Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Perfil

ARGENTINA | 04-04-2020 10:39

12 in 14 days: Femicides continue unabated despite quarantine

Experts warn that nationwide shutdown puts vulnerable women at risk, as campaigners call for urgent action.

A femicide observatory said Thursday that 12 femicides had been recorded between March 20 and April 2, calling for renewed action to tackle the problem amid the nationwide shutdown.

In a report entitled “14 days of mandatory isolation,” the Adriana Marisel Zambrano Femicide Observatory, part of the Casa del Encuentro NGO, said that the victims were aged between two months and 53 years.

Gender violence experts have warned in recent weeks that the nationwide lockdown increases risk for vulnerable women, given those that are forced to stay indoors with violent and abusive partners.

Of the 12, three were beaten to death, three died from stab wounds, three were burnt to death, one was hanged and another was strangled. Five were killed in their own homes, three in the home they shared with their murderer, two were found in public spaces. Six homicides took place in Buenos Aires Province, with three in Santa Fe, two in Misiones and one in Tucumán, the NGO’s report revealed.

“We never give out partial figures for such a short time, but this is a very special situation,” Ada Beatriz Rico, the observatory’s director and president of La Casa del Encuentro, told Clarín this week. “It is a time of extreme vulnerability for many women.”

Rico called for greater protection measures to be expanded to at-risk women in all provinces and said her own organisation had received a surge in calls since the nationwide lockdown kicked in.

NOT A NEW PROBLEM

On Wednesday evening, activists held a noisy “ruidazo” protest in order to draw attention to the issue, which was organised via social media. Posters reading “Cuarentena, sí; violencia, no” and “La violencia machista es pandemia” were shared and printed up, in order to placed in windows and on balconies.

At least 327 women were killed in Argentina in 2019, according to figures from the Ahora Que Sí Nos Ven gender violence observatory, with one registered every day in the month of December. In 63 percent of cases, the perpetrator is a partner or former partner of the victim, according to the NGO.

“In March [this year], there was a femicide every 29 hours,” Laura Oszust, a member of the NGO, told Perfil this week.

We want “the police to prosecute the violent ones with the same determination” as those who violate the terms of the government’s lockdown, said the Ni Una Menos collective, in a statement to Pagina/12 on Wednesday. “Femicides do not stop in quarantine, and neither does our fury.”

According to data from the Women, Gender and Diversity Ministry, cited in the local press on Thursday, gender violence complaints to the national gender violence helpline have jumped nationwide by 25 percent since social isolation began. In Buenos Aires Province alone, complaints have surged by 56 percent, the Ministry said, with more than 1,600 calls made in 15 days to the region’s #134 helpline.

On Monday, the Ministry announced that women facing situations of gender violence would be able to visit pharmacies and request a “red barbijo” (face-mask) as a codeword. Briefed staff will then help facilitate a call to the national #144 helpline.

Speaking this week, during an interview on Instagram with singer Residente, President Alberto Fernández said it was common knowledge that “confinement, quarantine, sometimes causes gender violence, family violence and femicides.”

“Women in Argentina know that I am the first feminist. Unfortunately, patriarchy exists and machismo still ravages Argentine society. These events must be denounced in order to act,” said the Peronist leader.

“What we do know is that in reality, confinement, quarantine, sometimes causes gender violence, family violence, femicides and many cases of suicide by people who are alone. We have to avoid all three.”

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James Grainger

James Grainger

Editor-in-Chief, Buenos Aires Times.

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