Massive demonstrations condemning horrific violence against women swept across Latin America after a series of brutal murders fueled indignation at a long-term problem in the region. Tens of thousands of protesters fell Friday in Buenos Aires, the latest in a series of mass protests organized by a flourishing movement against domestic violence and a culture of machismo. Marches were also held in Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, Venezuela and Guatemala, and another scheduled Saturday in Peru.
“If one of you goes through what I was, please go to a close, neighbor, anyone,” said an online message from the Chilean victim Nabila Riffo, 28, who Lost both eyes when her ex-boyfriend attacked her in May.
“Please do not be intimidated or threatened by any man,” she said. Demos took place during the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Argentine demonstrators called for new measures, including a global “women’s strike” on 8 March, International Women’s Day.
Activists in Germany, Italy, Russia, Israel, South Korea and Mexico have joined the strike plan, according to the organizers. Some 200 women were killed by their partners or former partners during the year in Argentina, fueling a widespread condemnation. In a nod to the protest movement, Argentine President Mauricio Macri met on Friday with the families of the victims.
But he himself came into criticism of the militants. In a 2014 interview, he defended the men who do catcalls to women on the street and said there was nothing wrong with telling a woman, “Nice ass.”
A poll published on Friday revealed that 97% of women in Argentina have been harassed several times. Latin America was shocked by a recent series of horrific murders of women and girls: a ten-year-old Chilean suffocated by a plastic bag; A 16-year-old Argentinian raped and impaled on a peak; A 22-year-old Mexican strangled to death.
Activists condemn not only murders, but what they call a culture that valorizes women less than men. In Buenos Aires, demonstrator Dora Machicado, 42, told AFP that equality for women would mean less violence.
“Economic independence frees us from the violence of machismo,” she said.