In the face of rising femicides in Argentina, one particular group of women have stepped up to take matters of safety into their own hands. A couple weeks ago, feminist organization in Mendoza, La Colectiva, launched a neighborhood watch-style campaign known as “Mi Cuadra Alerta” (“My Block Alerts”).
The campaign is aimed to protect women and gender minorities, such as trans people, from the alarming rates of violence in the country, providing training on how to act in the case of such incidences. It has emphasized the importance of including trans people, who— due to widespread discrimination and violence— have a staggeringly low life expectancy of 35 years in Argentina, compared to the national average of around 76 years old.
The group has developed a “community alert” methodology aimed at preventing attacks against women and trans people and stop violence in the streets. Every woman on the block is given a whistle to sound at the first sign of violence. Once the alarm is sounded, one or two of the neighborhood’s women are tasked with he responsibility of calling the police, as well as other judicial agencies who monitor and control gender violence in Argentina. While men can also participate in the program, the group’s leadership is composed of women.
So far, a version of the group has been set up in Las Heras, Mendoza Capital, and Guaymallén. However, the organization’s leaders plan to continue expanding, working to establish the program in the neighborhoods of Centolvi, Cano, and San Martín of Mendoza, areas where women especially have suffered from poverty, precarious home situations, and gender violence.
Laura Chazarreta, the leader of La Colectiva, has emphasized the importance of establishing such groups and of expanding to larger cities, especially Buenos Aires. “Many times there are people who are witnesses and want to help in a violent situation, but don’t know how. The whistle system is very accessible and makes a lot of noise.”
“Mi Cuadra Alerta” looks to operate in neighborhoods with a history of gender violence and low police presence. Ultimately, the idea of the group is to work with a preventative mindset, and to act quickly in situations where the police usually do not arrive until after the act of violence has been committed and the perpetrator has likely fled. “We have the responsibility to make the invisible visible,” Chazarreta stressed.
The organization has stated: “It has not been an easy task to make visible the struggle of women and gender minorities, especially lesbians and trans people, and it is still difficult to this day. However, through the convictions that move us, as well as our demonstrations of solidarity and collectivization, we have shown the world that our resistance and insistence for equality has generated a true revolution within these neighborhoods.”
To communicate with La Colectiva and make your own neighborhood part of “Mi Cuadra Alerta,” you can contact the group through this link.