Gisel Verela, a 33-year-old police officer was shot to death waiting for her bus in Mar del Plata where she also served on the police force.
Local media says that a man aggressively approached Verela and began to argue with her as she took out what witnesses suspected was a restraining order. The man then shot Verela several times, at least two of which were in the face at close range. He escaped the scene in a car.
The aggressor was later found and arrested by officials. Identified as Sergio Alejandro Cejas the suspect was a former partner to Verela who had a restraining order against the man. Cejas was also once arrested in a nearby town for violence against a woman.
Mar del Plata prosecutor Fernando Castro confirmed that the Cejas used Verela’s own police weapon to kill her. "The security cameras of the city show the scenes of the event, the man getting out of the car, arguing and seizing the weapon" of the victim, explained Castro, adding that the weapon has not been located.
This is likely Argentina’s first registered femicide for the new year.
Since 2015 the #NiUnaMenos, (not one more) movement has gained tremendous traction in Argentina bringing thousands of women and activists continuously to the streets to advocate for legislation to curb femicides in the South American country that registered 225 gender-based murder between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31 of 2018, according to the Femicide Observatory of Argentina. Of these, 200 were committed by former partners or relatives of the women.
The country suffered 969 cases between 2014 and 2017 where 92 percent of the women victims were killed by their partners or relatives.
Influenced by public protest and discussion around gender violence, the Argentine Chamber of Deputies approved a bill in December that requires all state officials and workers to take courses on gender rights.
Called the Micaela Law after femicide victim Micaela Garcia, the mandated training has been long overdue in Argentina where femicide cases are often thrown out and perpetrators go largely unpunished.
The bill passed just one month after an Argentine court acquitted three men on charges of rape and femicide of 16-year-old Lucia Perez whose death helped ignite the #niunamenos movement. Two of the men in the now-famous case were sentenced to eight years in prison for drug possession, a third was absolved of all charges.
Within the first seven days alone three femicides took place in Argentina's neighboring country of Chile, and at least one femicide was registered in Colombia.