In Argentina the number of victims of violence against women increased over the last decade, and still, data sets can’t be compared because Argentina lacks an “official” (and countrywide) set of statistics covering all cases and forms of violence against women and girls. According to the law that was passed in 2009, the government should develop a National Registry that collects and analyzes all cases occurring within the country. Currently, we only have registries from some provinces and cities, but data is not being collected for the country as a whole. The best and most accurate statistics we have are from the Domestic Violence Office — OVD in Spanish. This office was created in 2009 with the support of the National Supreme Court. It brings with it the possibility of having data systematically registered into the City of Buenos Aires and analyze it. Based on this information, the number of gender-based violence has increased, and also the injuries that women suffer. Furthermore, the statistics show that femicides and severe harmful attacks among the women that survive, are more frequent now than in the past.
So far, in the first four months of 2017, we have had 111 femicides. This means a woman died every 25 hours. Last year a woman died every 30 hours. If this trend continues for the rest of the year, it will imply that hundreds of people will die for the mere fact that they happened to be born women.
As I mentioned before, in 2009 a new law has been passed based in the American Convention (Convencion de Belen do Para) to Eliminate, Sanction and Prevent Violence Against women and girls. The new law is very good, mainly because it includes all forms of violence, but the law has not yet been implemented at a federal level.
According to the law that passed in 2009, the National Women’s Council or CNM (Consejo Nacional de la Mujer) must develop a national plan of action. Last year, for the first time the plan was created and will start to be put in practice this month. The national plan indicates that the responsibilities and actions of each ministry will be coordinated by the CNM. However, ministries have not allocated a budget for developing the policies they are committed to as part of the national plan, so we are not sure if they will be able to fulfill all of the plan’s goals. There is a great probability that the National Plan will not be fully implemented due to the lack of economic resources.
But there are also other obstacles. Another issue is that after a woman reports a case of violence, our judicial system often files a restrainer order against the aggressor. A recent study carried out by the Buenos Aires City government showed that four out of every ten men with restraining orders violated the terms of the preventative measure. Also three of out of every four women filed claims of abuse more than once, which shows that the police (that are in charge of receiving and filing the cases) didn’t follow the development of the cases. So, it appears that no one is actually paying attention to what happens to the woman after she comes forward as being abused. Many working in NGOs that help female victims of violence will be quick to tell you that after a woman presses charges, she is often attacked again and with more serious injuries. In other words, once a woman reports the crimes being committed against her, the likelihood of her dying increases. This brings us an important lesson: in order to avoid this issue, women who report violence cases need additional support and increased legal and police protection.
Another problem in Argentina is the lack of universal protocols concerning how to proceed in these cases. To be more effective in the care of women and girls, institutions take action in coordination. The lack of these kinds of protocols results in a variety of different ways to address similar gender based cases. Results are varied and in general, very poor. Each person involved in the process of helping a victim of gender violence, does what he or she considers to be the best practice, but without any evidence based in an adequate evaluation of different methods regarding how to deal with violence against women.
As a result of all these persistent problems and the obstacles previously described, we are not very optimistic about the possibility to eliminate or eradicate gender based violence in the near future in Argentina. And this is why we still need Ni Una Menos: we are still not sure if a national plan of action will be fully implemented this year. The women’s movement of Ni Una Menos originated as a social movement to ask for the government to create a National Plan to eliminate, care for and prevent gender based violence, to coordinate institutional intervention and to increase the budget destined to these actions and policies. Initially, the movement was promoted by a group of journalists, but nowadays it is a very heterogeneous movement in which different groups are involved. However, the Argentinian society still respects the original date. On June 3rd, each year (and 2017 won’t be an exception) more women, men, families and children convene in parks or any other open places in each town or city in Argentina to say out loud: Not one women less!