha de la Torre, 42, who assures that his acquaintances and relatives know "perfectly" the way in which this works. scream silent. “We cannot wait for the institutions to act. This is insufficient, so we must resort to the usual: protect each other, "he claims.

A victim of gender violence resorted to the sign to get rid of her aggressor in Barcelona


The popularity of this new distress signal is very recent in Spain, where this year 37 women have already died at the hands of their partners or ex-partners. In early November that notice Mute aid allowed the police to arrest a man in Barcelona for alleged mistreatment. He had gone with his wife to a medical consultation, when she made the gesture discreetly, which allowed an employee of the clinic to notify the agents. The story spread and the gesture became popular.

This same sign allowed a few days ago to rescue a 16-year-old girl who had been kidnapped at the hands of a 61-year-old man in the United States. The little girl made the gesture from the car in which she was driving with her captor to another driver, who notified the police when they recognized the signal. Hence the importance of spreading this type of message in society.

The Information and education are, for all the Canaries interviewed, the fundamental pillars to end sexist violence. Nadia Sosa, a young 22-year-old student, believes that the key is to "educate in equality in schools." For Nadia it is essential that society "reject any macho behavior", because this will make it easier for children to "identify this type of attitudes at home and reject them."

Nadia trusts the new generations and recognizes the effort of the "older" people who struggle every day to "unlearn" the attitudes inherited from "a macho upbringing." Lidia also believes in the work that is being done with the youngest in schools. "In the centers of my brothers they are always with talks and projects on the importance of ending this type of violence," he clarifies. On the other hand, Yolanda Fernández, 60, believes that in her generation there was more awareness of women's rights. "There are still many girls who normalize that a man has power over them, that did not happen in my generation," he explains.

The truth is that the gesture has permeated the island society, something that according to some women can become a double edged sword. "There is fear that so much virality will cause the aggressors to end up detecting the gesture," laments Nadia, although she acknowledges that the benefits of the initiative "weigh more in the balance." The same is the opinion of Saray Herrera, another 19-year-old girl who considers it essential that the distress signal reaches as many people as possible. "It seems very sad to me that a woman made this gesture of help to me and I could not help her because I did not understand the meaning," said Saray.


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