Argentina: Street women and violence

Buenos Aires, December (SEMlac Special). - A22-year-old woman spends the day sitting on the floor, with her back against the wall at the train station in Pacífico. Before it gets dark, she walks all the way to a State-run shelter to sleep there, if she is lucky enough to find a bed available. When she does not make it, she has to sleep in the open, like many others who are simply thought to be either abnormal or criminal.

"Most of them really are victims of social inequality and exclusion that have been growing since the 1990s, when the government adopted a neoliberal model," indicate Horacio Ávila and Griselda Pall resin their book La calle no es lugar para vivir (The street is no place to live). A report of the Ministry of Social Development said there were 1,287 people wandering around and sleeping on the streets of Buenos Aires in 2010. NGOslike Project 7, World Doctors, and the Legal and Social Study Center, however, estimated the number at 10,000 to 15,000. The latter include people at risk,like those evicted and those living at temporary facilities.

Florencia Montes, president of No Tan Distintas, an NGO that has since 2008 been working with street women, told SEMlac that the number of street people has been steadily growing in the last few years. "The State-operated shelter for women cannot meet current demand," she added. She highlighted the fact that most of these women try to get away from abuse and violence at home.

A couple of years ago, anthropologist Griselda Palleres had told SEMlac that teenage street mothers have been raised on the streets and are nor raising their children under similar or poorer conditions. "They often use their bodies to make a living," she recalled. "This experience requires careful consideration, especially by feminist groups that should not only focus on emancipating women," Montes remarked.

Coming back "The idea should be to fully reintegrate them into society," she noted. "We must bear in mind that they have endured various forms of violence, including physical abuse," she added. Project 7 is currently working on a local initiative similar to the government-run integration center for men, which provides housing and work opportunities.



Legislation Act No. 3,706 on the Legal Protection of the Human Rights of Street People as Subjects of Law establishes the development of annual censuses and the provision of basic services. "There is no political will or sufficient resource allocation to appropriately address this social problem," Monte indicated. Against this background, a bill was submitted to the Senate last November 28 seeking to effectively deal with the extreme social vulnerability of street people in large cities.

This is a situation that imposes significant restrictions on the exercise of human rights enshrined in the Constitution and international treaties. The bill is sponsored by Senator Silvina M. García, who represents the Front for Victory(government party).



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