With the words “Ni una mujer menos, ni una muerta más,” the late Mexican poet Susana Chávez inspired what would become a rallying cry across Latin America. In 1995, Chávez uttered these words to protest femicides in Juárez. And in 2015 – four years after Chávez’s death – activists resuscitated the phrase after the murders of Daiana García and Chiara Páez in Argentina. The words became slightly shortened to Ni Una Menos, but the message remains the same. On June 3, 2015, all across Argentina, women, children, and men came out to demand justice for women. Since then, there’s been similar protests in Mexico, Bolivia, and Brazil – with the latest taking place in Peru.
On August 13, more than 50,000 Peruvians joined the Ni Una Menos demonstrations to speak out against violence toward women. In the first five months of the year, 29 cases of reported femicide were reported. In the same time period, nearly 6,000 women were victims of domestic and sexual violence. But the light sentences given to the men who violently attacked Lady Guillén, Arlette Contreras, and the late Marielena Chumbimune really set the protests in motion, according to Peru21.
In 2012, Guillén’s boyfriend left her face bruised. Her image circulated on TV and online. Still, a judge didn’t believe he posed any real danger to her. He only served a four-year prison sentence. Eduardo Vega – Peru’s human rights ombudsman – said last week that the government treats survivors of physical or sexual violence with “absolute neglect.” A 2015 study by La Defensoría del Pueblo supports this statement. The study found that in 81 percent of cases, the government didn’t take any steps to protect victims of attempted femicide. 24 percent of these women ended up getting killed because of government inaction.
“This march is a cry against impunity, it’s a cry for equality and for the decent treatment of women,” said Ana María Romero, Peru’s new minister for women, according to The Guardian. “It will be a milestone, it will mark a before and after. There’s more citizen awareness about women’s rights.”
Newly elected President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski attending the march in Lima is an important step toward recognizing a prevalent problem in Peru. Romero said that the new government aims to do more, like train the police, offer more women’s shelters, as well as provide better psychological support. “Our problem is not a lack of legislation, it is how we apply the law. Those in charge of justice need more sensitivity and a better understanding of the rights of the women,” she said.
Here’s what the #NiUnaMenos march looked like across Peru: