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#NiUnaMenos Demonstrations Underscore Argentine Government's Inaction Against Gender-Based Violence

Marina Peña |
June 4, 2015 | 4:45 p.m. PDT



Every 30 hours, a woman is killed in my home country, Argentina. Last year alone, women’s rights group La Casa del Encuentro reported that domestic violence took the lives of 277 Argentine women. Additionally, activist groups count 1,808 media reports of femicide between 2008 and 2014.

Cases that generated particularly strong outrage amongst Argentines include the murders of a kindergarten teacher whose estranged husband slit her throat in front of her entire class, of 14-year-old Chiara Paez, who was beaten to death by her boyfriend because she was pregnant, and that of a woman stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend at a Buenos Aires café

On June 3rd, hundreds of thousands of activists gathered across multiple cities in Argentina to condemn the state’s inaction against gender-based violence. Citizens from Uruguay, Chile and Mexico also marched to denounce acts of violence against women in their respective countries.

The demonstrations were a part of the social media campaign #NiUnaMenos. Meaning “Not One Less,” the hashtag is in many ways a call to action directed at the Argentinean government. The platform of #NiUnaMenos includes demands such as comprehensive sex education, thorough protection of victims and access to “free legal representation”.

But even though protests against domestic violence have spilled into the streets of many Latin American countries, it is important to remember that this issue is also very much present in the United States.  

In 2007, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 64% of murdered women in the United States were killed by their former or current intimate partner. The gun-control nonprofit organization Violence Policy Center also found that in 2012, 1,706 American women in total were killed by men, and that they were 13 times more likely to be killed by a male they knew.

Whether it is in the United States or a small town in the province of Buenos Aires, mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, colleagues and friends are dying at the hands of men. In order to curb the increasing number of femicides, government officials must find new ways to efficiently execute their laws.

The fact that Argentina included “femicide” into its penal codes and has passed additional laws to crack down on violence against women are already indicative of steps in the right direction. However, given the number of women killed by men in the past year, it is clear that these laws need to be more strictly enforced. Furthermore, legislators and other prominent figures need to take steps to correct the underlying social conditions that has produced innumerable violent killings of women. Comprehensive sex education, free legal representation, and an official count of the women murdered by men obtainable to citizens would be a start in acknowledging the pervasiveness of the violence and empowering its victims. 

But first, officials with decision-making powers need to stand at the forefront of the social issues happening in their countries. As leaders, they can not simply rely on the fervor of the streets or that of social media to raise awareness about the very social problems they are tasked with confronting.  

Officials in Argentina signed off on #NiUnaMenos, but they did not create it. If change is to be expected, they must completely upend the government’s current inertia in battling gender-based violence. Uproar in the Twittersphere and the approval of Argentine footballer Lionel Messi can only go so far. 

In an ideal world, where leaders actually initiate social movements and do not passively agree on them, the problem of violence against all human beings would be greatly diminished. Perhaps in this alternative reality, Argentinian officials would start a social media campaign called #NingunoMenos, in reference to all the lives lost from violent crimes. 

Reach Contributor Marina Peña here, or follow her on Twitter



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