#NiUnaMenos: Latin Women Matter

#NiUnaMenos. #BastadeViolencia. #MiercolesNergo.

UK feminist magazine Parallel Magazine - #NiUnaMenos: Latin Women Matter

Source: Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images

On Wednesday 19th October 2016, hundreds of thousands of women across South America gathered together to protest against feminicidios (femicides) following the abduction, drugging and rape of 16-year-old Lucia Perez as she left her school in Mar de Plata, Argentina. Ultimately, Lucia died shortly after her attackers took her to hospital of her internal injuries and cardiac arrest - prior to that, her abductors had tried to wash away any forensic evidence that would have been used to incriminate them.

This is not the first high profile murder or assault of a young woman in South America. In June 2015, the beaten body of pregnant 14-year-old Chiara Paez was found under a patio in Rufino, Santa Fe, Argentina, having been murdered by her 16-year-old boyfriend, Manuel Mansilla. Similarly to Lucia Perez’s case, another 16-year-old Brazilian girl was filmed being gang raped in Rio de Janeiro and the footage circulated on social media - her boyfriend allegedly arranged this ‘punishment’ for her.

According to el registro de femicidios de Mujeres de la Materia Lationoamerica (las MuMaLá) (the register of femicides of Latin American Women Matter), there have been at least 19 femicidios in Argentina in the month of October alone. The national coordinator for the Latin American Matter campaign, Raquel Vivanco, states that it takes less than 24 hours for a woman to be murdered in Argentina every day. In Brazil, statistics show that a woman is murdered by known perpetrators every 6 hours. Prominent women politicians, including the current President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, and former Argentine President, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, have taken to social media to show their support for #NiUnaMenos, including Presidente Bachelet calling for “#ChileSinFemicidios” - Chile without femicides.

UK feminist magazine Parallel Magazine - #NiUnaMenos: Latin Women Matter

Source: Jennifer Sanchez

Seven of the top ten countries with the highest rate of female murder victims are in Latin America; including El Salvador, Colombia, Guatemala, Brazil and Mexico, and it was only four years ago in 2012 that Argentina passed legislation against hate crime towards women.

In a heartbreaking tribute to his younger sister, Matias Perez Montero writes that he was not allowed to see his sister’s body because her injuries were that horrific. This is unsurprising considering 98% of female murders go unpunished and UN Women regional director for the Americas and the Caribbean Luiza Caravalho warns that violence against women is on the rise.

Many speculate that this is due to machismo (exaggerated masculinity) culture throughout the continent. Women are still largely treated as a man’s property so a common punishment is to rape and murder his wife, sister, mother, daughter and any other ‘vulnerable’ woman in his family, whilst Sabrina Cartabia, one of the organisers of the #NiUnaMenos marches argues that “This violence is trying to teach us a lesson, it wants to put us back in a traditional role into which we don’t fit anymore”.

Words by Jess McPhee