NI UNA MENOS
I stand as small as an ant below the Obelisk in Plaza de Mayo, where before me, thousands upon thousands have protested. Most notably, the Madres de La Plaza de Mayo marched here, silently in white handkerchiefs, demanding their disappeared sons, daughters, husbands, and friends. The dictatorship that disappeared those 30,000 individuals has since ended, yet the strong tradition of peaceful protest prevails.
Now, there is a Women’s Strike and Protest with more than 200,000 people crowding the town center. I had been invited by my professor, one of the primary organizers of the Ni Una Menos Movement. Among thousands upon thousands of women, chants of #NiUnaMenos, which translates to not one less, meaning not one less woman alive, and #vivasnosqueremos, meaning we want ourselves alive, ring through the rainy air. I carry a poster reading “La puta que te paró” (The slut/whore/prostitute that strikes) and “El estado es responsible” (The state is responsible). The statistics are startling: a femicide every 30 hours in Argentina, more than 200 femicides a year, 18% of victims are less than 20 years old, and only 5% of the femicides are done by people unknown to the victim. Translation: In Argentina, every 30 hours, a woman is killed by someone she knows.
And then there was the story of Lucía Perez, a 16 year old girl who was drugged, raped, and stabbed in a city near Buenos Aires; of Silvia Filomena Ruiz who was stabbed by her ex-husband, Marilyn Méndez, a 28 year old pregnant woman who was also stabbed to death by her ex-husband; and of Venesa Débora Morena who was killed by her husband and so many more in the weeks leading up to the protest.
The women marching that cold, rainy day were angry. Yet they knew they were part of a feminist revolution. Passing out pink arm bands, chanting pussy power, painting vaginas on posters, supporting abortion, prostitutes, and equal pay, they were radical in more ways than one. Someone told me that this was the beginning of the feminist revolution because women were finally raising awareness about these issues. But I disagree, women have always been talking. We met in kitchens, at book clubs, at factories, at playgrounds, at grocery stores. The difference now is that our voices are now loud enough that men start to listen. We are moving out of the shadows, the whispers, and the secrets and into the international press, the town square, the line of vision. We demand to be seen, heard, respected. And that’s exactly what happened when the protesters and I gathered in front of Casa Rosa (the Argentine equivalent of the White House), chanting, demanding, rallying.
I stand with you, Argentina. #NiUnaMenos