Femicide and Women’s Rights in El Salvador  

The following is an example of an article I wrote during my internship with the Borgen Project for their online blog. Within this article are links to various sources used for research.

El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America and has an estimated population of 6.5 million, but this number is often fluctuating due to massive violence in the country. Women’s rights in the Central Americas and the Carribean has been slowly improving over the years. However, in El Salvador, women still lack basic rights and suffer from many violent crimes. El Salvador has the world’s highest homicide rates and pervasive criminal gangs as one murder happens on average every two hours. In 2018, there were 3,340 documented murders and the country has an estimated murder rate of 51 per 100,000 inhabitants. With so much death, it isn’t a surprise to hear that El Salvador has the highest femicide rate in the world.

Femicide is described as the gender-based killing of women because they are women and the leading cause of premature death for women globally. Femicide in El Salvador is a serious issue as one woman is murdered in El Salvador every 19 hours. In 2019, there have already been 76 deaths due to femicide in El Salvador. The country is rated the third-highest in the world for the violent death of women. In 2016, 524 women were killed in El Salvador and a majority of them were under 30 years of age. Between January and May of 2018, there were 152 murders of young women. This was only a span of five months.

Violent death isn’t the only crime that happens to these women. Over a time span of ten months in 2017, there were nearly 2,000 reported aggravated sexual assault in El Salvador. Around 80 percent of these victims were 17-years-old or younger. Femicide in El Salvador is not only overlooked by the world but also the Salvadoran government as well. Between 2013 and 2016, the Salvadoran government opened 662 femicide cases, but only 5 percent reached a conviction. The means only one in ten of the murder cases where a woman is a victim of femicide results in a conviction.

Most of the violence against the women in El Salvador is done by the various gangs that reside in the country. According to the Salvadoran government, around 10 percent of people in El Salvador are in gangs and these gangs often see women as easy targets.

The United Nations’ special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, said in an interview with CNN that women’s bodies are treated as “a territory for revenge and control”. Callamard explains that the gangs are male-dominated and girls and women are part of the territories they control.

Women in El Salvador who survive these brutal acts of physical and sexual abuse are traumatized and often have nowhere to turn for help. Many women even try to flee the country in an attempt to escape, however, those who are unsuccessful in their attempts are killed or tortured by their abusers for merely trying.

Thankfully, groups like the Organizacón De Mujeres Salvadoreñas Por La Paz (ORMUSA) work to end gender violence in El Salvador and to promote equality by supporting the economic empowerment of women.ORMUSA believes that empowering women is the key to changing attitudes in El Salvador. ORMUSA even helped draft a law that came into effect in 2012 which puts femicide in the criminal category in El Salvador and establishing special provisions to protect women from gender-based violence.

With such high femicide rates, El Salvador remains the most dangerous country to be a woman. Though groups and activists are trying to stop these violent acts, El Salvador still has a long way to go.

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