Español“Are we not going to speak up? They’re murdering us,” Argentinean journalist Marcela Ojeda said on Twitter in May. Her message was directed at women. In the last couple of months, a wave of spine-chilling murders involving female victims and male perpetrators has shaken the South American nation and revived “gender-based tensions.” An undeclared war of the sexes is on.
“Another [murder], but it was the final straw,” said Fabiana Túñez, founder of La Casa del Encuentro (The Meeting House), an Argentinean women’s-rights group that promotes “popular feminism among all women and society.” She was referring to the brutal killing of Chiara Páez, a pregnant 14-year-old beaten to death by her 16-year-old boyfriend. The murder has been called a femicide, an increasingly popular term these days.
Actrices, políticas, artistas, empresarias, referentes sociales … mujeres, todas, bah.. no vamos a levantar la voz? NOS ESTAN MATANDO
— Maͣrͬcͨeͤlaͣ Ojeͤdͩaͣ (@Marcelitaojeda) May 11, 2015
“Actresses, politicians, artists, businesswomen, opinion makers, women, all of them… are we not going to speak up? They’re killing us.”
What began as an online campaign turned into a massive protest, and no one wanted to be left out. A group of journalists organized the protest through Twitter under the hashtag #NiUnaMenos (Not One Less), and brought together around 150,000 people according to police — double that figure by the organizers’ count.
The support of actors, writers, and celebrities ensured the rally’s success. Who could possibly stand against ending violence against women and repudiating despicable crimes?
Politicians from both the ruling and opposition parties made appearances. Two months ahead of primary elections, candidates seized the opportunity to parade around the plaza and demonstrate their commitment to a just and innocuous cause. While organizers discouraged the presence of political banners, party symbols were nevertheless visible among the protestors.
“Femicide,” according to La Casa del Encuentro’s website, is a political term. “It is the denunciation of sexist violence becoming normal in society.… it is when a man murders a woman, who he believes is his property.” In other words, a man in the abstract, as if he represented all other males in society, oppresses a woman, who represents all other females in society, under a regime similar to that of slavery.
The advocacy group says Argentina registered 277 femicides in 2014. They arrive at that figure by tracking news reports of women who have been murdered by men. However, the murderer’s intent — whether or not the man aimed to reaffirm the notion of the woman as “his property” — does not appear to enter into the equation. After all, Argentinean authorities do not document these sorts of statistics.
The number of women murdered in Argentina every year is alarming, as well as the 16 percent increase in overall homicides between 2012 and 2013. According to researchers from the Association for Public Policy, violence levels in Argentina are now double those in Chile: 8.8 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. While Buenos Aires experienced the highest body count in 2013 with 1,556 homicides, the small province of Santa Fe led the ranking with 13.2 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.
But the issue of rising homicide rates in Argentina is not limited to gender violence. This doesn’t mean that gender violence should not be addressed, or that men should not trample on the individual rights of women or anyone else, regardless of sex.
The problem is that the feminist agenda undermines the very principles that defend all individuals. Next on their list are completely nonviolent, voluntary acts between consenting adults, like prostitution and pornography.
A Collectivist Concept
“These days, women are more likely to die at the hands of a boyfriend or an ex-boyfriend than on the street,” Natalia Gherardi, lawyer and executive director of the Latin-American Justice and Gender Group, told Argentinean daily La Nación. This is no doubt one of the many oft-repeated phrases that has led to the gender-violence hysteria in Argentina lately.
However, a 2012 report from the NGO Let’s Fight for Life shows 1,797 women died in car accidents. Fortunately for women, there are still places more dangerous than their own homes.
Above all, femicide is a completely backwards notion of collective responsibility and punishment.
The situation is no doubt critical, but the proposed solution is no less worrying. The pressure placed on the judiciary to address gender violence has led to excessive punishments on men and violations of individual rights.
The documentary Borrando a Papá (Erasing Dad) is a good example, but it has unfortunately received little attention, since a judge decided to censor the movie for portraying the wrong kind of gender violence. The film demonstrates how biased judges often discriminate against men in cases involving an alleged act of violence against a woman.
It shows how judges will rule in these cases without proper regard to evidence or fairness, even when the complaint is false. The film further chronicles how women know this, and employ this strategy to win custody-battle cases and deprive fathers of the opportunity to develop bonds with their children.
Femicide is indeed a political term, as feminists themselves acknowledge. Above all, however, it is a completely backwards notion of collective responsibility and punishment. Just like the days when an entire clan had to answer for the misdeeds of a single member, femicide implies all men are subjugating women under a patriarchal system, and women are nothing more than men’s property.
While some feminists continue to take advantage of tragic situations to manipulate people and advance their own agenda, Lola, Chiara, Melina, and so many other murdered women will continue to wait for justice to be served.