BUENOS AIRES • The brutal killing of a 16-year-old girl, allegedly raped and impaled on a spike by drug dealers, has sparked outrage in Argentina, where protesters planned a "women's strike" yesterday.
Lucia Perez, a high school student in the resort city of Mar del Plata, died on Oct 8 after being brought to the hospital by two men who said she had overdosed on drugs.
But after doctors noticed signs of violent sexual penetration, investigators pieced together a different story. Prosecutors said the men drugged, raped and impaled her through the anus, causing pain so excruciating that she went into cardiac arrest and died.
Lead prosecutor Maria Isabel Sanchez could barely hide her disgust. "I know it's not very professional to say it, but I'm a mother and a woman, and I've seen a thousand things in my career, but nothing equal to this litany of abhorrent acts," she said.
The killing is just the latest incident of horrific gender violence in Argentina, which has seen more than a year of mass marches to protest against brutality against women.
Last June, protests broke out nationwide over a trio of gruesome killings: a kindergarten teacher whose estranged husband slit her throat in front of her class; a 14-year-old whose boyfriend allegedly beat her to death because she got pregnant; and a woman whose ex-boyfriend stabbed her to death in broad daylight at a Buenos Aires cafe.
In the latest protest, 50 activist groups yesterday called on women across the country to go on "strike", taking to the streets dressed in black. One organiser, Ms Sabrina Cartabia, said the goal was to protest against not only Lucia's killing, but also a culture that values women less than men.
That is visible in statistics such as the unemployment rate, she said, standing at 9.3 per cent nationally, but at 12 per cent for women.
Lucia met her alleged killers a day before her death, when she and a friend approached them to buy a marijuana joint, prosecutors said.
The men - Matias Farias, 23, and Juan Pablo Offidiani, 41 - were known for selling drugs near her school and had prior convictions.
Investigators said they forced Lucia to consume a large amount of cocaine to incapacitate her, then had a violent orgy with her.
"Her nose was purple from all the cocaine they made her take," said her father, Mr Guillermo Perez. "We can't understand such barbarity. It's impossible to understand," said her mother, Ms Marta Montero.
Together, the couple led a protest on Saturday in Mar del Plata that drew 1,000 people demanding that the judge deny bail for the alleged killers.