Washington DC, November 25, 2022.- In 2021, 56% of women murdered worldwide died at the hands of their partners or other family members, according to UN Women, the United Nations organization dedicated to promoting the rights of women and girls. This statistic was released on the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which is commemorated this November 25 and marks the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence
According to the organization, every hour, more than five women or girls were murdered in the world by a member of their closest environment in 2021. In the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, and in the context of Covid-19, the problem of femicides has been described as “the other pandemic”. Although it is difficult to establish exactly how many femicides occur in the region each year due to the lack of official data or the bias with which some States record violence against women, the approximations made by international agencies or civil society organizations reveal a serious situation.
According to the report La pandemia en la sombra, by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), at least 4,091 women were victims of femicide in 26 countries (17 in Latin America and 9 in the Caribbean) in 2020. An snapshot by country reveals equally worrying figures. In Mexico, in 2021, authorities recorded 977 murdered women, 18% of whom were under 18 years of age. In Honduras, that year there were 381 femicides, for a rate of 4.7 per 100,000 women.
Although femicide is the most extreme expression of violence against women, it is important to bear in mind that there are various manifestations that violate their rights. Unfortunately, this is a generalized and trending dynamic in our societies: every day, at every moment, a woman, girl or adolescent is a victim of gender-based violence. UN Women estimates that 1 in 3 women in the world suffer gender-based violence during her lifetime.
For the International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality), monitoring and analyzing the situation of violence against women in the Americas, as well as making recommendations to States to combat it, is a fundamental axis in our work of promoting and defending human rights from an intersectional perspective, as we understand that gender-based violence is structural and has multiple expressions that can affect disproportionately according to national origin, race or ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender diversity.
A wave that grows and resists
Undoubtedly, the movement against gender violence has grown significantly in the Americas. The work of recording and denouncing the violence faced by women in different areas of society has made it possible for this issue to become a key pillar in the creation of public policies for the protection of their rights and the elimination of this so-called pandemic.
This International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we not only want to contribute to make the problem visible, but we also want to highlight the profiles of women who confront gender violence and seek to transform the reality of their communities to ensure a life free of violence and with equal opportunities for women and girls.
Fighting gender-based violence without a legal framework
Eroises González is an Afro-Cuban activist who heads the Plataforma Femenina, an organization that for 12 years has been working for women to identify and confront the various manifestations of gender violence. This work continues despite the fact that Cuba does not have a law on violence against women and is one of the few countries in the region that does not typify the crime of femicide. “Today Cuban women, despite the fact that we still have a long way to go to achieve a life free of violence, are trying to break with the patriarchy imposed for years,” she says.
Resisting political violence
Anexa Alfred Cunningham is a Nicaraguan indigenous Miskitu woman, lawyer and member of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) for Central and South America. In July 2022, at the end of her first official mission to the fifteenth session of the EMRIP, the expert was unable to board her flight back to Nicaragua on orders from the country’s authoritarian regime. Thus, she was left in a situation of illegal exile from her own land, where she resided and where her family was waiting for her, including her young sons and daughters.
Confronting Vicarious Violence
In Peru, Sabrina Rodríguez fights against vicarious violence through the Frente de Lucha Materna. This type of violence is aimed at harming women through their loved ones, especially their children. Its most extreme manifestation is the murder of sons and daughters, but it is also expressed when parents impose conditions for alimony, threaten to remove custody and harass with legal complaints, among other actions, to continue exercising control, harming, inflicting pain, emotional and economic wear and tear on women who have decided to cut off the familial relationship.
Accompanying migrant women
Gaby Arenas, from Colombia, is the founder and director of TAAP (Taller de Aprendizaje para las Artes y la Paz), an organization that has been working for 15 years to build peace through art and the promotion of human rights, with a special focus on women victims of gender-based violence and migrant women. Its mission is to transform the realities of communities through the arts and social innovation so that they can live without violence and achieve wellbeing.
Understanding to act
Following this year’s United Nations theme for the commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, “UNITE! Activism to end violence against women and girls”, and understanding that to achieve this the different forms of violence that affect women must be addressed, we present an ABC on issues and aspects relevant to the understanding and prevention of gender-based violence.
GBV: Acronym used to refer to Gender-Based Violence.
25N: November 25th, the date on which the International Day for the Elimination of Gender-Based Violence is commemorated.
Gender-based violence: Refers to the different forms of violence that affect women and girls. It can be physical, psychological, emotional, economic, social, etc.
Femicide: The murder of a woman/girl because of her gender. They are usually carried out by people close to the victims and with whom there is a familial or emotional bond.
Feminism: Social movement that seeks equity between men, women and other genders.
Machismo: Social and thought structure based on the assumption of a false superiority of men over women.
Gender identity: Refers to how a person identifies themselves in terms of gender. If the biological sex (penis or vagina) is in accordance with what is socially associated with that gender, it is a cisgender person; if there is no such social concordance, it is a transgender person.
Feminization of poverty: Social phenomenon according to which women have experienced a series of social, structural and historical forms of violence and barriers that make it impossible for them to have equal access to resources.
Care work: Often unpaid work that has been socially feminized.
Gender equity: Actions that seek equity in access to possibilities and resources between men and women.
Intersectionality: Concept that refers to the intersection of identities understood as historical and socially vulnerable.
At Race and Equality we understand that the processes of awareness and analysis, both for women and men, and at different levels of society, comprise a fundamental pillar to design and implement actions against gender-based violence. We recognize that progress has been made in this regard, thanks, in large part, to the role of civil society. For this reason, we continue to demand greater will and diligence from the States to formulate and implement public policies aimed at guaranteeing the integrity and lives of women and protecting their rights.
On the other hand, the creation and effective functioning of state mechanisms to address gender-based violence is important -and in those countries where they already exist-they must operate without biases and delays and be in line with the standards established by international treaties such as the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women, known as the Convention of Belém Do Pará, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.