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.

Thanksgiving with the Cru: Student orgs get festive

Student organizations all around campus are preparing to celebrate the holidays in their own unique ways. Here are four student organizations who are getting into a festive spirit before the Thanksgiving break.
Apostolic Cru is a fairly new organization and will be celebrating their one year anniversary as a campus ministry later this month. To celebrate Thanksgiving, Apostolic Cru is hosting a Friendsgiving in Meyer 216 on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. There will be food, games, and worship.
“Thanksgiving is a holiday about coming together as a community,” Apostolic Cru’s President, Senior accounting major Lauren Lum, said. “The first Thanksgiving was about how the pilgrims and the Native Americans came together and celebrated through fellowship. We want to recreate that fellowship.”
For more information on the event follow Apostolic Cru on Instagram at Apostolic. Cru.
The Association of Black Students (ABS) hosts several events throughout the year. Last year, their event was a multicultural fashion show. This year, ABS is hosting a Fall Festival and Talent Show on Nov. 13 at 6 p.m. in the McLane Great Hall on the third floor of the Bawcom Student Union. There will be a speaker, and students perform their talents in front of their peers.
There will also be a collection box for helping hands so attendees can bring donations and give to the community through this event.
The English Club also hosts two events annually. “Operation Christmas Child” allows students to donate different items like toys, hygiene products, school supplies, etc. to underprivileged children in the bell county area. Students can find boxes for donating in Heard, Sanderford, the nursing building, the library, as well as the York and Wells building, until Nov. 12. The English Club’s other annual event, “Literary Hand Turkey Contest” involves designing a mock book cover that features a hand turkey every November. Past winners include Hedda Gobbler, Don Turkeyote, The Gizzard of Oz. and As I Lay Frying. Competitors vie for various prizes including the coveted “Baste in Class.”
The ASTRA Club (a community service club: Ability Service Training Responsibility Achievement) held its fall-themed appreciation dinner on Friday, Nov. 2 for members and staff of the famous “meth house,” which serves lunch to college students every Wednesday. The Methodist church’s congregation was served chicken fried steak, a variety of vegetables, mashed potatoes, and desserts made by the students. After a sermon and a meal, congregation members were given ornaments engraved with a special note from the club.
“The president of the club and several others have gone to the meth house for lunch all through their time in college,” Astra advisor Traci Squarcette said. “They wanted to show their appreciation for the volunteers who have cooked every Wednesday for the last 14 years. They wanted to invite them to an eloquent banquet with dinner, testimonials, and gifts.”

Nursing Student Association hosts chili cook-off

UMHB’s Nursing Student Association (NSA) hosted their third annual chili cook-off just in time for the cold front on Monday, March 4. Students and faculty came together for a friendly competition to decide who makes the best chili and the best dessert. The event, which was held in the lobby of the Isabelle Rutherford Meyer Nursing Education Center, had a successful turnout. Attendees gave five dollars to the NSA as a donation and received a bowl, sample cups, and a dessert tray. If the chili they chose left them wanting more, attendees could refill their bowls for three dollars. The purpose of the student vs. faculty chili competition was to raise money for prizes, future events, NSA graduation cords and various other expenses that the organization has.

Attendees could choose from vegetarian, beef, chicken, spicy or mild chili, as well as a variety of toppings and desserts. At the end of the line, students and faculty could cast their vote for who should win the awards for best chili

and best dessert. The contestant with the most votes would receive a $25 gift card to Chili’s, while the runner-up would receive an Amazon gift card. The winner of the dessert contest would receive a Chick-fil-A gift card. Winners of the cook-off were Rebecca Starkey (who received first place for her white chili) and Cristy Simmons (who won second place for her spicy chili). The winner of the dessert contest was Amy Sanders, who made Reese’s cupcakes.

Dr. Amy Mersiovsky, an assistant professor of nursing at UMHB, provided two pies for the events dessert competition and attended the event. “I think it was really good. This is a fun activity that is done every year; it’s a good way for us to have a friendly competition between the students and the faculty.”

Senior nursing major Brianna Turner attended the cook-off and was very pleased with the results.

“It was freaking delicious…I got [chili] number one. It is unique because it had chicken in it instead,” Turner said.

To find out more about NSA, visit the Student Organizations section on UMHB’s website and select “Nursing Student Association” from the list of all organizations.

Girls Education in Thailand

Thailand’s education system has continued to improve over the past few decades, as well as girls education in Thailand. Like many poverty-stricken countries, however, Thailand still struggles to provide education and tackle the gender equality gap among young boys and girls in school.

Thailand is among the few countries in the world that have never been colonized by European powers, therefore their education system developed mainly on its own.  The country has been focusing its efforts on education reform, however, the process has been a difficult one. The country has had no less than twenty different education ministers in the past 17 years. After the military coup in 2014, the Thailand government has been trying to regain the education reforms that were interrupted and have increased funding for education.

Thailand’s education system gives children and families many choices on how they want to receive an education. Elementary education is the first nine years of a child’s education, with six years of elementary and three years of lower-secondary school. Students are able to be enrolled when they first turn six and admission is generally open to all children. The government also provides three years of free pre-school and three years of free upper-secondary education that can be completed after they finished their studies, both of which are optional.  In 2013, 75 percent of eligible youth were enrolled in upper-secondary school programs. Secondary education starts at the age of 12 and consists of three years of lower secondary education.

Girls access to education is virtually equal to that of boys, as the Thai government provides all children with a twelve-year education. In 2006, the ministry of education found that primary school net attendance for boys was 85.1 percent and 85.7 for girls. Currently, enrollment rates are mostly equal for both genders.

Though girls education in Thailand is accessible, they still face discrimination and other hardships at the schools. Educational opportunity in Thailand is more of an issue of class and affordability than gender and culture, though both are factors. Some such hardships are the cost of supplies and uniforms. A report by the poverty line found that in higher education, the student’s family could not afford the school fees, uniform expenses, textbooks, meals and, in particular, transportation costs to the school.

An earlier article on this topic stated that the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington, D.C. found that girls face discrimination in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields from as early as primary school. A 2015 report published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) found that the discrimination in these cases stemmed from gender stereotypes and a lack of female role models in STEM, and social anxiety.

UNESCO is now working with Thai educators to improve STEM education and motivate young girls to pursue their dreams in the sciences. This is part of a 20-year strategy that aims to transform the country to have innovation, creativity, research and development, and green and high-technologies drive the economy.

This article was written for the Borgen Project. To learn more about this organization and read more articles like this one go to Borgenproject.org