Yesterday a law that will strip those who commit femicide from parental rights over their children was approved by the Senate. The deprivation of parental responsibility will occur in cases of those convicted of murder aggravated by family ties, femicides, grave injuries against the other parent or a child, and sexual abuse of a child. In the case of women who killed their partners due to suffering domestic violence, these mothers are not to lose custody.
The law has been supported by the Casa del Encuentro, a “social and cultural feminist space”, for years. The organization first proposed a similar measure in 2014. Since then the legal language has changed: where before it was an issue of ‘custody’, we’re now talking about ‘parental responsibility’, a term that changed in the New Civil Code 2015. Regardless of the terminological differences, the Casa del Encuentro has continued fighting for this change, and their director Ada Rico is elated at the news. Her organization’s original statement in 2014 was as follows: “Children who are victims of Femicide must survive this horror; they have been victims of the violence and witnesses to the murder of their own mother. They have lived with extreme violence; in many cases they have suffered it physically, sexually and in all cases psychologically. Living through the murder of their own mother at the hands of their father constitutes a severe trauma. The situation becomes heartbreaking not only because they lose their mother but also their father, who will be absent, either through desertion, suicide or imprisonment. It is essential that the father who killed the mother be deprived of any decision about or contact with them.” Three years later, this sentiment has been reflected in law.
The Senate has also given semi-approval to the so-called “Brisa Law”, named after Brisa Barrionuevo, a three-year-old girl whose mother was murdered last December. The Brisa Law proposes an economic compensation to be paid by the state to children whose mothers are murdered by their fathers, to support the child and their remaining family members financially, in light of the fact that with no parents the rest of the child’s family may be unprepared for the financial difficulties of bringing up the child. This law would see the State make payments to the family in question to support the child (including the provision of healthcare) until they turn 21. Now that the bill has passed through the Senate it must be examined by the Deputies Chamber. These are the latest in a series of measures being taken to deal with femicide in Argentina.