Women’s Day: Brisa (Argentina) | International
Between 2008 and 2021, more than 3,000 minors lost their mother at the hands of a feminicide in Argentina, according to the NGO La Casa del Encuentro. One of them was Breeze. In December 2014, she was a two-year-old baby. Her twin brothers were about to turn seven. On the night of January 5, 2015, Iván Rodríguez invited Brisa and her siblings to make a special wish to the Three Wise Men: that her mother, Daiana Barrionuevo, return home. This 24-year-old woman had been missing for 15 days and Rodríguez had reported her to the police for abandoning her home, after accusing her of having eloped with her lover. Rodríguez knew that the wish he made his three children formulate could never be fulfilled. He himself had beaten Barrionuevo to death, put her in a bag and thrown her into the stream where she was found dead on January 10.
The maternal family never believed Rodríguez’s version. What made them doubt the most was that Barrionuevo never separated from Brisa, the youngest of his children, whom he had had after losing a baby in the last month of pregnancy. They sensed that if she had disappeared it was because something serious had happened to her and they looked for her everywhere. Rodríguez pretended to do the same.
During the search, the children were in the care of the femicide’s parents, but when he was arrested they were left under the guardianship of the maternal family. A new drama was added to the drama caused by the loss of Barrionuevo: the lack of resources to take care of the three little ones. Finally they went to live with one of his aunts, who already had three children, in a precarious house with only one room in the Buenos Aires town of Moreno. In 2017, Rodríguez was sentenced to life in prison for the femicide.
“This case was so cruel that it had a lot of repercussions,” says Ada Rico, director of the NGO La Casa del Encuentro. This organization, a pioneer in counting the victims of femicides, realized that the situation of Brisa and her brothers was not exceptional and began to fight for a law of economic compensation for those who were orphaned after a femicide. They named Ley Brisa in honor of her.
The approval of the law was not easy, among other reasons because there were no —and there still are no— official figures on the children of the victims of femicides. The data from La Casa del Encuentro comes from an exhaustive compilation of news that appeared in the media. Still, pressure from feminist movements on the streets contributed to the law being passed by Congress in 2018.
“We talk about reparation because the State did not comply in protecting the life of women,” says María Laura Novo, one of the lawyers who was behind the drafting of the law. The norm contemplates an allocation for an amount equal to a minimum retirement (32,000 pesos, equivalent to 283 dollars at the official price) plus medical coverage up to 21 years. “The health system is important because it has to accompany these children and adolescents. The children speak because many were witnesses to the violence and some were also victims. They speak or speak with their bodies and need accompaniment”, says Novo.
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Since the law came into force, in 2019, until November 2021, a total of 1,029 minors have benefited from this law, according to data from the National Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and Family (Sennaf).
“A grandmother called us to thank us. I will never forget that comment because it was tremendous. She said: ‘With that money I am going to make a little room so that we can live with more dignity.’ Because she had seven little boys. Dignity and rights, because in reality that minor who has a murdered mother also has to change his neighborhood, his school, his friends and feel that he does not have a place that belongs to him. That is why we consider that this law is a right, because if the State did not accompany the woman who was murdered, it has to accompany the children,” Rico stresses.
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