The Buenos Aires City Government, alongside the local Ministry of Human and Habitat Development, has launched a campaign raising awareness about gender violence in public places and on the subte.

The campaign –”Eso que no vemos también es violencia de género” (“What we don’t see is also gender violence”) – comes just in time for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women tomorrow, November 25th.

The campaign is aiming to draw attention to types of violence against women that are usually overlooked, as well as the more overt manifestations of physical violence, public mistreatment and femicides.

Many women have to think about how they're going to dress each morning, so as not to feel vulnerable or run any risks.
Many women have to think about how they’re going to dress each morning, so as not to feel vulnerable or run any risks.

Situations involving humiliation, degradation, condescension, emotional blackmail, being made to feel invisible, invalidation, control and even sexist humor, advertising and language can cause considerable harm. They may not leave physical marks on the victim’s body, but psychological violence has the ability to scar too.

“We must reflect on and be aware that any manifestation of violence towards women, from the most subtle to the most explicit, is gender violence,” said Guadalupe Tagliaferri, the minister fronting the campaign. “To do this, we need to break away from the systems of naturalization and lack of visibility of machista violence. We need to understand that it comes in various guises, from a man wanting to know who a woman talks to and where she is at all times, and right through to femicides, which is the most harsh and tragic manifestation of this scourge.”

Talking about the campaign, she added: “The idea is to highlight what is often still kept hidden and not recognized as a form of violence against women. Because if we are all aware and start to denounce this violence, we can help women to retrace the path of violence and rebuild their lives.”

"That can't be right." "You're exaggerating." - Some of the responses women receive when they talk about abuse they've received.
“That can’t be right.” “You’re exaggerating.” – Some of the responses women receive when they talk about abuse they’ve received.

Unfortunately, this is a reality that thousands of women in the city live everyday. According to a survey on violence against women within couple-relationships in the City of Buenos Aires, psychological violence in the context of romantic relationships affects 1 in 2 women.

Almost all women who reported having been subjected to physical violence by a current or former partner also reported having suffered psychological violence at the hands of a partner. This demonstrates the importance of being alert to the first and more subtle manifestations of violence, especially as they are usually disguised as displays of love, care and protection. The violent behaviors go disregarded and are repeated and sustained over time. Slowly, victims end up believing they deserve the verbal, symbolic or physical aggressions and end up naturalizing the violent relationship in which they are immersed.

Women, when they travel on subtes and trains, are at risk of being sexually abused.
Women, when they travel on subtes and trains, are at risk of being sexually abused.

However, the survey also found that three out of ten women who have suffered some type of gender violence from their partner consider it a private matter in which third parties should not be involved, and that a third of women believe that “family problems” should only be discussed with family members, and in cases of abuse, a person who is not in the “inner circle” should refrain from intervening.

The campaign wants to show women that it is okay to ask for help – in fact it is a right. As a consequence, the Buenos Aires Ministry of Human and Habitat Development is providing free and comprehensive (psychological, social, legal) assistance to women who have been victims of violence. In addition, it has shelters for women and their children who are at risk and halfway houses.