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Women Protest Femicide in Argentina

Photograph by Getty Images

A woman is killed every 31 hours in Argentina. Femicide and gender violence is rampant and the women there have decided that they will no longer stand by and wait to be murdered. This is the focus of demonstrations that have taken place in Buenos Aires and in other cities across Latin America recently.

The movement began in protest to the staggering amount of violent killings of women in Latin America, and so was born the hashtag #NiUnaMenos ("Not One Woman Less"). However, the May murder of a 14-year-old girl, Chiara Paez, in Argentina reignited the urgency to change the situation and protect women from domestic violence. Simply put, the teen's tragic killing is the straw that broke the camel's back.

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Paez's autopsy revealed that the girl was pregnant at the time of her murder, and traces of a drug used in abortions was found in her system. She was beaten to death by her 16-year-old boyfriend, Manuel Mansilla, and buried in his backyard after the two allegedly argued over whether or not the girl should terminate the pregnancy. The boy confessed in a juvenile court and has been charged with femicide and forced abortion, and his mother and her partner have been arrested and are under investigation as accomplices as well.

The outrage this heinous crime has incited in the women of Argentina cannot be quelled by talk. Despite laws in place to protect women and their reproductive rights in Argentina, there is still an epidemic of violence against women. Women's rights all over the world are de Jure much more than they have ever been de facto.

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This is not just an Argentinian problem, a Latin American problem — or even a new problem. It is the same old problem that women have faced for as long as we have had vaginas; we are seen as second-class citizens. Women are treated unfairly everywhere. We are ignored as if we are children only until we are sexualized for men's pleasure, and then discarded if we dare to have an opinion — or worse, beaten and left for dead.

Women are people too. Our lives count. We don't need politicians lobbying for control over our uterus, nor do we need a man to control us. We aren't asking to be their superiors. We only want to be treated as equal human beings. To be heard, respected and considered.

I encourage you to check out the #NiUnaMenos hashtag on social media to see what's going on there. This epidemic of femicide and the casual attitude with which we choke it down or pretend it doesn't exist makes us as guilty as the perpetrators. We have to stand up and not back down. We need to unite and let the world know that we will not tolerate it any longer. Women cannot be killed for being disagreeable. It is not OK. There have to be consequences.

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