Vanessa Rivera de La Fuente – WNN Opinion
(WNN) Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA: Across the world one femicide occurs every 30 hours. For “La Casa del Encuentro,” a woman’s advocacy association located in the capital city of Buenos Aires, the term femicide is more than just a political concept. It is also considered one of the most extreme forms of violence against women. In Argentina as well as many of other regions in Latin America it’s a terrifying fact: femicide is increasing as the nation provides little legal protection for women or support for victims and their families.
A definition of femicide outlines: the killing of women, girls, babies and those unborn who have been picked out for death only because of their female gender. The average rate of femicide in Argentina, according to data provided by Argentina’s Civil Association “La Casa del Encuentro,” shows during 2011 that a total of 282 deaths have occurred relating to femicide. The report was written based on information from regional news agencies, Télam and DyN, as well as efforts to monitor 120 cases through national newspapers and local reports.
A valuable contribution of the research area of La Casa del Encuentro has been: to introduce the term “femicide linked” to include other crimes that involve others who were killed while trying to prevent the crime of femicide as protectors of women and girl children.
The Evolution of Cruel Statistics
A review of the data collected by La Casa del Encuentro and the society watch agency “Adriana Marisel Zambrano” shows: statistics during the first 6 months of 2011 now allow advocates to realize the seriousness of the situation.
Between the first of January to the 30th of June 2011, 151 women and girls were victims of the crime of femicide. Among the 151 victims of the first half of 2011, 58 were killed by their spouse, partner or boyfriend. 27 were killed by an ex-partner. Regarding the immediate family, parents or step-parents: they were responsible for 7 of the crimes out of the 58, while other family members were responsible in 13 cases. The document records 32 femicides in which the murderer had no apparent link to the victim, but showed a clear motive to kill based on the victim’s female gender.
The violence against women, girls, babies and the unborn, based on their gender alone, is overwhelming.
Let’s review the bloody math total in Argentina: 231 femicides in 2009; 260 in 2010; and 282 in 2011, which shows a clear rise in this crisis. This does not count the “victims linked to femicide:” the 346 children that were left motherless in 2011. Violence linked to gender goes on and on as the state of Argentina has been unable to carry an ‘official’ register of victims in order to develop comprehensive protective laws and policies.
Knowledge about Femicide is a Priority
“La Casa del Encuentro” is one of the few organizations currently working on the issue and collecting information on each reported case inside Argentina today. The government of Argentina surprisingly still has no ‘official statistics’ on the matter. All reports gathered by advocacy agencies are based on information gathered from and through the media; so it is suspected that many cases remain unreported with a death toll that may be much higher.
This important issue has been placed on the agenda of women’s movements worldwide, but the ‘political powers that be’ still don’t give this topic the priority it deserves. It’s my personal opinion that one of the factors that prevents society from taking violence against women seriously is the perception that these crimes belong to the ‘private sphere.’ A change in the way we understand this form of violence is fundamental in advancing the issue as increased support for the definition of femicide is broadened publicly to make the act of femicide a clear and criminal offense.
An interesting progress occurred in December 2011 here in Buenos Aires, in the district courts of Lomas de Zamora in Buenos Aires Province Judge Gabriel Vitale changed the claim in the femicide case of Fatima Catan from “Research on the causes of death” to “Research on the causes of murder.” Fatima was pregnant and died in August 2010 after her home was burned down in the locality of Villa Fiorito, a death that the public feels was committed because of her gender.
Today Argentina ranks fourth among the countries of Latin America where femicide or gender-related crimes occur. The country is only second after Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica consecutively.
Agencies working today to bring attention to this plague do need our full support.
WNN – Women News Network culture columnist and Latin American social critic Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente is a feminist, and a Muslim woman, living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Born in Chile, Rivera is also an enthusiastic speaker on issues of gender and empowerment who has led volunteer programs for rural communities in the Peruvian highlands. Through her human rights work she believes strongly in the power of words to change the world.
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