By Charles Newbery
BUENOS AIRES (AA) – Thousands of demonstrators hit the streets in Buenos Aires Friday for a second annual march to protest violence against women.
Men, women and children carried signs with the movement’s slogans of “Ni una menos,” or Not One Less, “We want them alive” and “Let’s shout again” in 80 cities across the country, with the largest concentration on the steps of Congress in Buenos Aires.
Others waved hand-drawn posters with phrases such as: “You have the right to be happy” and “Hitting a woman is like hitting your mother.”
Demonstrators are demanding more action and measures by the government, police and legal system to reduce violence -- the same demands made during the first march last year that brought more than 150,000 protesters to Congress.
According to La Casa del Encuentro, a non-governmental organization defending women’s human rights, 275 women have been murdered since the march a year ago, leaving 216 minors without mothers.
Statistics show there has been little letup in the violence, with 286 murders of women reported in 2015, 277 in 2014 and an average of 255 a year between 2008 and 2013.
“This is a cry of pain that we must transform into action,” La Casa del Encuentro President Ada Rico told Clarin newspaper.
Sixty-two percent of the murders were in the victims’ homes and most were carried out by partners or ex-partners, according to the non-profit.
Protest organizers -- a group of activists, artists and journalists -- want more efficiency in the courts to bring justice for the victims and their families and to crack down on the violence by training public prosecutors how to handle cases.
They also want a law passed that would provide economic assistance to the minors of victims.
More than 1,600 children lost their mothers between 2008 and 2015, according to La Casa del Encuentro.The first march was sparked after a series of high-profile murders, including that of a 14-year-old girl in Rufino, Santa Fe.
Her pregnant body was found buried in the patio of her 16-year-old boyfriend’s house following days of searching.
To raise awareness before the march, a number of celebrities posted messages on social media.“If you’re a man, you don’t have to wear the #NiUnaMenos sign,” actress and singer Erica Garcia wrote on Twitter. “It’s enough to just treat us well.”