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ARGENTINA | 06-06-2024 17:43

Milei government shutters office dedicated to prevention of gender violence

Three days after annual Ni Una Menos march, head of programme dedicated to protection against gender violence announces she is stepping as President Milei moves to shutter department.

President Javier Milei’s government will dissolve a government department dedicated to halting gender violence, it emerged Thursday.

The news came to light just three days after tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets for the annual Ni Una Menos march against gender violence. 

Claudia Barcia, the head of the Undersecretariat for Protection Against Gender Violence, tendered her “indeclinable” resignation in protest at the decision. 

According to reports, she was informed via WhatsApp message on Wednesday that her department, which oversees the 144 emergency telephone hotline and the Acompañar programme assisting those at risk of gender violence, would be shut down.

Only two weeks ago, oversight of the department was transferred from the Human Capital Ministry to the Justice Ministry. 

Staff and workload are to be transferred to the National Human Rights department and its Access to Justice Undersecretariat, the Noticias Argentinas news agency reported. 

News of the changes only emerged after Barcia’s resignation letter began circulating online.

“I am writing to let you know that yesterday I received a WhatsApp call at 7.57pm from the Secretary of Human Rights, Alberto Baños, through which he informed me that the Undersecretariat for Protection Against Gender Violence, which is under the hierarchical orbit of the Secretariat of Justice of the Justice Ministry of Justice in accordance with decrees No. 450 and 451/24, will cease to exist,” reads the text signed by Barcia, an ex-prosecutor at the Buenos Aires Public Prosecutor's Office who has specialised in gender violence for more than two decades.

The future of the department’s workers, which originally numbered 600 and was slashed to 200 under Barcia’s time in office, remains unknown.

"We are faced with a total hollowing out of policies for the prevention of gender-based violence," said the department’s workers in a statement posted online. 

Argentina has a longstanding problem with gender violence. According to court data, femicides rose 11 percent last year from the previous year with one femicide every 35 hours.

Milei has faced regular criticism over women’s rights issues. Upon taking office he shuttered the Women, Gender & Diversity Ministry, downgrading it to a Secretariat and absorbing its departments into other portfolios.

Argentina’s libertarian leader is a known opponent of abortion and his administration has not ruled out an attempt to repeal the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy Law passed by Congress in December 2020.

During a speech at the World Economic Forum at Davos earlier this year, he described abortion as "a tragedy" and slammed the "radical feminist agenda."


– TIMES/NA

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