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CWA # 341, 17 September 2020

GLOBAL PROTEST MOVEMENTS
#NiUnaMenos: Women and protest movements in Latin America

  Oviya A J

The murder of the teenage Chiara Páez in the province of Santa Fe sparked an unprecedented social movement called the #NiUnaMenos movement. This movement was started in Argentina, in the year 2015 which is committed to fighting gender inequality and the abuse and murder of women. The name of the movement, ‘NiUnaMenos’ translates as ‘not one less’, meaning that not one more woman should die at the hands of men. 

Background

The fight against the patriarchal ideas about what it means to be a woman has been the nerve spot to women protest movements over the past decades. The machismo culture, where men are expected to exhibit an overbearing attitude to anyone in a position perceived as inferior, has spread across the Latin American region. Latin America that ranks second in femicide has the distinction of being the most violent region in the world. For years, people have fled from Latin American countries to escape violence, search for economic opportunity and find a safe place to raise their family. Violence is the crux of the immigration problem, but specifically, women and girls in Latin America are most vulnerable to deadly violence. Even though there has been powerful women’s movement in Latin America, for a long time the region remained mired in the cycle of gloom and doom. The protest against gender-based violence has gathered momentum in the past few years in Latin America. In recent times, the region has witnessed a marked increase in participation by women in social movements. The murder of the teenage Chiara Páez in the province of Santa Fe sparked an unprecedented social movement called the #NiUnaMenos movement. This movement was started in Argentina, in the year 2015 which is committed to fighting gender inequality and the abuse and murder of women. The name of the movement, ‘NiUnaMenos’ translates as ‘not one less’, meaning that not one more woman should die at the hands of men.

The #NiUnaMenos derives from “Not one woman less, not one more dead”, a phrase that is attributed to the poet and feminist activist Susana Chávez Castillo, who denounced the cases of femicides that occurred in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua state. This movement inspired thousands of women in Argentina to take to the streets of their cities in protest. In its official website, NiUnaMenos defines itself as a “collective scream against the Machista Violence”. The movement was catalyzed by the murder in May 2015, after a three-day search, 14-year-old Chiara Páez’s body was found buried in the garden of her 16-year-old boyfriend’s house. Chiara was beaten to death after having been forced to take medication to terminate her pregnancy. On June 3, 2015, nearly 300 thousand people went to the Plaza de los dos Congresos with the slogan #NiUnaMenos, with aftershocks of the murder, throughout the country and abroad. The rape, torture and murder of Lucia Perez in 2016 led to protests and a national women’s strike in Argentina and across Latin America.  This then blossomed into the first International Women’s Strike on March 8, 2017, which took place in over 50 countries. In the words of Marcela Ojeda, the number of people who joined the call is due to “their transversality”, since “the women realized that at some point in their lives they were violated, without the need to reach a physical blow”. It is the marginal woman who is represented there, but not only because of their class origin but because they do not abide by the heteronor mative. They are the female heads of household, precarious workers, sex workers, artists, activists, lesbians, Trans, disabled, black, and fat. All women are expelled to the margins of the macho system.

Ni Una Menos movement holds protests against femicides. In addition to femicide, this movement also comprehends topics such as gender roles, sexual harassment, gender pay gap, sexual objectification, and legality of abortion, sex worker's rights and transgender rights. This movement is a huge and powerful movement resisting the femicides, abductions and sexual violence that plague many countries in the Latin American region. The movement became widely recognized by the use of the hashtag #NiUnaMenos on social media, the title under which massive demonstrations were held on June 3, 2015. In line with the massive mobilization called in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and Mexico organized marches, and rallies against violence against women. Uruguay echoed the regional call to reject violence against women, with mobilizations in more than 15 departments, organized by women's groups and local social organizations. The NiUnaMenos movement gradually spread across the Latin American region. Thousands of people marched in Buenos Aires to protest against sexist violence to the cry of NiUnaMenos in 2016. The 12-year-old girl, Micaela Ortega was missing a little more than a month from her home in the Buenos Aires city of Bahía Blanca. 

The macabre find took place hundreds of kilometers from his home and although the perpetrator of the crime was arrested, the case again brought to the forefront the extent to which gender violence calls for less rhetorical strategies in Argentina. The protest movement in Buenos Aires also called for confronting other less visible forms of violence: psychological, obstetric, symbolic, economic, sexual, reproductive, and family. According to the first Survey of perception and incidence of violence against women in a relationship, in the City of Buenos Aires, only one in ten women who suffer violence makes a police report. Moreover, 15% of the more than 1,000 women surveyed said they had also been the victim of sexual violence. This movement in Latin American region made visible the tragedy of thousands of victims of sexist violence and encouraged a call to the conscience of the entire society to curb the drama of so many women who still suffer this scourge that puts them permanently in danger only because of their gender status.

The essay primarily examines: the primary hypothesis of the paper focuses on how Social Media has helped the growth of Women protest movements in Latin America and established Solidarity for gender issues around the world.

Click the PDF file to read the full essay. It was first published in the NIAS Quarterly on Contemporary World Affairs, Vol 2, Issues 2&3. 

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