Argentinian activists pin blame on machismo as attacks on women rise
ARGENTINA - On the afternoon of 19 October, Claudia Arias and her aunt Susana Ortiz made their way to the centre of Mendoza, where they joined a crowd of thousands who had gathered to protest against a wave of violent attacks on women in Argentina.
It was one of half a dozen demonstrations across the country, organized on social media by a loose collective of activists and journalists after the rape and murder of a 16-year old schoolgirl, Lucía Pérez, in the coastal city of Mar del Plata. Their message was #NiUnaMenos, which literally translates as “not one less”, but signifies “not one more woman” lost to violence, often committed by victims’ husbands, partners or close friends. Four days after Arias and Ortiz protested in Mendoza, they were stabbed to death at their home along with Arias’s 90-year old grandmother, Vicenta Díaz. Police arrested Arias’s ex-partner, Daniel Zalazar, a 30-year-old taekwondo instructor. Prosecutors say he murdered the women after an argument over the paternity of Arias’s sevenmonth-old daughter, Mia. Zalazar also allegedly stabbed the baby and Arias’s 11-year-old son, Lucas, both of whom remain in critical condition at a Mendoza hospital. Arias’s younger son, Bautista, managed to escape from the house and hid in the boot of a car with his dog, Coco, police said on Wednesday. Officers said it took the eight-year-old several hours to reopen the boot from the inside and then call the police. Zalazar was held after showing up at a nearby hospital asking to be treated for wounds he claimed he had sustained in a holdup attempt. He is facing charges of murder and “gender violence”.
Seven out of the top 10 countries for female murder rates are in Latin America. And although Argentina does not head the list, almost daily reports of male violence against women have provoked deep soul-searching in the country. Four years ago, congress passed a law defining domestic violence, gender-based killings and other categories of hate crimes against women as “femicide”. But activists argue that Argentina needs to change more than its legislation. (Reuters.com)
A sign with the message #NiUnaMenos is shown during the protest in Buenos Aires. (Photo: Getty Images)