The incredible, heart-wrenching story of Maira Maidana exemplifies the importance of putting a stop to violence against women.
Maidana, 29, is a domestic violence survivor and has bravely shared her story. She is speaking out, thanks to the encouragement of the grassroots movement, Ni Una Menos, or “Not One Less.” Tens of thousands of people across Argentina have come together to fight violence against women.
Maidana has gone through 59 surgeries because she was doused in alcohol and burned by her abusive partner in 2011. She is thoroughly scarred in her neck and chest, not to mention the emotional trauma she has suffered. She spent four months in the hospital, having to relearn how to eat and walk again with the help of her mother.
During that time, her partner picked up her children from school and kept them for 10 months before Maidana could get a lawyer to bring them back home.
Before Ni Una Menos, Maidana had kept this all a secret, terrified for her children’s lives. She told police and her loved ones that she had done this to herself, in an attempt to take her own life.
But now she says, “With Ni Una Menos, women are no longer hiding… Before, we wouldn’t talk. I don’t know if it was fear or shame, or feeling that justice was not on your side … I like it that it’s now out in the open.”
These overwhelming feelings did not allow her to escape from the situation she had been in for far too long. However, now she stands tall. Maidana proudly marched for hours during the latest Ni Una Menos protest earlier this month.
Maidana is not alone in suffering from domestic violence. In 2016 alone, 254 Argentine women died from gender-based violence, according to a report released last month by the Supreme Court.
That amounts to one woman killed every 34 hours. The reality is that in 60 of those cases, the women had previously reported attacks, and some even had a restraining order. Those are women who reached out for help, and did not receive what they needed. These are more than just numbers. These are innocent women losing their lives.
The movement is not only impacting those in Argentina, but is now quickly spreading worldwide, with branches in New York, Berlin, Italy, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador and more.
They are fighting back against these crimes, seen far too often. Their demands range from the publishing of official statistics on sexual assaults to the protection of women to the inclusion of gender violence in school curricula.
The efforts that this movement has gone far from unnoticed. The Supreme Court has announced that it would launch a task force to collect information concerning violence against women.
Marta Dillon is a journalist and one of the founders of Ni Una Menos. She states, “The movement seeks to be revolutionary.” Dillon believes that Argentina’s long tradition of feminist activism and its strong women have helped immensely to contribute to Ni Una Menos’ success.
This universal problem can happen to anyone, as Maidana contends, “This is not something that is happening to one person. It can happen to you, to your cousin, to your daughter. To everyone.”
Hopefully, with the help of organizations like Ni Una Menos, gender-based violence will come to an end.
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