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In Latin America, 'women are still seen as objects of consumption'

© FRANCE 24 | Ximena Schinca, Argentinian journalist and women rights activist

Text by Annette YOUNG , in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Latest update : 2017-11-25

In 2016 alone, 254 Argentine women died from gender-based violence, according to a report released by the country’s Supreme Court. FRANCE 24's Annette Young talks to one of the women determined to make a difference.

The streets of Buenos Aires are no strangers to protests by women.

Notable examples include the “Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo”, whose weekly rallies remind the nation of their children who “disappeared” during the military dictatorship, between 1976 and 1983.

But in recent years, a new series of protests have been making their mark in the Argentinian capital.

In 2015, a group of activists that includes lawyers, journalists and academics, appalled at the level of violence directed towards women, created the campaign #NiUnaMenos, or "Not One Less" in English.

In 2016 alone, 254 Argentine women died from gender-based violence, according to a report released by the country’s Supreme Court. That amounts to one woman killed every 34 hours.

After the brutal murder of 14-year-old Chiara Paez, who was found buried underneath her boyfriend's house beaten to death and a few weeks pregnant, the group decided to hold a rally in Buenos Aires.

More than 200,000 women and men turned up, clogging the streets of the city.

Two years on, as the world prepares to mark the International Day to end Violence against Women, on November 25, the group will be rallying once more this Friday in the city centre.

Among the organisers is local journalist Ximena Schinca. I asked her whether there had been much change over the past two years.

“Yes, I am amazed by the level of empowerment among women now," she said, before cautioning: "But the number of killings still remain the same."

She added: “It’s a cultural issue, the problem is educational too. In Latin America, women are still seen as an object used for reproduction or consumption by men. That has to change.”

Latin America is home to 14 of the world's 25 countries deemed to be the most dangerous for women. In an effort to fight this scourge, Schinca's group has set up chapters across the region, including in Brazil, Mexico and El Salvador.

Thanks to #NiUnaMenos and other women’s groups, femicide   or the killing of women and girls because of their gender   is slowly becoming recognised as a crime in its own right across the region.

But Schinca warns that the fight against everyday sexism and harassment has a long way to go.

“Men here think they have the right to say whatever they want when they are out in the street,” Schinca said.

“So we need to reform the judicial system and start educating people from kindergarten level on equality. We have so much to do.”

** The 51 Percent, along with its French sister show, Actuelles, and Spanish sister programme, Ellas Hoy, have travelled to Argentina to meet those determined to make a difference.

The 51 Percent with its French sister show, Actuelles and Spanish sister program, Ellas Hoy, have travelled to Argentina to meet those determined to make a difference © FRANCE 24

You can see more of what Ximena Schinca and others have to say on Femicide in Latin America on Friday December 1 at 4:40pm Paris time (10:40am New York, 12:40pm Buenos Aires, 3:40pm London)

 

Date created : 2017-11-25

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