Wednesday afternoon, more than 40 people — the majority from the University of Michigan Romance Language and Literature Department — participated in a demonstration on the Diag as a part of the “Ni Una Menos” movement, with the aim of exposing violence toward women in Latin America and the United States.
The event was one of many of its kind that took place Wednesday across the United States to commemorate the killing of Lucia Perez, a young Argentenian woman. Perez was brutally raped and killed last week in La Plata, the capital of Argentina’s Buenos Aires province, immediately resulting in several demonstrations across the country.
“The (#NiUnaMenos) movement was originally to protest against gender violence, and especially all the women who are killed in Mexico Argentina, Guatemala and Colombia, but it’s turned into something greater,” said Rackham student Ludmila Ferrari
The phrase “Ni Una Menos” was coined in 1993 in a poem written by Susana Chavez. In the poem, Chavez references the Spanish phenomenon of “feminicide” — a concept, according to the Ferrari, that all too many Latina women are familiar with. Ferrari said the term is used to describe the unceasing deaths and acts of violence toward girls and women in Latin America.
“It’s a global. It began in Argentina, but now it is everywhere,” she said. “And today, these protests are happening across the United States at several universities including Princeton, University of Kansas, in Chicago, San Francisco. It’s a strike that begins with Latina women, but it actually involved all women.”
Ana Sabau, faculty member from the Romance Language Department, said the Latino community in Ann Arbor wanted to commemorate Perez’s death and the problem of violence as a whole by organizing in unity.
“Lots of my colleagues and myself were thinking, what could we do in the United States to show our solidarity with those movements and to also start having the conversation here,” Sabau said. “So two days ago, we organized different strikes that are going to be happening at different colleges in the United States.”
During the event, a list of names of female Michigan citizens who had been killed by police since 2010 were read aloud by the protesters.
Sabau said the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Kansas and other schools in New York demonstrated Wednesday as well.
Sabau added that the demonstrations have a broader scope, and represent issues of class and race in addition to violence against women.
“It’s a very difficult reality to live with,” she said. “Part of the show up today was to make us think about the differences and what happened specifically in Mexico, Argentina and Peru. But also, I would also think that some of these issues are traversed by class and race, so I think that it’s important to think about how the violence is expressive of those differences.”
During the event, signs and pamphlets with a list of hashtags were handed out as well. Below “Ni Una Menos” was “Viva Nos Queremos,” which was translated by Ferrari as “We Want Us Alive.”
Ferrari said the hashtags and movement focuses on the lives of all women and girls; not just those from Latin America. She emphasized what she described as the value of both the physical and emotional impact of eliminating gender-related violence in the world.
“We want to have a complete life, but also an integral life,” Ferrari said. “The strike is against all sorts of discrimination, not only the violence that kills your body, but the violence that kills your spirit.”
Another focus of the demonstration was to raise awareness for violence against women in a time when Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has continued to garner support, despite his negative comments about touching women without consent — particularly in recent weeks. Ferrari echoed what she said were the beliefs of a majority of the people at the protest, condemning Trump’s stance on the topic of gender equality.
“The declarations that Donald Trump makes are too much,” she said. “I think voting for him is a statement; it says whether someone like this can be considered a valid human being. To me, it’s old politics. Being from Argentina, I love this country. If he becomes president, I might move. It’s doesn’t make sense for the people I love and admire in the U.S.”