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How Argentina Is Changing Tactics To Combat Gender Violence

Argentina has tweaked its protocols for responding to sexual and domestic violence. It hopes to encourage victims to report crimes and reveal information vital to a prosecution.

A black and white image of a woman looking at a memorial wall in Argentina.

A woman looking at a memorial wall in Argentina.

CC search
Mara Resio

BUENOS AIRES - In the first three months of 2023, Argentina counted 116 killings of women, transvestites and trans-people, according to a local NGO, Observatorio MuMaLá. They reveal a pattern in these killings, repeated every year: most femicides happen at home, and 70% of victims were protected in principle by a restraining order on the aggressor.

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Now, legal action against gender violence, which must begin with a formal complaint to the police, has a crucial tool — the Protocol for the Investigation and Litigation of Cases of Sexual Violence (Protocolo de investigación y litigio de casos de violencia sexual). The protocol was recommended by the acting head of the state prosecution service, Eduardo Casal, and laid out by the agency's Specialized Prosecution Unit for Violence Against Women (UFEM).

The UFEM designs, among other tasks, sex-crime policies and response strategies. Its recent protocol against femicides has been approved, and is in force, in 11 of the country's 23 provinces.

Image of a protest for International Women's Day in Cordoba.

On March 8, International Women's Day was celebrated and a mobilization was held in Cordoba demanding an end to patriarchal violence and gender inequality.

Daniel Bustos/ZUMA

A complicated justice system

Its aim is to provide a solid, legal framework for investigations into this murky and elusive area of criminal conduct, in line with international norms. There are problems at present, the first of which is that "often the victims do not go to the police," the head of the UFEM Mariela Labozzetta, told Clarín, attributing this to "distrust of the justice system."

A woman's statements on sexual violence are received with skepticism.

The other obstacle to investigations was "in how testimonies are taken. There are international norms on special procedures for registering testimonies, for example in a private space with a person you feel you can trust, of the same gender if a woman wants it, and respecting time limits."

The victim's testimony has a "special weight," says Labozzetta, because domestic or sexist violence happens in private spaces, without witnesses. Often, she says, "a woman's statements on sexual violence are received with skepticism, which doesn't happen when people report other crimes, like theft." Labozzetta is herself a public prosecutor in the district of Morón in the Buenos Aires province.

After a formal complaint, the protocol focuses on gathering circumstantial evidence of use to police and ensuring no evidence is destroyed.

Image of a woman with a purple hand painted on her face, during a rally for International Women's Day in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

March 8, 2023: A woman during the International Women's Day rally in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Mariana Nedelcu/ZUMA

Different factors

Intervention is also tied to two factors: the time lapse between an incident and its reporting (are authorities dealing with a matter of urgency, recent or less recent events, or a longstanding situation?), and abuse categories (sexual abuse with physical contact, with or without lesions, and abuse without contact or injuries). Labozzetta says "if the sexual abuse happened just now, the victim is taken to hospital to create a clinical history, before following a specific procedure that is set out."

In less recent incidents, she says, "the construction is historical in nature," considering incidental or secondary testimonies, their repetition or the victim's emotional state when making a statement. The UFEM will also seek information on the aggressor.

"Generally if the aggressor has escaped or wasn't identified, the case is shelved as there is no way to proceed. But even here, there are international commitments on clarifying the case."

Labozzetta says investigations also need a "context, and to analyze the suspect's track record and whether or not he previously engaged in similar behavior."

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The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

Currently, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming, compared to just 10% two decades ago. The short-sightedness of this shift risks eliminating fishing output from both the farms and the open seas along Turkey's 5,200 miles of coastline.

Photograph of two fishermen throwing a net into the Tigris river in Turkey.

Traditional fishermen on the Tigris river, Turkey.

Dûrzan Cîrano/Wikimeidia
İrfan Donat

ISTANBUL — Turkey's annual fish production includes 515,000 tons from cultivation and 335,000 tons came from fishing in open waters. In other words, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming.

It's a radical shift from just 20 years ago when some 600,000 tons, or 90% of the total output, came from fishing. Now, researchers are warning the current system dominated by fish farming is ultimately unsustainable in the country with 8,333 kilometers (5,177 miles) long.

Professor Mustafa Sarı from the Maritime Studies Faculty of Bandırma 17 Eylül University believes urgent action is needed: “Why were we getting 600,000 tons of fish from the seas in the 2000’s and only 300,000 now? Where did the other 300,000 tons of fish go?”

Professor Sarı is challenging the argument from certain sectors of the industry that cultivation is the more sustainable approach. “Now we are feeding the fish that we cultivate at the farms with the fish that we catch from nature," he explained. "The fish types that we cultivate at the farms are sea bass, sea bram, trout and salmon, which are fed with artificial feed produced at fish-feed factories. All of these fish-feeds must have a significant amount of fish flour and fish oil in them.”

That fish flour and fish oil inevitably must come from the sea. "We have to get them from natural sources. We need to catch 5.7 kilogram of fish from the seas in order to cultivate a sea bream of 1 kg," Sarı said. "Therefore, we are feeding the fish to the fish. We cannot cultivate fish at the farms if the fish in nature becomes extinct. The natural fish need to be protected. The consequences would be severe if the current policy is continued.”

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