Human rights organizations are concerned by the case of Miriam Flores, who was found murdered a month after her disappearance on 5 May. Flores died of wounds inflicted by a beating, mainly to the head, but in her mouth was found a dollar bill - a clear indication that the crime was the work of a criminal mafia or that Flores was killed to 'settle a debt', according to police sources. Flores was murdered some 15 days before the body was discovered. Investigators are now trying to determine where she was held captive for the period between her disappearance and her murder. Like other women currently working in the country, Miriam emigrated to Argentina from Paraguay and was employed at a nursing home called 'The Wallflowers of Neuquén'. According to journalistic sources, Miriam had left her home because she had 'problems' with her former partner, a 50-year-old man called Salvador Pucci, who is on parole for killing another woman. Other sources suggest that Miriam was a victim of trafficking.
There are no comprehensive official data on the extent and nature of violence against women such as Miriam Flores in Argentina. However, according to partial disclosures made by the 'Casa del Encuentro', an Argentine civil society association, in 2009 there were at least 231 murders of women and girls - an 11 per cent increase over 2008.
'We have a law to protect women from violence and every day of delay in the implementation of its regulations results in thousands of lives being put at risk. It is a matter of urgency that the law is put into operation and that women have their voices heard,' said Gabriela Boada, Executive Director of Amnesty International in Argentina.
Amnesty urges the President of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, to assume as a priority the need to address the situation of violence against women in Argentina and to enforce the law to cope with the massacre of hundreds of women, targeted simply for being female.
Judicial authorities must do everything in their power to investigate and bring to justice those responsible, says Amnesty. In addition, 'state authorities must show public leadership in their commitment to ending violence against women and in fighting for equal rights between men and women - which is a state policy.'
'We expect the authorities to take clear and effective actions to address gender violence. We need a debate and action to achieving gender equality,' concluded Boada.
The Argentine authorities must demonstrate their commitment to women's rights in the country, and must take the necessary steps to end the discrimination and persistent human rights violations that they suffer.
The Argentine government has clear obligations to protect and help women, but progress in the eradication of violence against women has been slow. Women suffer gender violence, and even lose their lives, without the state to protect them, and those that survive do not get the services and support they need to rebuild their lives. The damage caused by such violence is not only experienced by those directly affected by it, but also by the wider society.
The failure to protect women from violence is also to accept inequality within Argentina's society: inequality between men and women, and social inequality between those who receive assistance and protection from the state and those who receive nothing.