Domestic violence in Argentina
Domestic violence in Argentina is a serious problem. In Buenos Aires Province, the special Women's Police Stations and Family's police stations received a daily average of 53 complaints of violence.
Argentine law prohibits domestic violence, including spousal abuse, and provides for removal of the abusive spouse from the home, but it does not provide penalties unless the violence involves crimes against "sexual integrity." In this case penalties can be as much as 20 years' imprisonment.
Any person suffering physical or psychological domestic violence may file a formal complaint with a judge or police station. The law gives family court judges the right to prevent the perpetrator of a violent act from entering the victim's home or workplace. Charges also may be brought in criminal court, which may apply corresponding penalties. However, lack of vigilance on the part of the police and the judicial system often lead to a lack of protection for victims.
In March 2006, the Interior Ministry launched a federal program that included creating a mobile unit for providing assistance to victims of sexual and domestic violence. Although the program was planned to have a national reach, its initial implementation started in late October 2006, in the City of Buenos Aires. There were two mobile units working 24 hours a day. Each unit was composed of a psychologist and a social worker, and two police officials also took part when they received complaints of domestic violence.
Also in March 2006, the provincial Cordoba legislature passed its first domestic violence law, leading to a significant increase in the number of complaints filed. The legislation is quite inclusive. The term "family" includes fiancees and former or current common-law husbands or wives. The law also defines domestic violence as physical, psychological, and economic violence.
In early December 2006, the Buenos Aires Supreme Court ordered the criminal, family and minors' courts, as well as provincial courts in civil and family matters, to have duty officers to receive complaints of domestic violence and assist victims after normal court hours. Victims could call a cell phone number to get assistance.
Public and private institutions offered prevention programs and provided support and treatment for abused women, but there was little transitional housing. The Buenos Aires municipal government operated a small shelter for battered women and a 24 hour hotline offering support and guidance to victims of violence; however, few other shelters existed.
NGOs stressed that women often did not have a full understanding of their rights or of what actions could be considered punishable offenses. In addition there was a great disparity between urban centers and rural areas with respect to women's awareness of, and access to, equal rights. Indigenous women particularly were vulnerable, due to higher rates of illiteracy and insufficient bilingual educational resources.