One woman incurred a stomach wound and two other women were wounded in their legs during a march in Chile’s capital, Santiago, on Wednesday. Additionally a policeman was also hurt. One of the victims, a 24 year-year old law student who didn’t want to be named wrote: “It was an act of terrorism from a minority group who wants to scare us.”
According to witnesses, initially the march was peaceful but soon things turned sour when extremists put up barricades and scattered animal guts on the ground. A small far-right group, the Social Patriot movement claimed responsibility for the protests, it claimed it was not connected to the stabbings, instead blaming that on “anarcho-feminists”.
This incident has alarmed human rights activists in Chile saying that anti-abortion radicals are the ones responsible, but so far no arrests have been made. The march was held to demand safe and legal abortions in the country. While in the past Chile’s laws did not allow abortions, the current government allows it in cases of risk to the mother’s life, rape, or when the fetus is not viable. However the latest president, Sebastian Piñera, who was elected this year, is strongly opposed to abortion and is not expected to agree to further reforms.
In fact activists are worried he would reverse the current policies which came about during the previous president Michelle Bachelet’s term. In fact José Antonio Kast, a conservative politician has formed a movement, Republican Action which seeks to reinstate a total abortion ban.
Amazingly, the only countries which are abortion-friendly in South America are Cuba and Uruguay. It may also be allowed in Argentina soon as there is new legislation being debated that would allow abortions in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.
Michelle Bachelet has condemned the stabbing spree, saying: “This kind of threat against social movements recalls the worst years of the dictatorship, and are unacceptable in a democratic country.”
Unfortunately the country’s mostly right wing media didn’t bother to even cover the incident. According to Natalia Valdebenito, a comedian and radio presenter who was the one who first broke the story on Instagram:
“No one paid attention. The next morning, there was nothing on the newspaper covers, nothing on the television. I didn’t see the president condemning the attacks, nor did I see the minister of internal affairs. We know there are organized groups that intentionally went to disrupt the protest and do harm, but the feminist movement will continue. We are united and they cannot imagine that type of strength.”
It’s not unusual to have clashes between protesters and police in Chile, violent attacks like this are rare.