16 August 2018
The justice system of the city of Rio Grande, in the southernmost province of Tierra del Fuego, ordered the provincial police to raid the homes of feminist activists in search of evidence related to their activism for the legalization of abortion.
“It was intimidating. Members of the forensic police entered my house, read the search warrant and started going through everything. They made me go to the bathroom with a policewoman to search me, they removed my shoes and my parents’ shoes, and they took my computer, my cell phone, and my green bandanas. They also wanted to take the book that explained how to abort using pills,” Gala, a member of Colectiva Feminista (or Feminist Collective) explained.
The conservative city has a population of less than 70,000.
The raids were ordered in the context of a lawsuit presented by Andres Ruben Diaz for some graffiti painted on the walls of a church. Two homes and the headquarters of an institution called PAR were raided. “They were looking for things that prooved advocating abortion as if it was a crime. They accuse me of painting the walls of a church, something I didn’t do,” Gala said in an interview with local media.
Alejandra Arce, lawyer of the Feminist Collective argued there is a plan to persecute and intimidate abortion rights activists. “The is an excessive criminal prosecution that aims to persecute and intimidate Feminist Collective. In three days they moved all the judicial and police apparatus. Police for complex crimes came, they did so in their own and institutional car with sirens. A totally disproportionate operation,” she told Pagina 12.
According to Gala the persecution began two weeks ago when a policeman shared her picture through social media with the caption “this is one of the young women who painted the walls; you know what you have to do.”
The graffiti was done on the eve of the Senate vote of the bill to legalize the voluntary interruption of pregnancies within the first 14 weeks. The Senate rejected the bill after intense lobbying by the Catholic and Evangelical churches.
As a response, thousands in Argentina have renounced the Catholic church. People who were baptized and no longer feel identified with the Catholic institution, have formed long ques to resign, arguing that the Catholic church receives governmental contributions that depend on the number of followers.
Feminist activists who have struggled for women’s right to life and reproductive rights have faced street violence on top of institutional violence. Many have reported violent attacks by “pro-life” activists.