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ARGENTINA | 13-01-2024 22:18

Femicides up in Argentina as Milei seeks to weaken protections

Argentina registered 322 femicides in 2023, a figure equivalent to almost one murder a day, according to government data.

Gender-related killings of women and girls in Argentina rose last year to 322, or an average of nearly one a day, the National Ombudsman's Office reported.   

The new data come as Congress debates a controversial reform of gender laws promoted by President Javier Milei, who has already eliminated the government's Women, Gender & Diversity Ministry. 

The number of femicides is "alarming" and exceeds even the total from 2020, a year marked by the Covid-19 pandemic in which 295 women and girls were killed, said the ombudsman's report published late Friday night.

Femicides in 2023 orphaned some 200 children, according to the new statistics. In three out of four cases, there was a pre-existing relationship between the victim and the perpetrator.

"Gender violence is on the public agenda, but cultural practices continue to be sexist and patriarchal," said Fernanda Tarico of the NGO Shalom Bait (“Peace in the Home,” in Hebrew), which supports victims of gender violence. 

"The state must put much more money into prevention," she said. 

Almost 60 percent of femicide victims last year were killed at home, at work or at homes shared with the perpetrators. In three out of four cases there was a pre-existing relationship between the victim and the perpetrator, the ombudsman's office said.

The Milei government, which contends that "violence has no gender," has included in a sweeping reform package a proposal to narrow the scope of 2019 legislation known as the ‘Ley Micaela’ that requires government at all levels to train officials on gender issues and violence against women.

Milei, who took office last month, would restrict the training to questions of "family violence" and would limit the training to agencies directly involved in the matter.

The modification "is serious" because it "affects the meaning of the law," said the Fundación Micaela García,, which bears the name of a woman who was a victim of femicide in 2017, whose case accelerated the debate and prompted the current legislation.

These changes are the "result of absolute ignorance, of a failure to recognise the problem of a judge or security forces or state personnel making irresponsible interventions," said Tarico.

But Joaquín Torre, secretary for youth and family affairs, said that while Micaela’s Law might be "noble, it has yielded no results. We've invested millions but are seeing more deaths than before."


– TIMES/AFP

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