Women across Argentina donned black clothes and stopped working for one hour on Wednesday in a nationally organized protest — dubbed “Miercoles Negro,” or Black Wednesday — condemning violence against women, the latest in a series of actions against sexualized violence throughout Latin America.
While estimates on the number of participants were not immediately available, local media captured groups of women gathered outside several public offices and private businesses in the capital Buenos Aires.
The one-hour strike and marches, estimated to include thousands of women later in the day, were sparked by the horrific rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl in early October in the city of Mar del Plata.
“I know it’s not very professional to say this, but I am a mother and a woman and I have seen a thousand things in my career, but never anything equal to this litany of abhorrent acts.”
Lucía Perez was dropped off at a hospital by unnamed men on Oct. 8, where she soon died. The men claimed she had taken an overdose. But doctors discovered evidence of extreme sexual violence, including vaginal rape and anal penetration with an object that was thrust so violently it probably caused her to go into cardiac arrest, according to María Isabel Sánchez, the lead prosecutor handling the case.
“I know it’s not very professional to say this, but I am a mother and a woman and I have seen a thousand things in my career, but never anything equal to this litany of abhorrent acts,” Sánchez told reporters last week.
Three men have been arrested in the case that has sent shockwaves through Argentina, where there were 275 gender-related murders of women in the first five months of 2016 alone, according to a study by women’s rights group Casa del Encuentro.
The victim’s family has taken a prominent role in the campaign to turn their personal tragedy into a watershed moment for the country.
“This time it was Lucía who suffered bestial gender violence, but next time it could be you, or the person you love most in the world,” her brother Matías Pérez said in an open letter published Tuesday. “We have to be strong and take to the streets and shout all together that now, more than ever, Not One Less.”
Ni Una Menos, or Not One Less, has become a slogan used throughout Latin America as women in the region become more vocal in their stand against all forms of sexual violence, from harassment to murder.
Activists in the Chilean capital Santiago also called for a march on Wednesday evening in solidarity with the protests in Argentina. A similar protest was also called in Mexico, where a particular emphasis was placed on the recent wave of transgender-related murders.