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News > Latin America

Women Denounce Femicide, Demand Legal Abortions in Marches Across Latin America

  • "WE ARE FED UP" | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 March 2018

An estimated 2,000 women die in Latin America every year due to unsafe abortions.

Women in Latin America joined their counterparts across the world on Thursday in protest against gender-based violence and to demand public policies to guarantee women's fundamental human rights. The activists also zoned in on two issues, which disproportionately affect women within Latin America and the Caribbean, the high rates of femicides in the region and the fact that several countries still deny women the right to an abortion.

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According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, 97 percent of women of childbearing age in Latin America and the Caribbean live in countries where abortion is restricted or banned altogether. Harsh laws that penalize abortion have not resulted in fewer procedures, but a higher threat to women's lives. An estimated 2,000 women die in Latin America every year due to unsafe abortions.   

In Argentina, hundreds of thousands of women flooded the streets of Buenos Aires in support of a proposed bill to legalize abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Argentine women demanded legal, safe and free abortions, an efficient separation between church and state, and an end to violence against women and femicides. In their manifesto, they also expressed solidarity with the struggles of public and private workers who have faced massive layoffs since right-wing president Mauricio Macri took power.   

Currently, abortions are only allowed in cases of rape or if a woman's health is in danger. The current legal framework in Argentina might seem progressive when compared to other countries like El Salvador where strict anti-abortion laws make no exceptions — they disregard whether the pregnancy is the outcome of rape or if it poses medical risks for the woman.

Salvadorean women marched to demand the decriminalization of abortions. Teodora Vasquez, who served an 11-year prison term for a miscarriage, was among the demonstrators.  

The maximum sentence for abortion cases is eight years. However, a woman who has an abortion or a miscarriage can face up to 50 years in prison if charged with aggravated homicide. In five other countries, the Dominican RepublicHaiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Suriname abortions are illegal without exception.

Only in Cuba, Guyana, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay women can access abortions without restrictions. In the remaining 25 countries, abortions are only legal if the woman's life and health may be threatened. 

Legalizing abortion was a central demand in Chile, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and many more. 

In Honduras, feminist groups demanded justice for environmental activist Berta Caceres, who was murdered two years ago after years of death threats for her opposition to a hydroelectric project. In Mexico, where seven women are killed every day, women also demanded an end to gender-based violence and femicides. 

In Ecuador, the platform #VivasNosQueremos (WeWantUsAlive) performed a cacerolazo, a protest with pots and pans as instruments, in front of the Labor Ministry to demand a life free from violence and the recognition of domestic and reproductive work, another theme shares across borders.

In Bolivia, where according to official sources, 28 women have been violently murdered during this year, and seven of every ten women report to have suffered some type of violence, women marched to demand an end to violence against women and public policies to reach this goal.

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