On Wednesday December 5, thousands of women took part in a nationwide protest against the acquittal of two men accused of raping and killing 16-year-old Lucia Perez in 2016.
“Today we are angry,” activist and campaigner Lola Jufre told the Associated Press during the march. “In spite of our fight, we are being decimated in the cruelest ways.”
Matías Farías and Juan Pablo Offidani are the two men accused in the case, but due to the lack of evidence that they had forced Perez against her will to take drugs and have sexual intercourse, the men were absolved of the crimes of rape and femicide. However, they did both receive a fine and eight years in prison for selling drugs.
The march brought together representatives and supporters of the #NiUnaMenos (Not one woman more) movement as well as feminist groups and labour unions to show their solidarity for both Perez’ death and the femicide of hundreds more women in Argentina.
“For Lucia and For Everyone,” read one of the placards. “We love ourselves alive, against a complicit patriarchal justice system.” “Today for Lucia, Tomorrow for Me.”
Perez’ mother Marta Morena was also at the march to protest against the controversial ruling.
“It isn’t fair what they are doing to our children and we are not going to allow it anymore,” she told Todo Noticias. “Everyone of you [those supporting the cause] are an embrace that Lucia would give me. That means that Lucia is always embracing me.”
— #VivasNosQueremos (@ColectivoNUM) 3 de diciembre de 2018
The Lucia Perez case provoked the first nationwide women’s strike in October 2016 due to the violent nature of the crime and her young age. However, Argentinian courts ruled that Perez held much of the responsibility for her own death. Pagina 12 reported that Judges Aldo Daniel Carnevale, Pablo Javier Viñas and Juan Facundo Gómez Urso stated that Perez was not in a vulnerable situation due to the difference in age (Farías was seven years older than her), nor the drug use, nor for being underage.
“Lucia was prone to having sexual relations with men she barely knew, but this was her own choice and when she wanted it,” the judges stated. They added that people who knew Perez said that she was “a strong personality” and was far from being “submissive.”
The ruling caused international outrage, provoking the publication of the article “Lucia Perez’ death was femicide and this is a war,” by Laura Salomé Canteros and Nadia Fink, who highlighted that between January and October, 255 women were killed in Argentina, equating to one every 32 hours.
Perez’ family will appeal the court’s decision, calling it “an embarrassment.” It is as yet unconfirmed whether the appeal will be accepted.