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HONDURAS
Red alert issued over femicide
Latinamerica Press
7/13/2017
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Two women are murdered each day while 96 percent of the cases go unsolved.

Women organizations declared on “red alert” on July 4 after the murder of a 15 year old student in Tegucigalpa. Between January and June this year, 175 women have been murdered, 18 of them in just 10 days, they denounced in a statement.

“In the space of 10 days in June, 18 women have been murdered with impunity, something that translates into two femicides a day, and several others have been raped or abused; we are sure many more than what we can imagine as sexual abuse generally takes place under the most absolute silence. Neither the Women’s Prosecutor Office, nor the Secretariat of Women, nor the Security Secretariat, nor the Criminal Investigation Agency, nor the National Institute for Women have said or done anything about it,” reads the statement signed by more than 20 entities, including the Women’s Tribune Against Femicide, Visitación Padilla Women’s Movement for Peace, Center for Women Studies-Honduras, and the Association of Women Defenders of Life, among others.

They qualified as a “failure” the security strategy of the state towards women and accused the authorities of dismissing the femicides arguing that “they are not high impact crimes” and stating that the victims “were into something, they owed something.”

According to the National Observatory of Violence (ONV) of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH), in the first three months of the year, 83 women were murdered, 42 of which were between the ages of 15 and 34. Also, there were 722 cases of attacked women who required a forensic medical examination that were recorded in that same period, of which 86 percent were between 15 and 39 years-old.

Added to all of the above is the impunity: 96 percent of femicides are not solved. Of the 368 murders of women that were recorded last year by the ONV, only 15 were investigated and the justice system handed down a sentence in only two cases, according to the women organizations.

The authorities “have reduced us to simple things that don´t even deserve justice, as has been shown by the measly percentage of solved femicides of barely 4 percent,” say the activists.

“We declare that the legal impunity towards femicides is reinforced by the lack of implementation of this figure by judges, prosecutors and justice operators,” the statement say. “We reject the figure of femicide proposed in the New Criminal Code proposed by the Spanish consultant Javier Álvarez, because it goes against the national and international framework and it is a clear step back for women’s rights, something that would generate more impunity.”

Insecurity and violence
Although Honduras recorded in 2011 — according to figures from the National Police — a murder rate of 86.5 per 100,000 inhabitants, which placed the country among one of the most violent in the world, in 2016 that rate was reduced to 57.9 per 100,000 inhabitants after the government implemented strategies to combat delinquency and control gang disputes.

The 2016 report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) regarding the situation in Honduras, presented in February, stated that “both official and independent data indicate that the homicide rate has decreased by 30 percent since 2011. However, insecurity continues to be a major concern. In addition to the still high murder rate, Hondurans face high levels of crimes against physical integrity and property.”

The OHCHR admitted that although “positive steps were made in strengthening the institutional and legal framework to protect women against violence,” in particular the criminalization of femicide, the establishment of the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Women and the National Plan on Violence against Women 2014-2022, “progress in reducing violence against women and girls has been slow and the problem remains a serious concern.”

Among their recommendations, the OHCHR called on the Honduran state “to ensure that women and girls have access to redress and protection. This includes the adoption of a specific law on violence against women and girls; the revision of protocols to investigate and prosecute violence and femicide,” as well as “the provision of specialized care and support to victims, including legal and psychosocial rehabilitation and reintegration programmes and shelters in cooperation with civil society organizations.”

In their manifesto, the women organizations called on the population of Honduras to “give more thought to the lives of the more than 175 women who have been murdered in 2017. More than 175 tortures, more than 175 fears, and more than 175 anguishes. More than 175 women bound to horror waiting for death to come. We want you to think about it for a moment: in those stories, in those lives, in those smiles in their eyes, of each and every one of them.”

“We declare today more than ever before that we are rebelling and we will not allow that the fight against violence towards women be postponed any longer,” reads the statement. “We demand that each woman who reads us and each person who loves them fight for their lives in their homes, the streets, at their doorsteps, in their bedrooms. Let’s fight if necessary, let’s runaway from death if it is possible.” —Latinamerica Press.


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