International News

Miami Joins #NiUnaMenos to Stop Women's Murders

When hundreds of thousands of Argentines planned demonstrations in cities across their country earlier this month to protest violence against women, Argentines in Miami rallied as well.

Journalists and celebrities began taking up the cause in May after a young woman was murdered by her boyfriend. Buenos Aires radio journalist Marcela Ojeda, who has covered countless similar cases, tweeted her indignation. “They’re killing us,” she tweeted. “Are we not going to speak up?”

Argentina has been the scene of thousands of recent murders of women. In one case, 44-year-old teacher María Eugenia Lanzetti's husband slit her throat in front of her young students even though she had a restraining order against him and a panic button on her phone.

Thus, the #NiUnaMenos (“Not One Less”) campaign was born, demanding that not a single woman more fall victim to “femicide,” a term used in much of the world to describe the murder of women by domestic violence, in honor killings, and in other categories of hate crime. As momentum grew, protests were planned for June 3 in cities across Argentina.

Veronica Stefani, an Argentine journalist with Grupo Crónica in Miami, began to organize a local event. She recruited the well-known Argentine journalist Mercedes Marti, who lives here, high-profile lawyer Ana Rosenfeld, and famous model Karina Jelinek. Rosenfeld and Jelinek were here on vacation.

As hundreds of thousands of people protested outside Argentina's congress and in cities throughout Latin America, dozens of protesters convened at 73rd Street and Collins Avenue, in North Beach, which has become Miami’s unofficial "Little Buenos Aires." They held signs and chanted, "Ni una menos."

"This is a protest for women around the world,” says Stefani, who has lived in the United States for seven years. "In no part of the world should an abuser or killer be able to get off with no justice.”

The Argentine women’s shelter Casa del Encuentro, the only group that collects statistics for this type of violence, reports that more than 1,800 women were victims of femicidal violence in Argentina between 2008 and 2014, according to a recent New York Times op-ed. That means one woman is killed at least every 36 hours. The vast majority are killed by their husbands, boyfriends, or exes.

But because the government does not collect its own statistics, it’s difficult to access actual numbers, and figures are widely believed to be much higher.

Among the protesters’ demands are official statistics on femicide, guaranteed access to justice, and protection and more shelters for victims of domestic violence.

"The government lacks the resources to deal with the epidemic of violence,” states New York Times op-ed writer Uki Goñi. “The courts are underfunded and police lack training. So even reporting a crime to the authorities often ends up being another traumatic experience for victims of violence.”

#NiUnaMenos has since been taken up as a celebrity cause and featured in media around the world. The movement has also highlighted the deeply ingrained sexism that women in Argentina and across the region face on a daily basis, such as through piropos, or catcalls.

Before the protests, Argentine President Cristina Kirchner wrote a series of tweets, adding her voice to calls against femicide and sexism. But Argentina’s government hasn’t yet taken action to strengthen laws.

If nothing changes, Stefani says, additional protests will be planned next month — including in Miami.

“This is just the beginning,” she says. “We will protest again and again until something changes.” 
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Jessica Weiss