By Manasi Nene
On 30th May, a group of Argentinian women decided that they had had enough. These women held a massive protest in front of the Presidential Palace, Argentina’s highest court, and the Parliament buildings. For? Violence against women. And statistics in South America make the situation alarming — out of the ten worst countries in this respect, seven are in South America and every thirty hours, a woman is killed in Argentina.
But this was not your run-of-the-mill protest, even though it involved an orchestra, a flash mob, and women with megaphones shouting into the crowd. What stood out in this protest was women slowly undressing themselves and forming a pile of bodies. In front of a large banner that said Femicidid Es Genocidio, or Femicide is Genocide, the imagery they drew up is quite striking.
The 120 women who protested this week were representative of the 133 women who were assaulted in 2016. According to Argentinian paper La Nacionale, there was an attack against at least one woman every day in April this year. The protest was organised by the collective Fuerza Artistica de Choque Communicativo, which translates into “artistic force of communicative shock”.
This video of the protest is startling, to say the least. It’s obviously NSFW, and the image of a pile of bodies isn’t easy to stomach for everyone. Just skipping through in intervals is enough to understand how unimaginably brave these women had to be, to take part in a protest of this sort, in front of the biggest government offices. It reminds us of the naked protest by Manipuri women in 2004, where 12 women disrobed in front of the Kangra Palace to protest atrocities carried out under AFSPA, primarily the murder and brutalisation of Thangjam Manorama.
There is something inherently unique, even dangerous in the act of using the naked body as protest. It’s vulnerable, yet at the same time, strong, opposing and empowering. As the Guardian informs us “conflict and power-plays are ultimately about people, not about the weapons that act on our behalf”.
The end of the video is a loud, heartbreaking and collective shout. It’s anguish about a rigid system that doesn’t seem to change; it’s a reminder of just how hard women have to fight to achieve gender equality