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DePauw Univeristy

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

Argentina: Social Movements and Human Rights


Femicide is the ultimate display of gendered violence in which a man kills a woman for being a woman. Femicide is made possible by the patriarchal system that ascribes power and control to men, systematically positioning women as a vulnerable population. Every year, more than two hundred women die of femicide in Argentina, resulting in the death of a woman approximately every thirty hours. Femicide has only been recognized by the international community within the last forty years, making it a newly-recognized phenomenon, although it has existed for centuries. This investigation seeks to further our knowledge of femicide and its role within the context of gender relations in Argentina as according to both the State and non-governmental organizations.

Until recently, femicide in Argentina was included in conceptualizations of domestic violence within the private sphere. The change from the private to public sphere is described in this investigation through the theory of social problems. To examine this change, though, one must also examine the word itself and how “femicidio” (femicide) emerged in Argentina to become a more recognized concept. Although Argentina has named femicide as a social problem, it has yet to be made visible in ways that guarantee resources to fight it for years to come, as well as in ways that address its role within the larger context of gender inequalities between men and women. Therefore, this investigation uses the accounts of the Argentine State and civil organizations to show the implementation of the word “femicidio” in Argentina, how femicide came to be considered a social problem, as well as the ongoing process of visibilization of femicide by both civil and government offices. Notably, this investigation does not utilize the accounts of neither social media nor major media, as there has already been ample research conducted on the general changes in perspective to include femicide as a result of gender inequality rather than simply marital disharmony.

This research will play a role in analyzing how different institutions approach the issue of femicide through comparing and contrasting. As the investigation revealed, there are not adequate resources dedicated to stopping femicide in Argentina, even though thousands of women have died as the result of of gendered violence. Although data collection has not been in effect for many years, the statistics show no sign of a decrease in rates of femicide for future years. Therefore, an analysis of the effectiveness of the State’s efforts, as well as the contributions of social organizations, will provide a synthesis of both governmental and non-governmental strategies in this field.

I utilized websites and other online publications to access a large quantity of my information regarding institutionalized and third-sector efforts against femicide, although there was substantially more information by the State than the NGOs. To increase my knowledge of the State and the civil organizations, my advisor, Soledad Vallejos, put me in contact with three women with social organizations and one women who works for the Argentine State. After the interviews, I transcribed the conversations to use in an analysis of central themes discussed. The categories by which I organized my information is as follows: the word femicide, the role of the State, the role of social organizations, laws about femicide, the process of becoming a social problem, and visibilization. From this codification, I was able to detect sub-themes, as well as commonalities and differences from the accounts, such as lack of recognition of women’s diverse identities in the national laws.

Furthermore, this project describes how the word femicide was first used by social organizations before the State began to utilize the term in the context of gendered violence. Although the State and social organizations contributed to the conceptualization of femicide in Argentina, there remains to be seen a discourse in which femicide is considered within the larger context of gendered violence and structural inequality by both society and within the justice system.

Laws in Argentina do not name femicide specifically, although it is now included within the National Criminal Code as a crime for which a man could earn lifetime imprisonment. Historically, gendered violence has been considered as domestic violence, and this conceptualization is still perpetuated within the justice system today through sentences based on domestic violence rather than utilizing the Criminal Code modifications regarding femicide in sentencing. All of the interviewees testified to the breach between the careful wording of the laws and the reality of the enactment of said laws in the lives of Argentine women. Another common theme emerged of the lack of resources and coordinating power of governmental offices for women’s issues, speaking to its place in the hierarchy of state affairs.

Argentina, following the theory of social problems outlined in this paper, has completed the theoretical process of considering femicide to be a social problem. The process involved efforts by the third sector to convince others of the problem, legitimation of these actors, bureaucratization by the State, and an ongoing process of visibilization femicide in its evolution as a social problem. This investigation suggests that in the coming years, the State and social organizations will continue to visibilize femicide as a social problem but in different ways. Based on the aforementioned research, this investigation projects that the government will continue to issue structural reform, while social organizations will push for changes at the municipal level while working directly with women. For the Argentine State, the challenge is to allocate enough resources to prioritize this issue within the judicial system, as well as to enact concrete change in the lives of its citizens. The challenges facing social organizations in this theme will be form a unified front against this issue while facing limited resources.


Criminology | Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence | Family, Life Course, and Society | Gender and Sexuality | Sociology | Women's Studies



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