Chiara Paez was just 14 years old and pregnant when she was murdered and buried in the backyard of her boyfriend’s home in late May. Sadly, this example of femicide is all too common in Argentina. According to reports by the Observatory of Femicide, more than 1,800 women and girls have been murdered in the last seven years. In 2014, there were 277 femicides alone.
Despite the shocking number of cases, official statistics on the number of women affected by gender-based violence don’t exist in Argentina. Our country does not even comply with its own law regarding the Integral Protection, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women. We lack an official prevention campaign to prevent, assist and eradicate gender-based violence. Furthermore, the National Congress has taken no action to protect the rights of the victim’s family and children in the aftermath of femicide.
On June 3, thousands of men and women across Argentina took to the streets to protest the rampant gender-based violence sweeping through our region under the banner “Ni Una Menos” or “Not One Less.” The march was organized by journalists and NGOs and joined by artists and renowned personalities. It honored the work of thousands of women who have put their bodies on the line so that their rights would be acknowledged.
But it also put forward demands for change from the government:
- Implement the National Plan of Action for the Prevention, Assistance and Eradication of the violence against women, as established in the Law 26,485.
- Ensure victims’ access to justice. Each prosecution and police station should have trained and qualified personnel to receive complaints and victims should have access to free legal assistance throughout the legal process.
- Develop a Unique Official Register of violence victims.
- Guarantee and deepen a program of Comprehensive Sex Education at all educational levels for a life free of discrimination and gender-based (“machista”) violence.
- Guarantee the protection of the victims of violence
This #NiUnaMenos campaign demonstrates the power people have to shed light on the scourge of gender-based violence and place it on the public agenda. Since the campaign started, calls to the domestic violence hotlines and Office of Domestic Violence of the Supreme Court of Justice increased by 300 percent. And the toll-free number, which receives inquiries and complaints across the country, went from an average of 1,000 calls a day to 13,700. Just two days after the protests, the Secretariat of Human Rights of the Ministry of Justice announced the formation of a registry of femicides.