A platform for voices supporting women's rights
After a landmark case in El Salvador where a man was spared a guilty sentence for beating and shooting his wife, due to technicalities in the prosecution case, the country’s first lady has spoken out about the impunity around domestic violence in South America.
Despite Latin American countries signing the Convention of Belém in 1994 which required education and laws to protect women’s rights, as well as efforts to combat machismo, the laws seem to faulter in their implementation. Brazil has been widely recognised for its robust laws surrounding violence against women, but still the violence persists.
According to The Economist, unpunished violent crime is chiefly to blame, but attacks against women are characteristically severe and gruesome in some Latin-American countries. UN women, an arm of the United Nations, has recently found that many Latin-American countries have extremely high levels of domestic violence, with women suffering from an attack on average every 15 seconds in São Paulo, Brazil. But in Colombia, violent attacks where acid is thrown into women’s faces to intentionally cause disfigurement, quadrupled between 2011 and 2012. Futhermore, more than half of the countries ranked “high” or “very high” in the UN’s ranking of femicides were located in the Americas, with El Salvador arriving in first place.
Whilst the region has had increases in its number of female heads of state, including; Cristina Fernández in Argentina, Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff and Laura Chinchilla in Costa Rica, this slow turning of the gender tide in Latin America’s elite is not a de facto upheaval of deep-rooted patriarchy. Instead what women in Latin America need, is gusto from their political elites to fully implement the robust laws that have been put in place to protect them.