Argentina has this year, which is just coming to a close, suffered its highest ever levels of violence against women with really worrying figures: more than 235 deaths not to mention other reports of abuse and attacks.
The issue of femicide and all types of violence against women is a reality which today dominates the region and in this southern country the situation is alarming. Far from putting an end to it – despite marches, rallies and laws – the scourge has escalated. Here, in Argentina, one murder of this type occurs every 30 hours.
Over the past 12 months, each day the sad news of murdered mothers has appeared in the headlines, most of them young with harrowing cases of children and teenagers having been raped and others abused, beaten and humiliated.
One of the hardest hitting cases which shook not only the country but indeed the whole world was that of the young 16 year-old Lucía Pérez, in Mar del Plata.
The teenager was taken to hospital and admitted dead on arrival. According to journalists’ versions, everything pointed to an overdose, owing to the fact that before asking for help the alleged perpetrators of the crime had washed and clothed the body to hide the serious genital wounds.
The facts gathered during the autopsy were horrific. The rape was intensely brutal and the prosecutor in charge of the case, María Isabel Sánchez, said she had never seen ‘such a bizarre set of circumstances’ in her entire career.
They made Lucía take excessive amounts of cocaine and marijuana and once in a helpless state brutally impaled her in the anus and vagina, occasioning her internal wounds.
In addition to having been raped, the attackers pierced her genitals with a stake. ‘They put an object into her anus which caused a vasovagal response and subsequent heart attack. It was a disgraceful sexual assault,’ the prosecutor asserted.
The case caused such a stir that thousands of people across the country took to the streets demanding justice and the call to action met with huge success with Chile, Mexico, Colombia and Spain participating among other countries.
Dressed in black in memory of those who are no more, thousands of Argentinian women united in common grief took part in several marches across the country in 2016 as part of the Ni una menos (‘No more victims’) movement.
For Lucía Pérez, Marcela, Beatriz, Silvia, Natalia, Samantha, Milagros, Marilyn, Débora and all those individuals who are no more, they united with a single restrained expression of powerlessness and rage to demand the state take urgent action.
“We are the war cry of all those who no longer have a voice”, could be read on one of the many signs which they waved on the Obelisk of Buenos Aires during the 19th of October march which was packed despite the rain and cutting cold, on a day which they baptised ‘black Wednesday.’
But despite all this, the situation persists. To cite just one example, after this rally a triple homicide recorded in the province of Mendoza was one of a number of other murders committed.
In this case, in Trapiche, a district in the department of Godoy Cruz in Mendoza, a 30 year-old teacher of martial arts killed his partner, his mother-in-law and the aunt of his mother and seriously wounded his daughter of 6 months and his step son of 11.
And what can be said of the case just 6 months ago in Chimbas, in the province of San Juan, of a child of 4 raped and strangled to death and whose uncle and grandmother were involved in her murder?
The family members of the victims who have felt first-hand the heartrending grief of losing a loved one as a result of this issue are today asking for justice and above all they are crying out for urgently needed effective government policies.
In a recent report, the Adriana Marisel Zamabro Observatory for Femicide in Argentina of the La Casa del Encuentro association for the protection of women indicated that between the 1st of January and the 31st of December of this year the statistics were worrying: one case of femicide every 30 hours; 235 victims of femicide in total; and 294 children left motherless, 174 of whom were minors.
In 65% of cases, the victims were murdered by partners or ex partners, 67% were between 19 and 50 years of age, 41 perpetrators of femicide committed suicide after carrying out the crime and from 2008 to 2015 a total of 2,094 murdered women were recorded.
Just a few weeks ago, the UN Special Reporter on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Dubravka Simonovic, visited the country and inspected another two provinces where she had the opportunity to get to know the victims of this curse close up.
She asked the Argentinian authorities to heighten protection for women in light of a ‘system with considerable deficiencies.’
The UN expert said that ‘the victims of gender based violence faced deficiencies in the systematic, coherent and effective implementation of international and federal legal standards across the country and this results in significant differences between the provinces and in different levels of protection.’
Referring to the federal Criminal Procedure Code, the expert pointed out that this provision establishes that the processing of sex crimes is not conducted ex officio which means that sexual assault is seen as something private.
This type of regulation sends out the wrong message that leads one to think that rape and sexual assault are private issues and not public, she pointed out.
As a way of trying to put an end to this sad reality, the Argentinian authorities are today carrying out a vigorous campaign in different parts of the country.
Photos: Pixabay – (Translated by Nigel Conibear – DipTrans IoLET MCIL – firstname.lastname@example.org)