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Argentina: Criminal Code Amendment to Include Femicide

(May 3, 2012) On April 18, 2012, Argentina's Cámara de Diputados (the lower house of the country's Congress) approved, by unanimous vote, a bill that amends the Criminal Code (Código Penal de la Nación Argentina, Law No. 11.179 of 1984, art. 80, INFOLEG) to include femicide as an aggravated type of homicide. The proposed amendment includes an aggravated sanction for homicides perpetrated by those with ties of kinship or other close or intimate relationships with the victim. It forbids the consideration of mitigating circumstances in the sentence when the perpetrator has a history of violence. (El Femicidio Fue Aprobado en Diputados y Esta Cerca de Ser Ley, CLARIN.COM (Apr. 19, 2012).)

The new provision includes the sanction of life imprisonment for an individual who kills his ascendant or descendant relative, spouse or former spouse, or a person with whom he has or has had an intimate relationship, even if they were not living together at the time of the crime. Femicide is defined as a crime of murder perpetrated by a man against a woman in the context of gender violence. (Id.)

The amendment also adds pleasure; greed; and hatred based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation as grounds for imposition of the sanction of aggravated homicide. (Id).

Female activists have been working for the recognition of femicide in the Criminal Code for some time, but especially since last year, when the number of femicides in the country increased by 20%. Gender violence specialists believe that the recognition of femicide as an aggravated form of homicide means a recognition that this conduct is not tolerated and is condemned by society. (Id.)

The level of gender violence has grown so much in the country that in 2008 the Supreme Court opened its own special office on domestic violence. According to the latest statistics published by this office, in March 2012, over the last two years there has been a 43%increase in the number of violent crimes against women reported. (Id.)