Marcos Brindicci / Reuters

Argentines protest violence against women

Argentines flooded the streets of Buenos Aires and more than 100 other cities after two violent murders sparked outrage

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets throughout Argentina on Wednesday to condemn violence against women after a series of brutal murders.

Carrying signs with slogans like "machismo kills" and "enough deaths," Argentines flooded the streets of Buenos Aires and more than 100 other cities.

Marches were also held in Chile, Uruguay and Mexico.

The murder of a kindergarten teacher whose estranged husband slit her throat in front of her class and the killing of a 14-year-old girl whose boyfriend is accused of beating her to death because she got pregnant have shocked Argentinians.

The case of another woman whose ex-boyfriend stabbed her to death in broad daylight at a Buenos Aires cafe has also stoked outrage.

"We're seeing a social and political inflexion point," with people mobilizing en masse because of the recent killings, said Fabiana Tunez, director of one of the main organizations behind the marches, women's rights group La Casa del Encuentro.

"We find that a woman is killed due to gender-based violence every 31 hours in our country,” said Ada Beatriz Rico, La Casa’s president. “It is a truly alarming statistic and we are sure that the figure is even higher because there are places where women are murdered and where it is not covered by the media, as it can be in rural areas. So those murders are invisible.”

Argentina is one of 16 Latin American countries that have written the crime of "femicide" into their penal codes, setting down harsher punishments for the killing of a woman by a man when gender plays a part in the crime.

Argentina adopted a law in 2012 punishing the crime with life sentences, but domestic violence still killed 277 women last year, according to La Casa del Encuentro.

Argentine football star Lionel Messi and President Cristina Kirchner led the condemnation.

"Enough femicides," Messi wrote on Facebook. "We join all Argentines today in shouting out loud 'Not One Woman Less.'" In Spanish, the slogan is "Ni Una Menos."

Kirchner spoke out on social media against a "culture that devastates women," condemning what she called the everyday violence of catcalls, dirty jokes, obscenities and TV programs that "objectify" women.

In addition to the femicide law, Argentina has a 2009 law that cracks down on violence against women, but activists say it has not been effectively implemented.

“I made 80 police complaints before I was shot,” said Corina Fernandez, whose husband shot her three times in 2010. “I spoke out, I reported him, it was almost a death foretold and no one protected me.”

Two bullets remain lodged in her lungs.

The protest received broad backing from women's rights groups, labor and student unions, political parties, and the Catholic Church.

About 100 protesters gathered in the Chilean capital Santiago with signs reading "Mourning and outraged."

Several thousand marched in the Uruguayan capital Montevideo.

In Mexico, where domestic violence kills seven women a day, protesters were due to rally at the capital city's emblematic Angel of Independence later in the evening.

Wire services

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