Argentina movement mobilizes to fight violence against women

Published 7:35 am Tuesday, June 20, 2017

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina  — On Christmas Eve of 2011, Maira Maidana lit a candle to the patron saint of Argentina and closed her eyes in prayer – just like she did every time she feared a brutal beating by her partner.

But this time, instead of the usual blows, she felt her whole body catch on fire. When she turned around, she saw him staring at her with a bottle of alcohol in one hand. Ablaze, she ran to three faucets, but not a single drop of water came out.

Fifty-nine surgeries later, Maidana has finally found the courage to tell the truth about what happened to her that awful night. She says she owes that courage to a grassroots movement of tens of thousands of people across Argentina who have mobilized to fight violence against women. Called Ni Una Menos, or Not One Less, the movement has spread rapidly worldwide and now has branches in New York, Berlin, Italy, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador and more.

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“With Ni Una Menos, women are no longer hiding,” says Maidana, 29, who is scarred in her neck and chest and speaks in whispers. Maidana marched for hours during the latest Ni Una Menos protest earlier this month, holding a banner and beaming with pride.

“Before, we wouldn’t talk,” she says. “I don’t know if it was fear or shame, or feeling that justice was not on your side…I like it that it’s now out in the open.”