How Stella Maris Molina is Advocating to Prevent Gender-Based Violence and Racial Discrimination in Northern Argentina
Vital Voices Network Leader Stella Maris Molina is an Indigenous activist, attorney, and President of Fundación Markani in Argentina. Stella has led Fundación Markani’s work with Vital Voices since 2018 under the Voices Against Violence: The Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Global Initiative.
Stella is a dedicated activist and leads Fundación Markani’s mission to shed light on the plight of Indigenous women in communities where the legacy of colonialism and racial discrimination contributes to the widespread sexual assault and violence against Indigenous women and young girls. She has also promoted a broad support network to provide critical resources like medical, legal, psychological, and other necessities for survivors of GBV, including “chineo,” and discrimination in the northern region of Salta.
The term “chineo” refers to a sexual gang attack perpetrated without consent, typically by the hands of white, land-owning men against Indigenous women and children nearing puberty. This crime exists as an act of violence and a racist assertion of power, driven by the perpetrators’ belief that Indigenous women exist solely for their exploitation. “Chineo,” is an extreme, yet unrecognized, form of GBV and racism targeting Indigenous communities since the onset of colonization. Seeking justice in such cases is immensely challenging due to linguistic and cultural barriers, intimidation, fear of retaliation, and limited access to the nearest city to take legal action.
In Stella’s effort to combat GBV and denounce violent practices like “chineo,” her work is continuously being recognized in regional and international human rights spaces and was recently featured in Al Jazeera+.
Efforts led by activists like Stella focus on raising awareness of these abuses by criminalizing sexual assault against Indigenous women and classifying it as an aggravated hate crime. Through the documentation of cases, they strive to prompt the government to stand against the perpetrators and address the systemic discrimination that Indigenous women are facing.
By recognizing the racist nature of these crimes, Stella advocates for increasing the prison sentences of the perpetrators, which is a crucial step in protecting Indigenous women and children. Alongside her, Indigenous communities and survivors unite and share their stories to raise awareness, promote policy changes, and ensure the safety and well-being of their women and children.
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Written by the Communication Team at Vital Voices