The sad list of victims of the other pandemic – the one that is linked to the most extreme forms of gender violence – began with the crime of Susana Melo in Bahía Blanca.
In the near 100 days of quarantine Argentines have lived through to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, more than 70 femicides have been recorded, an NGO has revealed. From March 20 to June 25, 75 women were murdered as a result of gender violence, according to the latest report from La Casa del Encuentro, a campaigning gender violence observatory.
Susana Melo's murder was the first recorded after the mandatory quarantine period decreed by President Alberto Fernández. The victim was found on a rural road in the port town of Ingeniero Blanco, in Bahía Blanca, Buenos Aires Province. The woman had been beaten and her ex-partner was later arrested for femicide.
Cristina Iglesia and her little daughter Ada were also murdered in March. Both were found buried in the back of their house in Lanús. On the same day, the body of Claudia Repetto was discovered in Mar del Plata. The police had been searching for her for almost a month.
On March 31, 30-year-old María Florencia Santa Cruz was found hanged on a street in Tigre. The autopsy ruled out suicide and established that she had been raped and strangled to death. One person has been detained to date.
"Extreme violence against women urgently needs the development of a 'vaccine' that effectively protects those who are immersed in situations of violence that endanger their lives both in and out of confinement," the association analysed.
The NGO warns that the house is the most insecure place for women who suffer gender violence, since 71 percent of the femicides were committed in the victim's house. “Isolation protects from the virus, but dangerously isolates women who live with violence," the authors of the La Casa del Encuentro report wrote.
Romina Videla was attacked at her home in La Plata. They set her on fire and after suffering for six days with 80 percent of her body burned, the 37-year-old died. Her husband was subsequently arrested for femicide.
“Among older adults who are in a bond of violence there is an extreme degree of vulnerability and a naturalisation of abuse. They are deeply rooted in the culture of another era, which indicated that women should be in a place of submission. In fact, it is very difficult for them to dare to make the situation they are going through visible to anyone, including their family. And in this period of obligatory isolation, the silence, which they have incorporated, prevents them from asking for help,” said Ada Rico, the president of the NGO.
'She knew her assailant'
In general, the victims of femicide knew their assailants. In 65 percent of cases, the perpetrator was a partner or former partner of the murdered woman –– as in the case of Cristina Cattáneo, one of the most recently registered. The woman's body had been hit and a cut on her neck. Her partner was later arrested.
Some of those accused have even sought to portray themselves as victims too. Camila Taracco's 26-year-old ex-boyfriend even took part in the search for the young woman in Moreno. Ten days after her disappearance, she was found murdered. Alberto Ariel González was arrested.
Jésica Minaglia's ex-husband called the police to alert them that he had found the young teacher dead in his house in Santa Cruz. Later, he was arrested on charges of having killed her. Something similar happened to Julieta Riera – her boyfriend said that she had fallen from the balcony of the apartment where they lived in Entre Ríos Province.
Verónica Tottis appeared burned in her truck on a route from Córdoba. Four days later, her husband was arrested on charges of killing her and simulating an accident.