Saturday, December 1, 2012

Femicide in Honduras: "This machista society breeds a growing and tangible hatred towards women"

In Honduras, one woman is killed every 18 hours and the perpetrators go largely unpunished. Local campaigns groups have been working with Oxfam's 'Raising Her Voice' to call for justice for women in Honduras and across the world.
Posted by Francisco Pavon Media and Communications Officer, Maritza Gallardo Programme Manager, Active Citizenship and Gender Justice, Oxfam

One woman is killed every 18 hours, 245 women were murdered in the first six months of this year and more than 3,000 mothers, daughters and sisters have been violently killed in the last decade. 
This is the crushing news from Honduras as we approach the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Violence against women has been a long term issue in Honduras but its escalation - in numbers and brutality - since the coup d'état in 2009 also points to a worrying pattern of normalisation and impunity.
The total number of murders for the country is down by 6% on last year, the rate of femicides is up by 30%. Young women are the hardest hit; especially those migrating to meet the demand for cheap labour in the capital, Tegucigalpa, and the urban commercial centres of the Northern coastal regions. 
Strikingly, less than 5% of these deaths are related to domestic violence; hence the use of the word femicide to describe what is happening in Honduras. In these instances, women are usually shot, often in public spaces, or discovered on waste land. Although exacerbated by gun law (over 21s can possess a firearm) human rights activists and academics blame the institutionalised and extreme gender discrimination in Honduran society, government ministries, the judiciary and law enforcement authorities. 
"How can they understand femicide if their minds haven't been opened to the realities facing women in Honduras today, and if they are part and parcel of a culture of gender discrimination?" Gladys Lanza of Women's Tribunal Against Femicide
Fewer than 1 in 5 cases of femicide are investigated. In practice, this impunity sends the message that violence against women is acceptable and will go unpunished. One crucial finding of research by Oxfam International and the Women's Tribunal Against Femicide (WTAF) is that the institutionalised culture of impunity is proving to be a breeding ground for further violence against women.
Since the 2009 coup, the public credibility and legitimacy of these same security and judicial national institutions has plummeted.  
"The government of Honduras says one thing and does another, although it talks about its concern for the levels of violence in the country in general, it doesn't even mention violence against women. When it comes to action, it does nothing."   Gladys Lanza, Women's Tribunal Against Femicide.
Gladys is not alone in sharing her belief that the time for new laws is over, it is time for action. The statistics are powerful, but Gladys reminds us that behind the numbers are real women, whose lives have been violently cut short by the most extreme form of gender-based violence - femicide. 
Last week more than 200 women demonstrated on the streets of the capital, Tegucigalpa, calling for the Minister of Justice to take action on the growing tide of femicides and violence against women (VAW). 
"We call for respect for women. In the courts there are around 20,000 cases of violent crime against women, only 20% of which have been heard. Every day between 400 and 500 new complaints are filed but nothing happens, and the violence continues."
Maria Reyes, leader of the Tegucigalpa women's group.  
Maria and thousands more women around the country are coming together under the banner of the National Campaign Against Femicide (NCAF). Their objective is to call to account those individuals and institutions that perpetuate a culture of VAW.  
NCAF sits within, and is supported by, Oxfam national programme 'Raising her Voice'. Raising her Voice's partner organisations nationally monitor the levels of VAW. Partner organizations such as el Movimiento de Mujeres por la Paz "Visitación Padilla" have presented these hard facts to decision-makers and the national association of NGOs (ASONOG). 
They have also held high profile mock tribunals as a means to publicly highlight the way that VAW cases are handled by the judiciary. At the grassroots, Raising Her Voice and other WATF members are working to change attitudes at the local level. They do this through popular dramatization and training journalists on gender sensitivity when reporting on femicide and VAW. 
The NCAF is reaching out to allies at home and abroad to end the femicide in Honduras. They join Oxfam GB's partners in the national 'Raising Her Voice' programme and the national NGO network, (ASONOG) to demand justice for women in Honduras and across the world.  The 16 Days of Action, starting on 25th November, will give Gladys and Maria and other Honduran women a much needed international platform to speak out on the situation facing women in Honduras. 
It is time for solidarity and time for action. Join with the women of Honduras during the 16 Days of Action here:

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