Alleged gang rape in Argentina fuels calls for men to fight gender-based violence | Argentina
AAn alleged gang rape in broad daylight has shone a spotlight on the pervasive rape culture in Argentina and sparked new calls for men to play a bigger role in the country’s fight against gender-based violence.
The attack on a 20-year-old woman by six men allegedly took place on a Monday afternoon in February, in a car parked in Palermo, one of the liveliest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires.
Two men stood guard outside, strumming a guitar in an apparent attempt to cover up the attack, as four others allegedly took turns assaulting the woman in the vehicle.
A couple came to the rescue of the young woman, and a crowd formed afterwards, shouting insults at the men who sat handcuffed next to a police car.
All six, aged 20 to 24, are charged with rape, aggravated by the involvement of two or more people.
Two have denied the allegations, but all remain in custody and a court has imposed an embargo on their assets.
Argentina is at the forefront of feminist and transfeminist movements in Latin America: it legalized abortion in 2020 and introduced a series of government policies aimed at eradicating gender-based violence. But cis and trans femicide rates are still shockingly high, with about one woman killed every 30 hours.
Like a notorious assault in Pamplona, Spain, by a group of men who called themselves ‘the pack of wolves’, the Palermo case sparked a national debate with intense discussion about how rape is usually portrayed. as an isolated act rather than a reflection of a larger situation. society.
“He’s your brother, your neighbor, your father, your son, your friend, your co-worker,” said Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta, Argentina’s minister for women, gender and diversity. said in a tweet following the attack.
“It’s not a beast, it’s not an animal, it’s not a pack with unstoppable instincts. None of the acts that horrify us is isolated. Everyone responds to the same cultural matrix,” Alcorta said. “We need men to be part of the [feminist] to struggle against.”
Members of the political opposition have attacked Alcorta, saying it paints large swathes of society as rapists – with some even suggesting such a framing justifies those who commit heinous crimes.
Luciano Fabbri, president of the Institute for Masculinities and Social Change, said there was always a tendency to see these cases as an exception to the norm, rather than a reflection of how men are socialized to accept this violence and feel entitled to women, their bodies and their time.
“Just because we don’t kill or rape doesn’t mean we have no responsibility for the societal change the women’s movement is pushing for,” Fabbri said. “We need to understand how we are still participating – by omission or complicity – in these power relations that legitimize gender-based violence.”
At a demonstration in Buenos Aires after the assault on Palermo, the outrage was palpable.
“I’m sick of it. I’m tired,” said Ornella Michetti, a teacher. “There’s this feeling that despite all the effort we’ve put into this, it’s just not enough.”
Nadia Vega, a vegan food vendor at the march, said: “It’s horrible that this is going on and we have to keep saying [men]: don’t give us flowers, start talking about it with your friends.
For Magdalena Morgenstern, the Palermo attack sparked an uncomfortable conversation with her partner, who revealed he had gone to school with one of the defendants and remained silent when he acted inappropriately with women.
“I have a dad and a boyfriend who have micro-machismo and I love them a lot. So I feel conflicted about that, obviously,” said Morgenstern, 19. “And while we’re all in this process of breaking down who we are, rape and femicide continue to happen.
Adriana Morgenstern, her mother, saw these discussions as a sign of progress.
“I think of myself at his age, who I am years later and how I went about changing and positioning myself in my own rights. It is a collective construction. We transform together.