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One-hour strike called in Argentina after rape and murder of Lucía Pérez

Protest marches planned throughout the country on Wednesday over teenager’s gruesome sex killing

In a case that has made headlines around the world, women’s groups in Argentina have called for a one-hour general strike on Wednesday to protest the brutal rape and murder of 16-year-old Lucía Pérez. The killing has caused outrage in the South American country after grisly details emerged following the arrest of two men. A third has since been apprehended for his involvement in the crime.

Crimen de Lucia Perez
The parents of Lucía Pérez at a march to demand justice for their daughter. Télam

Lucía Pérez was reportedly picked up outside her school in the coastal city of Mar del Plata, some 300 kilometers south of the capital of Buenos Aires, on October 8. She was then drugged, gang raped, and allegedly penetrated with a wooden pole. Her killers then washed her, changed her clothes and took her to a medical center, alleging she had suffered an overdose. She died in hospital.

Three men have been named in the case: Matías Farías, aged 23, Juan Pablo Offidani, 41, and Alejandro Alberto Masiel.

Lucía Pérez, from a working-class home, was in her fifth year of secondary school

“I have never seen a series of more abhorrent deeds,” public prosecutor María Isabel Sánchez told reporters last week. She added that the police believed the victim contacted her killers through a friend who wanted to buy marijuana. She accompanied them to Farías’s home, where she allegedly was given large amounts of different drugs and was then held against her will and repeatedly raped. Police say they found several used condoms at the property, along with sex toys.

The murder has caused outrage in Argentina. Lucía Pérez was in her fifth year of secondary school and came from a working-class home. Her family has mobilized a campaign via social networks and the media to demand that their daughter’s killers be given a life sentence.

Lucía Pérez.
Lucía Pérez.

In the week since Lucía Pérez was murdered, three other women have been killed in Argentina, and police are investigating a possible fourth case.

Argentina’s Supreme Court recorded 235 murders of women in 2015, an average of one every 36 hours. The previous year, 225 murders of women were recorded. In response, for the last two years, women’s groups have staged marches in cities throughout the country.

In response to mounting anger about the numbers of women being murdered in Argentina, the country’s Supreme Court last year set up a national register to record such killings. It notes that 18% of victims were aged under 20 years, while 43% were aged between 21 and 40, with 25% aged between 41 and 60.

Her family is demanding their daughter’s killers are given a life sentence

According to the court’s register, some 95% of the murdered women knew their killer, although the 5% of cases committed by unknown assailants, as with Lucía Pérez, normally receive greater media coverage. Half the 235 women murdered last year were or had been in a relationship with their killer.

Furthermore, two out of every 10 women murdered in Argentina last year had reported their killer to the police, highlighting the need to protect women trapped in violent relationships. As a result of last year’s murders, the authorities say at least 203 children were orphaned.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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