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TENS of thousands of people took to the streets in Buenos Aires on Monday to demonstrate against femicide and violence against women as rights groups warned that “sexist violence is killing us.”
The capital turned into a sea of green with many adorning the coloured scarves that have become the symbol of the abortion rights movement in Argentina.
Activists are pressing for legalisation of terminations after a Bill was narrowly defeated in the Senate last year. It had initially passed in the country’s lower house.
It followed pressure from the Catholic Church including an intervention from Pope Francis who denounced abortion as the “white glove” equivalent of the nazi eugenics programme.
One banner read: “Sexist violence is killing us, as is the state’s absence.”
According to government statistics, there were 278 femicides last year. The Casa del Encuentro NGO warned that between 2008 and 2019 nearly 3,000 cases of femicide were recorded between 2008 and 2019. They left more than 3,700 children, most of them minors, without their mothers.
Giovanna Lujan, whose daughter was murdered last year, wants the state to do more to protect women.
“We feel this pain. We want gender-based violence to be more visible. We are asking the government to help us, we feel abandoned,” she said.
Protesters linked the attacks on women to poverty and the austerity budget of the Mauricio Macri government, which has seen massive cuts to social programmes in return for a $56 billion IMF loan.
Ni Una Menos campaign founder Cecilia Palmeiro said: “Violence against women is intimately related to the accumulation of capital.”
She explained how Mr Macri’s government has slashed welfare services, increased private debt and cut retirement benefits for women who work at home. Rising debt, Ms Palmeiro claimed, causes women to remain in abusive relationships and take on “undesirable work.”
“Since the government of Macri produced this debt, the largest debt in the history of Argentina, one of our principal areas of interest is the relationship between state debt, private debt, and machista violence,” she said.
National Campaign for Legal, Safe and Free Abortion spokeswoman Yamila Picasso slammed the “feminisation of poverty,” warning it pushes women into having unsafe abortions.
“We see that there is a clear relationship between these factors because abortion is a matter of social justice,” she said.
Legalising abortion is likely to remain a central issue ahead of October’s general election, with activists promising to continue taking to the streets to press their demands.
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