Dictatorship-era sexual abuse ratified as crime against humanity

The Federal Criminal Cassation Court described sexual abuse as ‘yet another disciplinary tool’

The Federal Criminal Cassation Court ratified its decision to declare sexual abuse and rape committed during the last military dictatorship as crimes against humanity. Using 36 sentences handed down to repressors over the past two decades, the Court defended the legal criteria to process sex crimes as such in future cases against former officers.

“They were horrendous crimes that we have to continue raising awareness about so that we never live through them again as a society,” said Human Rights Secretary Horacio Pietragalla Corti on Sunday.

Being considered a crime against humanity means that there is no longer a statute of limitations for reporting dictatorship-era sexual abuse and the crimes are considered to be part of a systematic attack against a sector of the civil population. In this case, it was mostly against women, but many men and LGBTQIA+ people were also subjected to these atrocities.

The court published Thursday a document that goes over the 36 sentences which treated sexual violence and abuse as a separate crime from torture as a part of the dictatorship’s modus operandi.

These include crimes against sexual integrity, such as violence against pregnant women and forced pregnancy. Many women were pregnant at the time of their illegal detention or got pregnant after being raped by their captors. They were often forced to carry out their pregnancies and give birth in the clandestine centers of detention where they were being held captive and tortured. Many were killed after giving birth, and their babies appropriated by officers.

Recognizing sex crimes as crimes against humanity helped convict superiors who raped or sexually abused kidnapped women or were indirectly responsible for crimes committed by officers under their orders, the court highlighted in its compilation.

Those convictions “recognize that specific way of causing pain and hurting women was yet another tool to discipline them not only in the political sphere, but also in their gender role,” it says in the document.

The first time a sexual crime was convicted as a crime against humanity was in 2010 in Mar del Plata. Repressor Gregorio Molina was sentenced to life in jail for rape and attempted rape. Mar del Plata’s Federal Oral Court considered the tortures suffered by his victims “were specific and directed at them for being women, with a clear discriminatory intention.”

Since then, there have been 35 similar sentences. One of the officers convicted of sexual crimes against humanity is Jorge “Tigre” Acosta, who recently seemed to back far-right candidate Javier Milei in an open letter written from prison.

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— With information from Télam.


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