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  • Despite 18 Latin American countries, including Brazil and El Salvador, changing their laws to make the killing women a crime, the situation continues unabated.

    Despite 18 Latin American countries, including Brazil and El Salvador, changing their laws to make the killing women a crime, the situation continues unabated. | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 November 2018

In absolute terms, Brazil had the most femicides with 1,133, but given El Salvador's much smaller population, its rate easily outpaced that seen in other countries.

El Salvador is the country with the highest rate of femicide in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2017, with more than 10 killings for every 100,000 women.

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Across the region, at least 2,795 women aged 15 and older were murdered last year due to their gender, the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) said Thursday.

Femicide "has a scope in El Salvador that is seen nowhere else in the region," the organization said as it released the report from its Gender Equality Observatory.

In 2016, El Salvador recorded 318 femicides. This number increased dramatically in 2017, when 468 femicides were registered.

Almost half of the victims were aged between 15 and 29, according to the Institute of Legal Medicine. In the first four months of 2018, a total of 144 femicides have been reported.

High-profile cases include the murder of La Prensa journalist Karla Liseth Turcios, strangled by her husband, and the murders of Katherinne Carcamo de Arevalo and Dr. Roda Bonilla, both found in their homes and allegedly killed by their husbands.

In 2016, El Salvador created a special court specifically to try violent crimes committed against women, in a bid to reduce gender violence, and with the hope that judges and lawyers specifically trained to deal with issues of violence toward women would be better able to prosecute these kinds of crimes.

"Femicide is the most extreme expression of violence against women," said ECLAC's executive secretary, Alicia Barcena. "Neither the criminal classification of this offense nor the efforts to make it statistically visible have been enough to eradicate this scourge that alarms and horrifies us on a daily basis."

Honduras, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Bolivia have also seen high rates of murders of women of at least two per 100,000.

In the region, only Panama, Peru and Venezuela had rates of under one murder for every 100,000 women.

ECLAC called on leaders to "consider women's diversity and the varied ways in which violence against them is manifested," as crimes against women also usually have economic, age, racial and cultural components.

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