On July 1, 2009 Silvia Lagos was shot and killed by her partner in Buenos Aires. Her daughter was also severely injured, surviving several gunshot wounds to her bodyt. This is the first case of armed domestic violence in Argentina that we know of since launching the Disarming Domestic Violence Campaign and it is a tragic reminder of the reality of armed violence in the home faced by women in Argentina and of the importance for launching this campaign in order to end that violence.
Whenever I am asked about why I came to Buenos Aires and what I am doing while I’m here, I usually give a short answer about the Asociacion Para Politicas Publicas, Advocacy Project, and tell them about the launch of the disarming domestic violence campaign. Most people nod approvingly, “this is good work” and do not ask much more. However, a few times I have gotten a chance to have further discussion from which I’ve been able to hear from everyday Argentinians about their reactions to the issue of domestic violence in Argentina.
Oftentimes that reaction has been to deflect the issue of domestic violence onto “the other”. In one case I was told that in Argentina domestic violence was a problem of the people who live in villas. Villas (vee-zhuz) are the Buenos Aires version of a shanty town. “Those people” are poor and uneducated and this was the explanation for why domestic violence was “their problem”. In another example I was told that domestic violence was a problem that immigrants brought to Argentina from their home countries. In “those countries” domestic violence is more acceptable and according to this person, a cultural issue that Argentines do not share. In both of these examples and from these few conversations, one might be left with the impression that domestic violence is not an Argentine issue. But statistics show domestic violence in Argentina to be similar to global domestic violence statistics. And they are shocking. One in three women will experience some form of domestic violence in her lifetime.
And as the disarming domestic violence campaign works to inform people, when guns are around, especially in the home, they are likely to be used to intimidate, threaten, escalate, and potentially harm or kill the victim of the violence. This was the case for Silvia Lagos, an educated, professional, a lawyer, a mother, and a neighbor who lived in a nice house in a “well-to-do” part of Buenos Aires. She was not an immigrant. She did not live in a villa. She lived in a city and a nation where some people do not believe domestic violence is an issue faced by “their people” or in “their neighborhoods”. Her partner was not mentally ill, he had a history of domestic violence and with proper laws and enforcement he might have been prevented from purchasing the gun that killed Silvia Lagos.
To achieve the ultimate goal of the DDV campaign, eliminate all armed domestic violence, we will need more than just laws. We must break down the stereotypes that prevent us from realizing that the problem is everywhere, that domestic violence, including armed, fatal domestic violence, occurs in and affects all of our communities.
Posted By Athea Middleton-Detzner
Posted Jul 15th, 2009