Mass condemnation of gender violence leads to regional protests on unprecedented scale.

Author:Marris, Johanna

Hundreds of thousands of women, men, and children from at least 10 countries in Latin America took to the streets on Oct. 19 to demand an end to violence against women and girls. Under the slogan "Ni una menos" (Not one less) and "Nos queremos vivas" (We want ourselves alive), the peaceful protesters dressed in black and marched through city centers to mourn the deaths of recent victims and to demand the right to live without fear of violence in homes and public spaces.

The regional movement was the result of a mobilization on social media coordinated within a matter of days by the Argentine NGO Ni Una Menos and supported by hundreds of other organizations. Triggered by the brutal rape and killing of 16-year-old Lucia Perez on Oct. 8 in Argentina and the killing of 10-year-old Florencia Aguirre on Oct. 14 in Chile, public outrage overflowed onto social networks and across national borders, resulting in plans for marches in hundreds of cities. In Argentina and Mexico, women were urged to stop all activities for one hour on Oct. 19 before mass marches through city centers began at 5 p.m. In multiple cities in Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay, among others, marches also took place the same evening.

The movement was publicly supported by President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski of Peru, President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, President Evo Morales of Bolivia, President Mauricio Macri of Argentina, and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the former president of Argentina (2007-2015), among others.

The demands of the mobilization were an end to machista violence in all its forms. Ni Una Menos defines machista violence as any form of violence carried out within an unequal relationship of power and against a woman. The most extreme form of this is femicide, defined by the UN as a crime involving the violent and deliberate killing of a woman because of her gender.

Gender violence increases in Latin America

The deaths of Perez and Aguirre were the tip of the iceberg in a region seeing a steady increase in violence against women and femicides. Seventeen of the 32 countries worldwide with the highest femicide rates are in Latin America, with the worst seen in El Salvador, Colombia, and Guatemala, where the rates are 8.9, 6.3, and 6.2 out of every 100,000 inhabitants respectively. Brazil and Mexico rank highest in the region for absolute numbers of femicide victims, however, with many thousands per year. Femicide rates in Mexico...

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