How Argentina Is Rising Up Against The Abuse Of Women

Sixteen year old Lucía Pérez was allegedly abducted outside her school by a gang before being drugged with marijuana and cocaine, repeatedly raped and penetrated with what was described as a ‘blunt object’, earlier this month in the Argentine city of Mar del Plata.

On Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of women took to the streets for one hour, in a protest that was meant to bring attention to violence against women in Argentina. What demonstrators urged for was cultural change — a dramatic shift from a ‘Machismo’ dynamic, an aggressive display of masculinity that has largely defined gender relations in the country.

How big of a role does culture play in enabling gender based violence? A huge one

In many societies, culture plays an important role in how certain populations and societies view, perceive, and process sexual acts as well as sexual violence. Sexual violence is likely to occur more commonly in cultures that foster beliefs of perceived male superiority and social and cultural inferiority of women. While the spectrum of sexual violence varies across a continuum in many cultures, from transgressive coercion at one end to ‘tolerated’ coercion at the other, what happened to Pérez was beyond aggressive. María Isabel Sánchez, the lead prosecutor in the case described the event as “an act of inhuman sexual aggression”.

The impact of socio-cultural norms that engender sexual violence can be mitigated by the economic empowerment of women, something else the demonstrators called for. Activists demanded action by the government to make moves against sex trafficking, provide equity in access to job opportunities, equity in pay, longer maternity leave and child care for working mothers as well as free access to lawyers for victims of domestic violence.

Three men have been arrested over the incident.

Image: Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images

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