Victims of gender violence speak out

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Ivana Rosales says her husband tried to kill her twice in the same night.

That was back in 2002, after Rosales told him she was leaving him.

When her husband turned on her, Rosales didn’t know what to do. Now, she has learned to use that terrible experience to help other women attacked by the men they once loved or worked for, reminding them of their rights, providing emotional support, even accompanying them to court.

Rosales is among the many faces of Ni Una Menos, or Not One Less, a movement of tens of thousands of people in Argentina who have mobilized to fight the country’s systemic violence against women. “Ni Una Menos means the unity of women to fight this habit of killing,” she said.

Through the movement, victims of violence like Rosales work to help other women before it’s too late, convinced of the worth of every single woman, of the belief that love should never hurt.

Fellow victim Belen Torres, beaten by her employer earlier this year, made a video from her hospital room to tell women who experience similar violence to report it to authorities. The 20-year-old said she was grateful she survived the attack and hoped to help other women by sharing her story.

Paola Mascambruni managed to escape with her life when she was being beaten by her former boyfriend, picturing her children in her mind to stay strong.

Although Marcela Morera says “no one will give me back my daughter, or her baby” she is committed to helping victims of gender violence like her daughter Julieta Mena, who was killed on Oct. 11, 2015 when she was 22. Beaten to death by her boyfriend, she was two months pregnant at the time.

Some victims, including Maira Maidana, were set on fire by their partners, an especially brutal form of attack first recorded in Argentina in February 2010. Maidana survived to scream, “Ni una menos!” and work to ensure other women don’t end up scarred like her, or dead.

Corina Fernandez was shot by her husband after reporting his death threats to police more than 80 times. He finally caught up with her as she dropped her daughters off at school, firing three times into her chest on Aug. 2, 2010. Fernandez said that when her husband died in prison in 2014, “I did not feel happy nor angry, but relieved.”

Mercedes Zambrano lost her sister Adriana Marisel in 2008 when she was beaten to death by her former husband. A neighbor found Marisel’s 9-month-old daughter Josefina breastfeeding from her dead body. Zambrano’s relatives are still fighting to get full custody of the girl, who is now 9. They live in fear of the child’s father who served some years in prison but is now free.

“Every day that I see a dead woman on the news, it feels like my sister is dying again,” Zambrano said.

By Patricia Older

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