Dressed in black, Argentine women took to the streets to protest the brutal rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl, the latest incident of gender violence to shock the country. Others walked off the job as a sign of protest, in what was described as women's first national strike. Similar demonstrations took place in solidarity in many Latin American cities from Montevideo to Mexico City.
The protesters marched in memory of Lucia Perez on Wednesday, who was found dead in the coastal city of Mar del Plata on October 8. Authorities say the high school student had been drugged, raped and impaled by a wooden spike.
Prosecutor Maria Isabel Sanchez told reporters that Perez 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 told reporters last week. Two men known for selling drugs outside a school were detained in Mar del Plata on Sunday and charged with rape and homicide.
Despite a rainstorm that likely dented turnout in Buenos Aires, demonstrators managed to block off several avenues in the capital, as supporters applauded from office buildings. A multitude of women dressed in black and carrying umbrellas and signs reading #VivasLasQueremos, or “We want them alive,” gathered to protest against violence against women in Argentina.
The march came on the heels of a general strike that the country’s women launched earlier in the day. Thousands of women walked down the city’s streets until they poured into the Plaza de Mayo square, denouncing the wave of gender violence that has been increasing in recent years through the country and across the region. Thousands more took to the streets in major cities across Argentina, while other protests took place in Uruguay, Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico, and Chile, among others.
If you touch one of us, we all react,” said signs carried by many of the protesters, who staged the strike at 1pm. “I want to feel safe when I’m walking down the street, the same as men can,” another marcher Victoria Vazquez affirmed. “I want to be able to wear a skirt in the summer time without anybody bothering me.”
It was the latest in more than a year of mass marches to protest violence against women in Argentina, where according to government figures domestic violence kills one woman every 36 hours. Perez’s killing was just the latest horrific episode.
Last year in June, protests broke out nationwide over a trio of gruesome killings: a kindergarten teacher whose estranged husband slit her throat in front of her class; a 14-year-old girl whose boyfriend allegedly beat her to death because she got pregnant; and a woman whose ex-boyfriend stabbed her to death in broad daylight at a Buenos Aires cafe.
“The case of Lucia Perez acted as a trigger to demand justice for all women who suffer sexist violence,” said one protester in downtown Buenos Aires, Gabriela Spinelli.
Organizers from the group known as Not One Less said the goal was to condemn not only Perez’s killing, but a culture that values women less than men — which they said can be seen in statistics such as the unemployment and poverty rates.
Recent polls show security has replaced inflation as the top concern for Argentines, and Perez’s case has spurred particular outrage. Brutal rapes are the product of a society where boys are not raised to respect women, said demonstrator Karina Muñoz.
A multitude of women dressed in black and carrying umbrellas and signs reading #VivasLasQueremos, or “We want them alive,” gathered in Buenos Aires to protest against violence against women in Argentina, following the brutal murder of an Argentine teen.
The march came on the heels of a general strike that the country’s women launched earlier in the day. Thousands of women walked down the city’s streets until they poured into the Plaza de Mayo square, denouncing the wave of gender violence that has been increasing in recent years through the country and across the region. Thousands more took to the streets in major cities across Argentina, while smaller protests took place in Guatemala, Mexico, and Chile, among others.
The collective, organized cry for help from women in Argentina — the second mass protest of its kind there in 18 months — underscores the frustration at the growing rate of femicides, the murder of women because of their gender, and the persistent culture of machismo in Latin America.
Femicide and other forms of violence against women in the region continue growing and the application of justice continues being limited with a rate of 98% immunity” for offenders, said Luisa Caravalho, director of the United Nations Women Agency in the Americas and the Caribbean, in June.