Latin America: groups protest continued violence against women

Women’s organizations throughout Latin America used the United Nation’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Nov. 25, to highlight continued abuse of women in the region and the failure of governments to take steps to reduce it.

In Chile the women’s rights center Corporación Humanas marked Nov. 25 by publicizing the results of a nationwide poll of women about their perception of their situation. Some 67% of those questioned said they thought the Chilean government had failed to take measures to prevent violence against women. About 54% believed that the violence had increased, 34% said it had stayed the same, and just 8% felt it had decreased. Some 73% said violence against women in couples was a problem that affects all women, because it is an extreme expression of machismo. So far this year there have been 38 femicides (misogynistic murders) in Chile. (Adital, Brazil, Nov. 25)

Hundreds of Salvadoran women marched in San Salvador to denounce the 582 femicides that that have occurred in the country in 2011 and to demand respect for women’s human rights and greater resources for groups working to defend women.

In Honduras more than 200 women marched through the center of Tegucigalpa and in front of the National Congress to demand justice and an end to impunity for those who rape or murder women or commit other violent acts against them. According to Grissel Amaya, the Public Ministry’s special prosecutor for crimes against women, more than 1,500 women were murdered in Honduras from 2008 to 2011. The Public Ministry received more than 20,000 reports of domestic violence during the period and more than 11,000 reports of sexual violence, Amaya told reporters on Nov. 25.

Thousands attended a demonstration in Guatemala City to demand an end to machista violence, which has resulted in the deaths of more than 650 women this year. Participants included university students, indigenous women, professionals and activists. (EFE, Nov. 26, via La Opinión, Los Angeles)

In Mexico the Chamber of Deputies of the National Congress marked Nov. 25 with the publication of a book, Feminicidio en México; aproximación, tendencias y cambios 1985-2009, dealing with femicides over a 24-year period. The authors found that there had been 34,176 murders of women during the period and that the rate of these murders had increased by 68%. A total of 17.2% of the victims were under the age of 18.

One of the authors, María de la Paz López, noted in an interview that there had been a jump in murders of women from 2007 to 2009, after Mexico began militarizing the fight against narco-trafficking. She said the available data couldn’t establish a relation between the murders and the “drug war,” but she indicated that the recent climate of violence in Mexico provided an environment that could encourage violence against women. Like other Mexican specialists in the subject, the book’s authors stressed the importance of creating legislation that treats femicide as a separate criminal category. (Milenio, Mexico, Nov. 26; La Jornada, Mexico, Nov. 26)

In Haiti the feminist organization Haitian Women’s Solidarity (SOFA) was planning to send a caravan to Lascahobas, in the Central Plateau near the Dominican border, on Nov. 25 to “increase awareness on the part of the local authorities” about violence against women. SOFA spokesperson Olga Benoit said this was part of a long-term campaign to end the practice of accepting attacks on women as normal and downplaying their importance; eventually the group hopes to set up a center for victims of violence in the town. A total of 24,369 cases of violence against women were reported in Haiti from 2002 and 2011, according to figures released on Nov. 25 by the National Dialogue Against Violent Acts Committed Against Women. (AlterPresse, Haiti, Nov. 25, Nov. 26)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 27.

See our last post on femicide in Latin America.