20 Oct 2016

Black Wednesday for Argentina after brutal rape and murder

7:54 am on 20 October 2016

Women across Argentina protested gender-related violence on Wednesday (local time) after the rape and murder of a teenage girl in a coastal town last week.

The Not One Less movement called for women to walk out of their workplaces for one hour, between 1 and 2pm, and many women in Argentina dressed in black to mark the occasion.

Lucia Perez, 16, died earlier this month in the city of Mar del Plata.

Two men who left her at a hospital said she overdosed on drugs. But doctors found evidence she had been subjected to extreme sexual violence.

Argentinian teenager Lucia Perez was brutally raped and murdered.

Lucia Perez died after being left at a hospital by two men. Photo: Facebook

A march is planned for 5pm local time (9am Thursday NZT ) in Buenos Aires, and there are to be vigils in other Argentine cities and around the world. The day has been called "Miercoles Negro" - Spanish for Black Wednesday.

"In your office, school, hospital, law court, newsroom, shop, factory, or wherever you are working, stop for an hour to demand 'no more machista violence'," the march organisers wrote.

Machismo is the Spanish word for an exaggerated form of masculinity, which campaigners say engenders attitudes that in their extreme form lead to men killing women.

Tens of thousands of people rallied in the streets in June last year in protest at violence against women, and repeated marches and rallies have taken on the slogan "ni una menos" - Spanish for "not one woman less".

Lucia's 19-year-old brother, Matias, wrote in a Facebook post that taking to the streets and shouting together was the only way to prevent "thousands more Lucias" being killed, and the only way to "close her eyes and see her rest in peace".

On average, one woman is killed in domestic violence cases every 36 hours in the country.

Women in Buenos Aires protest on "Black Wednesday" after teenager Lucia Perez was brutally raped and murdered.

Women in Buenos Aires protest on "Black Wednesday" after teenager Lucia Perez was brutally raped and murdered. Photo: AFP

Argentina adopted an anti-femicide law in 2012, with harsher penalties for men who kill women when gender plays a part in the crime.

The new legislation also has tough penalties for domestic violence. Fifteen other countries in Latin America have written such laws, but critics say they are not being effectively implemented.

Three men have been arrested in connection with Lucia's death.

Prosecutors say she was drugged with marijuana and cocaine before the rape.

A foreign object was used on Lucia that caused pain so severe that she went into cardiac arrest.

Lucia died shortly after she was taken to hospital.

The lead prosecutor, Maria Isabel Sanchez, told the media: "I know it's not very professional to say this, but I am a mother and a woman and I have seen a thousand things in my career, but never anything equal to this litany of abhorrent acts."

Lucia's mother, Marta, said: "We can't understand such barbarity. It's impossible to understand."

"The way they killed her was inhuman," said Lucia's father, Guillermo.

The country's Justice Minister, German Garavano, met Lucia's parents last week and said the government was working to make sure young people "do not end up as the victims of these tragic acts".

- BBC / Reuters