A selection of articles from Western media covering the protests that occurred in Buenos Aires in October 2016 after the rape and murder of 16 year old Lucía Pérez. Pérez from Mar del Plata just south of the capital was drugged and subject to violent abuse and rape. She died of cardiac arrest. People took to the streets wearing black posting with the hashtag #miércolesnegro.
Their slogan was ‘nos queremos vivas’ – We want to live.
Deeply affected by machista (male chauvinist) violence she is one of the organisers of the association #NiUnaMenos that brought together thousands from across [Argentina]. Today she has come to tell us all about it.
Ingrid Beck is a journalist. Currently she runs the school of journalism TEAArte and the periodical ‘Barcelona: A European Solution to Argentinian Problems’. She also participates as a columnist for various radio stations and national media broadcasters. She is one of the organisers of the association #NiUnaMenos that brought together thousands from across [Argentina] against machista violence. These days she actively participates in the strategic direction of the campaign #ArgentinaCuentaLaViolenciaMachista (Argentina Talks Out About Machista Violence). She cowrote ‘The (Useless) Guide for First-Time Mothers’ with Paula Rodriguez as well as ‘Help, We’re Parents!’ with Alejandro Fainboim.
“I’d like to start by asking some questions to part of the audience, to the females of the audience. I’d like to ask the women of the audience to raise their hands if at any time you have felt afraid during the morning before leaving the house that you were going to face some form of verbal abuse – rudeness or cursing – on the street. Several, Several.
I’d like the women of the audience that at any time have been felt up or touched in any public place, without consent of course, to raise their hands. – Many
And finally, I want to know now. I’d like for you the women of the audience to raise your hands if at any time, you have been afraid of being raped. – There are many of us. Several, but we can’t tell how many… we don’t know how many. We’re going to find out how many though. I’m asking you these questions because it is important to know just how many of us have been victims of machismo due largely to the fact we don’t have any information about these things. In this country, there is no data – there’s a total lack of data regarding machista violence and less still about the condition of women. The one thing we do know is that a woman dies every 30 hours in Argentina simply for being a woman. It’s the one thing we have, that we know – that the femicides we’re talking about are the last link of the large chain of violence that we women suffer at large for all our lives.
The 3rd of June 2015 a popular demonstration took place in Argentina that brought more than 500,000 people across the country together. I believe it was the most federal and most transversal demonstration in memory save some commemoration of the 1976 coup d’état. Many people demanded an end to femicides. The demonstration is called Ni Una Menos and its value besides in actually taking to the street was in the discussions, the conversations in every home, in every workplace, the circulation of consciousness that happened around it. For example, many men were surprised by the stories from these conversations.
Man, listen mothers, sisters, daughters have all been affected by these incidents of violence.
“Mom have you ever been touched up on the bus?” – “Yes”
“Daughter, have you been flashed on the street?” – “Yes”
“Seriously, your boss asked you for sex?!” – “Yes”
I could go on; the list is endless because we’re talking about a problem with many dimensions.
Despite saying that the 3rd June 2015 was very valuable for what it had to do with the discussions, the conversations, and the awareness it created I do not want to take away from the importance of public policy. Public policy is very important, it’s fundamental. This 3rd June we returned to the streets due to the lack of public policy. I’m sure that 3rd of June 2017 we’re going to go back to the streets with the same chant [Ni Una Menos – Not One More (woman dying of femicide)]. Because of the notoriety this movement has it does not need to explain what femicide is. It does not need to explain what Ni Una Menos is. It does however fail to explain what machista violence is. And what is machista violence? It’s a social construct made by men and women.
For that reason, this 3rd June going out onto the streets it seemed not enough to us. There had to be something else. At the start of this year a colleague Martín Romeo, an investigative technician, created a survey on Twitter where he asked men and women if they had felt afraid of being raped or violated ever before. Of course, the immense majority of women said yes and a clear majority of men said no. Martín is the politically committed type. He went to the marches. He was informed on the subject at hand and he was appalled by the response. Like him other men ignored what happens with machista violence. He started to ask himself then how do femicides occur? Can they be measured? How can they be measured? He approached me with these questions. So, with other people in Ni Una Menos, a group of specialists, and fancy technical equipment we started to think about putting together a tool that we could give an ambitious name. We called it #ArgentinaCuentaLaViolenciaMachista (Argentina Talks Out About Machista Violence). We created a survey, a survey different to the usual. The questionnaire had more than 150 questions with the idea of drawing up a federal map of machista violence. It was an online survey that we uploaded to www.contralaviolenciamachista.com. We launched it the 3rd June 2015 and in 2016 for the latest 3rd June.
