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ECLAC concerned about increasing femicide in the C'bean

Sunday, November 18, 2018

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SANTIAGO, Chile (CMC) — The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has expressed deep concern about what it regards as the increasing number of femicides in the region, urging governments to give priority to public policies aimed at preventing, sanctioning and eradicating all forms of violence against women. 

Femicide is a sex-based hate crime term, broadly defined as “the intentional killing of females because they are females".

In a new report, released here on Thursday, ECLAC said that at least 2,795 women were victims of femicide in 23 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2017.

It said regional countries have modified their laws to sanction this crime, classifying it as feminicide, femicide or aggravated homicide due to gender.

ECLAC said its Gender Equality Observatory (GEO) reports annually on the number of homicides of women 15 years and older perpetrated for gender-related reasons in regional countries.

To give full account of the magnitude of this scourge, ECLAC also compiles so-called intimate femicides – those committed by someone with whom the victim formed a couple at some point – “which is the only data reported by countries such as Chile, Colombia, Guyana and Jamaica.”

In absolute terms, ECLAC said the list of femicides is led by Brazil (with 1,133 victims confirmed in 2017).

“Nonetheless, if the rate per every 100,000 women is compared, the phenomenon has a scope in El Salvador that is seen nowhere else in the region: 10.2 femicides for every 100,000 women,” ECLAC said.

In 2016, Honduras recorded 5.8 femicides for every 100,000 women, while in Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Bolivia, the Commission said high rates were also seen in 2017, equal to or above two cases for every 100,000 women.

In the region, only Panama, Peru and Venezuela have rates below 1.0, ECLAC said.

“Femicide is the most extreme expression of violence against women,” said ECLAC's Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena. “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.

In the Caribbean, GEO report says four countries accounted for a total of 35 femicide victims in 2017: Belize (9 victims), the British Virgin Islands (1), St Lucia (4) and Trinidad and Tobago (21).

In the same year, the report says Guyana and Jamaica—which only have data on intimate femicides—reported the deaths of 34 and 15 women, respectively, at the hands of their current or former partners.

In 2017, the report says the rates of intimate femicides in Latin America ranged between a maximum of 1.98 for every 100,000 women in the Dominican Republic, to a minimum of 0.47 in Chile.

In light of the seriousness of this phenomenon, ECLAC said 18 Latin American countries have modified their laws to sanction this crime, classifying it as feminicide, femicide or aggravated homicide due to gender: Costa Rica (2007); Guatemala (2008); Chile and El Salvador (2010); Argentina, Mexico and Nicaragua (2012); Bolivia, Honduras, Panama and Peru (2013); the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Venezuela (2014); Brazil and Colombia (2015); Paraguay (2016); and Uruguay (2017).

One of the main challenges to adequately addressing this issue, according to ECLAC, is to understand that “all the forms of violence that affect women are determined, beyond their sex or gender status, by economic, age-, race-, culture-, religion-related and other types of differences.

“In this sense, public policies for their eradication must consider women's diversity and the varied ways in which violence against them is manifested,” ECLAC urged, calling for the creation of inter-agency agreements “that allow for strengthening the analysis of femicide at a regional and national level.”

In addition, ECLAC proposed working on “consciousness-raising and capacity development among public officials, especially judicial officials, to improve femicide records and provide responses that reflect a human rights approach and a culture of equality.

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