Chiara Paez was found dead in the Argentine city of Rufino. Her boyfriend had beaten her to death and buried the body when he learned she was pregnant. She was 14 years old. Maria Eugenia Lanzetti was a 44-year-old kindergarten teacher in Cordoba with a restraining order against her husband. It didn’t stop him from sneaking into her classroom and slitting her throat in front of her students.
These two high-profile murders have triggered outrage in Argentina. This evening demonstrators are marching in Buenos Aires and other 70 cities across the country as part of the campaign #NiUnaMenos (“Not One Less”), which has been spreading through social media, reaching also Montevideo in Uruguay and Santiago in Chile. People have been tweeting pictures of the marches from various cities:
Among the hundreds of thousands of messages of support, there have been some from personalities such as Liniers, a popular cartoonist; Estela de Carlotto, the leader of the influential civil-rights movement Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo; Lionel Messi, the soccer player of FC Barcelona; and Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner:
The hashtag originated in a small chat between a handful of women in the Buenos Aires cultural milieu, who organized a reading marathon as a protest against gender violence. “We did everything virtually. We are an unorganized organization,” Gaby Comte, an editor who was involved in those early conversations, told Quartz.
Comte said the death of the 14-year-old girl led the journalist Marcela Ojeda and some of these women to ask to each other on Twitter: “Actresses, politicians, artists, entrepreneurs, social references … women, all … Aren’t we going to raise our voice? They are killing us.”
They came up with the hashtag and a date.
The protestors’ main demand, said Comte, is that the government enforce a tough law on violence against women that was passed in 2009, but has proved ineffective in practice because of budget shortages. Fifteen Latin American countries have laws against gender-based attacks, but, the UN said in a 2014 report (pdf, p. 10), “they have not developed the necessary institutional mechanisms, including those relating to access to justice or human resource training.”
According to the La Casa del Encuentro, an Argentine NGO focused on women’s rights, every 30 hours an Argentine woman dies as a result of gender-related violence. In Mexico, according to the National Citizen Femicide Observatory, 2,000 women die each year. In Brazil 15 women are killed each day, according to president Dilma Rousseff.
In recent years, similar movements against domestic violence have arisen in countries including Turkey, Egypt and India. Rather than being coordinated by traditional organizations, these protest have been characterized by using social media as a tool for promotion and informal organization. “I’m not sure social networks give us more power, but they definitely give us more visibility,” said Comte. “They allow us to create networks between us.”