The Rising Case of Femicide in Argentina

On Monday night, Úrsula Bahillo was found dead in a rural area near the small town of Rojas in Buenos Aires Province. The victim suffered at least 30 stab wounds, with severe injuries to her neck. Her brutal killing has sent shockwaves across the country.

Bahillo previously filed 18 complaints of gender violence against her ex-partner and policeman Matías Ezequiel Martínez, 25. She had also filed a complaint two days before her murder. Bahillo’s mother, Patricia Nassutti, said in an interview that “for months we have reported the harassment of my daughter by that person [ Martínez].”

She said that they had visited a women-only police station to make a complaint, but that “they wouldn’t take a complaint because it was the weekend.”

Rojas Mayor Claudio Rossi said the authorities were looking into the claim and that officials were “reviewing the failure,” BATimes reported.

In an audio recording sent to a friend and later released, Bahillo said she could not deal with the situation. “I swear I’m very sad. He told me he’s going to kill me, I can’t take it anymore,” she said.

Indignation Across Argentina

After the news of Bahillo’s killing spread, residents of Rojas gathered on Tuesday to protest outside the police station to demand justice, with some alleging a police cover-up. For many in Argentina, the events appeared to follow a similar pattern for women who dare to speak about or report their abusers and are ultimately left exposed, unprotected and in a vulnerable position. Minister of Women, Genders and Diversity, Elizabeth Gomez Alcorta said after the murder that women’s lives are not valued equally.


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They have “judicial Power without a gender perspective,” she said. “There is no doubt that for justice administrations and for the security forces, when a woman denounces an act of violence it is a minor issue. What is at stake is the lives of women, but it seems that, despite all that we have advanced, women’s lives are not worth the same as other lives.”

She also cited the lack of “judicial intervention,” adding, “We are facing a case where a young woman makes 18 complaints against a person, who also had complaints in relation to other ex-partners, and that person was without any measure of restrictive freedom.” Argentina’s youngest legislator, Ofelia Fernandez took to Twitter to speak out against the 18 complaints which were neglected and to criticize the behavior of police while demanding justice. “Today we lost Ursula to Matias Martínez and his accomplices, but it is not the first time we have heard this story,” said Fernandez.

Argentine actress Natalie Perez decried the situation on Instagram, pointing out that the tragic events caused her profound “anguish.” She said, “this cannot happen anymore.”

A Rise in Femicides in Argentina

According to data from the Observatory of Femicides in Argentina, between March 20 and Dec. 31, 2020, a total of 219 women were killed.

During the coronavirus lockdown, the number of women killed in Argentina has reached a decade high. Figures suggest one in seven had already filed a complaint and that 59% of women had been attacked by their partners or ex-partners, with 60% in their own homes.

According to the Casa del Encuentro NGO, over the past 12 years, there have been 3,251 deaths of women, girls and trans-women in Argentina.

About the Author


Ruth Jane is a women's rights activist and a freelance reporter. She covers news of crime against women.

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