Argentina’s Gender Violence Crisis: A Deepening Threat

Last Updated: April 25, 2024By

Argentina’s Gender Violence Crisis: A Deepening Threat

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Javier Milei, Argentina’s far-right president, is causing a storm by planning to shut down the government department that tackles gender violence. This move has sparked outrage among human rights activists.

A Sudden Departure

On Thursday, Claudia Barcia, who led the undersecretariat for protection against gender violence, quit her job. She warned everyone that the agency would be shut down soon. She posted on Twitter, “The Undersecretary of Protection against Gender Violence… will cease to exist.” She later confirmed this to the Guardian, saying she got the news the day before.

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Tough Times and Tough Decisions

Milei’s government is making big cuts to government spending, trying to fix Argentina’s economic mess. The country has one of the highest inflation rates in the world, and more than half of its people are living in poverty. A source from the human rights secretariat mentioned that this move is to “streamline” the agency and “optimize resources,” but assured that “all missions and programs” would continue.

Essential Services at Risk

This agency runs the 144 emergency hotline and the Acompañar program, which helps those in danger of gender violence. But it’s already been hit by budget cuts—public spending on these programs was down by 26.8% in the first quarter of 2024 compared to 2023, according to the Civil Association for Equality and Justice.

The Human Cost

The agency’s workers, who used to number 600 but are now just 200, said in a statement, “We are faced with a total hollowing out of policies for the prevention of gender-based violence.”

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Voices of Concern

Fernanda Tarica, a doctor and founder of the NGO Shalom Bait, which supports victims of gender violence, warned that Argentina is “in the hands of a dangerous man.” She added, “Women are at risk.”

A Grim Reality

Argentina has high rates of gender violence. Court data showed an 11% increase in femicides, misogynistic killings, last year. The local observatory Now They See Us recorded 78 femicides from January to April this year, which means one gender-based murder every 37 hours.

Feminism Under Attack

Verónica Gago, a researcher and member of the feminist movement #NiUnaMenos (Not One Less), said, “Milei is dismantling the last resource against gender violence in public policy. He has established feminism as his enemy and is punishing women again.”

A Call to Action

The state workers’ association called this move an “enormous setback.” They noted it’s the first time since 1992 that Argentina won’t have an organization responsible for promoting a life without violence and discrimination. They have planned a protest against this decision next Tuesday.

A Controversial Leader

President Milei, a libertarian, is openly anti-feminist. He has faced constant criticism over women’s rights issues. In his first six months in office, he banned gender-inclusive language in the public sector and called abortion “aggravated murder.” The gender violence department was created to replace the ministry of women, gender, and diversity, which Milei shut down soon after taking office in December.

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