Women in Barcelona say they have been suffering from toxic masculinity for decades. In a series of portraits, we take a deeper look into their lives.

Tens of thousands of women took to the streets in Barcelona on March 9, demanding equal rights.
Tens of thousands of women took to the streets in Barcelona on March 9, demanding equal rights. (Samuel Nacar / TRTWorld)

Under the slogan “If we stop, the world stops,” thousands of women took to the streets in Spain to protest against patriarchy, the wage gap, domestic and sexual violence.

Students, teachers and journalists actively participated in the march to show what could happen if women decide to protest. The movement urged women to stop working and suspend business dealings and domestic chores for the day.

Women need to work two hours more per day to make the same wage as men, according to the UN. In Europe, the gender pay gap is rampant. As a result,  women end up working 63 days for free. 

The Worker’s General Union and the Worker’s Commission confirmed that over five million people had joined the march in Spain, describing it as “an unprecedented strike in our country’s trade union movement.”

In a series of portraits, photojournalists Samuel Nacar and David Zorrakino probe for the reasons that drive these women to speak up.

1.

Michaela Ferrer de la Cruz holding a banner that says “On my way home I want to be free not brave.
Michaela Ferrer de la Cruz holding a banner that says “On my way home I want to be free not brave." (Samuel Nacar / TRTWorld)

“My name is Michaela Ferrer de la Cruz. I am 34 years old, and I am on strike because I can't afford to not be on strike. It’s evident that there is an incredible amount of inequality based on gender, and I don’t get how male violence can keep on existing just because of traditions, because of major religions that have shaped this world along the lines of macho culture. 

Imagine if there were men murdered every week by their wives, people would be marching every day. 

But we are not going that way. We are not a threat to anyone; we are just asking for equality and love. I hope one day we will be able to forget the concept of feminism, but today we need to remember that inequality exists. And today will be the first day of many days until we obtain our rights."

2.

Claudia Morales, centre, sitting with her friends in Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona.
Claudia Morales, centre, sitting with her friends in Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona. (David Zorrakino / TRTWorld)

“My name is Claudia Morales. I’m 22 years old, and I’m from Barcelona. I’ve already finished my studies, but I still don’t have a formal job, a typical Spanish case. My dream is to be a professional tattoo artist, and I’m working hard to make it real, but at the time I’m surviving on small jobs and trying to learn as much as possible from the best tattoo studios.

I’m sitting here waiting for the rest of my group of friends; they’re about to arrive, but it seems it's going to take a while because the city centre is full of people. As a young women I don’t feel safe, and that’s why I’m here. The society is educating us to be brave because of toxic masculinity around us, but what we should be is free. I still don’t understand why in 2018 we can not go back home without the fear of being raped.”

3.

Maria Carmen Linares in Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona.
Maria Carmen Linares in Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona. (David Zorrakino / TRTWorld)

“My name is Maria Carmen Linares. I’m 67 years old, and I’ve just arrived by train from Vilanova I la Geltrú, a city in the province of Barcelona. I’m retired now, but I’ve done extreme hard work since I was a teenager. During all my life I’ve been running a family business. I’ve managed the family restaurant for years and years while I was educating my kids. I’ve experienced the ever-present male pride while dealing with my father all my life. I suffered from it, so did  my mother, who had to seek her husband’s consent all her life.

Thanks to my temperament ... I’ve been able to educate my husband and my kids on feminism ... I’m proud of it, and that’s why I’m here. I’m here today to stand up for women's rights, the job insecurity, the sexual abuse, the wage gap and for gender equality.”

4.

Laia Nieto is holding several balloons. Each one represents a woman who couldn’t attend the march.
Laia Nieto is holding several balloons. Each one represents a woman who couldn’t attend the march. (David Zorrakino / TRTWorld)

“My name is Laia Nieto. I’m 18 years old, and I’m from Hospitalet del Llobregat. After having countless arguments with my father, I have finally started pursuing the Bachelor of Arts in Barcelona. Today we didn’t attend the lessons. This morning we joined the student’s strike in the university, and then I came with some friends to protest in the women’s march.

 I’m here because I’m young, and I’m fed up. We are still living in a misogynist society, and it’s time to change it. Nobody should tell me what I have to study, how I have to dress, how I should act and what I should say. Women are women, and we don’t need masculine permission for anything, so that’s why we are here, to speak out and make it clear.

Because I’m young I feel the obligation to be here today because I know there are a lot of women who couldn't attend the march. A lot of them couldn't because they’re too old; others have decided to sit back until their lives end. Each balloon I am carrying represents one of them, different women with one wish.”

5.

Cristina Filimon, with her colleague, holding a banner that says “fight like a girl”.
Cristina Filimon, with her colleague, holding a banner that says “fight like a girl”. (Samuel Nacar / TRTWorld)

“My name is Cristina Filimon. I am  26 years old, and I came here with my colleagues from work. I am a teacher. It’s the first time I am participating in a feminist strike. I feel super empowered. I came here to ask for equality and to stop the male violence. For me, today is a historical moment, and for me is the beginning of a movement that would bring the world to a standstill soon. Because if we stop, the world stops. I believe that in the next few years we will be many more here, and we will be able to make a point, make a real point. 

The reason why I want to stop the world is to change it for better. Change everything that we are demanding today in the streets. 

The reason why we need to change the world is ... I am originally from Romania and over there, there is a massive lack of women's rights. I consider myself as the first feminist in my family, but I hope one day Romania will understand what feminism means, that it is just equality between men and women.”

6.

Ona Cros, holding one of the main banners in the Barcelona strike.
Ona Cros, holding one of the main banners in the Barcelona strike. (David Zorrakino / TRTWorld)

“My name is Ona Cros, and I’m 24 years old. I’m from Barcelona. I live alone, am studying and working at the same time. On the one hand, I’m taking different singing and dancing lessons, and on the other hand, I dance for some private productions, videoclips. Sometimes I'm waiting tables to make ends meet."

For a woman, it's hard to be a dancer. Sometimes we’re still being used as sexual objects in front of spectators. We work with our bodies, and that’s art. Stop mixing concepts: art and sex are different things. My body is mine, and I’m here to dance, not to seduce you.” 

7.

Carmen Martin Ruiz, in the middle, stands with her colleagues in the women's march in Barcelona.
Carmen Martin Ruiz, in the middle, stands with her colleagues in the women's march in Barcelona. (Samuel Nacar / TRTWorld)

“My name is Carmen Martin Ruiz. I am a housewife. In my marriage, my husband often complained that I was too feminist. He abused me psychologically for about 30 years. He was not brave enough to defend himself from other men, so he would come after me every day. It's been 16 years since I got divorced, and it was him who left me for another woman who was younger than me. 

That’s why today I am happy to be singing on the streets: “Manolo, Manolo, today you will cook your own meal.”

8.

Tehreem is holding a banner that says “I fight for those that don't have a voice”.
Tehreem is holding a banner that says “I fight for those that don't have a voice”. (David Zorrakino / TRTWorld)

"My name is Tehreem. I’m 21 years old, and I’m from Barcelona. My parents came here from Pakistan many years ago. It's because of their hard work I’m able to pursue a bachelors degree in business administration at the University of Barcelona.

I feel lucky to be in Europe, but at the same time, I cannot forget there are many women suffering in my country."

Source: TRT World