Lucia Perez: Argentina court convicts two in femicide case

The rape and murder of the 16-year-old girl fuelled a movement across Latin America demanding an end to violence against women.

A banner that reads 'Not another (woman) less' is placed on the fence of Argentina's Congress
Perez's 2016 murder became a symbol of the Ni Una Menos (Not One Less) movement to demand action on femicide [File: Marcos Brindicci/Reuters]

A court in Argentina has convicted two men for the rape and murder of 16-year-old Lucia Perez in 2016, a case that has become emblematic of a movement to fight against violence towards women and girls in the region.

Perez’s murder in Mar del Plata ignited widespread anger in Argentina and become a symbol of the Ni Una Menos (Not One Less) movement to demand action on femicide.

The movement began in Argentina in 2015 and has spread through Latin America, where at least 4,473 women were murdered in 2021, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Matias Farias was convicted on Thursday to life in prison for sexual abuse, supplying narcotics and femicide. The court determined Juan Pablo Offidani was an accessory to the crime and sentenced him to eight years.

In November 2018, the two men were convicted of drug dealing but the rape and femicide charges were thrown out because judges determined it could not be established whether there had been consent.

The ruling caused outrage and was annulled in 2020 by an appeals court for “lack of gender perspective” and “incompatibility” with international human rights law.

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez visited Perez’s family on International Women’s Day this year. On Twitter, he called for justice in the case and criticised the country’s justice system for what he called a lack of gender perspective in the previous trial.

“In the name of all of the other girls who we are also missing, we are not going to permit impunity,” Fernandez said.

Marta Montero, Perez’s mother, told Al Jazeera last year that her daughter’s absence was still painful. “Your soul hurts. You feel it in your body. Your body hurts. It is just terrible,” she said.

But Montero promised to keep fighting for justice. She and her husband, Guillermo Perez, started an NGO that tracks femicides as well as advocates for the victims.

“We have had incredible support, not just in Mar del Plata but across the country. And we never stopped fighting,” Montero said in 2022. “That’s very important. Not just that the family doesn’t stop fighting but that they believe in what they’re fighting for.”

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters