viernes, 27 de octubre de 2017

Honduras: Violence against women reaches endemic levels

Foto CDM
Number of femicides drops but violent acts shoot up

By Giorgio Trucchi | Rel-UITA

Each year there are more than 20,000 cases of domestic violence in Honduras, every 17 hours a woman is killed and every day a woman disappears. Maleness, the militarization of society and impunity in almost 95 percent of femicides promote the repetition of crimes and deepen violence against women.

Data from both national and international human rights organizations and public agencies and women’s organizations reveals how critical the situation has become.

The Violence Observatory of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) estimates that some 463 women lost their life violently in 2016. During the first semester of 2017 at least 188 women were victims of femicide.

Honduras’ National Human Rights Commissioner (Conadeh)[1] puts the number of women murdered between 2006 and 2016 at 4,787. That is one woman killed every 17 hours.

A woman, girl, boy, or adolescent is raped every thirty minutes.

Seventy percent of all murders are committed with firearms, more than half the victims are aged 15 to 29, and most perpetrators are individuals close to the victims.

In 2013, the deadliest year for women in Honduras, the rate of femicides in the country peaked at 14 per 100,000 women, thus reaching epidemic proportions according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

But women face a daily tragedy that is not limited to these violent deaths.

According to the Cedij [2], 20,000 cases of domestic violence are reported each year and it is estimated that as many cases never reach the courts.

Of the more than 8,000 crimes against women reported to the Public Prosecutor’s Office in 2016, 39 percent had to do with domestic violence and over 17 percent involved rape or injuries.

The Women’s Rights Center (CDM) notes with concern that starting in 2009 there was a great increase in the number of women and girls who have gone missing. Every year since 2013 more than 400 women disappear without a trace.

“The number of femicides has gone down, but that doesn’t mean that there is less violence against women. If we truly want to understand gender violence, we must broaden our perspective and go to the root of this tragedy,” Neesa Medina, of the CDM’s Violence against Women Observatory, told La Rel.

Fewer femicides
Greater violence

According to this activist, the drop in violent deaths of women is basically due to three variables.

The first has to do with the growing number of women who disappear each year, either because their killers hide the bodies or because they are victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation.

A second variable is connected with the maras[3] and a strategy that involves employing—and therefore “protecting”—women to watch over territories, extortion, or sexual exploitation within prison facilities.
The third variable is that women are fleeing violence.

“Women abandon everything and leave, preferably for the United States. They know they will almost certainly suffer some form of sexual abuse[4] and before starting out on they journey they get a contraceptive shot.”

“That’s how bad it has gotten in our country: women choose to expose themselves to rape rather than go on living in terror in Honduras,” Medina said.

The roots of violence
Militarization and extreme poverty

Gender violence cannot be understood in isolation.

According to Medina, violence occurs because other forms of discrimination and social exclusion are permitted, in a profoundly sexist and heavily armed society that guarantees impunity.

“We can’t combat gender violence if we don’t combat inequality, extreme poverty, and malnutrition. And we can’t do that with welfare programs implemented by governments that trifle with people’s hunger.”

“Inequality is defeated by furthering social justice and by questioning the privileges of the few, who enjoy them at the expense of the hardship of the vast majority,” Medina said.

The militarization of society and impunity also create a breeding ground for violence.

“We live in a country where there are 1.5 million firearms, of which only 250,000 are held legally. There are over 600 private security companies and policing is in the hands of the military.”

“Women live in terror because they know life in Honduras is worthless, so they prefer to flee. We need to unarm the country and end impunity,” she stressed.

Women's and feminist organizations grouped together in the November 25 Movement are standing up against this situation and have protested in several occasions, demanding justice for the victims and that the murderers and perpetrators be punished.

They also ask for greater access to data on femicides and accountability in the use of the funds allocated for femicide-related research.

In addition, they are working on a proposal for an integral law on violence against women.

“It’s a very comprehensive law that originated in the women’s movement and focuses on prevention. If we can get it approved it would be a great step forward,” Neesa Medina concluded.
[2] Electronic Judicial Documentation and Information Center
[3] Maras are criminal gangs
[4] According to a report by Amnesty International, 80 percent of the women who migrate by land face some form of sexual abuse during their journey.

Fuente original: Rel-UITA (español)

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