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LATIN AMERICA

With one femicide every 30 hours, gender violence on rise in Argentina

In 2015 a total of 286 women met a violent death in the country, 3.24% up on year before

Femicidios en Argentina
Poster with slogan #NotOneMore during a march in Buenos Aires on June 3, 2015. REUTERS

Chiara Páez, a pregnant 14-year-old, was killed last May by her 16-year-old boyfriend. The young man beat her to death in his house and then he buried her in the garden. This brutal murder was one of 286 femicides committed last year in Argentina, a country where a woman dies a violent death every 30 hours, according to figures from the non-profit organization La Casa del Encuentro.

Chiara’s murder caused a wave of indignation across the South American nation and led to several large marches in major cities. Protesters carried banners proclaiming #NiUnaMas (Not one more). But increased social awareness and mobilization did not lead to drop in gender violence; femicides in Argentina went up by 3.24 percent last year.

In most gender violence cases, the killer was the partner or former partner of the victim

In most gender violence cases, the killer was the partner or former partner of the victim and only in 20 percent of the instances was the perpetrator a stranger. La Casa del Encuentro director Ada Rico calls for measures that will allow at-risk women to leave a dangerous situation in time: free legal advice, ankle monitors to prevent perpetrators from violating restraining orders and anti-panic push buttons – all initiatives included in the law for prevention, sanction and eradication of gender violence.

The other major objective is protecting the children of murdered women. In 2015, 214 children lost their mothers due to gender violence in Argentina. “The kids often do not just see the femicide but also the times when she was beaten before,” Rico says. Rico is pushing for Congress to pass a law that will grant financial assistance to the children of victims of gender violence until they reach the age of majority. “It’s a right, so the kids can have access to healthcare (medical insurance), a dignified life, and siblings do not end up separated because one relative alone cannot support them all.”

Children often do not just see the femicide but also the times when the victim was beaten before

The organization is also urging the government to strip fathers who are convicted of such crimes of parental rights to avoid cases such as Rosana Galiano’s. Her children now live with their father, José Arce, in the home where he is on house arrest for killing their mother.

Casa del Encuentro began publishing reports on femicide rates in Argentina in 2008, given that there were no official records available. Over the last eight years, 2,094 women have lost their lives due to gender violence.

English version by Dyane Jean Francois.

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