Womxn of NoHu (North Hudson) met at West New York Town Hall and marched to Washington Park in Union City yesterday to demand justice for the death of U.S. Army soldier Vanessa Guillen.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
The group, who had at least a few dozen participants, specifically demanded high schools implement a sex education curriculum that includes consent and a ban on military recruitment in schools, especially in low-income communities.
Guillen was a 20-year-old Mexican American soldier in the U.S. Army stationed at Fort Hood Texas. While enlisted, she was sexually assaulted and she reportedly received little help from the military when she tried to report the incident.
She was killed in April 22nd, though her remains were not identified until July 5th. The solider authorities believed to be responsible for her death, Aaron David Robinson, committed suicide when confronted by military police.
Womxn of NoHu demanded a congressional investigation into the death of Guillen, urging U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8), who supports an investigation, to persuade neighboring Congressmen Bill Pascrell (D-9) and Donald Payne, Jr. (D-10) to do that same so that Guillen’s family can get closure in this tragic matter.
“The military failed Vanessa Guillen, her family, and all Latinx members of the United States military, and has shown that they are incapable of protecting their own soldiers,” one protester said.
Womxn of NoHu argued that this sexual harassment in the military is a systematic issue that needs to end.
“She lost her life for a country she wanted to serve,” another speaker added.
Womxn of NoHu was organized a year ago by Liliana Martinez who founded the West New York-based group after experiencing street harassment.
She said she decided to organize women in order to create safe communities that support, empower women, and inspire others to ignite change.
One speaker compared Guillen’s situation to that of Breonna Taylor, a victim of police brutality highlighted by Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests.
As they marched down Bergenline Avenue, they called themselves “Vanessa’s Army” and chanted “Hey hey ho how the military has got to go!”
They chanted in both English and Spanish to the crowd that gathered as they marched, followed by a police escort.
Womxn of NoHu also exclaimed that the military takes advantage and denies safety for women soldiers.
“We want to protect our youth from exploitation, abuse, and fatal workplaces in the military.”
When demanding reform in sex education, they cited New Jersey’s Sex Ed Report Card, where schools in the state received a grade of C, highlighting that consent issues were not covered sufficiently.
New Jersey already has an updated curriculum, but it won’t go into effect until 2022.
The civic group further stated that they believe reforming sex education would lead to an overall reduction in sexual harassment and assault.