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April 29, 2017
Thursday, October 20, 2016

A brutal murder becomes a rallying call for a nation

Thousands of protesters carrying umbrellas defy the rain during yesterday’s rally for women’s rights in downtown Buenos Aires.
Tens of thousands rally in Buenos Aires against persistent inequality and gender violence

Gathering under the slogan Ni Una Menos (“Not one less”) and spurred by the brutal murder of 16-year-old Lucía Pérez in Mar del Plata last week, hundreds of thousands of women across Argentina yesterday protested against gender violence and femicide in mass rallies across many cities, including Buenos Aires City, where demonstrators shrugged off heavy rain to march dressed in black from the Obelisk to the Plaza de Mayo.

The day of protest action began at midday, when under the slogan Nosotras Paramos (“We Strike”) women across the nation halted activities for an hour, an unprecedented move that expressed outrage over the teenager’s death.

The initiative to call for a strike was launched on social networks last week and gathered support of over 100 social organizations, such as the CTA, CGT, Ctera, Sipreba, Ademis, ATE, Sitraju and UTE trade unions, among others.

Workers from a wide range of activities — including state workers, doctors, office workers, bank clerks, journalists and teachers, among many others — went on strike from 1pm to 2pm in their workplaces.

At the same time, in places such as kindergartens and schools, teachers joined the strike by giving special lessons on sexual education and gender issues.

In Mar del Plata, the coastal city where the brutal murder took place, hundreds marched to remember the slain teenager and also to demand justice for her gruesome rape and murder. Matías Pérez, brother of the victim, was part of the rally and expressed gratitude for “all the support” his family received after the murder of his sister.

“The strongest the demonstration is, the better so that these things no longer take place,” he told reporters.

In Rosario, Salta, Neuquén, Mendoza, among others, many groups took to the streets too.

Meanwhile, several politicians and other high-profile figures joined the protests in support. During a session in Congress, a group of congresswomen left the debate to join the strike.

For her part, former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner wrote a letter in memory of Pérez where she pointed out that “while many women where being repressed by police in the streets of Santa Fe province for fighting for a more egalitarian society, Lucía was being raped and murdered.”

“My heart is with all of you in the demonstration. Together with everyone, no matter their party,” she added.

Precedent

Last Week, prosecutor María Isabel Sánchez told reporters that Pérez was drugged with cocaine and had suffered “inhumane sexual aggression” that triggered cardiac arrest.

“They washed her body and dressed her to make it look like an overdose,” she added.

Demonstrations to raise concern on gender violence started last year in June of 2015 sparked by outrage over similarly shocking cases.

In May of that year, a man allegedly beat his pregnant 14-year-old girlfriend to death, then buried her body in his courtyard. A month earlier, the husband of a kindergarten teacher who had requested a divorce reportedly barged into her classroom and slit the teacher’s throat in front of her students.

A woman is killed once every 30 hours in Argentina, according to Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, an Argentine non-profit group.

Argentina’s Supreme Court recorded 286 murders of women “as a result of gender violence” in 2015.

Of the victims, 18 percent were under 20 years old; 43 percent were between the ages of 21 and 40.

According to experts, violence against women is not limited to Latin America but a global problem, according to the United Nations, which cites “physical violence inflicted by an intimate partner” as the most common form of violence women around the world experience.

Herald with Reuters, Washington Post

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