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ARGENTINA | 02-10-2019 14:33

Macri promises new gender violence measures as femicides mount up

President vows "concrete measures" as part of re-election campaign. Announcement comes a day after MuMalá feminist organisation reveals there has been a femicide every 32 hours in Argentina since the turn of the year.

President Mauricio Macri on Wednesday promised to introduce new "extraordinary measures against gender-based violence," describing current protection tools as "dramatically insufficient."

The announcement, delivered via a statement on Facebook, is the latest in a series delivered in the run up to next month's presidential election, in which the Juntos por el Cambio leader is seeking re-election.

Macri vowed to take "concrete actions aimed at increasing the protection of victims and possible victims of gender-based violence, so that they, their relatives and friends, have powerful legal tools to defend themselves against their aggressors in a strong way" in his message to supporters.

Argentina must "move steadily and quickly in action to eradicate violence against women," he added.

Proposing a five-point plan, Macri said Argentina's police officers would continue on their existing training programmes and that the government would seek to centralise all information taken down from complaints made via all existing government phone-lines through which gender violence is reported. 

He also said the government would send a bill to Congress to alter the definition of those who can officially denounce acts of gender violence before the authorities, expanding responsibility from just the victim (as it currently is) to their relatives and friends. This would help worrying situations to be identified and acted upon quicker, he indicated.

The president also said his government would take "concrete action from the first alert" – a reference to criminal complaints made by victims to the authorities.

"Today, in practice, the victim has to make two complaints to achieve the active intervention of the Justice [system], the first at the police station and the second properly before the Judiciary. This creates a window of a lack of protection that on many occasions puts the life of the woman who made the complaint at risk.. We are going to eliminate this zone of risk by obliging the Justice [system] to intervene from the first complaint," he wrote.

This, Macri argued, would allow the authorities to take an immediate response to a criminal complaint "in relation to the magnitude of risk in each case." It would include periodic visits from a social worker, exclusionary zones for aggressors and even the use of electronic bracelets for monitoring. "In cases of greater risk, surveillance may be established at the victim's home," he added.

FEMICIDE EVERY 35 HOURS

The announcement comes a day after the Mujeres de la Matria Latinoamericana (MuMalá) feminist organisation released a new report indicating that it had tracked 203 femicides in 2019 up until the start of September. Another 35 murders from the last nine months are also being investigated as possible femicides, the NGO added.

Reiterating its call for the government to declared a 'National Gender Violence Emergency' in Argentina, MuMalá criticised both the current and the previous government for failing to deliver a "response" to the "serious situation."

MuMalá's data indicates that one femicide has taken place every 32 hours since the turn of the year. "Neither Macri nor Cristina [Fernández de Kirchner] took the political decision to confront this problem," it said in a statement.

The NGO said that “since the enactment of Law 26.485 against gender violence in 2009 to date, no [appropriate] budget has been allocated to carry out the necessary public policies, since it has never reached 0.01 percent of the total [national] budget and considering that women represent more than 50 percent of the population."

Last month, campaigners called on officials to re-focus their efforts on the battle against gender violence in Argentina, after the deaths of four women over a two-day period.

Femicides were recorded in Chascomús, Santa Fe and Lomas de Zamora, while an 18-year-old girl was found dismembered in Neuquén, in a case that investigators may later confirm as having been another femicide.

In the first six months of the year a total of 155 femicides were recorded in Argentina, a recent report by the Femicide Observatory of the Defensor del Pueblo de La Nación revealed. 

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.

– TIMES/TÉLAM

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