Campaigners are demanding officials re-focus their efforts on the battle against gender violence in Argentina, after the death of four women in just two days this past weekend.
Femicides were recorded in Chascomús, Santa Fe and Lomas de Zamora, while an 18-year-old girl was found dismembered in Neuquén, in a case that investigators may later be confirmed as another femicide.
The killing of the four women – two teenagers and two adults – have revived calls for the government to take a more active role in eradicating gender violence.
In the Buenos Aires Province town of Chascomús, the body of 15-year-old Navila Garay was found, murdered and buried in a back garden over the weekend. Her body showed no sign of sexual abuse, but she had been repeatedly hit on the head until she died, with the body showing signs of multiple skull fractures. She was struck at least 17 times, local outlets reported.
Missing since last Tuesday, her Garay's body was discovered after the owner of the property called police. Garay's suspected killer – a 51-year-old who drives for a remís (a pre-booked taxi) service and was renting the property in which her body was dug up be investigators – is suspected to have picked her up on the night of her disappearance. Identified in local reports as "a distant cousin of Garay's mother," the suspected killer had told the owner of the property a few days earlier that he had buried a dead dog in the garden.
Elsewhere in Buenos Aires Province, 38-year-old Vanesa Caro passed away at a hospital in Ingeniero Budge, Lomas de Zamora, over the weekend. Brutally attacked by her husband some six months ago, Caro was set on fire in front of her four children, ages four, six, seven and ten. Caro, who suffered severe burns to 70 percent of her body, eventually died of complications from a tracheotomy that was carried out in the wake of the attack. Leonardo Víctor Zeniquel, 34, who violated a court order banning him from being in Caro's immediate vicinity to carry out the attack, is currently being held in prison.
In Neuquén, Patagonia, the dismembered remains of 18-year-old student Laura Cielo López were discovered after fishermen found the remains of her skull and some of her limbs in the Limay river. Missing since September 12, a search lasting 72 hours of the water turned up additional body parts, including her torso. Prosecutors are investigating who carried out the crime, with preliminary autopsy results indicating the cause of death was a head injury.
Finally, in Santa Fe Province, Cecilia Burgadt, 42, was found murdered after disappearing on Friday. A nurse at a private hospital in Santa Fe City, Burgadt went to work and never returned. After her car was found Saturday in the neighbourhood of Las Delicias, she was discovered murdered and beaten in a house. Her former partner has been arrested and has confessed to the crime, according to local reports.
"One weekend. Four dead. Four femicides. Four less. Laura Cielo López, 18, Plottier. Navila Garay, 15 years old, Chascomus. Cecilia Burgadt, 42, Santa Fé. Vanesa Caro, 38 years old, Lomas de Zamora. ENOUGH. #NiUnaMenos," posted Ana Correa, a high-profile feminist communicator and one of the reference points of the 'Ni Una Menos' movement, on Twitter.
Under the heading 'One weekend, four femicides,' the MuMaLá womens rights organisation – which records femicide numbers across Argentina – demanded action in a series of posts on social networks.
"Deaths as a result of sexist violence, [are] preventable deaths," the group posted, highlighting that there were 178 femicides in Argentina this year up until August 31 – one every 32 hours.
"That is why we continue to demand the declaration of #EmergenciaNiUnaMenos from the National State, so that concrete and effective measures can be taken urgently for the prevention, assistance and eradication of violence against women and dissenting identities," the post continued.
MuMaLá, along with a number of other groups including CCC, CTEP and others, called on lawmakers to pass an emergency law at the start of the year, in a bid to tackle the problem.
A second organisation, the 'Ahora que sí nos ven' gender violence observatory, which also seeks to record and report femicides, puts the figure for the year so far even higher. From January 1 until September 16, they have recorded 235 femicides, which equates to one every 26 hours. According to the group's data, some 42 percent of femicides that took place in 2019 were perpetrated by the partners of victims, with 84 percent of aggressors coming from the victim's immediate circle or group of acquaintances.
"They are not just raw data. They are lives of women who are no longer there, who are victims of sexist violence. That is why we have been demanding that public policies linked to the prevention, sanction and eradication of violence against women be hierarchised," said Raquel Vivanco, the president of the observatory.
The organisation has previously criticised the Mauricio Macri adminstration for cutting the budget of the National Women's Institute (INAM), the body responsible for implementing public policies to eradicate gender violence, by 38 percent in 2019. According to the NGO, INAM currently has a budget of 11 pesos per woman per year.
On Monday night, according to reports in Neuquén outlets, an estimated 20,000 people flooded the streets of the city of Plottier to demand justice for Laura "Cielo" López. Many chanted "Ni una menos" ("Not one less") as they marched, demanding López's killer be brought to justice.
Protests also took place in Santa Fe on Tuesday, calling on the authorities to deliver justice for Cecilia Burgadt.
* If you are concerned about gender violence, or fear for your safety, you can call the national femicide hotline by dialling 144.