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Thousands march on International Women’s Day


Thousands march on International Women’s Day

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SANTIAGO/MEXICO CITY – Hundreds of thousands of women across Latin America’s biggest cities flocked to the streets for International Women’s Day on Sunday, spurred by a growing outcry over inequality, femicide and strict abortion controls.

As Women’s Day events unfolded worldwide, with women donning purple to symbolise feminism, the Latin American marches were set against a backdrop of broader social unrest in the region.

Police said 150 000 protesters gathered in Chile’s capital of Santiago, with many carrying signs calling for access to abortion and an end to violence against women. Organisers said the number of protesters was much higher.

“We are a generation of women that has woken up. We are not afraid to speak out and struggle,” protester Valentina Navarro, 21, told Reuters while marching in Santiago. She and a group of friends accompanying her had green bandannas around their necks, a symbol of support for abortion rights.

Incidents of violence were reported as demonstrators confronted police near government offices. Nineteen police were injured, authorities said, and 16 people arrested in the disturbances. Other Chilean cities saw protests as well, with 1 700 police officers deployed nationwide for crowd control.

Broader protests in Chile against social inequality began last October and at their peak included more than 1 million people.

In Mexico’s capital, police said an estimated 30 000 people gathered, including young girls and women in wheelchairs, for a march in which they hoisted signs and shouted chants against femicides, which have more than doubled over the last five years.

Some women said they felt compelled to attend their first march to act as voices for women who have been killed, and because they felt the government didn’t grasp the gravity of the problem.

“The situation has gotten out of control . . . we have to march for those who no longer can,” said Daniela Molinero, 29, a jewellery shop owner who wore a purple bandana and eye liner.

In Brazil’s Sao Paulo, about 1 000 women turned out, according to police estimates, with many protesting right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, who came under criticism for comments he made about two female reporters.

Protesters also targeted violence against women in Brazil, where four women were killed a day in 2019, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Many marchers in Colombia’s capital Bogota carried placards in support of safe and freely available abortion services. The country’s Constitutional Court this month upheld limits which restrict abortion to cases of sexual assault, fetal deformity or maternal health risks.



Women take part in a performance to mark International Women’s Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 8, 2020. (Reuters)