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Women's Rights

Argentine women protest rape and murder of teenager

Argentine women have taken to the streets in protest after the savage rape and murder of a 16-year-old-girl. Organizers said their goal was to protest a macho culture and system that values women less than men.

Women from across the country marched in memory of Lucia Perez, who died earlier this month, in the latest demonstration to take place after more than a year of mass protests.

Many who part in the Buenos Aires protest wore black, to mourn victims of gender-based violence.

The demo took place under the banner "Black Wednesday," and was organized by the collectives "Ni Una Menos" (Not One Fewer) and MuMaLa. There were no official attendance figures.

There was an eruption of anger in June last year after a series of gruesome killings, but the murder of Perez in the city of Mar del Plata has led to particular outrage.

"If you touch one of us, we all react," said signs carried by many of the protesters, who staged an hour-long strike at 1 p.m. (1400 UTC). Solidarity protests were held in other countries, including Spain and Mexico.

'Sobering and planned' murder

Perez, a high school student, died on October 8 after she was allegedly raped and impaled on a spike.

Prosecutor Maria Isabel Sanchez said last week that Perez had been drugged with cocaine and had suffered "inhumane sexual aggression" that resulted in cardiac arrest. The perpetrators were then said to have washed the body in an effort to make the death appear accidental.

Two men, known for selling drugs outside a school, were being held on Sunday in connection with the rape and homicide.

"The brutality of this crime reveals a sobering, planned and sophisticated violence," said Florencia Minici, spokeswoman for Ni Una Menos. Minici said the event would serve as a visual reminder of the violence, which she said was "beyond any statistic."

'Gather strength, shout together'

Perez' brother, Matias, said the demonstration could help prevent more deaths like that of his sister. "We have to gather strength - now more than ever - and get out onto the street to shout together - 'Not one more (life lost)!'" he said.

MuMaLa coordinator Raquel Vivanco told the news agency EFE that the state was "absent" from dealing with the problem, with figures showing that a woman was murdered in Argentina every 30 hours.

However, Argentine Justice Minister German Garavano, who met Perez' family last week, said the government was committed to dealing with the problem.

rc/jr (AFP, AP, EFE)