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Argentinian women strike after rape and murder of teenager

Thousands of protestors marched against gender-related violence, in memory of 16-year-old Lucía Pérez

Thousands of women dressed in black gathered to protest in Argentina and across South America on Wednesday (19 October), following the horrific death of a 16-year-old girl who was drugged, raped and tortured.

Lucia Perez was abducted and assaulted in Mar del Plata earlier in the month. Her attack was so severe that she suffered cardiac arrest, and later died in hospital due to internal injuries from sexual violence.

The perpetrators attempted to wash her to rid any forensic evidence, and dressed her so it would appear she had overdosed, before leaving her at the hospital, reports the Guardian. The attack was described as “an act of inhuman sexual aggression” by prosecutor Maria Isabel Sanchez.

According to Reuters, two men who had previously sold drugs outside a local school were arrested in the area at the weekend, and subsequently charged with rape and homicide. Attacks like this have also been linked to the growing drug-related crime problem in Argentina.

“This is a march against femicide,” Supreme Court judge Elena Highton de Nolasco said in a statement. “Cases of femicide are growing in number, they are becoming more violent, more perverse – we even had the news today that there have been 19 femicides in the last 18 days.”

Perez’s brother, Matias Perez, wrote an open letter on Facebook, describing his sister's love of dogs and home life. He also related that he would not post pictures of himself or his family because of threats they had received.

“We must be conscientious, yes, because this time it was Lucia’s turn to suffer this bestial gender violence,” he said, “but next time it could be you, or the person you love the most in the world.”

In Argentina, gender-based violence is a huge problem, with widespread instances of domestic violence, honour killings and hate crime targeting women. It’s such an issue that ‘femicide’ was officially brought in as a legal definition in the country’s law.

According to the National Femicide Registry, a woman in Argentina is killed every 30 hours. In 2015 alone, 235 women were murdered at the hands of men.

Women gathered in Plaza de Maya in Buenos Aires to bring light to Perez’s horrific murder, as well as the thousands of others in a strike organised by the feminist Not One Less (Ni Una Menos) movement. It's the second mass protest against gender-based violence in the last 18 months. Hashtags #NiUnaMenos and #MiercolesNegro (Black Wednesday) highlighted the breadth of the demonstrations. Protests spread across Argentina, as well as Chile, Bolivia, Mexico, El Salvador and more. Signs held by women read “Walking home I want to feel free, not brave”, another: “Machismo kills”.

“We are saying ‘enough!’ We won’t go back to being submissive and we won’t tolerate any more of the misogyny or violence that all us women have to deal with,” Sabrina Cartabia, a member of Ni Una Menos, said.