Women in Argentina walked out of their jobs today to protest sexual violence against women following the brutal gang rape and death of a 16-year-old girl earlier this month.
Lucía Pérez was allegedly drugged and raped by at least two men who then tried to wash evidence off of her before dropping her at a hospital, where she died of internal injuries. Prosecutor María Isabel Sánchez described the attack as “an act of inhuman sexual aggression” that was unlike anything she had ever seen.
The grim death, which took place along the country’s east coast, was only the most recent example of extreme violence against women in Argentina in recent years.
Though the country passed a law against “femicide” in 2012, outlawing domestic violence and honor killings in order to help protect women, violence against women has increased 78% since 2008, according to the report.
In just the past 18 days, 19 women have been killed in Argentina, the Guardian reported.
The protest, known as #MiercolesNegro on social media (Black Wednesday), was organized by the group Una Menos (Not One Less) that has organized two prior protests that drew hundreds of thousands of women to rally against the country’s growing gender violence crisis, according to The Guardian.
“We are saying ‘enough!’ We won’t go back to being submissive and we won’t tolerate any more of the misogyny or violence that all us women have to deal with,” Sabrina Cartabia, one of the organizers of the march, told The Guardian.
Cartabia said the violence was a tactic by the country’s men to try and scare the women back into traditional roles in the home and rearing children. Women have been set on fire or abused by husbands, boyfriends, and family members, the Guardian said.
“It’s not a specific blow by a specific man against one woman in particular, it’s a message to all women to return to our stereotypical roles,” Cartabia said.
Women face violence of all kinds all around the world, but in Latin America where “machismo” is rampant, the problem of “femicide” has become particularly worrisome: In Colombia, a country of 47 million, one woman is killed every other day by femicidal violence. In Argentina, the number is closer to one a day. In Mexico, five a day. Brazil, 15.
The women who walked out of schools, workplaces, and their homes today to protest the death of Perez join women across Latin America and the world in demanding equality, respect, and safety in the societies in which they live.