Women in Argentina protest after murder of 16-year-old girl

October 19, 2016 1:09 PM EDT

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By Miguel Lobianco and Caroline Stauffer

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of women across Argentina protested gender-related violence on Wednesday after the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl in a coastal town last week.

The group known as Not One Less organized the protests, which were also held in other Latin American countries, and expressed outrage over the death of Lucia Perez as Argentina confronts a scourge of drug-related violence.Recent polls show security has replaced inflation as the top concern for Argentines, and Perez's case has spurred particular outrage.

Prosecutor Maria Isabel Sanchez told reporters last week that Perez was drugged with cocaine and had suffered "inhumane sexual aggression" that triggered cardiac arrest.

"They washed her body and dressed her to make it look like an overdose," she said.

Two men known for selling drugs outside a school were detained in Mar del Plata on Sunday and charged with rape and homicide.

A woman is killed once every 30 hours in Argentina, according to Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, an Argentine non-profit group.

"I want to feel safe when I'm walking down the street, the same as men can," marcher Victoria Vazquez told Reuters. "I want to be able to wear a skirt in the summertime without anybody bothering me."

President Mauricio Macri's government has announced a new offensive against drug traffickers, sending federal troops to reinforce hot zones such as the port city of Rosario and Buenos Aires province, where Mar del Plata is located.

On Friday police found a threatening note aimed at Maria Eugenia Vidal, the popular governor of Buenos Aires province and Macri ally, in a burned down courthouse.

The Not One Less movement, which advocates for crime prevention and justice for victims of sexual assault, led a one-hour pause from work and study early in the afternoon. Protesters dressed in mourning for what became known as Black Wednesday.

Thousands of women then braved a rainy afternoon in Buenos Aires to march towards the historic Plaza de Mayo with signs supporting Perez and demanding an end to all violence against women.

(Editing by Bill Trott and Grant McCool)



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