Holding signs reading “Machismo kills” and “We owe it to those who never came back,” tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Chile on Wednesday to call for an end to sexual violence.
The protests, organized by student groups Coordinadora Feminista Universitaria (Cofeu) and Confederación de Estudiantes de Chile (Confech) in cities across the country, called on the government to implement stronger policies for investigating sexual harassment cases, especially on university campuses, BBC reports.
A group of women hold up their arms, showing the words "NO" printed on their palms, during a protest march demanding non-sexist education and an end to discrimination, harassment and sexual abuse by academics, students and officials in Santiago, Chile.
Organizers estimated the turnout to be over 80,000, while the Chilean government officially counted 15,000 protesters at the rally, according to Agencia EFE.
Student protests began in late April, in response to sexual assault cases at the University of Chile Law School, and other Chilean universities, that went unpunished, France 24 reports.
According to BBC, President Sebastián Piñera’s administration announced certain measures aimed at stemming sexism on university campuses, but activists say the measures don’t go far enough to protect women.
"It is a new impulse of the women's movement in Chile, but unlike what has happened in other times, it is now clearly defined as a feminist," Carmen Andrade, director of Gender Equality at the University of Chile, said of the protests, according to TeleSur. "The problem that is motivating the demonstrations — violence and sexual harassment that occurs in the universities — is profound and felt by all."
Government statistics show that the number of domestic partner femicides increase by more than 30% between 2016 and 2017. And according to a recent study, more than nearly 90% of women in Chile said that the government needed to do more to prevent violence against women.
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