On Wednesday, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women was observed throughout the globe. In Buenos Aires, people of all ages gathered in Plaza Congreso at 5pm and marched towards Plaza de Mayo, heeding a call issued by the National Campaign to Stop Violence Against Women and 30 of its sister organizations. Participants also paid tribute to all those women who have perished at the hands of gender-based violence; a crime that has already claimed 233 victims over the first ten months of 2015.
Activists reminded those present of ongoing campaigns that fall under the cause, such as #NiUnaMenos, sex-trafficking, and gender violence. The Foundation for the Study & Research of Women’s Issues (FEIM) has worked hard alongside other organisations to advance the implementation of law 26,485 and the National Action Plan for the Prevention, Assistance and Eradication of Violence Against Women. Although the plan provides for the creation of shelters for battered women, subsidies for the victims and free psychological care as well as legal advice, the much-needed resources for the widespread implementation of these provisions are still lacking, FEIM says.
Although legal advances have been made to secure the rights of women —as exemplified by law 26,485— participants of the march also clamoured for an end to the impunity enjoyed by those who exert violence against women, as well as tougher prison sentences for these crimes. The lack of reliable statistical data tracking crimes against women has also represented a latent issue for the National Campaign. The activists have further noted that in order to be implemented effectively, the plan requires not just accurate data, but also that adequate control and monitoring mechanisms be put in place.
The issues experienced by working women have also gained notoriety in this edition of the march. The right to equal pay, free child care and job security appeared in the banners of many a protester.
Finally, within the framework of this internationally-observed day, the Argentine campaign in particular has highlighted the need for education. Sexual education in particular has been on the organisations’ agenda, who believe this domain requires more attention in order to disseminate better information about the use of contraceptives and in doing so, preventing unwanted pregnancies, clandestine abortions, and maternal deaths. Activists also hope to include the issue of violence against women within school curricula, in order to diminish the incidence of femicides, rape, and other crimes against women in the long run.
The march closed at the May Pyramid monument in Plaza de Mayo, with a speech that declared a “state of emergency” in the domain of women’s rights in Argentina, calling for an end to the “patriarchal, classist, sexist, and xenophobic justice system” and asking the incoming government to heed their call for action.
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women was instituted on 25th November in remembrance of three sisters from the Dominican Republic; Maria Teresa, Patria, and Minerva, who were murdered by order of the country’s former dictator, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. Acts were also carried out in cities throughout Argentina, including Mendoza, Rosario, La Plata, and Tierra del Fuego.