The #NiUnaMenos Movement Takes to Argentina's Streets and Social Media to Protest Violence Against Women

Manifestantes gritan slogans mientras se unen a las cientos de personas que se reunieron en Buenos Aires para protestar contra los altos números de violencia contra las mujeres. La campaña #NiUnaMenos comenzó en mayo. Fotografía  de Javier Coltrane, copyright ©  Demotix (03/06/2015(

Demonstrators chant loudly while hundreds of people gathered in Buenos Aires to protest against the high volume of cases involving violence against women. The campaign #NiUnaMenos (Not One Less) began as a popular protest in May. Photograph property of Javier Coltrane, copyright © Demotix (03/06/2015)

In the last few years, the worst form of violence against women, femicide, has become more visible and tangible than ever in the River Plate area. The dozens of women who were murdered over the last few months have topped headlines in Argentine media and awoken public indignation, especially among the middle class.

Outraged Argentinians have launched the campaign #NiUnaMenos (Not One Less) and demonstrated in highly creative ways to call for a solution to this problem:

Thanks to their efforts, the demand for an end to femicide and violence against women has earned increased attention. On occasion, digital and street protests joined forces, materializing in a march on June 3.

The march, under the hashtag #NiUnaMenos, brought men and women together from all around the country and of diverse political beliefs. An admirable feat, given that the country is highly polarized politically speaking: 

Leftist, conservatives, and moderates also jumped on board:

In addition, the march received support and participation from male demonstrators and organizations who made it clear that violence against women is not solely a woman's problem:  

Nevertheless, some of the more conservative sectors of Argentinian society preferred to remain on the fringes of the march, refusing to protest side-by-side with associations that also made the call for decriminalization of abortion:

Furthermore, many refused to admit that the violence in Argentina is gender-specific; that is, they did not want to limit themselves by solely protesting against the violence against women. Therefore, they replaced the hashtag #NiUnaMenos with #NiUnaPersonaMenos (Not A Person Less), emphasizing the country's insecurity.

Not women, men, or children; we're all afraid to leave our houses. Let's put a stop to this.

“Stop the violence against women everybody.”

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the political figure responsible for polarizing the nation — unleashing both love and hate — expressed her support for the outcry and, at the same time, denounced the objectification of women in Argentine media:

On social media during the last few weeks, users discussed the concept of gender violence and the limitations of the debate regarding the visibility of the recent femicides:

In the same fashion, some pointed out that the daily words and actions, even of some of the movement's defenders, continue to reproduce misogynistic social structures:

There were even comic strips that reflected the irony of some of the participants’ paradoxical behavior, who are victims of more subtle types of gender violence:

Others were more critical in that regard and called out the hypocrisy of a few media outlets and political figures, who are currently boasting of their fight against gender violence and of their public support for the campaign. However, they have also recently been active in the aggression and objectification of women. Individuals who have justified certain forms of violence, along with those who have not invested enough in programs set out to combat this tragedy, were equally criticized:

The two women who are here were BEATEN by their significant others #Hipocresía [hypocrisy]. These guys are an EMBARRASSMENT #NiUnaMenos.

Translation from left to right: 

The media…

Days before: These violent guys are reciprocated by women who play at that.

Broads are born, they know that if they spread their legs, they can get certain things.

What did you do for him to hit you?

Did you do something so that he'd hit you?

When did they start to change? #NiUnaMenos?

Despite the varying degrees of outcry and the differences that exist between them, including the irreconcilable ideologies of different political groups, for the first time in many years, gender violence has become the hot topic of Argentina's political, media, and social agenda.

Might this be a reason for hope for those who would like to see this campaign go beyond being just a temporary social catharsis?

For the moment, it does seem that something is starting to change. The attitude towards verbal violence and street harassment in the form of “cat calling” is being questioned. At least that is how it appears in a Twitter contribution by La Gente Anda Diciendo (What People Are Saying), a popular, online Argentine initiative with the purpose of gathering street conversations that users hear while out on the street:

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