I’m going to talk about myself for a bit. I want to tell you what happened to me when I went to fill out the survey. Because I had been part of the production I had been filling it out a load of times. I had corrected the spelling mistakes, the mistakes in the questions. I settled down filling them out seriously. Then the 3rd June at 12 at night I surprised myself. I felt totally challenged by questions that I did not think were going to challenge me.
Have you ever been flashed in public? Yes, more than 5 times.
Have you ever been felt up on public transport? Yes, more than 5 times.
Have you ever been the victim of obstetrical violence? Yes, at least 3 times.
Have you ever been afraid of being raped? Yes, more than 5 times.
I was 46 at the time. Now I’m 47. I have a feminist husband, I rear feminist boys. I am an active campaigner. Was this not enough? I was surprised. I had experienced these instances of machista violence as if they were inherent to being a woman as though it were natural, normal. I had normalised them.
Something else that that happened to me was that I was feeling less alone because of these questions and the fact that I was answering “more than 5 times”. Surely, only in the days of slavery would a woman be answering the same. I felt like I wasn’t alone. I forgot one of the most classical characteristics of machista violence which is that it makes women feel alone. It makes you feel that you deserve it, that you deserve what happens to you. Something had to be done. Nobody, not one woman deserves to suffer any instance of machista violence.
The 3rd September we finished up field work on the way receiving a load of responses of stories, accounts from women who had done the survey of things that had happened to them; that had happened to me. There’s one story a group of women told me from when they were chatting in work. They were all together they were going to answer the survey, and discuss it when one of them said “I don’t know what to say for this question?”. The question was “Have you ever been raped, yes or no?”. They asked her “Why don’t you know how to respond?” – “Because of my husband.”. Many of her colleagues told her that if it is your husband it’s not rape. Fortunately, there were many others who told her “Yes, he raped you. Answer yes”. “Yes, more than 5 times.” I think that for the sake of this story alone our work is validated having created this as a tool for the de-normalisation of machista violence. So, as I was saying, a few weeks after having finished the field work we had 59,000 responses. 59,000 women completed a questionnaire of more than 150 questions. It is the second most responded to online survey in Argentina. The first was one done by the newspaper Olé that asked who was the sixth of the Big Six of Argentine football. 120,000 people responded with a click and nothing more choosing Hurracán.
I’ll get back to what we were talking about. On the 23rd November, which is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women we’re going to present the data so there may be open data that will be seen by all for the sake of everybody. I do have some preliminary data that I would like to share with you first because of what we’re talking about with the dimensions of the problem. All the scenarios that we had were confirmed or worsened. Of the 59,000 women that answered the survey 12% had been raped, here in Río Negro it was 15%. Of the women that responded to the survey 99% had said they had suffered from gender based social violence. The same figure of 99% was also present here in Río Negro as well as in Tierra del Fuego, Tucumán, and in Formosa. 99% nearly 100% of the women. The survey told us that machista violence is both federal and transversal across social class, age, place of residence, education levels, it does not discriminate. The #ArgentinaCuentaLaViolenciaMachista project didn’t get a single peso in finance. It was decided that it would go unfinanced because we believe that the data collected is for everybody and anybody. We hope that for the civil servants who deal with public policy that this would serve as a design for public policy on a topic which there is practically no legislation. However, I also hope that it acts as a kick-start for cultural change.
I am very optimistic otherwise I wouldn’t be here trying to get you to catch on to this movement. I’m wishing that… I’m hoping that the officials take this data and use it for something. I hope that this serves as a tool as we imagined it would, as a tool to de-normalise machista violence. A woman who answered the survey on the 3rd June at 12a.m. said it much better that I am now when she said to us via Twitter “Tonight I’m sleeping thinking that the point of all of this is that our daughters and the daughters of mine will be not one less”. Thank you very much.”