Ten years after national legislation aiming to prevent gender violence, new data shows it continues to persist.
In the first six months of the year a total of 155 femicides were recorded in Argentina, a new report by the Femicide Observatory of the Defensor del Pueblo de La Nación revealed this week.
The figure is almost identical to last year’s tally from the first six months of 2018, when 157 femicides were registered according to data from the same institution.
Of this year’s total femicides, six were against trans individuals, while another 18 were “linked femicides,” meaning additional homicides tied to the crime’s original target in some way, such as children or family members.
One of the report’s most disturbing sections revealed that 23 of the victims were 18 years old or younger, including 13 murders of girls aged 11 and under.
Government officials vowed to take action to tackle the problem, saying they were preparing new measures.
“The Defensoría del Pueblo de La Nación is redoubling its efforts, so that all of the tools it has at its disposal, and the international compromises it agreed to, proceed in a compatible manner,” Undersecretary of the Defensor Dr. Juan José Böckel told the Times in a statement provided via email.
The official also called for compliance with national laws regarding sexual education and reparations for the children of femicide victims, as well as the Ley Micaela, which aims to streamline the government’s response to and tracking of femicides.
Geographically, 40 percent of femicides occurred in Greater Buenos Aires (the capital and Buenos Aires Province) – the country’s most populous region – of which 58 percent were perpetrated in the south of the province.
This year’s femicides leave 103 people without a mother, the data showed, with 90 confirmed surviving children below the age of 18.
Underlining the size of the problem, mere days after the report’s publication, reports of two new femicides emerged from Rosario and La Matanzam, Buenos Aires Province.
In Rosario, a 53-year-old woman was found beaten to death on Thursday, with both the victim and her 30-year-old daughter discovered in a state of severe malnutrition. Police detained the first woman’s husband and the father of the second.
On Friday morning in La Matanza, police detained a 19-year-old man suspected of strangling his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend to death after having beaten her with sticks.
Despite a decade since the passage of the Law of Integral Protection for Women, any effort to alleviate gender violence by Argentina’s two recent governments has been a “failure,” according to Victoria Aguirre, the Buenos Aires City coordinator of the feminist organisation MuMaLa (Mujeres de la Matria Latinoamericana).
“Neither of the last two governments really had the eradication of gender violence as a priority,” Aguirre said in an interview. “Both had a stressed interest in gender politics, but at the concrete hour to carry us forward, they failed.”
Aguierre pointed to a lack of funding for specific government programmes and organisations, such as the National Institute for Women (INAM), as evidence of the continued lack of political commitment to fight gender violence.
“The funds that are committed are very little,” Aguirre said. “In some cases they may be sufficient, but they’re poorly distributed.”
Aguirre added the current budget for INAM, 234 million pesos in 2019, divides out to 11 pesos for every Argentine woman, before accounting for rises in inflation.
Cause of death
Out of all this year’s 155 femicides, 49 were confirmed to be perpetrated by a spouse or former partner. Furthermore, 24 percent of the victims had previously complained about their eventual killer to the authorities, the report stated.
The most common cause of death was from gunshot wounds, which accounted for a quarter of all registered femicides.
Aguirre said that her organisation was lobbying for a new gender violence law in Congress, which includes a review of the national civil disarmament law passed in 2006, creating a voluntary gun buy-back programme and a registry for complaints about the illegal possession of firearms.
“If you have a quarter of femicides committed with a firearm, it means that you have a society today that still has guns in their homes,” Aguirre said. “What happened with the disarmament law?”
Despite the inability of both left-wing and conservative governments to confront the femicide crisis, the activist issued a call to a possible future Peronist government “to put in their heads a perspective of gender.”
“We want an Argentina where we can travel peacefully and where we really combat gender violence,” Aguirre said. “We have the tools.”