Washington (AFP) – Thousands of people took to the streets across the world on Saturday to condemn violence against women on the international day highlighting the crime.
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On the UN-designated International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, protesters marched in Europe and the Americas.
“The scourge of gender-based violence continues to inflict pain and injustice on too many,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement.
“An estimated one in three women globally will experience physical violence, rape, or stalking at some point in their lifetimes. It’s an outrage.”
“Particularly in areas of conflict, countless women and girls suffer at the hands of perpetrators who commit gender-based violence and use rape as a weapon of war.”
In Guatemala, protesters kicked off commemorations on Friday evening, placing candles to write out 438 — the number of women killed so far this year.
In the Chilean capital of Santiago, some 1,000 protesters marched through the streets Friday night, chanting “Not one step backward” and demanding action by the government to protect women.
A women’s advocacy group estimates that 40 femicides have occurred in the country this year.
Along Rio de Janeiro’s famed Copacabana Beach, protesters lined up 722 pairs of women’s shoes, from high-heels to sneakers, each pair before a woman’s name to represent the femicides recorded in 2022 — the highest number since 2019, according to the non-governmental Brazilian Forum on Public Safety.
And in Argentina, demonstrators — including those concerned by the election of incoming president Javier Milei — in Buenos Aires combined a protest on violence against women with a show of support for the Palestinian people.
Milei has suggesting eliminating the Ministry of Women, Genders and Diversity — in charge of preventing gender violence — and has taken hardline stances on issues including abortion and equal pay
In Italy, which has been shaken by the murder of a 22-year-old university student allegedly by her former boyfriend, some 50,000 people, according to the AGI news agency, demonstrated in Rome, where the Colosseum was to be lit up in red later on Saturday.
The country has been horrified by the case of Giulia Cecchettin, who went missing for a week as she was due to receive her degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Padua.
Her body was eventually found in a gully about 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of Venice, and her former boyfriend, 22-year-old Filippo Turetta, was arrested in Germany.
“This year… takes on particularly important connotations for us… for those in this country who care about the rights, claims and emancipation of all women, following yet another femicide, the killing of Giulia Cecchettin,” said Luisa Loduce, a 22-year-old librarian.
In the year to November 12, there have been 102 murder cases with female victims in Italy, 82 of them by family members or current or former partners, according to the interior ministry.
In Turkey, some 500 women gathered in the Sisli district in Istanbul, as riot police stood by, unfurling banners reading “We will not remain silent” and “Women are united and fighting against male-state violence.”
Protesters also took to the streets in Ankara.
‘Educate your boys’
In France, several thousand people, many wearing purple, the color of women and gender equality, wove through the chilly streets of Paris and other cities, carrying signs reading: “One rape every six minutes in France” and “Protect your girls, educate your boys”.
“We don’t want to count the dead any more,” Maelle Lenoir, an official from the All of Us activist group, told reporters, urging the government to devote more money to eradicating violence against women.
France has recorded 121 women killed so far this year in femicides, the killing of a woman due to her gender, compared with 118 in 2022, according to government data.
Leonore Maunoury, 22, said that the justice system needed to be changed to deal effectively with the phenomenon, as she marched in the eastern city of Strasbourg.
“Sexual violence is difficult to prove. Many cases are dismissed. The justice system is ill-adapted” to deal with the issue, she said.
© 2023 AFP