BUENOS AIRES – Journalist Rolando Barbano, who recounts in his latest book some of the most shocking recent cases of domestic violence in Argentina, suggested in an interview with EFE that authorities share the blame for the alarming growth in such crimes.
“My idea was to tell the stories behind the growing statistics. The rate of gender-based violence in Argentina is on the rise,” he said.
The book, “Mujeres en Peligro” (Women in Danger), starts with an overview of the numbers: sexual offenses increased by 154 percent between 2002 and 2015, while murders of women grew by 12 percent in just two years.
Barbano uses the 240 pages that follow to depict the reality that those numbers represent.
Taking police and court documents as his raw material, the author provides a novelized account of rapes, pedophilia, physical abuse, and human trafficking, and of official complicity and negligence that are often lost in the media vortex.
The files, Barbano said, “expose how judges and prosecutors act” when confronted with these kinds of offenses.
Violence against women is growing thanks to impunity and a lack of efforts at prevention, he said, insisting on the need for a “fundamental shift of consciousness by the judiciary and police.”
Those two “very conservative organizations” are the first point of contact for domestic violence victims, who often face sexism on the part of cops who don’t believe them and just send them back to dangerous situations, the author said.
In the book, he provides shocking examples of the system’s shortcomings, such as releasing sex offenders without rehabilitation and putting the victim on trial in rape and abuse cases.
Barbano, 42, says that after spending more than two decades covering gruesome crimes as the police reporter for Clarin, the country’s leading newspaper, he is convinced that “violence is on the rise in Argentine society.”
“Gender violence has both social and cultural roots. It’s not merely a criminal issue, it’s not a policing issue, it’s about how we as men behave in relation to women ... it has an element of violence that in many cases ends up being expressed in a sexual offense or crime of violence,” the author said.
Detailed reporting on gender violence is crucial to showing “the first step” that led to the crime, enabling potential victims to identify the threat and act accordingly, he said.