Last Wednesday tens of thousand of women gathered in Plaza de Mayo, located in the capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires, to protest against the rising number of rapes, assault and aggression cases against women. Marchers held signs with phrases such as “#NI UNA MENOS,” which means “Not One Woman [Matters] Less” which has become a social movement that seeks to reduce violence against women.
The march was sparked by the death of Lucia Perez, a sixteen year old girl from Mar de Plata. Kidnapped outside her school this October 8th, Lucia was drugged and raped repeatedly. The perpetrators washed her, to cover their traces, and cleaned her clothing, before they left her at a local hospital, where she died of internal injuries caused by the intense sexual aggression. The suspects have been arrested and are currently in police custody. Lucia’s brother wrote an open letter on Facebook for La Garganta magazine: “This time, gender violence touched Lucia, but the next time it could be you, or the person you love most in this world. We have to be strong and get out into the street, scream all together, now more than ever: not one less.”
Crime against women is on the rise in Latin America. According to La Casa del Encuentro, an NGO in Argentina, a woman in Argentina is killed every 30 hours. In Brazil, women die every six hours due to gender violence, and out of the 25 countries with the highest rates of murder and violence against women almost all are in Latin America and the Caribbean. There have been marches across Latin America in Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Guatemala and Mexico to raise awareness about this issue.
Many say that the problem is rooted in these countries’ prevalent “machismo” culture, which encourages male dominance and female submission. Even though many countries in Latin America have passed legislation to prevent crime against women and femicide, Professor Maxine Molyneux from the UCL Institute of the Americas argues that “very few governments have set aside the resources or have taken the necessary policy measures to deal with it effectively.”
As violence against women increases, social movements seeking to raise awareness about the issue are on the rise in Latin America. Though legislation takes time, many hope the movements will catalyze change. Figures like Michelle Bachelet, president of Chile, have taken a stand. Torn by crimes against women in her own country, she posted on Twitter that she has joined the Argentina-based Ni Una Menos as a Chilean compatriot sharing in the frustration at cases of violence against women and girls.”