Saturday, September 21, 2019
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ARGENTINA | 04-06-2019 06:18

Women march on Congress to demand action on gender violence

There were 278 officially recorded cases of gender-based violence in Argentina in 2018, according to an annual report from the country’s Women’s Office (OM). NGOs, however, believe the true figure was much higher.

Thousands of people marched across Argentina on Monday to mark the fifth Ni Una Menos protest against gender-based violence.

Demonstrators marched from the Congress building to the historic Plaza de Mayo square, demanding an end to such killings and called on authorities to protect women. Protesters in the capital, comprised mainly of women, united under the banners of “an end to sexist and economic violence,” the “legalisation of abortion” and an end to “the austerity of the [Mauricio Macri] government and the IMF [International Monetary Fund].”

The rate of unemployment in Argentina for women is 10.8 percent against the 8.9 percent for men, a recent study by the Argentine Economic Policy Center (CEPC).

“At a time when we suffer the greatest labour precariousness in our lives, for a fifth time, we unite to say ‘Ni Una Menos’. Because every day we see how economic violence has an implosive effect on households and neighbourhoods, and on our bodies,” the organisers of the event said in a statement.

There were 278 recorded cases of gender-based violence in Argentina in 2018, according to the annual report of the country’s Women’s Office (OM). In 83 percent of cases, the victim knew the perpetrator, the OM reported.

The non-governmental organisation Casa del Encuentro says that between 2008 and 2019, nearly 3,000 cases of femicide were recorded, leaving more than 3,700 children, most of them minors, without their mothers.

"Sexist violence is killing us, as is the state's absence," read one banner raised by a group of women from Morón, a suburb of the capital.

To the streets

Monday’s event was a largely peaceful affair. Women of all ages – sporting the green scarves that have become the symbol of the abortion rights movement, and purple for women's rights – took to the streets, as they did a week ago and on International Women's Day in March.

However, one group of protesters reported the injury of a woman from a glass bottle thrown at them from a nearby building. The woman was being treated in hospital.

Marches also took places in Córdoba, La Plata, Salta, Gualeguaychú, Tucumán, Mar del Plata and Jujuy.

Argentina's women's movement has gained force over recent years amid shocking rates of violence committed against women and girls. The grassroots movement has since spread to other nations.

One of the main goals of the movement has been to push for the decriminalisation of abortion. A bill to the same effect failed to pass the country's Senate in August last year, but already a new push is underway to legislate "safe, legal and free" abortions.

"In these years we've gained, and every time [the movement] is larger and more organized," said Verónica Gago, a movement activist. "You can see it in these marches ... and in the everyday organisation at each workplace, in each university, in each school. It's in the debates among families and especially among the younger generations."

Ni Una Menos was created by 20 artists, journalists and activists in 2015 after outrage over a brutal string of murders. They began by organising public readings about violence against women with family members of victims.

But when Chiara Paez, a 14-year-old pregnant girl, was killed by her boyfriend in May 2015, the organisers felt it was enough. The first call to protest started with a tweet by local radio journalist Marcela Ojeda: "Women: are we not going to raise our voices? THEY'RE KILLING US!"

The public outcry that followed on social media inspired the first march on June 3, 2015. That day, millions took to the streets of cities across Argentina, making headlines and triggering a nationwide conversation.

We feel this pain. We want gender-based violence to be more visible. We are asking the government to help us, we feel abandoned," said 45-year-old Giovanna Lujan, whose daughter Monica Garnica was murdered last year, speaking at Monday's rally.

Garnica died at age 24 in January 2018, 18 days after being sprayed with alcohol and set on fire by her husband, the father of her three young children.

Two women were killed in Cordoba province just this weekend, the Villa Maria news portal reported. The first took place in Viamonte, south of Villa Maria where Raúl Ovando allegedly murdered his partner Jessica González, 29. In Anisacate, Facundo Giménez, 20, allegedly murdered his girlfriend Aydeé Palacios, 18. Bother men were detained by police.

- TIMES/AP/PERFIL

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