The stabbing death of Ursula Bahillo, 19, in the Buenos Aires province of Rojas has sent shockwaves across the country.
Bahillo previously filed 18 complaints of gender violence against her ex-partner and policeman Matías Ezequiel Martínez, 25. She filed a complaint two days before her murder.
Martínez was made aware of the new case against him at the prosecutors’ offices, hours before he killed Bahillo.
According to reports, Martínez also received a restraining order.
In the days before her murder, Bahillo’s mother raised a complaint against Martínez for attacking her daughter, suspecting that he also threatened her.
In an audio recording sent to a friend and later released, Bahillo said she could not deal with the situation. “
I swear I’m very sad. He told me he’s going to kill me, I can’t take it anymore,” she said.
Martínez was arrested near the scene of the murder.
Residents gathered Tuesday to protest outside a police station in Rojas to demand justice, with some alleging a police cover-up.
Objects were thrown at the station and police responded by firing rubber bullets, injuring one woman.
Nevertheless, for many in Argentina, the events appeared to follow a similar pattern for women who dare to speak about or report their abusers and are ultimately left exposed, unprotected and in a vulnerable position.
Minister of Women, Genders and Diversity, Elizabeth Gomez Alcorta said after the murder that women’s lives are not valued equally.
They have “judicial Power without a gender perspective,” she said. “There is no doubt that for justice administrations and for the security forces, when a woman denounces an act of violence it is a minor issue. What is at stake is the lives of women, but it seems that, despite all that we have advanced, women’s lives are not worth the same as other lives.”
She also cited the lack of “judicial intervention,” adding, “We are facing a case where a young woman makes 18 complaints against a person, who also had complaints in relation to other ex-partners, and that person was without any measure of restrictive freedom.”
Alcorta described on Twitter each femicide as an “irreparable pain” and continued to demand “no more impunity” in her call for greater justice against femicide.
Argentina’s youngest legislator, Ofelia Fernandez took to Twitter to speak out against the 18 complaints which were neglected and to criticize the behavior of police while demanding justice.
“Today we lost Ursula to Matias Martínez and his accomplices, but it is not the first time we have heard this story,” said Fernandez.
Argentine actress Natalie Perez decried the situation on Instagram, pointing out that the tragic events caused her profound “anguish.” She said, “this cannot happen anymore.”
Ni Una Menos, or Not One Less, a social movement across Latin America, has been mobilizing on the streets since 2015. It seeks to advance women’s rights and denounces impunity against women. Perez referenced the movement, saying, “not one less…Not one!”
According to data from the Observatory of Femicides in Argentina, between March 20 and Dec. 31, 2020, a total of 219 women were killed.
During the coronavirus lockdown, the number of women killed in Argentina reach a decade high.
Figures suggest one in seven had already filed a complaint and that 59% of women had been attacked by their partners or ex-partners, with 60% in their own homes.
Reportedly, there is one femicide every 30 hours in Argentina in the last 10 years.
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