Calls to to the national domestic violence service hotline 144 have doubled thus far in 2016 compared to last year, according to information released by the Ministry of Social Development. The information revealed a grim but not surprising picture for those familiar with the trends of violence against women not just in Argentina but worldwide.
In Argentina, those first four months of the year, 27,283 calls were received for cases of gender-based violence. 89 percent of those cases were due to assault from a partner, 52.15 percent of which were current partners and 36.22 percent of which were former partners. Nearly all of the attacks occurred at home.
However the increase in calls is not necessarily a reflection of a worsening reality. When speaking with Clarin, the Ministry of Social Development posited that greater awareness of domestic violence issues could be the reason that more women have reached out for help. The Ministry said that following the Ni Unos Menos march last year — which drew 300,000 protestors to the City of Buenos Aires to call for end to femicide — hotline 144 had to double the number of operators due to the increased number of calls. It also extended its services to follow up with callers to formalize their complaints before handing over the cases. The majority of the calls they say they have received in 2016 came from Buenos Aires; a full 50 percent of the calls came from Buenos Aires Province, 10 percent from Mendoza Province, 9 percent from the City of Buenos Aires, 8 percent from Santa Fe Province, 4.6 percent from Córdoba Province and 2.5 percent from Tucumán Province.
The statistics from 2015 are likely to be eclipsed by the end of 2016. Last year, 67,685 cases of gender-based violence were in the court system of Buenos Aires Province (including rape, abuse, and infringements on restraining orders). In 2015, officially, 98 women were murdered in Argentina. Unofficially, the number is much higher. In the first 100 days of this year, 66 women have been murdered. This upswing in violence spurred the announcement of Ni Unos Menos’s follow up social media campaign under the slogan #VolvemosAGritar (Let’s Shout Again) followed by a march scheduled for this Friday under the rallying cry #VivasNosQueremos (We Want Us Alive).
The higher numbers of women reaching out for help may indicate that victims are more comfortable calling hotlines as a result of the publicity from the march and other advocacy work. It comes at a time when victim blaming still prevails, all the way from internationally famous cases like the slut-shaming of the backpackers in Montañita, Ecuador, to the money-shaming of Amber Heard.
The #VivasNosQueremos march takes place this Friday at 5 PM.
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