Honduran researchers reveal that there are currently over 17,000 children orphaned by femicides according to a study carried out in the country over the past 5 months.
At the Tuesday "The Invisible Victims of Femicide," conference in Tegucigalpa, the Association of Quality of Life (LCA) and the Women's Tribe Against Femicides presented their findings which showed that there are more than 17,000 orphaned children in the country, as a result of rampant femicides.
According to the report, most orphans are being taken care of by grandmothers or aunts, since most fathers are responsible for the mother’s death.
The report also showed that children sometimes witness the murders of their mom by her partner and that this often pushes the minors to suicide or criminal activity.
Director of Analysis of Capacity and Vulnerability (ACV), Ana Cruz told the audience that this study found that these orphans face significant psychological damage, are deprived of their dignity, and are more easily "recruited" by maras (MS-13) or gangs.
"They are the most vulnerable to falling into trafficking networks, being part of the informal economy, and suffering emotional damage and changes to their personality," Cruz said.
According to Cruz, numbers from the Honduran National Statistics Institute (INE) show that as of 2016 there were 266,037 orphaned children in the country 47,572 of them had lost their mothers.
Merly Eguigure, coordinator of the Padilla Feminist Movement, said 2018 has seen an uptick in femicides, particularly in the capital and in San Pedro Sula. In January, 52 women were killed by their partners in San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa alone. Between Jan. and Jul. 1 of this year, 127 women were murdered, according to local media. In 2017, a total of 389 femicides were reported.
Eguigure says that most deaths "could be avoided if the authorities had acted” more quickly.
Director of Forensic Sciences of the Public Ministry Julissa Villanueva says: "The deaths of women are becoming like an epidemic, a disease of hatred."
Over the past 15 years there have been an estimated 5,600 femicides, according to the National Human Rights Commissioner, and in 95 percent of these cases, the murderers go unpunished.
Cruz says there is no support from the state for those orphaned from femicides, or the killing of a woman based on gender, and there’s no system in Honduras to give reparations for the deaths of femicide victims.
The prosecutor for children of the district attorney's office (MP), Marisol Rodríguez, explained that more than a quarter of the Honduran population is children and adolescents. She said Congress is drafting an adoption law that will make it easier for people to legally adopt orphans, particularly those of femicide.
"It is incumbent that the (government) take protective measures to restore rights (of children), either by placing them with extended families or by declaring them abandoned so that they can be put up for adoption," argued the prosecutor.
Rodriguez also stressed that the state must do a better job of collecting statistics around femicides and those left behind by the murders.
ACV researcher, Wendy Funez says the study was conducted in the four municipalities with the highest level of femicides - Choloma, Choluteca, San Miguelito and Tegucigalpa.
Funez said at the conference: "There is no public debate on the issue in the country. Children are being orphaned by violence against women. We expect the state to make decisions."